Colts/Ravens Band That Wouldn't Die (But Will Cry Nov 29)

The ESPN 30 on 30 documentary, ‘The Band That Wouldn’ Die’ by Oscar-winning Barry Levinson (Best Director ’88 Rain Man) was compelling work.  It chronicles the story of the Baltimore fan base losing their beloved Colts.

The story focuses on the Colts band and how their loyalty dedication, and love for their city paid off. “None of the band members were paid, but they kept a membership of 150 strong during the 12 years the city didn’t have an NFL team,” Levinson said.

And yeh, you know the ending, but how the Baltimore Colts Band eventually became the Baltimore Ravens band.  Yeh, I know. It sounds soft, just trust me on this one. 

Sure you can’t stand the Ravens.  In fact, the team is undoubtedly the biggest rival for the Steelers.  We don’t like the Patriots who have broken our hearts so many times on our home turf. 

The Browns, Chargers and Colts also rank up there. But the Ravens….

The Ravens hold a special place. A place that’s down deep in the dark side of the hearts of Pittsburgh fans.

Check out the video below, the drunken Irsay press conference is priceless . The lush can’t even open the door for God’s sake. Hilarious.

Here is the website for The Band That Wouldn’t Die you can check out more of the videos until you get to see it.

It’s an amazing story directed by a Baltimore guy, who does a pretty good job at getting it right. However, he fails to capture the current atmosphere before the games at M&T Bank Stadium. The pagentary associated with the Ravens games just isn’t captured well.

In contrast, I have to admit…finding out the Governor of Maryland wasn’t a football fan, but was a marching band fan, that was funny.

I urge you to go to a game in Baltimore.  Pittsburgh could learn a few things.  The atmosphere is unmatched in any the twelve stadiums I have visited. 

Sure Pittsburgh doesn’t need to do any of these things. We care about one thing and that is the outcome of the game.

Maybe you feel the same way as I do, maybe you don’t.

But I know this. Everything about an NFL game in Baltimore is right, honorable, and good. 

Even if the team on the field isn’t.

Even  if the name of the team isn’t right.  They were the Browns which was changed to the Ravens after an Edgar Allan Poe poem.  Unlike Levinson, Poe wasn’t a Baltimore guy, but in folklore legend he died in Baltimore.

Drunk in a gutter.  Now that’s a great story.

See you November 29 Baltimore.

UPDATE:  My great friend Fran Hill,  a lifelong Baltimorian, mentioned these comments–

It’s a good story except for one thing.  We changed our name to the Ravens because Baltimore was “classy” enough to leave the Browns’ name in Cleveland where it belonged.  Unlike the Colts who took our name, colors, logo, memorabilia and wouldn’t give it back.  They still have our memorabilia and to have Johnny U go down into the Hall of Fame as an Indianapolis Colt is a downright shame!!!  

Another thing you got wrong is the Governor at the time was Schaefer and he LOVED football.  (THE 30 on 30 STORY SAYS DIFFERENTLY)  He cried like a baby the day the Colts left in the dead of night and fought for football for our City for the next 15 years.  In fact, when we finally got a team, he wasn’t even given any credit.  Baltimore did him an absolute injustice. 


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Tags: Baltimore Colts Band Baltimore Ravens Band That Wouldn't Die Barry Levinson ESPN

  • Steve

    I’m from Baltimore and remember the Colts and the love affair the city had with them. I am huge Ravens fan and always hope they crush Steelers, but I appreciate the kind words about the city of Baltimore. It’s a great football town and the city was hungry for 13 years. Tagliabue screwed Baltimore by choosing Jacksonville which was obviously a huge mistake. I am waiting for the Ravens/Steelers slugfest this year and for the Ravens to prevail. Peace.

    • smitty

      I had no idea this quick post would generate such attention. I had a great email today that reiterates your point…here it is…
      ”My husband became a Redskins fan after Colts left. You know that DC blocked us from getting the Colts for many years. Anyway he always said when Baltimore gets a new team, I will burn all my Redskins stuff. When they announced the two expansion teams (Carolina Panthers and Jaguars), my husband was down on his hands and knees in front of the TV praying that the second team was awarded to Baltimore. When they announced the Jaguars, he layed on the floor and cried. My husband passed away one year before we got the Ravens, I bought a huge black and purple flower arrangement and placed it on his grave saying “Football has Returned to Baltimore”.

      I took all his Redskins stuff outside, put it in a Redskins Cooler and burned everything.

  • Susan

    I’m a Ravens fan, originally from Pittsburgh, my family is still there. We have a great rivalry going. The Band That Wouldn’t Die is a story that needed to be told. It’s not just about the band that played for 12 years without a team to call their own, it’s also about football fans, the spirit of Baltimore, and the transition into Ravenstown. If you watch it, you can’t help but think what if the Steelers were taken away? It would cut the heart out of your city. That’s why we despised Tagliabue for forcing us to go to Cleveland for a team. We hated doing to them what was done to us. The Browns fans didn’t deserve that anymore than the Colt fans did. Tagliabue is almost as hated here as Irsay was.

    • smitty

      You make excellent points, but you’re a traitor. What happened? Kidding. Irsay reached an impecabble level of hatred with Baltimore. The comments I received in emails today amazed me including ‘I know he is burning in hell and I smile when I think of that…’ Nice.

  • Tricia

    Being a part of the band and performing throughout various parts of the country, was an amazing experience. Coming home to perform in the great city of Baltimore or at the Colts Coral were some of the most rewarding experiences of our lives. We continued to keep the spirit alive for the people of Baltimore and they in return kept our spirit alive! The band, flagline, and cheerleaders were a family of people all striving toward one common goal . . . and they were successful in doing so for many years after the team had vanished.

    • smitty

      I am impressed with your dedication. How long have you been a band member?