TAMPA, Fla. The Baltimore Ravens haven’t had a chance to wake up.
That’s because the Super Bowl XXXV champions never fell sleep. Immediately following Sunday’s 34-7 destruction of NFC champion New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium, the Ravens celebrated at a party with family and friends.
Live bands and food greeted the champions at their Hyatt Regency hotel, where the party lasted until daybreak yesterday. The Ravens’ steely eyed focus before the Super Bowl turned into a bleary eyed celebration afterward.
“It feels awesome, I still haven’t come down,” Ravens vice president for player personnel Ozzie Newsome said as he boarded the bus to the airport.
While the celebration was in full swing, Ravens president David Modell, the son of owner Art Modell, paraded around the cavernous tent with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. He gave anyone interested a chance to touch and have a picture taken with one of sports’ most coveted trophies.
The city of Baltimore scheduled a victory parade for 10:30 a.m. today. It will start at PSINet Stadium and end at City Hall. Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the Super Bowl MVP, asked the Pro Bowl committee to delay his arrival in Hawaii so he could take part in the parade.
“My decision to go home, I mean, my fans have been incredible, definitely, for me all season,” Lewis said. “They gave me support all year. Without going back to them, I would feel I was cheating them.”
Left tackle Jonathan Ogden will be the only player missing from the parade. Like Lewis, Ogden was voted a Pro Bowl starter, but he was forced to return to his Las Vegas home to pick something up before Sunday’s game.
Most of the Ravens got little or no sleep before boarding the bus yesterday at 11 a.m. It was a bit busier for Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer, who stayed awake all night and was whisked away to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., by two white stretch limousines.
Dilfer, who did the annual Disney commercial in the fourth quarter, always will wear a Super Bowl ring but may not be with the Ravens next season.
“It is a free-market system, so to speak, and so from just a personal … yeah, I would love to have Trent back, but there are a lot of things to happen between now and then,” Ravens coach Brian Billick said.
Super Bowl week seemed to be a coronation for the Modells. Art Modell has been a fixture in the NFL for 40 years. This was his first Super Bowl, and he intended to make it count.
First, Modell bought eight billboards around Tampa with the Ravens logo. Then, Modell showered his players daily with lavish gifts.
Monday, when the Ravens arrived, they were given a sweatsuit. The following days the players received a video camera, digital camera, portable CD player, Super Bowl bag filled with clothes and, finally, a Reebok bag filled with Super Bowl clothing.
On Sunday, the players gave Modell the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
“It showed in everyone’s face how proud of ourselves we were because of what we’ve come through, especially Ray and what he’s gone through in his situation. It’s an unimaginable feeling,” said third-year cornerback Duane Starks, who returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl. “We’re going to enjoy the moment. We’re going to show our fans some love and have a nice little parade in Baltimore. As long as we stay together and keep improving in the things that we’re going, it’s possible that we’ll be back [next year]. When you have a moment like this you have to enjoy it. You have to ride it out to its fullest.”