Just for kicks…more Matt Stover talk

January 20, 2010 | Drew Forrester

I guess this is what happens when your team parts ways with a quasi-Hall of Fame kicker and the new guy comes in and stinks up the joint.

And it doesn’t hurt that the “old guy’s team” beat the Ravens last Saturday night to end Baltimore’s season.

The kicker in question, of course, is Matt Stover.

I wrote about Stover’s departure from the Ravens last week at WNST.net.

Here’s a copy of that blog for easy access.  You’ll note at the very bottom of the comments section that Matt’s wife, Debbie, responded to the blog on Tuesday night.  She’s obviously not happy with me — and we’ll get to that in a little while — or the Ravens, although I suspect, because they write the checks, she’s a tad more upset with the football team than your’s truly.  Anyway…

I made Debbie’s comment to my blog and the Stover-departure a topic this morning on the show and I’m amazed at how many people lashed out at Matt either via the radio show or my e-mail inbox.

We can tackle that subject first, and it will eventually wind around to why Stover wasn’t in Baltimore this season and who, ultimately, is to blame for that decision.  I feel like I’m repeating myself, somewhat, from last week’s blog, but what else am I going to write about?  The Orioles signing a good player?  Right.  That’s my point.

Follow this logic.

Matt Stover is playing in Indianapolis because he wanted to kick in the NFL and he wanted to make money.

Matt Stover isn’t playing in Baltimore anymore because he and the Ravens couldn’t agree on a contract.

They couldn’t agree on a contract because Stover wanted (A) and the Ravens weren’t willing to do (A).

Stover wanted (A) because he felt he deserved it, and probably DID deserve it, frankly.  The Ravens weren’t willing to do (A) for Stover because it’s their policy that they don’t do (A) for any player in the organization.

Once Stover insisted he needed (A) to sign in Baltimore, the Ravens stopped negotiating with him because they weren’t going to do (A).

Get it?

By the way, (A) stands for:  a guaranteed contract.

Stover wanted his 2010 deal “guaranteed” by the club no matter what decision they made in training camp.  He told the Ravens that last January immediately after the AFC Championship Game.  In other words, if the Ravens brought four kickers into camp and Stover wound up getting cut in August, he still wanted his salary paid to him.

The Ravens don’t do that.  They don’t do that for any player on the roster.

OK, so now we get to the Indianapolis part.

First, though, let me be clear on one thing, personally.  Anyone who ever listens to the show and has done so for a while knows two things about me as it relates to kickers in the NFL and Matt Stover.

I’ll relay this to you in third-person. I like doing that.

Drew believes field goal kickers in the NFL are VASTLY under-appreciated.  Drew has said, for as long as he’s been on the air at WNST, that if Drew ran an NFL team, I’d find the best kicker in the league and double his salary and keep him on my team until someone else was better and then I’d go out and pay that guy double to get him on my team.  With a huge slice of NFL games decided by the kicking game, it makes sense to me to have the best kicker you can possibly have.  Sort of like the Quarterback position.  Why have a bad Quarterback?  You can’t win.

Drew has also been a Matt Stover supporter since, like, forever.  Again, if you were a listener to the show last April, I said time and time again that I didn’t think the Ravens made the right move in parting company with Stover.  I was not in the camp that bellowed, “But he can’t kick a field goal past 40 yards…”  Yes, he can.  And, he did, against Tennessee in the 2008 playoffs, from 43 yards, in fact, to win the game.  I said from jump street last spring that I thought letting Stover go was a mistake.

OK, out of third person now.

That said, I don’t REALLY have a horse in the race.  I’m a radio guy.  What I think doesn’t matter.  For the record, though, I’ve always been a Matt Stover endorser.

In fact, when the Colts came to town in November, I wrote this blog chastising fans who were considering booing Stover for signing with Indianapolis at mid-season.  I said, basically, “you’re a jerk if you boo Matt Stover on Sunday.”

So that should sum up – fairly – my stance on Matt Stover…his importance to the Ravens…his legacy as an athlete in our town…and his departure from the team.

