Staring out at thousands of people crowding the
"There is no Ravens without you guys," he said.
Behind him, his teammates also held their phones and cameras out.
"We're not going to New Orleans for nothing else but to bring a ring back to Baltimore," Lewis said.
"That's what I came to hear," said Mike Dawson of Essex.
A few fans had arrived for the Super Bowl Send Off Rally as early as 7 a.m. Others filtered in throughout the morning, ignoring the rain while staking out spots to see the stage or one of several giant-screen televisions. Coach
Harbaugh called Baltimore fans "the best in the world" and said those who couldn't make the trip to New Orleans would be there in spirit.
Then the players left the stage and gathered, hands held high, as veteran safety
"That's Baltimore, man. That city is awesome," Lewis said after the team arrived in New Orleans. "Today's sendoff was absolutely electric. ... I told John [Harbaugh] and I told a couple of other guys, 'This feeling is great. The sendoff is awesome. But there's nothing better than coming home as world champions.' That's what we're here for, to bring a world championship back to Baltimore."
Dawson found an elevated spot to the right of the stage for his three children and a nephew. When the biggest moments came, he lifted his 4-year-old daughter Payton up and propped her on his shoulder. The older kids didn't have school, but Dawson planned to take them anyway.
"This is awesome," said Logan Dawson, 11. "It's going to be a memory I have all my life."
Patrick Starleper, an insurance agent from Federal Hill, maneuvered through the crowd with a long stroller holding his identical twin sons, Brock and Tucker. Born in early October, in the middle of the
"We couldn't miss it," Starleper said. "I'll tell them about it later."
Entertainment began at 6 a.m. at the Tir Na Nog restaurant with radio station 98 Rock. While listening to the show, local artist Donald "Doc. Toonz" Tyson-Bey and his girlfriend, Ashley Bacon, painted their faces in festive Ravens colors. Outside later, Tyson-Bey held out a poster-sized painting of Lewis for fans to look at. Protected in plastic, it showed Lewis in mid-scream.
"I decided to paint it last night," said Tyson-Bey, who has painted several murals in the city. "Took me seven hours. But Ray Lewis, he brings this energy to the city. I only hope he can continue to do it after his career."
Ravens radio play-by-play announcer Gerry Sandusky officially began the rally at 11:30 a.m. and led a discussion with fellow radio broadcasters
The trio often turned its attention to the national media, saying they repeatedly had underestimated the Ravens this year.
People packed the balconies around Harborplace for most of the morning. Ravens cheerleaders and the mascot Poe pumped up the crowd. Men and women lugging dufflebags sold Ray Lewis shirts, towels and pennants. The big screens showed a boy who'd had the No. 92 — defensive tackle
"It's unbelievable," Ravens center
"Let them keep underestimating our Ravens," she said. "Because that's when we shine the best."
Meanwhile, in Washington, Maryland Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin made a Super Bowl bet with their colleagues from California. The Marylanders put up Faidley's crab cakes, Bergers cookies and Heavy Seas beer; Mikulski said she would add a can of hairspray. California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein bet Dungeness crab, Napa Valley wine, sourdough bread and a selection of Northern California cheeses.
The Ravens arrived in New Orleans several hours after the rally, emerging from their chartered plane into sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s. Led off the plane by Harbaugh, the players came out in suits and sport coats, many wearing headphones.
Some could be heard laughing, and the words "Super Bowl" floated out from their chatter. The team boarded four buses and, with police motorcycles leading the way, headed to its hotel.
It didn't take long for players to start broadcasting their arrival. "Hello New Orleans. It's officially Super Bowl week," tweeted wide receiver