Look here, as the clock hit zero in New Orleans, and you see John Harbaugh, subdued when greeting his younger brother at midfield, but happier when greeted by his boss and family.
Scan elsewhere, and you’ll find Joe Flacco, relaxed and calm as usual even in his greatest moment of triumph, but casual enough to drop an F-bomb in front of the largest TV audience of the year.
And a few yards away, with the confetti falling all around him, you hear Ray Lewis let out one more yell as he buries Terrell Suggs in a long embrace, two banged-up warriors, one leaving on top, the other, like with fellow stalwarts Ed Reed and Matt Birk, finally getting to see what it feels like.
The Baltimore Ravens’ journey to an NFL championship more resembled the crazy plot twists of a wildly imagined novel or movie than most others. Tragedy, inspiration, upheaval, controversy, an epic playoff game and a strange, exhilarating Super Bowl – this had it all.
Start with the passing of Art Modell Sept. 6, days before the season kicked off. True, he had sold his share of the Ravens franchise and Steve Bisciotti was in charge, but it was Modell that brought the NFL back to the passionate fans of Baltimore, in turn utterly ruining his legacy as a league leader because of the scars he gave to Cleveland. He was angel and devil, equally loved and loathed.
But the Ravens, of course, loved Art. They also loved O.J. Brigance, the one-time linebacker and current director of player development who, at age 38, was diagnosed with ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and they wanted to give him something special as he battled this incurable malady.
This already was a team spilling over with hunger after the way the previous season’s AFC Championship had ended in New England. Lee Evans couldn’t hold on to the winning touchdown. Billy Cundiff’s short, game-tying field goal hooked wide. Such things can ruin lesser teams, but it only drove the Ravens to get things right.