At a tailgating lot just outside Oriole Park at Camden Yards, you’ll be certain to run into Big George’s tailgating party. While there, you’re even more likely to run in to Jim DeMoss, a long-time Baltimore Colts fan who still follows the Ravens intensely but has more than a few unfortunate memories.
“If this was the Baltimore Browns, I wouldn’t be here,” DeMoss says. “It’s a good thing Art Modell decided to make a whole new football franchise from scratch and left Cleveland’s history in Cleveland, otherwise I wouldn’t be here.”
Baltimore Colts fans each have their own personal take on the legendary, controversial move of the football team from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1983, and DeMoss can recall the sadness of the day like it was yesterday.
“When they left, when they just snuck out of town in the middle of the night and took everything with them, it was just devastating, heartbreaking to me and everyone I know in Baltimore,” DeMoss says.
To that end, DeMoss spent the next 13 years as a Chicago Bears fan after his hometown team was ripped away from him, and while he experienced the joy of a Bears Super Bowl victory in 1985, it just wasn’t the same without Baltimore involved.
DeMoss’ views on the current Ravens versus the old Colts feel much like an old-timer’s version of Dan “The Critic” Steil’s rants. There is plenty DeMoss enjoys about Ravens culture, chief of which is the massive stadiums and pyrotechnics, but football games to him possess a vastly different feel.
“At one time, the Memorial Stadium where the Colts played was called the World’s Largest Outdoor Insane Asylum because the fans were just that crazy every game,” DeMoss recalls. “M&T Bank Stadium is fine, but the big difference is that back then the fans were loud whether the Colts won or whether the Colts lost. Today I just notice that when the Ravens are losing, everybody just gets quiet.”
Just another “in my day” remark by a crotchety old man? Far from it, as DeMoss has sound reasoning as to why the crowds have changed.
“With the Colts, we had Johnny Unitas, so we figured that no matter how far we were down, there was always a chance he could turn that around,” DeMoss says. “The Ravens just don’t have that luxury today, and they never have since they came back. But at least they had that defense to keep them in games for a while.”
DeMoss isn’t completely bothered by the change of the times. The purple Ravens jersey on his chest is enough to indicate that. But there is one area where he still sees memories of the old days come flashing back in an instant: autograph signing.
“When Priest Holmes was the running back for the Ravens, I went to one of those Draft Day parties at the stadium, and noticed him signing autographs at a table, so we got down there and waited in line,” DeMoss recalls. “It was amazing, he looked up at every last guy and said, ‘Who’s this to?’ And he was the only one there wearing a suit and tie too. He was a lot like Johnny Unitas in the sense that he knew the only reason he was famous and made so much money is because fans paid to see him.”
The 1959 NFL Championship; the Draft Day party, the Super Bowl win in 2000, the meeting with old Baltimore Colts at the naming of Towson University’s Unitas Stadium, the loud fans, all of those are just some of the memories that keep Demoss’ hopes for the Ravens alive, even if some of some of the other fans go quiet when the team is down.