The history of professional football in Maryland has long been a point of contention. Teams from Maryland have won three of 57 Super Bowls, even with a 12 year gap where no professional football was played in the state.
The Ravens have a decent shot at winning the Free State’s fourth Super Bowl championship in 2023, listed at +1600 at Maryland’s FanDuel sportsbook, the fifth-best shots of raising the Lombardi Trophy after Super Bowl LVIII. Those odds could swing dramatically, however, as the Ravens stare down the barrel of contentious contract negotiations with 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson.
Jackson will become a free agent in early March if the Ravens don’t retain him for another season under the franchise tag or agree to a new deal with him. The Ravens’ odds could improve (or plummet) as they figure out their long-term plan at the sport’s most important position. Here’s a look at Maryland’s first three Super Bowl wins.
The Early Days: Baltimore Colts
The NFL’s history in Maryland began in 1953 with the Baltimore Colts, one of the National Football League’s flagship franchises during the early days. Led by Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas from 1956 to 1972, the Colts won a pair of NFL Championships prior to the 1965 announcement of the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
The merger created the NFL as we know it today, combining the already existing NFL and the upstart AFL into one brand and creating a new championship game between the winners of each league.
Known as the AFL-NFL World Championship Game in its first two seasons, the championship matchup later became known as the Super Bowl.
Baltimore lost Super Bowl III, the first game to bear the famous name, losing 16-7 to the AFL’s New York Jets following ‘The Guarantee‘ by firebrand Jets’ quarterback Joe Namath, a game that gave legitimacy to the fledgling league and showed that it could hang with the already-established brand.
Baltimore bounced back two years later, winning Super Bowl V in Unitas’ third-to-last season with the team.
The Colts left town in the middle of the night ahead of the 1984 season, jumping ship for Indianapolis after the city of Baltimore threatened to acquire the franchise through eminent domain, beginning the gap of no professional football in the state.
Baltimore Revitalized: The Ravens
Football came back to the Free State in 1996 when Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell relocated his franchise from the shores of Lake Erie to that of the Inner Harbor. Cleveland retained the Browns history, making the Ravens an expansion team—at least in name.
Named after Edgar Allan Poe’s (who spent some of the most important years of his life in Baltimore) most famous work, the Ravens are a rarity among expansion teams in recent years, winning both Super Bowls they’ve appeared in.
Of teams to join the NFL since 1995, only one other franchise, the Carolina Panthers, has managed to make the Super Bowl, losing both of their appearances. The rebooted Cleveland Browns, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans haven’t even made the big game.
Three More Rings… With An Asterisk
The Washington Commanders have three Lombardi Trophies and play in Maryland as well, with FedEx Field located in Landover a few miles outside of Washington, D.C.: while those trophies are physically located within the state of Maryland today, they won all of those championships prior to 1997, when they still called Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (within the District of Columbia) home.
Because the city of Cleveland retained the history of the Browns’ first iteration, the new-look Browns got to keep the eight championships they won prior to the AFL-NFL merger (championships that therefore do not count as Super Bowls): four AAFC championships, and four NFL championships.