Thank You, Baltimore

Mike Duffy offers a fond farewell to Ravens fans as a five-plus year career comes to an end.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Saturday, October 1st, 2011 at 11:49 am | Categories: Mike Duffy

I’ll never forget my first road trip as a member of the Ravens.

It was preseason, 2006, and we were traveling to Minnesota to play the Vikings. I knew the next few years were going to be interesting after experiencing that one weekend.

Not only did tornados in the Minneapolis area force our incoming flight to circle the terminal for over an hour through serious turbulence, but I also missed the post-game bus to the airport and was nearly stranded.

Were it not for a kind NFL security official speeding down the highway and across the tarmac to meet the team just as the doors of the plane were closing, I might still be homeless on the Twin Cities streets.

As my five-plus-year career with the Ravens comes to an end, it’s the crazy, unpredictable times like that that made this job so interesting.

Rewind to that year. After two years of interning in the league, I had the chance to play a pickup basketball game with a group of NFL public-relations types and media pundits at the Seahawks/Steelers Super Bowl.

One of the point guards was Kevin Byrne, the Ravens’ Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations. It might have been my lanky 6-foot-5 frame or my Rodman-esque hustle, but that meeting ended up in an interview and eventual job.

Signing on to be the beat writer for BaltimoreRavens.com, I gladly moved from San Francisco to Charm City. The rest is history.

Through the years, I’ve had the chance to interact with incredible coaches, from Brian Billick to John Harbaugh and all members of their staffs in-between, amazingly insightful players – I’m talking to you Bart Scott and Tom Zbikowski – and interesting co-workers.

The stories are too numerous to tell.

My best football memory? I guess it would be the Titans playoff game in Coach Harbaugh’s first year here. Running down the sideline as Matt Stover split the uprights to win it was the first time I’d ever experienced that post-season rush live.

My worst? Watching a huge lead dissolve in Pittsburgh during the playoffs as “Renegade” was booming over the Heinz Field loudspeakers and the press box was literally swaying back and forth.

My favorite city to visit? Selfish, but I’d have to say my hometown of Charlotte, N.C.

My favorite trip? Definitely San Francisco in 2007, when I got to attend the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park with friends on Saturday before a Ravens win on Sunday.

Which leads me to my new gig. I’ll be covering the music scene in Los Angeles for Fender Musical Instruments and Fender.com.

As those of you who follow my Twitter account (@duffstar) know, it’s another dream of mine.

No doubt, I am leaving BaltimoreRavens.com in very capable hands.

Ryan Mink and Sarah Ellison have the Ravens covered like a blanket. And they’re even bringing someone else in! Of course, that person will probably not have the shaggy hair and soul patch that you have come to know and love over the years.

I will miss football and being embedded behind the scenes. I will miss seeing the fans out in public and asking a you simple question – “What do you think is going to happen this weekend?”

I will also enjoy watching as a fan.

With my Ravens jersey now acceptable to wear on gameday, I’m heading west.

And contrary to my fellow North Carolinian Thomas Wolfe’s novel “You Can’t Go Home Again,” I feel like I can on Sundays.

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