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Old Colts delight in Ravens' NFL title
They watched the Super Bowl flanked by family, friends and Fritos. Many former Baltimore Colts, some with championship rings themselves, celebrated quietly. But others, such as Jim Parker, said the Ravens' victory over the New York Giants made him feel and act like a kid again.
"Every time [the Ravens] scored a touchdown, I jumped up and ran through the house, hollering," said Parker, a 285-pound Hall of Fame lineman, who lives in Columbia. "Watching that game on my big-screen TV, I almost felt 50 years younger. I felt like coming out of retirement."
Parker, 66, starred on Colts teams that defeated the Giants for NFL championships in 1958 and '59. Last year, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for four months. But none of that mattered Sunday night as he reveled in the Ravens' 34-7 win.
"It put Baltimore back on the map of the football world," Parker said. "I loved the Colts, but I respect the Ravens."
On the counter of his barbecue restaurant in Hunt Valley yesterday, Andy Nelson displayed the best of both eras: a replica of a winged raven perched atop a Colts helmet.
"It seemed appropriate," said Nelson, an All-Pro defensive back on the Colts' title teams of the '50s. "My wife even stuck a Ravens flag on her car. Me? I'm just happy for the town and real glad to see a defense-minded team win the thing. Those guys swarm to the ball; the Ravens have great tacklers."
That the game was a rout didn't surprise Roy Jefferson, a wide receiver on the Colts' 1971 Super Bowl championship team.
"The Ravens kicked the Giants' behinds with that awesome, awesome defense," Jefferson said. "Their linebackers read plays better than any group I've seen" - including the '71 Colts corps of Mike Curtis, Ted Hendricks and Ray May, he said.
Thirty years ago, Jefferson caught five passes as Baltimore defeated Dallas in Super Bowl V. Could those Colts have won Sunday?
"Absolutely not," he said. "The Ravens' defensive front seven would have killed us."
Not that the new champs are perfect, the old Colts said.
"I'm not going to say yet that the Ravens have the best defense ever," said Fred Miller, a standout defensive tackle on the Super Bowl V team. "I was a little distressed by the lack of a pass rush from the interior linemen."
The biggest threat to a Baltimore dynasty may be the threat of free agency, old-timers said.
"I hope the system doesn't screw up the Ravens like it has all the other good teams," said Raymond Berry, the Colts' Hall of Fame receiver.
Berry singled out Trent Dilfer as a key to the Ravens' success.
"Most quarterbacks have to thread their way through a minefield in their first few years, and a lot don't make it," said Berry, former head coach at New England. "Dilfer was blown up by a mine or two - and came back. I admire his mental toughness."
Balderdash, said Gino Marchetti, the Colts' grizzled Hall of Fame defensive end.
"Dilfer had to go into the locker room during the game because his left hand had a couple of little `pinkie hurts.' That's carrying it a little too far," Marchetti said. "All I could think of was a game in Chicago where [ John] Unitas was bleeding from an awful beating but kept playing."
Marchetti also suggested the '58 Colts would have handled the Ravens on Sunday.
"We had greatest halfback who ever played [Lenny Moore], the greatest quarterback [Unitas] and the greatest receiver [Berry]," he said. "We might have won, 10-0."
Comparing past and present clubs is futile, said Jim O'Brien, whose last-second field goal gave Baltimore its first Super Bowl victory.
"This Baltimore team is bigger, stronger and faster than ours," he said, "though they're probably not as nice a bunch of guys as we were.
"All that matters is, the Ravens are good enough to win in their day, as we were in ours."