By Samuel Njoku
For the 5th straight season, the Baltimore Ravens are in the postseason. And like the other 12 teams in contention, Baltimore has a chance to win a Super Bowl. It seems like forever since the days of Trent Dilfer and Shannon Sharpe connecting for scores on their way to a championship. Now they possess Ray Rice and Joe Flacco on the football field. Players who will need to take their game to the next level in order to have postseason success.
First up for Baltimore is a red hot Indianapolis Colts squad, which is led by rookie quarterback Andrew Luck. The Colts upset the Texans last week and cost them a chance at the No. 1 overall seed and a first round bye. These are two teams going in entirely different directions as it relates to wins and losses. Baltimore has lost 4 of its last 5 games. However, Indianapolis has won 9 of its last 11 games.
A few years ago, images of Mayflower trucks and disgruntled Baltimore Colts fans would headline a contest such as this one. But while the era of the Baltimore Colts will live in sports history forever, the town of Baltimore is officially colored black and purple. The true storyline rests within the return of Coach Chuck Pagano who battled leukemia for most of the 2012 NFL season. His return to Baltimore will be an emotional one for both teams involved.
“[Chuck Pagano] is just one of the guys,” Lardarius Webb told reporters back in September. “He interacts with us just like he’s one of us – like he’s one of the teammates – not our coach. He’s just a likeable guy. [He] always has a smile on his face. He’s always joking around, having a good time, enjoying work. While he was always serious about his job, but he was having fun, and we loved that.”
Don’t think for a second that Chuck Pagano doesn’t love the guys he will be facing on Sunday.
“He sent us a great [text] message about our guys,” Harbaugh told reporters when news broke of Pagano’s leukemia. “Told us to … I can’t really repeat it here, but it was real positive, and it was very forthright in how he expects our guys to play. Our guys loved it. Chuck’s a great friend. He’s a great guy. He was a great Raven. We all love him. Chuck’s going to be fine.”
Pagano is indeed fine as his leukemia has gone into remission. And while emotional for Chuck, the matchup against his former team gives him certain advantages. No other opposing head coach knows the Baltimore Ravens better than Pagano. Chuck will have valuable information that will make things difficult for Harbaugh and the rest of the coaching staff. Will Baltimore stay the course or will they add a few wrinkles for their friend wearing the enemy’s colors? The chess match between two old friends should be fun to watch.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.