By: Timothy Cox
Three young men clad in Baltimore Ravens purple gear, loudly showed their appreciation for Justin Tucker, the veteran kicker with the Baltimore Ravens, at a recent training camp practice session for the NFL squad.
The trio – namely Colby Taylor, Davon Tucker and Jerrod Jones, are all East Baltimore natives, all age 33, fathers of one child each, and importantly – lifelong Ravens fans.
“Correct that,” urged Taylor, “we’re ‘real Ravens fans’. Never the fair-weather type,” he emphasized.
While referring to Justin Tucker as “The GOAT” or (Greatest of All Time) when the player trotted near the fans’ stands, Taylor received an affirmative nod from the kicker, offering that after practice, he’d come to the sidelines and sign Taylor’s Ravens baseball-styled cap adding to the dozen or more signatures he’s already collected.
After all, the 11-year veteran is a cinch to become a speech-maker in Canton’s NFL Hall of Fame – upon retirement.
Meanwhile, Taylor and his long-time neighborhood pals, Davon Tucker and Jones, are all proud, lifelong, devoted Ravens fans.
All three gents were toddlers when then-Baltimore Colts owner, Bob Irsay, hired movers to pack up the team and move to Indianapolis in March 1984.
They do fondly recall when Art Modell relocated his Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1996 – and the Ravens were born. They were elementary schoolers, ready to root for Charm City’s new NFL team.
“The Colts aren’t even a part of our DNA,” noted Taylor, adding “we were so young, we don’t have memories of them.” In their short lifetime, the fellows have witnessed two Super Bowls, 2001 and 2013 – somewhat amazing considering the franchise is less than 30 years old.
“We’re natural-born Ravens fans,” added Jones, a graduate of Bmore’s Merganthaler Vocational Technical High School aka MERVO High, where he played Lacrosse and football. He’s currently a Baltimore County corrections officer.
When it comes to rooting for their Ravens, the threesome are gung-ho about No. 8 – five-year starting QB, Lamar Jackson.
“He’ll show ‘em this year,” said Taylor, an experienced long-distance moving van driver.
“He’s healthy and we support him. Believe it or not he’s got lots of haters who don’t appreciate his talent. Even some local media,” he said.
“We’re rooting for him to bring us another Super Bowl title,” said Davon Tucker, a Baltimore City school bus driver, who claims Justin Tucker as a “third-cousin removed.”
“He’ll definitely prove his doubters wrong. That’s what we’re hoping for,” Taylor said.
According to some NFL talking heads, the Ravens are predicted to have a mediocre season.
But Davon Tucker, Taylor and Jones are confident the team will rebound from last year’s disappointing 8-9 record in the competitive AFC North division, only the second losing season in head coach John Harbaugh’s 15-year tenure.
“Offensively, tight-ends Isaiah Likely, Mark Andrews and wide-receiver Rashod Bateman, should be potent weapons for QB Jackson,” said Taylor, a former Lacrosse player at Baltimore City College High School.
Davon Tucker, an ex-Lake Clifton High School basketballer, said an improved offensive line will instantly help Jackson regain his magical abilities from his 2019 MVP season.
Jones expressed similar sentiment with his boys adding, “this year, we should be 13-4 at least or at best 15-2.” Jones formerly attended Baltimore City College (High School) and once worked as a lab technician at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
All three fellows said they enjoyed their first-time visits to the Under Armour Performance Center complex, where each summer, nearly 1,000 fans are invited daily, to experience the Baltimore Ravens training camp, according to Ravens PR executive, Tom Valente.
The performance center was constructed in 2004. Coupled with additional renovations in 2018, the entire facility and Owings Mills campus is valued at about $54 million, according to published reports.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Ravens play their first regular season game against the New York Jets at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., and on Sept. 18, will face the Miami Dolphins for their first home game.