“I’d just spend the day there. Back then, it was very accessible to fans,” Bikle said of the camp at the former Western Maryland College. Players would lie under the trees and read their playbooks, he said.
Most of the players, including the late quarterback Johnny Unitas and wide receiver Raymond Berry, knew Bikle by name at the time, he said. One time, Berry greeted Bikle with an autographed picture in response to Bikle sending him a letter, Bikle said.
After the Colts left Baltimore in the infamous Mayflower moving trucks in 1984 and Bikle’s son was born in the early 1990s, Bikle said he wondered if his son would ever have a chance to experience an NFL game. Pittsburgh Steelers games were sold out and the Washington Redskins had a waiting list for tickets, Bikle said.
Then, Baltimore got another NFL franchise when the former Cleveland Browns became the Ravens in 1996.
So when Bikle, a Ravens season-ticket holder, learned shortly after the team clinched a Super Bowl berth that he had not been selected in the lottery for the right to purchase tickets to the game, he found tickets online to take his family to the game.
“I asked my wife and son, ‘Do you want to go to the Super Bowl?’ They kind of just looked at me,” Bikle said.
“He’s always talked about going, maybe sometime, but I never thought it would be now,” said Josh Bikle, 19. “I mean, one night, he just came downstairs, asked ... ‘You want to go?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’”
“I think it’s great. It’s something he’ll remember the rest of his life,” Tom Bikle said.
Bikle’s wife, Lisha, is returning to New Orleans for the Super Bowl after spending time there with a Lutheran church group helping to rebuild homes after Hurricane Katrina, Tom Bikle said.
The family will get to see New Orleans and enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience of attending a Super Bowl, he said.
“In my lifetime, I wasn’t sure the Ravens were ever going back to the Super Bowl,” Tom Bikle said.
“With Ray Lewis retiring, and three or four of the key players going to be under free agency, it may be tough in the next couple years,” he said.