20 years ago today, Baltimore fans phoned in the Ravens’ new name

The Ravens have had 20 great years of not being called the Browns anymore.

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In case you forgot to buy a gift – and we know those of you in Cleveland did – the Baltimore Ravens reminded you that they turned 20 years old Tuesday.

They still aren’t old enough to buy a drink, but they were old enough on the day they were born to give Cleveland fits. That’s former Browns owner Art Modell revealing what he’d call his new team after he dragged it from Lake Erie into the open arms of Baltimore a month earlier.

More interesting than Cleveland’s trail of tears – the tragedy of the new, more horrible Browns is well-documented – is how Modell went about renaming his team. According to the Ravens’ website, the owner’s first move was to ask the Indianapolis (formerly Baltimore) Colts whether Baltimore could have that nickname back, but he was rebuffed.

After a series of focus groups to pick finalists, the team partnered with The Baltimore Sun and conducted a 24-hour telephone poll – remember, the Internet was a newborn at the time, too — to determine what it would be called. Ravens, Americans, Marauders, Mustangs and Railers (Raiders misspelled?) were the choices given to the callers who participated on March 28, 1996.

The top three vote-getters went like this: Ravens, 22,463; Americans, 5,635; Maurauders, 5,650. And a day later Modell put Cleveland in the rear-view mirror for good by announcing the name that would be given to two Super Bowl winners while Cleveland still awaits its first.

Happy Birthday, Ravens.

Love, Cleveland.