If you’re a Ravens fan — and few Baltimoreans aren’t — Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII showdown between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., is shaping up to be a bit of a bummer. But take heart. At least you’re not a Baltimore native and diehard Ravens fan who happens to live in Denver, like Philip Hyatt.
Although Hyatt, 45, and his wife, Nicci, 41, maintain an apartment that is within walking distance of M&T Stadium and are still Ravens season-ticket holders, they’ve spent most of their time in Denver for the past six years.
After relocating to the Mile High City, they had trouble finding places that televised Ravens games and missed watching games with other Baltimore fans. So Nicci Hyatt decided to start a meet-up group for other likeminded souls living in Denver.
“In the beginning, Nicci found a handful of people, and we’d get together in a tiny corner of a bar to watch the games,” said Philip Hyatt. “Now, we have almost 400 people in the group.”
“A local bar here, Choppers, has given us their back room every week for our games,” the Pikesville native continued. “We usually have over 50 people each week, and big games draw over 150. Everyone is from Baltimore, and someone’s always coming back with crab chips and Bergers cookies. Invariably, you end up knowing somebody. It’s Smalltimore, you know.”
Last year, the Ravens pulled off a stunning AFC playoff game upset in Denver on their way to winning the Super Bowl. The Hyatts and their meet-up group were in full glory after that unlikely 38-35 double overtime victory over the Broncos.
“Last year was the pinnacle,” Philip Hyatt said. “[Nicci and I] were on the front page of [The Baltimore Sun] and on TV. All the networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — everyone was calling my wife. This year, with the Broncos doing well, it’s kind of fueled the fire and turned our indifference [toward the Broncos and their fans] to hatred.”
Since Ravens games are usually televised earlier in the day (Mountain Time), those backing Denver and Baltimore can typically avoid being in the same place at the same time.
But “there are a lot more Broncos fans than Ravens fans in Denver, [and] things can get a little testy,” said Hyatt. “Sometimes they will spill over into the back room where we are, and we’ll usually boo them.”
Unlike the Hyatts, Goucher Hillel executive director Rabbi Josh Snyder, a Philadelphia native, finds himself living in Baltimore but obsessed with the Seahawks. He first embraced the Seattle team while in middle school.
“I wasn’t really into sports, but then my friends started getting into football,” said Snyder. “I never really liked the [Philadelphia] Eagles, and I saw the Seahawks and started liking them as an underdog team.”
Snyder recalled watching the Seahawks beat the Broncos in November 1992; he’s looking forward to seeing them do the same Sunday.
“There’s a feeling among Seahawks fans that this is it,” said the rabbi. “I’m really hopeful that I will be able to get a ticket. But either way, it’s exciting. Especially after being in Baltimore last year, you get a sense of what this means to a city. I was happy for Ravens fans last year, and this year a lot of friends are excited for me. They’ve been calling and texting.”
As for the Hyatts, they aren’t planning anything special.
“I’ll probably just sit home and cry,” said Philip Hyatt jokingly. But he will still be watching. “It’s the Super Bowl after all. What are you going to do?”
The financial planner isn’t sure who he’ll root for.
“I’ll be happy for the friends I have here who are Broncos fans,” he said, “but I won’t be too unhappy if they lose.”