Now…we can go back to Stover’s current role in Indianapolis.

Lots of folks in town are still upset with his decision to sign with the Colts.  I just can’t subscribe to that line of thinking.  He’s a field goal kicker. The Colts needed a kicker.  They gave Stover $600,000 to kick for them.

He has a family.  A mortgage.  Kids to put through college.  Car payments.

$600,000 helps in all of those areas.

I asked people today, “Had Stover signed in Tampa Bay, would you care so much?”  The answer, of course, was “Heck no.  There’s only two places he can’t go.  Indianapolis…and Pittsburgh.”

Says who?

When his kids want to go to Boston University someday and the freight is $60,000 a year, what’s Matt Stover supposed to say to them…”Sorry, you’ll have to settle for another school…a cheaper one.  When you were 13, I turned down $600,000 from the Colts because they left Baltimore in 1984 and went to Indianapolis”.  Is that what he’s supposed to say to his children?

Come on people, get back to reality a little bit.

It doesn’t matter at all where Matt Stover went.  Not one bit.  The Ravens elected not to sign him and that was that.  So he moves on.

As for Debbie Stover’s assertion that the Ravens didn’t “want” her husband to play for the team, that’s entirely not true.  They DID want him to play for them.  They just weren’t willing to guarantee his contract.

And lastly, the man responsible for that stance in Owings Mills was Ozzie Newsome.  The “should we keep Stover or not” memo never made it to John Harbaugh’s desk for a final stamp of “yes” or “no”.  That memo didn’t have shelf life because Newsome made the decision from the outset that the team wouldn’t give Stover a guaranteed deal.

I don’t blame the Ravens, either, for that particular policy.

And I don’t blame Matt Stover for wanting his deal guaranteed.

They could have both budged.  But they didn’t.

And lastly, Debbie mentioned in her blog comment that I didn’t talk to Matt about this subject.  She’s right about that.  There were two reasons for that, frankly.

First, I didn’t need Matt Stover to comment on the Ravens’ decision to not offer him a guaranteed deal.  I knew the truth.  The Ravens didn’t try and fib their way out of it and blame it on Stover.  Not at all.  The Ravens – unlike the baseball team in town – are willing to be transparent on most things and their respect for Stover is such that they were willing to take the heat for this one.  They made a decision to follow their current policy of not guaranteeing a contract.  That’s why Matt Stover left the Ravens.  And that’s what I wrote last week.  Matt Stover left the Ravens because he wanted his contract guaranteed and Ozzie Newsome said “no, we won’t do that.”

End of story.

No one’s at fault.

Secondly, Matt made it clear during his first visit to Baltimore with the Colts in November and last week during the lead-in to the playoff game in Indy that he wasn’t going to talk to the Baltimore media.  He declined several requests for interviews last week…and that’s perfectly within his rights to do so.  He has established a unique relationship with a gospel/Christian radio station in town and he generally partners up with them if he needs to say anything to the fans of Baltimore and that’s also his right if he so chooses.  But no one in town – not Drew, not The Sun, not WBAL Radio, not Comcast SportsNet – was getting one-on-one time with Matt Stover last week.

The summary of all of this, though, goes back to the issue at hand this morning and it centers on Stover’s legacy here in Baltimore.  He is now – along with his family – a Baltimorean.  He’s currently working in Indianapolis, but his home is Baltimore and his position in the community shouldn’t at all be altered because he wears a horseshoe on his helmet.  When his playing days are over, Matt Stover will, I’m certain, remain an integral part of the Baltimore community.

I truly hope the community doesn’t hold his stop in Indianapolis against him.

I wrote that in November and I’ve said that time and time again since then.

If all of our athletes put in the effort and community sweat equity that Matt Stover has put in over the last 13-plus years, Baltimore would be a better place on a variety of levels.

I assume Matt won’t mind if we’re rooting for the Jets this weekend, though.

Nothing personal, of course…I hope he hits all of his field goals and extra points.

But most of Baltimore will be rooting against Stover this Sunday.

When he gets back to town, though, and sets up shop permanently, he’s one of us again.

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