Football | The football team’s best-kept secret: John Dame
Published: Monday, April 30, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 30, 2012 07:04
“He grew up in the restaurant business.”
So reads the caption to an audio slideshow on the Tufts Journal, which dispatched a photographer to Linwoods Restaurant in Baltimore. John Dame’s parents founded Linwoods more than 20 years ago. In the opening picture, John Dame is smiling, wearing a jacket and collared shirt, as chefs go to work behind him.
This is the closest John Dame has gotten to even toeing the spotlight — or to skimping on work. His duties often go unnoticed outside the football team; the hours spent watching film or texting players are a product of his desire to be around the game and those associated with it. This past spring break, Rayner and some teammates road-tripped down south. They stopped at Linwoods. John Dame hooked them up with dessert.
“He’s done his homework, to say the least,” Doll said. “It helps a lot at practice, because it give you a different perspective. He’s not coach or a player, he’s just your friend.”
In eighth grade, he founded a middle school radio station. When he moved to high school, he founded another. Between school years, he worked for WNST sports radio and the now-defunct WVIE. He earned weekly appearances to talk Ravens on Saturdays, got credentialed for Orioles games and still worked the restaurant on Saturday nights.
He founded Ravens Blackout, a fan blog that received 1,000 views per day at its peak but closed shop in September. Earlier this season, he got former Baltimore receiver Qadry Ismail to deliver an inspirational speech to the Jumbos via Skype. Last summer, he worked with 92 Q, a Baltimore hip-hop station. That was his final foray into radio.
“I’d rather be on the inside than on the outside,” he said, cracking a smile. “If I get successful, and then I get fired like everyone else does, then maybe I could go into the media.”
This summer, John Dame will work with the Towson University football staff, absorbing all he can before he returns to Civetti’s program. He’ll then welcome in the Class of 2016 — a new crop of Jumbos, a new crop of friends.
John Dame is sitting in the middle of a green, L-shaped sofa between a running back and an offensive lineman, elbows dug into his knees, staring at a wall-mounted television in a third-floor bedroom at Delta Upsilon. A defensive end spreads out on another couch, wearing boxers and a bathrobe. A dark brown lab-shepherd-collie mix alternates between lying prone on the windowsill and peeking out the door.
Today is Wednesday. Wire Wednesday, as they call it. They gather to watch the Baltimore-based HBO drama, but the tradition’s official moniker makes it seem like John Dame is the main attraction. Wire Wednesday with John Dame. This is John Dame’s third time through the series. The wildly popular character Omar is the background on his iPhone.
“There’s a reason why Omar’s so popular: He kills dealers to steal their drugs,” John Dame said. “At the same time, he’s very philosophical. Like he says, ‘You come at the king, you best not miss.’”
Every week, John Dame walks to the Professors Row fraternity to watch “The Wire.” He knows the front door’s access code by now. Walking up to the white porch, he notices new pillows on the second-floor balcony. It’s pledging week. The house should be clean today.
Not one step into the room, he’s greeted by a chorus of full-name cheers. Today, they’re on season four. Once his red-and-black book bag hits the floor and he plops into that green L-shaped sofa, the players begin talking about the show, its characters, plot and John Dame’s city.
At sporadic moments throughout the episode, the idle chatter shifts to football.
It always shifts to football.