Ray Lewis danced on stage with the Super Bowl trophy on a cold and rainy day that was simply beautiful for 200,000 Baltimore Ravens fans.
Lewis and the rest of team were feted in a victory parade today that ended in front of City Hall, where the MVP in the 34-7 Super Bowl victory over the New York Giants was the first to come on the stage.
The linebacker then broke into his sliding, side-to-side dance that he does before each game.
Just a year ago, Lewis was implicated in a double murder after the Super Bowl in Atlanta. Murder charges against him were dropped and he pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
"Baltimoooooooore. Hey, this is me and all my teammates and we need you to help us," Lewis said, asking the crowd to join him in the team's traditional pregame chant.
"What time is it?" Lewis asked.
"Game time," the crowd responded.
"Any dogs in the house?" he asked again.
"Woof, woof, woof," the crowd replied.
Let the Ravens Reign
Earlier, team owner Art Model thanked the crowd, which responded, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."
Lewis then joined Art Modell on stage. The 75-year-old owner tried to imitate the linebacker's dance, prompting Lewis to hug him, perhaps to stop the dancing.
Coach Brian Billick followed Lewis.
"This team taught me that the word team is really just an extension of the word family, and you all are a part of that family," Billick said. "Believe me when I tell you it's you people that brought Art Modell and this organization here, and you all are the reason that I am here."
By the time the parade reached War Memorial Plaza in front of City Hall, thousands had packed the square, craning for a view of the stage.
Baltimore Police Commissioner Edward Norris estimated the crowd along the parade and at City Hall to be 200,000.
The Marching Ravens band started the parade, along with the team's three mascots, Edgar, Allan and Poe — named for the 19th century writer of the macabre poem from which the team derived its name.
A little further behind, team president David Modell held the Vince Lombardi trophy as he walked. His father, owner Art Modell, rode in a limousine; the players rode in 30 military vehicles.
"I told my husband this morning, it's raining too much, the weather's not good, stay home, but I'm going," said Mary Arthes, 57, of Ocean Pines on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Six fans waiting for the team at War Memorial Plaza got onto the balcony of a nearby building and held signs spelling the team's name, prompting the crowd to chant "R-A-V-E-N-S."
Bringing Baltimore Together
The Ravens returned home Monday, 156 years to the day after Poe's poem "The Raven" was first published in the New York Evening Mirror. Poe lived briefly in Baltimore and is buried in the city.
Joan Duppins, 65, of Baltimore, was at City Hall with her grandson, Graham, carrying a homemade sign reading, "God bless you Ravens."
"The best thing about this is the love you feel all through the city. This has brought all of Baltimore together," Duppins said. "No matter who you are, when you see the Ravens flag flying, you honk your horn and wave, you just feel the love."