Next Monday, old Edgar Allan Poe turns 200.
Next Sunday his namesakes, the Baltimore Ravens, play the Pittsburgh Steelers, and with an overtime or three, the game might just end at the stroke of midnight.
So if ye feel spirits swirling where three rivers meet, or if ye feel the Steelers are making a descent into a defensive maelstrom, perhaps play a penny or three on Poe's people.
Not that Baltimore was very lucky for Poe; after all, he did die there after being found in a delirium. But then nothing was ever very lucky for Poe. Burdened with debt, addiction, illness, and dying loves, he danced his entire tortured life along the edges of early death.
And now he has a giant Raven bird running onto the field to celebrate his 200th birthday. Perhaps Poe would just chuckle at that and order another double whiskey with a laudanum chaser, and tell you to never bet the devil your head.
Will the Ravens preside over the fall of the house of Rooney circa 2009 or will that be left to the Rooney estate lawyers?
Will Ed Reed be Ben Roethlisberger's personal imp of the perverse? Will a black cat cross Big Ben's path?
Raven Linebacker Ray Lewis's career has certainly had a touch of the Gothic. After his tell tale heart trials, does he think everything he see's or seems is but a dream within a dream? When he plays his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that's been dreaming, but he loudly proclaims he is God's chose son.
Poe was the Father of American Gothic. He'd appreciate Ray in a Gothic way.
Both teams seek the football Eldorado of the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay and, now that the favorites have fallen into premature playoff burials, the three football playing birds are left to battle the men of Steel.
Tennessee Titan Coach Jeff Fisher must feel like he is in the Pit and Pendulum with all the errors his team made to give the Ravens their day in Pittsburgh.
Perhaps on Poe's birthday the Ravens will roar—or at least cackle—victoriously. Perhaps the black birds will put Pitt into the pit under the pendulum.
Or perhaps Pittsburgh will be the Poe birds haunted palace. Twice the Ravens have been tap, tap, tapping, nearly rapping, on victory's door, and the Steelers sent the craven, ghastly, grim Ravens away croaking Nevermore!
Or will the Ravens defense croak Nevermore to the hopes of Steeler Super Bowl shores?
Will the Baltimore defense take them back to Super Bowl shores? Will Mike Tomlin wonder What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore meant in croaking "Nevermore."
And if the Arizona Cardinals defense exposes Donovan McNabb as a Prince Prospero, it would only be fitting to call the Cardinal defense the Masque of the Red Death.
The Red Death against the Ravens? Poe would be proud.
That Baltimore mascot though—the big, black, goofy Raven bird—seems nothing like a grim, ungainly, gaunt, croaking bird of yore.
When Poe wrote the Raven he never dreamed of a Baltimore football team. Born in Boston raised in Richmond, Virginia he might of been a New England Patriot or Washington Redskin fan.
But he would have appreciated the marketing.
And maybe wrote a tale about the removal of the inept ghost of Brian Billick from the play calling of the Baltimore offensive machine.
So Happy 200th Birthday, Mister Poe.
May ye be with your Annanel Lee
For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling -my darling -my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea -
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
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