BALTIMORE — Three young men clad in purple Baltimore Ravens gear loudly showed their appreciation for Justin Tucker, the team’s veteran kicker, at a recent training camp practice session for the NFL squad.
The trio — Colby Taylor, Davon Tucker and Jerrod Jones — are all 33-year-old East Baltimore natives, fathers of one child each, and lifelong Ravens fans.
“Correct that — we’re ‘real’ Ravens fans. Never the fairweather type,” Taylor emphasized.
Taylor received an affirmative nod from Justin Tucker as he trotted near the fans’ stands at the Under Armour Performance Center, and the future Hall of Fame kicker would come to the sidelines after practice and sign Taylor’s hat, adding to the dozen or more signatures he’s already collected.
Taylor and his longtime neighborhood pals, Davon Tucker and Jones, were newborns when then-Baltimore Colts owner Bob Irsay hired movers to pack up the team and head to Indianapolis in March 1984.
They 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 franchise.
“The Colts aren’t even a part of our DNA,” Taylor said. “We were so young, we don’t have memories of them.”
In their lifetime, the fellows have witnessed two Super Bowl wins, 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 Baltimore’s Merganthaler Vocational (MERVO) Technical High School, 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.”
Davon Tucker, a Baltimore City school bus driver who claims Justin Tucker as a “third-cousin removed,” said Jackson will “definitely prove his doubters wrong.”
“We’re rooting for him to bring us another Super Bowl title,” he said.
The Ravens begin their season on the road Sunday against the New York Jets before returning to Baltimore a week later for their home opener against the Miami Dolphins.
Some NFL pundits predict a mediocre season for the Ravens, but the trio of fans 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 of head coach John Harbaugh’s 15-year tenure.
“Offensively, tight ends Isaiah Likely and 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, who played basketball at Lake Clifton High School in the city, said an improved offensive line will instantly help Jackson regain his form from his 2019 MVP season.
Jones who attended Baltimore City College (High School) and once worked as a lab technician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, agreed.
“This year, we should be 13-4 at least or at best 15-2.” Jones said.