“Hi. I can’t come to the phone right now. After the beep please leave a message…Go Ravens!”
Her voicemail recording tells it all, well almost. There is the little matter of her headstone.
Eldersburg resident Jo Ann Bozentka, approaching 80, loves her family and her friends but when it comes to football season, leave her alone. That’s Ravens time.
“I’m not one to go to a lot of parties because I can’t concentrate on all the moves,” said Bozentka. “I’m a die-hard fan. That's why it’s on my grave.”
Yep. Botzentka has had her headstone engraved to say “Go Ravens.” It sits next to her deceased husband’s stone, which reads “Go Orioles” in honor of his favorite team.
Botzentka went to the Baltimore Colts games for more than 30 years and was even a majorette back in the day. She became a Ravens fan once the team moved into the area in 1996, and she was one of the original PSL owners at M&T Bank stadium, giving her first rights to tickets.
She attended every game before her hip replacement surgery a couple of years ago. Now she spends her Sundays during the season glued to her television for every play.
“I have my whole condo decorated,” said Botzentka. “I just love having the team here. I think it breathes life into Maryland.”
Her passion for the team carries over into almost every aspect of her life, even when it comes to sending well wishes over the holidays.
“Regardless of whether she sends her friends or family members a Christmas card, a birthday card, or a St. Patrick’s Day card, you can count on ‘Go Ravens’ having been written above her signature with a note about Super Bowl hopes,” said her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Fitzgerald.
Even with the recent death of her sister, Botzentka knew best how to commemorate her sister's life, using her love for the Ravens to help cope with her loss.
“Grandma wore purple, and later her jersey, and at the end of the service, she led the family in a rousing rendition of both the Baltimore Colts and Ravens fight songs to properly send off Aunt Bonnie,” said Fitzgerald. “It was priceless!”
When it comes to Eldersburg catching the Ravens spirit, Botzentka makes sure local businesses know her opinion when it comes to their décor.
“When I grocery shop I only go to and when I first came here two years ago there was no purple in their store during football season and I got all upset," said Botzenka. "I said to the manager, ‘Where is your purple?’ They put balloons up there the next year and I’m hoping they do it again this week.”
“There’s a lot of Redskins fans up here and I can’t stand the Redskins,” she added.
This Sunday local residents might be able to hear Botzentka from her Eldersburg condo as she cheers on her team. As for her predictions on Sunday’s big game?
“Houston has been coming along pretty good and they have that rookie quarterback, but our line’s going to go right through them,” she said. “I think with our running game and Ray Rice, they’re sunk. If we get after the quarterback I think definitely we're going to win the game by 8 to 10 points. It will be 23 to 10 or something like that.”
When it comes to winning the Super Bowl, Botzentka doesn’t think it will happen this year – but she always has faith.
“This year I have a little reservation about it. I’m wishing that they do but I’ll tell you that guy from Boston, the good-looking quarterback guy, they can’t stop him,” she said. “They’re predicting him to repeat, but miracles can happen any given Sunday.”