professional football team and one of six teams in the Central Division
of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take
affect in 2002, the Ravens will play in the North Division of the AFC.
The Ravens play at PSINet Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, and wear
uniforms of black, purple, and gold. The team is named after a poem
entitled “The Raven” (1845) by American writer Edgar Allan Poe, who
lived in Baltimore during the 1830s.
Baltimore was home to the Baltimore Colts (now Indianapolis Colts) from
1953 through 1983. The Ravens’ franchise was founded after the 1995 NFL
season, when Arthur B. Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns, moved his
team from Cleveland, Ohio, to Baltimore and renamed it the Ravens. (In
1999 a new Browns franchise began play in Cleveland.) Modell brought to
Baltimore a roster of veteran stars, including quarterback Vinny
Testaverde and running back Earnest Byner. He also hired former
Baltimore Colts head coach Ted Marchibroda to lead the new Baltimore
team. Marchibroda had produced three consecutive Eastern Division titles
for the Colts in the mid-1970s, but coaching the Ravens proved
difficult. Despite fielding a potent offense, the franchise struggled
defensively and finished at the bottom of the Central Division in 1996
and 1997. Testaverde left following the 1997 season and signed as a free
agent with the New York Jets. After finishing the 1998 season with 6
wins and 10 losses, the Ravens hired Minnesota Vikings offensive
coordinator Brian Billick as head coach.
Through shrewd draft picks and free agent signings, the Ravens rebuilt
their team around a standout defense. The team was led by linebacker Ray
Lewis, who became one of the leading tacklers and top defenders in the
NFL. The Ravens’ defense gave up a record-low 165 points during the 2000
season, then allowed just 23 points in the postseason, including a 34-7
victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV.
2001 Super Bowl XXXV Defeated New York Giants, 34-7
NFL History Guide