First, I would like to acknowledge the fact that I am a Ravens fan. I was born and raised just outside of Baltimore. And while I may not even live near the state of Maryland anymore, I will always cheer for the Purple and Black. As a Ravens fan, it is demanded of me to hate the Steelers. While the Colts and Patriots may have the most popular rivalry going these days, the Steelers and Ravens certainly have the most intense rivalry in the NFL.
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There is definitely a great deal of hostility not just between the teams themselves, but also between the teamsí fan-base. From the games Iíve been able to attend, I donít think Iíve seen as many fights as when the Steelers are in town. They say familiarity breeds contempt, and thatís true for any division rival. Iím sure Steelersí fans hate the Browns and Bengals as much as I do. Although having been born several months after the Colts moved (donít you feel old now?) I can say that I hate the Steelers the most. However, I also respect them the most as well.
But how did this animosity come about? Many fans in Baltimore were left without a team once the Colts skipped town. Theyíd be damned if they were going to root for the Eagles or Redskins, so they began rooting for the next closest team: the Steelers. These (foolish) people continued to do so once the Browns relocated to Baltimore as the Ravens. And letís not forget that the Steelers were one of only two teams (the Bills being the other) to vote against the Brownsí relocation. Many Ravens fans took this personally.
Fortunately, the NFL kept the Ravens in the same division as the Steelers. This means two games per season of defense-first, smash-mouth football (my favorite kind). More often than not, these games tend to decide who earns the division title. Unfortunately, the majority of these games have been won by the Steelers. Iíve never thrown anything while watching football until a certain Monday night game several years ago. If I remember correctly, James Harrison made every single tackle in that game.
For years Steelersí fans have had a moral superiority over the AFC North. The Ravens have employed an acquitted murderer, a convicted drug dealer, and an alleged wife-beater. The Bengals entire roster has been in jail at one point in time. And nobody cares about the Browns, so they donít count. The Steelers have been squeaky clean until this past offseason, and Iíve loved every minute of it. A star wideout traded for next to nothing and a top 5 quarterback suspended for four games would make any Ravens fan happy. Does a Week 4 win mean less in the grand scheme of things? Probably. Do I care? Absolutely not.