No one can call the Ravens Super Bowl posers.
While they were participating in one of the big game's rituals this past week, having their pictures taken in preparation for the national broadcast, CBS brought in a Lombardi Trophy as a prop. The players were to gaze longingly at it, pick it up and inspect it, maybe even cradle it like a newborn.
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It is, after all, the most iconic trophy in football and the reason the Ravens have been working every day since late July. Surely there would be some emotions with the silverware in the room.
But instead of gaping at the trophy, the Ravens threw it out. Shunned it. Had it removed from the building and tossed away like the potential game plan for facing the Falcons.
"Everybody wants to have you take pictures with it," said linebacker Ray Lewis, who led the charge for the Ravens to keep their distance from the ultimate goal. "Like I told my team, don't ever take pictures with nothing that's not yours, nothing that you haven't earned."
Lewis is the only Ravens player who has won a Super Bowl. He was MVP of Super Bowl XXXV, a 34-7 win over the Giants. But even those who have never been this close to the trophy were happy to have it removed and bought into the idea of earning the right to hold it.
"I think it's great," running back Ray Rice said. "I'm not superstitious or anything, but I don't want to see something that's not rightfully ours yet. We have to work to get that. That's why you're going down to New Orleans. With all the fun put aside, this is indeed a total business trip. We are the last two standing. It's the biggest stage for everybody to see. The goal is to go down there and win it."
"We've always been like that around here," safety Ed Reed said. "It's always been about getting better, the next day, getting a little bit better as the days go by, as a player, as a man. Our attitude as far as this game and weeks past has not changed."
The Ravens will depart on their business trip Monday, arriving in New Orleans a day after the 49ers. When they get to the Big Easy, they'll be inundated with images of the Big Trophy, its shape popping up everywhere from the sides of hotels to the patches on the players' jerseys.
But the Ravens are determined not to leave one fingerprint smudge on the actual shining trophy unless -- or until -- they've won.
"When we hold that Lombardi, whoever holds that Lombardi next Sunday, you've earned it when you touch it," Lewis said. "And don't fool yourself and try to trick yourself [by saying], 'This feels great.' Don't go through that . . . I don't believe in jinxes and all that; I just believe in . . . don't set yourself up for something. Just really work for it."
"I don't want to see it," Rice said. "We have the Lamar Hunt [Trophy, awarded to the AFC champion]. We've seen that. That was in our locker room. I don't want to see the Super Bowl trophy unless it's rightfully ours."