By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
12:39 PM CST, February 5, 2013
The Lombardi Trophy finally made it inside M&T Bank Stadium after the Ravens’ championship parade snaked through the streets of Baltimore. Tens of thousands of fans lined the streets of Baltimore, and M&T Bank Stadium is at full capacity. Police and stadium officials had to start turning down other fans at the doors.
Downtown was so packed, even the Ravens were a little late for their own parade.
After stopping off at City Hall, the Ravens arrived at the stadium via handmade floats and high-tech military vehicles. Toward the end of the parade, with quarterback Joe Flacco filming the madness with his phone and Ed Reed walking down the street with trophy, fans began to disregard barriers and joined Ray Lewis and the Ravens on the street. Soon, the players entered M&T Bank Stadium and were soon introduced to a packed house.
First, it was the special teams unit, then the defense and the offense. Then Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, was introduced to “When You Wish Upon a Star.”
"Baltimore, we did it," Flacco later said. "Super Bowl champs, baby. Hey, this is for you guys. Hey, we’ve been through a lot this year -- a lot of highs, a couple lows. And you guys stood there through it all. Just like you always do. You’re a special group and we love you. Hey man, it doesn’t get any better than this. We appreciate you coming out. This is awesome."
The last onto the field was Ray Lewis, who walked out with the trophy to “Hot in Herre” by Nelly. It took a little bit of encouragement from the fans, but yes, he busted out his signature dance.
“Baltimore! There is nothing in the world, there is no place on this earth, that is better than Baltimore," Lewis said. "This city, this city, we believed in each other from Day One, from 1996 to now. We believed in each other, Baltimore. If I had to describe our team in one phrase or one paragraph, you all know what it is: ‘No weapon, no weapon, no weapon formed against us shall prosper.’ This team was destined to go on and win the Super Bowl. I said this was my last ride, and every moment, every time ever time I stepped in this stadium, what I received was pure love. The only way on my last ride to pay Baltimore back for everything you did for me and all the support you gave to me, was to bring back the Lombardi Trophy to Baltimore one more time. I love you, Baltimore. Baltimore! Forever my city. I love you.”
Ed Reed took the stage next after Flacco and Lewis, hoisting his young son up on his shoulders and belting out Eddie Money's 'Two Tickets to Paradise.'
"Baltimore! Hey, Baltimore, the best team, the best team in the world, is right here. Right here," Reed said. "No better team right now, this year, can beat these boys. Not us. Not in the world. Yeah. Who said what? Who’s got it better than who? Baltimore. Yeah, we play football in Baltimore. We’re going to continue to play football in Baltimore. Joe said, ‘Repeat.’ Here we go. So from New Orleans to Baltimore, who dat said is going to beat them Ravens.”
Reed then led the M&T Bank Stadium crowd in a rendition of the “Seven Nation Army” chant, before wrapping up his speech.
“From my team, Baltimore, God bless," Reed said. "We love you all. We represent you all. This is how we do it, baby. The football city.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh also thanked Baltimore for its support during the Ravens' Super Bowl run.
“Thank you for today," he said. "Thank you for every single day. We talk about the team. Look around. This is the team. This whole stadium is packed with the Baltimore Raven team together. When we were leaving, we had a little rally down there at the Inner Harbor and many of you were there. And we said we were going to carry every single one of you in our hearts down to New Orleans and walk into that stadium, that Superdome stadium, with you in our hearts and play like the Ravens. And you were there with us and you did it. Thank you very much for being here. Our team, I’m talking about all of us, one of the keys was our determination. We played with incredible determination and resolve.
"And judging by how hard it was to get into this stadium, I would say that’s true about our fans, too. Incredible determination to get to this stadium. This place is packed. They had to close the thing off. We’re on the parade coming down here, and every cranny, every sidewalk is full. Every opening where it opens up, every grassy knoll is packed with Ravens fans. They broke down the barriers behind Ray Lewis and mobbed the streets, right? They filled the streets. The city’s going crazy! For the Ravens! The world champion Baltimore Ravens! We had a visit from the greatest of all time, Muhammad Ali, at the start of the stadium. And he used to say, ‘What’s my name?’ We’re going to finish it off right here, with our whole stadium declaring to the football world, loud and clear who we are. Three times. Are you ready? What’s our name? [crowd answers “Ravens”] What’s our name? [crowd answers “Ravens”] What’s our name? [crowd answers “Ravens”] Yeah! Thank you!”
Added Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, the first to speak after the team was introduced: “Wow, on our way back from New Orleans yesterday, Kevin Byrne told me that we might have 30,000 people in this stadium tomorrow. I said, ‘What happens if it gets bigger than that?’ He said, ‘We’re going to have to open up the upper deck.’ I’m glad we did. First of all, I want you to know that I’m honored to represent you, the fans. I’m so very sorry that we’re late and thank you for waiting as long as you did. I don’t know how many more times we can do this, bringing championships home before Baltimore loses that chip on its shoulder. I hope it doesn’t ever happen. Thank you very much.”
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun