Fan stories

Why I’m a Raven: Ian Haskell

Ian Haskell has only been a Ravens fan for a few seasons but he’s already an obsessive and he has his own YouTube channel, called An Englishman’s NFL, which you should definitely check out. Here’s his Ravens fan story.

In 2014, my mate moved to the US and started college in Baltimore, so when he would come back and talk about the NFL, the Ravens felt like a natural link. Also, I’d just watched The Blind Side for the first time, so with the Ravens topping off what was already a great story by drafting Oher in the first round, it seemed like it was meant to be.

Now, I would say I’m an obsessive fan. I try to keep up with the Ravens app to stay in the loop but as the season gets going I struggle to take it in because I need to keep up with 31 other teams and make sure my fantasy team is in a good place. The Ravens podcast is a good listen and the media team constantly give you bite-size updates, which is great. As I have continued to learn about the NFL my level of obsession has naturally grown. Guessing the 53 man rosters and studying free agency and the draft is a highlight for me.

I’ve only seen one Ravens game. I prefer not to talk about it but it was Wembley 2017. One of the worst games I could have gone to watch. The Ravens lost 44-7 against the Jags and they had something like 40 yards of offence at halftime. It was shocking. Flacco had a few unlucky INTs but in general, we were terrible. Can’t knock the massive hotdog I had in Wembley though.

When it comes to favourite players (and remember, I’m a relatively young fan), I can’t look any further than Steve Smith Snr. I became a fan post-Super Bowl, so those legends had moved on and we haven’t had a ton since, but SS is something else. I occasionally watch his highlights on YouTube to remember what it was like to have a player with such desire and talent. That Bengals stiff arm TD, the fight in the end zone, showing Carolina what they let go and recovering from his torn achilles. The guy’s a legend and for me easily my favourite yet. The only thing I can say is I wish we had him for longer. Matt Judon is also someone whose story I love and I always want to see him perform well. A small school stud who was doubted? I’m in.

One of my favourite memories as a fan is an odd one. I remember watching the Ravens lose to the Patriots in the playoffs in my first season as a Raven. I was using the ESPN app’s little field view play by play. It sticks out for me because it was the first time I really cared and felt connected to the Ravens. We lost, if I remember correctly, right at the death and it hurt like hell. It was the middle of the night and my phone was killing my eyes. Staring at the screen, waiting for an update. I like how I was that dedicated to finding out about the game and it maybe surprised me.

I have a Super Bowl program from the win over the 49ers. It was a gift from my brother-in-law on my birthday one year. I treasure it and have read it cover to cover. I think the first time I got some Ravens merch was a huge highlight, too. I got a Torrey Smith T-shirt which was great until we let him go weeks later!

Photo: Keith Allison

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