Well, the local sports stores as well as other stores in the area are filled with shirts having the sayings “Festivus” and “Festivus Maximus” on them in the Baltimore area. These are some of the hottest selling items you will find right now. Other items that are flying off shelves include Baltimore Ravens flags to attach to your car, along with larger flags for your home, and basically any item that refers to the Baltimore Ravens. Maybe that will help you in determining what Festivus and Festivus Maximus are.
For those of you that still can’t figure it out, it is the terms that Ravens fans use for the NFL playoffs (Festivus) and the Super Bowl and the celebration around it (Festivus Maximus). This started back in 2000, when the term was introduced on the popular sit com “Seinfeld”. Brian Billick, who was and is the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens forbid his team from mentioning the word playoffs in December. The players decided to use a code word for the playoffs and that was Festivus. Then as they reached the Super Bowl they decided Festivus Maximus was the perfect phrase for that.
Now, with the Baltimore Ravens making another run in the NFL’s playoffs, the shirts and sayings have popped up everyone in the Baltimore area. This year though the feelings may run just a little deeper. The sense of loyalty to the team and city was increased due to the Ravens first opponent in the playoffs , the hated Indianapolis Colts. This is the team that used to be the Baltimore Colts before their owner at the time, Bob Irsay, snuck them out of town on Mayflower vans in the middle of the night on March 29th in 1984.
Many people tell us fans to “get over it” , and “come on that’s over 20 years ago, give it a rest”. Well, some of us will never forget. Our team was stolen from us. That just makes this rallying around the Ravens that much stronger. We lost our team, and then eventually in 1996 got a new team. The team that came here is the former Cleveland Browns, but at least their owner left the city with the team’s identity. When the Browns came to Baltimore , Mr. Modell left the name and all the history for the citizens of Cleveland. Guess what, Bob Irsay didn’t give the city of Baltimore that type of consideration, and it is one of the reasons the Colts are despised in this town.
I was 10 years old when my team snuck out of town. I spent my teenage years growing up without a homet own team. For a young man growing up, the teenage years are some of the best bonding years for him with his father sitting around the television or going to games hearing stories about how your father did the same thing with his dad. Well, that opportunity was stolen from me. My team was stolen, I could not enjoy watching the team that my father had watched as a child with him. Sure he told me all the stories of the team when he was a child, but it just didn’t quite have that bonding touch as it would have if I had the same team to watch. My father and I had a great relationship, before his death in the late 90’s, but we never got to share the true bond of a father passing on the connection to his football team to his son. I am not the only one who lost that opportunity, many of us that grew up in the decade plus when there was no NFL team in Baltimore suffered, my younger brother included.
The fact that we are playing the team that abandoned us just adds to the hype of Festivus in Baltimore. Not that it needs the extra hype. This town is full of Ravens spirit, as the items flying off the sports store shelves demonstrate. By the time you read this article, the game will have passed. Some might say “If you win you should let it go”, but I’m sorry, Baltimore will never forget what happened to our team on March 29, 1984.
This matchup is the perfect one to get the town fired up, we will enjoy Festivus throughout January as the playoffs advance, and then Festivus Maximus leading up to and on February 4th. We will look back and realize that revenge is so much sweeter during the Festivus season.