Can't rain on Ravens' parade

Posted: Wednesday, January 31, 2001

BALTIMORE -- Even Art Modell got jiggy with Ray Lewis.

The 75-year-old Baltimore Ravens' owner and the Super Bowl MVP linebacker delighted thousands of screaming fans on Tuesday as Modell imitated Lewis' trademark footwork at City Hall.

About 200,000 exultant fans lined downtown streets despite a steady, and sometimes heavy, rain to celebrate the team's 34-7 victory Sunday over the New York Giants.

The all-volunteer Baltimore's Marching Ravens band and the team's three mascots, Edgar, Allan and Poe -- named for the 19th-century writer of the macabre poem from which the team derived its name -- led the players and coaches in a parade through the Inner Harbor near Camden Yards to the waiting throngs at Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall.

''I can't tell you how proud I am to bring you your Super Bowl trophy,'' team president David Modell told the crowd, estimated at 200,000 by Baltimore police.

Mayor Martin O'Malley introduced each player in turn. Some threw personal items into the crowd, including a football, hats, jerseys and even umbrellas.

Art Modell accepted the keys to the city and thanked the crowd, which responded by chanting, ''Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.''

Loudspeakers blared Aretha Franklin's ''Respect'' as Lewis joined Modell on stage and the owner tried to imitate the movements Lewis has danced all season just before going onto the field to face opponents.

The Super Bowl victory and Tuesday's celebration were especially sweet for Lewis, who was implicated in a double murder after last year's Super Bowl in Atlanta. Although the murder charges against him were dropped, he spent the week before the Super Bowl deflecting questions about the case.

The fans went ballistic as Lewis did his slide while holding the Super Bowl trophy and then led the crowd in the team's traditional pregame chant.

Coach Brian Billick followed, telling the crowd, ''This team taught me that the word team is really just an extension of the word family, and you all are a part of that family.''

''Believe me when I tell you it's you people that brought Art Modell and this organization here, and you all are the reason that I am here.''

The crowd also was entertained by Baha Men, who performed their hit single, ''Who Let the Dogs Out?,'' which the team adopted as its unofficial season theme.

Earlier, the younger Modell held the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he walked the parade route while his father rode behind in a limousine and players followed in a convoy of Humvees.

Fans perched in trees and on rooftops of surrounding office buildings along the 13-block parade route. Many danced to a nonstop hip-hop soundtrack and hammed for the players, who carried video cameras to personally record the moment.

Wes Henson of Waldorf, who said he has never missed a home game in the team's five seasons here, was decked head to toe in a purple ''Captain Defense'' costume, complete with a stuffed raven perched on his arm.

Wearing a purple tie, Stephan Moylan, a public defender and lifelong Baltimore resident, said the only people working on Tuesday were displaced New Yorkers.

''They're all eating crow today. They're all answering the phones because everybody else is here,'' Moylan said. ''This is a tremendous day for Baltimore.''

He said the Super Bowl victory has done more to unite the city than any other single event in his lifetime.

''Baltimore has always been a segregated, divided city. Now, you see anybody on the street -- black, white, green or red -- all the color is purple,'' Moylan said, referring to the team's signature hue.

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