Ravens' super fan
Baltimore's Capt. Dee-Fense in running to be in Super Bowl ad
Friday, Jan. 9, 2009
For years, from September to January, Larry "Wes" Hensen was a man without a country.
Sure, he was a U.S. Navy veteran who continued working for the Department of Defense after he retired from the service, but the Baltimore native living in Waldorf didn't have a real reason to cheer during football season.
"I had no team," said the married father of two grown daughters, Donella and Chandra. "I was a [Baltimore] Colts fan back in the day, so I was very excited when Baltimore got an NFL team."
When the Ravens came to town in 1996, Hensen made it a habit of attending every home game and was often seen and heard chanting "Defense. Defense."
It became a "thing," something he was becoming known for among other fans. In time, a woman approached him and asked if he was captain of the defense or something.
He pounced on the idea.
The next game, Hensen wore a shirt that had "Capt. Defense" across the back.
Over time, his "uniform" evolved to include a Ravens jersey with patches displaying the four branches of the military, links of fence chain wrapped around his shoulders, specially-made purple, black and gray camouflage pants, combat boots and purple captain's hat. He also carries a sign imploring fans to chant for the defense.
He is one of those fans — sometimes they are called super fans, others call them ultimate fans.
"We're no more important than any other fan," said Hensen, the grandfather of two-year-old, Aria, who already has matching Capt. Dee-Fense camouflage pants.
Like the famed Hogettes who support the Washington Redskins or the Cheeseheads who root for the Green Bay Packers of Wisconsin, Hensen goes to every home game and makes it to a lot of away games, dressed in his uniform, making his rounds, meeting people and getting his picture taken.
"You don't know who you're going to meet," Hensen said. "A bank president, a used car salesman, manager of McDonald's, we're all just fans."
A local celebrity in Baltimore, where he has filmed a commercial for M&T Bank and has his face on billboards, Hensen has parlayed his status as a super fan into giving back to the community. He has been active in charity work with the Ravens organization, is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's "Hall of Fans" and started his own nonprofit organization, the Captain Dee Foundation, to help children in need.
He is a member of Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the Charles County Literacy Society.
Now, he hopes that his story of getting to hold the Super Bowl trophy following Baltimore's win in 2001 will snag him a prime time commercial slot on Feb. 1 during the big game.
Samsung is holding an online contest, "That's How I See It" detailing fan stories. Visitors can see fans and their stories. The best will inspire a commercial to air during the Super Bowl XLIII pregame show.
In addition to Hensen's story, there is the one of Ted74, who watches three television sets at once to keep up with the latest game information around the league; a story of identical twins, one who yells at the TV during crucial parts of the game and his brother who puts up with his twin's ravings; a husband who made his wife sign a contract before they married allowing him to watch every New York Jets game; and a segment on the rite of passage of passing the remote control from father to son.
Every year, during the week-long NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies in Canton, Ohio, the super fans get together for a reunion of sorts and host a charity parade.
In addition to Captain Dee-Fense, there is Big Dog and Bone Lady who support the Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay's Big Nasty, Cat Man and Panther Man who root for the Carolina Panthers, Mr. and Mrs. Seahawk who cheer for the Seahawks, Raider Ron and the Intimidator who are Oakland Raiders supporters.
Henson has a lot in common with the other super fans and they always try to do something for charity, an idea he expanded on with the formation of the Captain Dee Foundation.
A new organization, the foundation will likely focus on helping in-need children.
Hensen said his wife is a good sport when football season rolls around, even though she becomes a "football widow" of sorts. She rarely goes with him to the games because he never stays in his seat.
But even Hensen didn't realize that his devotion to the Baltimore Ravens would lead to all that it has. "My goal was to just have fun and support the team," he said.