{October 17, 2012}   #30WriteOctober: My Trip to Baltimore

My Trip to Baltimore

was a-maz-zing!!! Every minute was one I’d love to relive!!

Sunday morning I woke up like I do any other day. It didn’t dawn on me where I was until I looked at the right side of the end of the bed. On it was my outfit.

An orange, hand-painted Dallas Cowboys/Dwayne Harris tee, jeans, and a purple Ravens tee to go in my back pocket. I also had a Ravens hat to wear.

We get to the area and found good parking. Dayna (my cousin who went with me) laughed as she said she hoped to remember where we parked. So, I took a picture of the building across from the deck we were in.

Looking for an ATM (b/c neither of us had cash) we get to a hotel and go inside. We noticed people standing in a large group outside. Then 3 buses pulled up. I walked up to the counter and asked the receptionist why the people were standing outside. With a small attitude she says, “they’re waiting”. I responded, “I can see that but is there any way you can tell me what they’re waiting for’. Her attitude got stronger and she rudely replies “they’re waiting to leave”. I said okay and walked away.

I didn’t know it at the time but we were in the lobby of the hotel the Cowboys were staying in. Those people I saw knew that and were waiting on them to come outside.

Dayna and I get outside and we realize that the buses were for the team. I turned around and saw Dwayne and about 2 or 3 other Cowboys players walking out of the hotel. I knew he didn’t see me so I sent him a text saying “we’re passing your buses”. Or so I thought he couldn’t see me. He replies back “I see you”. I squinted and realized that he was standing on the second bus looking at me.

I figured if he could see me then that meant he saw my shirt. So I took my jacket off and turned around. Dayna laughed and asked me what I was doing. I told her that he could see me. I also sent my mama a text about me being right by his bus. She told me to take his picture but I wasn’t able to.

He called me and asked me if I wanted our tickets then. Of course I said yes. I figured an assistant or someone would get off the bus, come up to me and say “are you Ashley” and hand me two tickets once I said yes. Nope, I look up from my phone and Dwayne himself is walking towards me. He smiles and hands me an envelope. On the outside it said Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys, Two Tickets.

I didn’t open the envelope and Dayna told me to tuck it away b/c we would be walking among crowds of people, many of whom would be begging for tickets.

We passed through Orioles Stadium and surprisingly I didn’t take any pictures. Well, I’m not that surprised.

Finally we entered Ravens country and you’d have thought I’d just been given a lifetime supply of free Chick-fil-A my eyes got so wide. I didn’t know what to take a picture of first.

There were purple jerseys EVERYWHERE. For just about every player, from Ray Rice to Torrey Smith, Michael Oher, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Jameel McClain and of course Ray Lewis. I even saw a few Tony Siragusa jerseys. The Goose, as he’s affectionately called, is now an NFL commentator.

But, for every three purple jerseys there was one blue or white Cowboys jersey. I was a bit shocked to see so many Cowboys fans honestly.

A man more than twice my size stopped me and asked “whose side are you on”. I said that I was going for both teams and that it didn’t matter to me who won.

That is when Dayna started calling me a “confused fan”.  It was also when I realized that I would have to get used to being asked which team I was cheering for since I was wearing something from each one.

As we waited for the gates to open she spotted what she called “another confused fan”. A lady who’d taken a Tony Romo jersey and a Joe Flacco jersey and put them together. It was neat too b/c she’d split both jerseys down the middle and put them together where the back said “Rocco” and the 9 and 5 (Romo and Flacco’s numbers respectively) were merged to where they looked like an S. She’d even painted her jeans (for Miles Austin and Ray Rice)

I loved it and took her picture. And then we took a picture together. She noticed my shirt and asked about the player on it. I explained to her who Dwayne Harris was and we parted with her saying she’d look out for him.

Game time!!

We were seated in the Cowboys section (obviously) and so even though some Ravens fans booed as they ran onto the field I screamed along with the Cowboys fans.

And then the Ravens were introduced. I got my camera ready to film Ray Lewis’s infamous dance. The wind was blowing by then and it was moving me and my hands were shaking. . I screamed and yelled as he was being introduced.

I cheered for every tackle, sack, touchdown, interception, completed pass, incomplete pass. Everything, no matter which team benefitted from the play I cheered. I grinned and did a little dance every time I heard “Ray Lewis on the tackle”. I distinctly remember what looked to be Dallas’s O-line making way for him to get a good tackle on their RB. Looking at the replay on the screen it really did look as though they moved to the left as the RB (forgot who it was) moved to the right. Right into Ray Lewis’s path. He grabbed him in a bear hug like way and took him down.

If you’ve ever been to a professional football game you know that every team has their own little cheers and chants that are played during time outs and time taken for tv commercials. In Ravens country there’s this one chant that I’ve been playing over and over in my head. It’s a guy (who sounds like Fat Man Scoop) saying “when I say ‘protect this’, you say ‘house’. And every time the Ravens moved the ball down the field, the eyes of a Raven would appear on the big screen with chains that said “move those chains”.

