Mild-mannered body shop owner by most days, outrageously wigged Purple Dame on Ravens gamedays — that's the story of Severn's Cindy Pierce. And a bust of her in the Pro Football Hall of Fame proves it.
"Oh, yeah. It was very cool," Pierce, 46, says of the day last February when she was feted at a ceremony before the Super Bowl and given a copy of the bust that was placed in the Hall of Fame in nearby Canton — one of five "Boldest Fans" honored this year.
Still, Pierce, whose trademark purple wigs help her stand out in a stadium full of Ravens fans, acknowledges that she wasn't in much of a celebratory mood. Not when her team, the one that by rights should have been playing for the Lombardi Trophy, had lost that last-minute heartbreaker to the New England Patriots.
"Given the mood of Baltimore after our loss to New England, and making that bittersweet trip to Indy, where they were holding the induction ceremony — it just seemed a bit rude," she says. "It was hard to be so happy, to be honored that way, in light of the way our Ravens Nation was feeling that weekend."
And yet, Pierce's fanaticism — which she traces back to watching a beaming Tony Siragusa, his young daughter in tow, mingling with fans during the Ravens' 2001 championship parade — remains unabated. She's a proud board member of the Professional Football Ultimate Fan Association. Pierce is pledging to attend every home game this season, bedecked as only she can be, whipping herself and every other fan in her section into a screaming frenzy.
Do you get dressed up in your Purple Dame outfit for every home game?
Absolutely. ... I get started at 6 o'clock in the morning — it takes me a couple hours to put on all my gear. I'm usually down to the stadium no later than 10 o'clock. Then it's Festivus Maximus every gameday. … It starts with a jersey, beads, a little face paint — for me, getting into my gear is much like the players getting into their gear. We bring a lot of energy to the stadium, and that ignites the players.
Same outfit every game?
I have purple spiked hair. I paint my eyes much like the Ravens' eyes. I wear a number 98 jersey, with 98 on the back [in honor of Siragusa]. I have a collection of beads that I wear, along with a purple-and-black boa, wristbands and handmade bling. ... And I have my camo pants, with my "Any dogs in the house?" Ray Lewis headband and my Nike hightops that are covered in Ravens autographs.
What do you hear from other fans?
It's always positive, even from fans of other teams. As unofficial ambassadors to the stadium, we always try to promote fellowship and sportsmanship. ... You know, you hate the team, you don't hate the fans.
Have you ever had any interaction with the players?
I've had the opportunity over the years to meet many of the players and speak to them. ... They're very approachable; they're always generous and polite. I've got to tell you, here recently I've met Jacoby Jones, and he is one of the funniest men you will ever meet. ... He's really one of a kind.
What does your boyfriend think about all this? (Pierce and David Ricci, who works for Anne Arundel County, have been dating for about eight years.)
He goes to all the games. He joins me sometimes in going to different charity events and fundraisers. Sometimes you can't help but think that this isn't what he signed up for, but he's my best friend, my bodyguard and all around, a great sport.
It's funny, my boyfriend and I have been together for eight years, and actually, on my ring finger on my left hand I wear a Ravens ring. So he figures he's off the hook because I'm already married.
Predictions for this year?
Super Bowl, baby! We don't look back. We just keep going. There is no in-between for us. It's New Orleans or bust!