BALTIMORE RAVENS: CAPTAIN DEE-FENSE

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BALTIMORE RAVENS: CAPTAIN DEE-FENSE

At 6'4, Larry Henson stands out at games. But it might be the captain's hat, camo pants, spikes and chains he wears. Meet Captain Dee-Fense. Created by Bud Light and VICE Digital Services.
September 14, 2016, 8:09pm

CREATED BY BUD LIGHT AND VICE DIGITAL SERVICES

Larry Henson has had season tickets and some kind of costume since the Raven's first home game in 1996. His persona as Captain Dee-Fense has evolved over the years and gotten more elaborate. Today, see him in the stands in a Raven's jersey with the sleeves rolled up, camo pants and a captain's hat.

How did you fall in love with your team? What is your first memory around your NFL team?

I was always into football since I was young. Once the Ravens came in 1996, it was a natural for me. My first memory was the Ravens' first home game in 1996. Of course when they started selling tickets, I didn't know if we had the money. I told my wife I was going to get the tickets. She asked me where was the money coming from. I said, "There are a few things we could get a divorce over, this possibly could be one of them!" I've had season tickets since then.

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How, when, and why did you start dressing up, collecting or becoming more than a regular, ordinary fan?

Once I got my name Captain Dee, I started getting invited to various charity and social events. Captain Dee also gave me the platform to help others and make a difference in my community.

What is your favorite NFL moment or team memory?

They had an event at the stadium where you could pick your seats before you purchased them. They had players lined around the field. Near my section was this one rookie who had number 52 on. I asked was he any good and he said, "I can hold my own." That happened to be Ray Lewis.

What distinguishes you from other fans of your team?

Every Ravens fan is a passionate fan, but my outfit distinguishes me. I was inducted into the Hall of Fans in 2002 and into ESPN inaugural HOF class in 2012. I've attended funerals, spoken at graduations - school graduations, Bar Mitzvahs, Christian Youth Groups. Of course, performing a "Renewal of the Vow" ceremony was my most unique event. I don't know if it was legal, but I pulled it off.

How did you develop your costume / get your nickname / develop your Superfan persona?

I was walking around the stadium during the first season. I had this cardboard defense sign and army camo pants on. This girl about eight years old came up to me and asked me if I was the 'Captain Of the Defense'. Now, at this time, I wasn't looking for a name, but I liked the sound of it. Before the next home game, I went to the store and brought some of those iron-on letters and put Captain Dee-Fense on the back of a t-shirt. My outfit was pretty simple in the earlier days, but it has evolved into what it is today.

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What is your favorite keepsake or piece of memorabilia?

My picture was taken with our 1st Super Bowl trophy. They had an event where they passed the trophy around where the fans could actually touch it. Also, one of my favorite keepsakes is a large poster that says 2001 Champions with several players' pictures on it

When did you start collecting / building your fan cave?

From the beginning I would save little things from the games: buttons, old tickets, towels, and posters.

I said 'There are a few things we could get a divorce over, this possibly could be one of them!' I've had season tickets since then.

What is your game day ritual? How do you prefer to watch the game?

If it is a home game, I get a coffee and two apple pies from the same fast food restaurant every Sunday on my way to the game. I walk around the various tailgate areas getting the pulse of the fans before the game. I am a season ticket holder, but I've never seen a complete game from my seat. After about a quarter or so, I start walking around the stadium interacting and getting my picture taken with the fans. If it's an away game, I watch the game alone with my Ray Lewis jersey and ball cap in my man cave.

How does it feel to be known by your friends and peers as a die hard fan?

It feels pretty good, because I feel I represent the greatest and most knowledgeable fans in the NFL. Of course some of my friends thought I was crazy - one of the Village People of Y-M-C-A fame dressed like this.

What is the best thing about your team?

We always have a great defense which makes my job a lot easier. Along with a good owner, GM, and coaches who pick good players.

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Of course, when you have Captain Dee-Fense on the back of your jersey and the defense played badly I sometimes hear from the fans while leaving the stadium, "Captain Dee, your defense played terrible" or "the defense sucked today".

All images by Peter Sutherland.

See more of the Hall of Fandom here.

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