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3 things you probably didn’t know about the Ravens

The Baltimore Browns?

#1. They were first christened the “Baltimore Browns”

In 1995, the city missed out on the two new expansion teams eventually granted to Charlotte, North Carolina and Jacksonville, Florida. Undeterred, the City of Baltimore was going to get another NFL team somehow, some way, and no matter what the costs.

Their city council and state officials decided to offer and build the Browns a brand new spanking stadium complete with luxury skyboxes at a cost of $220 million. Did anyone wonder out loud that if they had decided that earlier perhaps the fabled Colts would still be playing in their city?

Did anyone in Cleveland ever wonder out loud the same thing about their club?

The announced move, even leaked, was like Cleveland’s version of Pearl Harbor. When the Raiders moved from Oakland to Los Angeles everyone knew that owner Al Davis was hated. Colts’ owner Jim Irsay wasn’t highly regarded either. But Modell? He was one of the NFL’s elite owners. A committee man. Leader. Statesman. Trusted. Legendary. Pillar.

On November 5, the 4-4-0 Browns lost their home game to the Oilers 37-10. The next day, Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke introduced Modell in a brisk morning assembly amidst a standing ovation.

The Baltimore Sun newspaper insert

Art Modell. Owner of the Baltimore Browns.

“This is a joyous day for Baltimore, and a tribute day for Baltimore for your proven love of the game of football,” said then-Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke at a November 6 outdoor press conference. “In the years when we had a team and in the years when we did not have an NFL team. The Browns are now the Baltimore Browns and we are proud of it.”

Yes, the Mayor of Baltimore called them the Baltimore Browns at the 1:32 mark of the video. Even the newscaster who broke the story called them the Browns.

Meanwhile, the Cleveland Browns lost six of their next seven games and finished 5-11-0 after a promising 3-1-0 start for head coach Bill Belichick, who would later get fired.

#2. Firemen help the Ravens each week

The Ravens employ 16 firefighters – some of which are retired in that profession. Not that they are expecting any fires mind you.

These men do a long list of duties for the franchise. For one, they handle all of the team and fan mail. It is estimated that hundreds of pieces of mail arrive at every NFL team every day. A large percentage of that is to individual players with letters and memorabilia sent to those athletes. These men sort the mail to players and distribute their mail as each player instructs.

Helping to keep supplies in their place is another duty. Anything from toilet paper to cups to bottled water to copy paper has to be placed in their respective spot. While at the facility, they also run the occasional errand if needed.

Another duty of the firemen is the player’s laundry. Every game-used jersey, socks and pants along with towels are taken care of every week. Also on this list are the practice uniforms and workout clothes the players and coaches use every day. Each player and coach has their own laundry bag with their name on a tag. When something needs to be washed, they simply throw their bag into a daily laundry bin which is returned clean the following day in their locker. Any repairs to garments are also handled by the firemen who sew and stitch whatever needs to be done.

While those duties appear to be work, one aspect of the firemen’s day with the Ravens certainly has to be fun. Whenever needed, these men help out in practice sessions. They assist with down markers, retrieve footballs and catch field goal attempts. They bring out practice pads and whatever other equipment is needed for that day’s practice. At least half a dozen firemen assist with each practice.

Still another function that these firemen perform is with the team’s equipment. Before every game - home or away - they pack up the uniforms, shoes, shoulder pads, socks, uniform playing pads, helmets, chin straps, mouth guards, footballs and player equipment bags. All of this is packed into huge stackable metal containers and then loaded onto trucks for either the stadium or the airport. At home game days, these same men help players get ready for the game with assistance with their pads and jerseys.

#3. Baltimore Bombers?

In 1993 the NFL announced they were going to expand into two cities. The ownership groups that came forward were from Charlotte, Baltimore, St. Louis, Memphis and Jacksonville.

Browns’ GM Ernie Accorsi left Cleveland to help the City of Baltimore get a team with one of those expansion opportunities. There were two ownership groups from this city and both worked hard at landing one of these invaluable franchises.

The two favorites to capture these expansion slots were Charlotte and Baltimore.

One of these groups was headed by Leonard “Boogie” Weinglass who had gained his fortune by founding Merry-Go-Round retail stores, along with Malcolm Glazer, who was the president of the First Allied Corporation. Eventually, Glazer would purchase the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

This group already had a name and logo designed called the Baltimore Bombers. The City of Baltimore has roots in building bomber aircraft back in World War II, the B-26 Marauder.

When the City of Baltimore was snubbed for either expansion team, the Canadian Football League began a short period of U.S. expansion and placed a club in Baltimore in 1995 called the Stallions. The very next season, the Browns relocated to Baltimore.