Ravens country gets excited about defensive 3rd downs. So much so that on the big screen comes the words “Third Down” while an announcer says the same. Their cheerleaders are also a stunt team. I loved watching them do stunts b/c it reminded me of when I used to be a cheerleader and would get tossed in the air. (I later learned that they’re the only team in the NFL with a stunt squad)

They played Jeezy a few times and I caught glimpses of Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs dancing.

By the second quarter though, it dawned on me that there was a possibility that Ray Lewis and Dwayne would go head to head seeing as though one is on defense and the other offense. I got quiet for a while wondering how I’d feel if I ever saw it go down.

The Cowboys scored a touchdown and I started doing my touchdown dance. I looked up and the guy selling beer was staring at me and smiling. By the time he came back around the Ravens had scored a TD and I was doing the dance again. This time he gave me a weird look as if to say “weren’t you just cheering for the Cowboys”.

Once the game was over I contacted Dwayne to see where I could meet up with him to see him. Dayna and I walked around the stadium as I waited on him to respond. Somehow the lady from earlier (with the sewn together Cowboys/Ravens jersey) found us. She tapped me and said “I was on the field before the game and saw your cousin. I took his picture”. I smiled and she and her husband kept walking.

Dayna didn’t tell me she was leading me to where fans gather to catch the Ravens players leaving for their cars. I just figured we were buying time until we got word from Dwayne. We came to a crowd and she said “let’s wait here”. I saw this man standing by a door and slowly it was coming to me exactly where it was that I was standing.

After a few men in suits emerged from the door Torrey Smith came out. Well, a woman wearing his jersey tee came out first. He was behind her and behind him was a man and two other women. One of which I think was his mom. She was wearing a large grin and an oversized Smith jersey. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the woman who came out first was his girlfriend. She was pretty but she also had that “yeah, I’m his girlfriend” look on her face. I took a few photos of him and waited to see who would come out next.

Next up was Michael Oher. He is extremely handsome in person. I called his name out and he looked in my direction. At that moment I hated not having packed the tee I had painted in support of him.

I looked down and noticed that I was still wearing my bright orange Cowboys tee and told myself that even if Ray Lewis were to come over to me he’d ignore me b/c I was wearing the other team’s shirt. Remembering the purple Ravens tee in my pocket I handed Dayna my camera instructing her to take a picture of the next player she saw. I quickly changed shirts.

“It’s Ed Reed” I heard as I was fixing my shirt. I looked up to see him walking in between two large guys to his car. He was too far for me to get a picture but I have a mental one.

By now Dwayne had told me that his bus was under the tunnel and I wouldn’t get down there and that they were on their way to the airport. I got upset b/c I really wanted to see him afterwards. And talk to him.

I got over it remembering that in a few weeks I’ll see him again when the Cowboys meet the Falcons at the Dome.

Torrey Smith had gone back to the locker room (I’m guessing) and had come out again. I took a few more pictures of him. For the next 10 mins. or so men in suits kept coming out. I knew they weren’t players so I didn’t bother with taking their picture.

Dayna and I talked about how long it would possibly take Ray Lewis to come out. I said that he’d be last and hoped that the crowd would be long gone by then. “Yeah right” she said and added that “just like we’re going to wait until he comes out, so will everybody else”.

He came out not too long after. I missed that very first photo op b/c I was too in shock that it was actually him. I recovered and snapped a photo of him. He looks handsome in a suit and tie, like extremely handsome.

He came down the ramp and I left Dayna to get a better view. I climbed up on this gate and held my camera up. He got closer to the crowd and this plus size woman began leaning on me. She was yelling “Ray Ray over here”. He started rounding the corner to get closer to us and the closer he came the more she leaned on me.

You know that moment when it hits you that you’re falling? That moment came over me as I realized that the gate was falling. I was caught between it and the lady so as it went down I went down. Finally I yelled out “oh gosh, I’m falling”. Ray (and the security guard) heard me and stepped back. Wish he’d have reached out to grab me. The security guard saw the gate going down, grabbed it and asked people to step back. It was then that the lady got off of me. I was glad for that b/c I’d have died had I fallen face first in front of Ray Lewis. Though I did wonder what he would’ve done had it happened b/c he heard me yelling and looked in my direction.

I was finally able to stand up and snapped one last picture of Ray. It was a great close up of his face.

I went back to Dayna excited and out of breath. I screamed and showed her the picture I took. And then I tweeted about it.

My day had been made. Not only was I able to see him play live but I’d gotten close enough to him to get a good picture.

I’ve been smiling and reliving those moments in my head ever since.

I’m definitely going back to Baltimore for another game. Maybe not this season but next season and despite rumors, Ray Lewis WILL still be playing.


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