- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 17, 2001

They are having a good laugh at the Boy Owner's expense in Frostburg, Md., the former summer home of the burgundy and gold.

The Ravens are the team of the moment in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, and that goes double in this tiny population center in the Allegheny Mountains in Western Maryland.

Baltimore's team is going to the Super Bowl, while the Boy Owner attempts to repair his $100 million experiment.

"It certainly is poetic justice," Frostburg Mayor John N. Bambacus says. "I know a lot of people around here would say that, and I would agree."

It is personal with Frostburg, hurt and angry as it was after its business dealings with the Boy Owner.

The Boy Owner broke the team's 10-year contract with Frostburg State University in a two-sentence fax last year.

That usually is how it goes with the Boy Owner. He works in mysterious ways.

His defenders, all of whom are on his payroll, insist he is misunderstood. They say he is a humanitarian. They say he gives at the office and helps little old ladies cross busy intersections. They say he hands out bread and fish to the masses in Calcutta. They say he just wants to win.

The Boy Owner undoubtedly has more dimensions to him than the Napoleonic caricature he has allowed himself to become in the national media. He is not just about pink slips. He overpaid Deion Sanders. That was nice of him. He became best friends with one of his critics in the national media, Marty Schottenheimer. That wasn't just nice of him. That also was big of him.

Like Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, Schottenheimer and the Boy Owner stepped away from all the distractions in North Carolina and came to a better understanding of one another. They explored each other's humanity. They shared ideas and laughs. They agreed the ground can't cause a fumble. They played Candyland.

And now Schottenheimer and the Boy Owner plan to fight, fight, fight and go all the way, if not resolve the energy crisis in California, as long as Pepper Rodgers approves.

Meanwhile, Frostburg watches from a distance and takes a certain pleasure in the goings-on. The Ravens are the rabbit ears behind the Boy Owner's mug shot on the dartboard.

"We're very, very happy about what the Ravens have accomplished," Bambacus says. "They play as a team and jelled as a team, and unfortunately, the Redskins, despite their many outstanding individuals, were not able to do that. Perhaps that's because they didn't have the opportunity to bond as a team in a normal training camp environment."

Instead, the local NFL team held training camp at its practice facility in Ashburn and charged admission as a favor to its supporters.

Casper R. Taylor Jr., the speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, the Democrat representing Allegany County, warned Washington what to expect from the team last July.

"What goes around comes around," he said. "In his case, it's worth contemplating."

As it turns out, Taylor was a prophet. He saw it coming, the 8-8 season, even as a good number of football experts saw a Super Bowl in the team's makeup.

But what goes around comes around, and in the Boy Owner's case, it was worth contemplating.

He leads with a heavy hand and lets his minions explain the damage. Remember: He just wants to win, as if that is unique.

The implication, it seems, is most Americans, in play or work, do not want to win. They want to assume the Webster Hubbell roll-over position.

By the way, they have considerable practice with the latter at Red-Faced Park.

The Boy Owner's serfs have to eat, and Patrick Henry is so long ago, and the dignity-Benjamin compromise unfolds in incremental stages. Long live the Boy Owner. He just wants to win. He just wants to breathe, not unlike 6 billion others, including those in Frostburg.

They are feeling a little warmer in Frostburg this week, despite the white stuff in their midst.

"We're looking forward to the Super Bowl," Bambacus says.

That is Frostburg's cue to smile.


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