A Raven finds his ring
Former UB football star and NFL player Demone Harris’ search for more than a Super Bowl ring
Demone Harris is used to bye weeks.
He’s had some in Buffalo while playing with the Bulls. He’s had some in Tampa Bay, too, as a former linebacker for the Buccaneers.
Last week was supposed to be another bye week for the NFL player. But instead of getting much-needed rest, he ended up facing some of his toughest competition yet: An unexpected rejection from a team he gave his all to. An opportunity to prove himself to make it back in the league.
And the most grueling of the three, a missing engagement ring.
The former UB football star and ‘18 alum’s whirlwind week wasn’t entirely his fault. In a matter of days, Tampa Bay cut him from its roster with no explanation, his plans to propose to his longtime girlfriend Arianna Marinelli were interrupted after misplacing the engagement ring and he had to prove himself to the Baltimore Ravens to keep his football career alive.
But Harris has a good poker face –– something he says Marinelli knows very well –– and kept his composure and faith, earning his place on an NFL roster, now with a fiancee in his corner.
Harris and Marinelli’s story started seven years ago, long before his days with the Bulls. She even helped pick out the engagement ring in June. Harris assured her he would propose at the end of the football season, but he says he woke up a few weeks ago and decided the wait wasn’t worth it.
So he planned a spontaneous, extravagant proposal, including a private room at the Buffalo Chophouse, a suite at the Curtiss Hotel, a party at Marinelli’s friend’s house and a table at the Rec Room.
But on Oct. 15, Harris received bad news.
The Buccaneers cut him from their roster and didn’t offer him an explanation.
He then arrived home devastated and didn’t know what it meant for his future in football or his soon-to-be fiancee.
Hours later, a new team called.
The Baltimore Ravens.
“It was obviously a feeling of relief that another NFL team has interest in you,” Harris said. “Because when you’re cut in this business, you’re left in the cold.”
Harris didn’t waste time worrying, and started wondering what to do next.
But he couldn’t have planned for what was about to happen.
Marinelli helped pack Harris’ bag for a new flight to Baltimore’s Oct. 16 workout. She somehow didn’t notice the engagement ring in his suit pocket and sent him off to prove himself.
With plans to propose on Oct. 18, Harris arrived a day before the workout and barely slept at the Ravens’ team hotel. His travel schedule restricted him from giving the workout his all and he wasn’t sure if the Ravens were still interested in him.
So he planned to go home the same day. After arriving at the airport for his flight back to Buffalo, he realized something.
The ring was missing.
He kept his composure, took an Uber back to the Ravens’ hotel and looked everywhere he could.
“At that point, I didn’t really care about football,” Harris said. “Honestly, it was more about her than about football because I wanted that weekend be so special for her.”
He couldn’t find it and left for home without a ring.
He says he put the rest in God’s hands.
On Oct. 17, a day before the planned proposal, he headed to Tampa to return his Buccaneers playbook. And at 9:45 a.m., he got a text from the Ravens.
“It was the director of player personnel. He was like, ‘100%.’ I was like, ‘100% what?’ He said, ‘100% we’re signing you.’”
Harris may have been on an NFL team again, but he was still ringless.
Less than an hour later, the Ravens called him. This time, it was the news he really wanted.
A woman named Yvonne at the team hotel found Harris’ ring hidden in a drawer and turned it in.
The Ravens shipped the ring to Buffalo overnight and Harris came back home.
This time, nothing was getting in the way of his plans.
He and Marinelli went to the private room at the Chophouse and he dropped down on one knee.
She said yes.
Harris took his story to social media.
“I told the story because I hope that it strengthened someone else’s faith and belief that, no matter how bleak a situation [is] that you know there’s hope.”
The Baltimore Ravens’ main Twitter account shared his tweets and he’s earned several hundred likes since. He tracked down Yvonne and gave her $1,000 worth of prepaid gift cards for her good deed.
Harris hasn’t had his “fairytale ending” yet, though.
He says that only comes on Dec. 8 when he comes home with the Ravens and takes down the Bills.
Brenton Blanchet is the Editor-in-Chief and can be reached at Brenton.Blanchet@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrentonBlanchet.