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NFL's Ravens will be rooting on, watching Phelps

Phelps_220 Olympian Michael Phelps might swim like a fish, but he thinks like a bird -- a Baltimore Raven to be exact.

The Ravens, the favorite NFL team of hometown hero Phelps, have received permission from NBC to show his final race Saturday on the scoreboard after their exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings.

Phelps is on a historic march for eight gold medals in Beijing and already has won six. His last race is the 400-meter medley relay, which is expected to start about 15 minutes after the Ravens-Vikings game ends.

The Ravens, who are expecting a crowd of about 70,000, plan to organize a cheer for Phelps after the first quarter, which they have been told will be shown to him before his race.

"We want to let him know all of Baltimore is behind him," said Kevin Byrne, the team's senior vice president.

Phelps recently said he plans to move from Ann Arbor, Mich., back to Baltimore not only to be close to his family but to his favorite team. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti saw that and sent him a No. 08 jersey signed by the entire team.

After Phelps was awarded his first gold medal, TV captured his sister tossing him a duffel bag from the stands -- the very bag in which the jersey was sent.

NBC reporter Andrea Kremer told the Ravens that Phelps was approached by a couple of reporters who were interested in taking a look at his newest prized possession.

So Phelps pulled out his Ravens jersey, holding it up with pride.

No, the reporters told him. We were talking about your gold medal.

-- Sam Farmer

Photo credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times

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