Tag Archive | "2013"

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Five years later, the magic of Purple Reign 2 and Ravens Super Bowl title revisited

Posted on 11 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

Prologue:

Here we go again, Baltimore!

 

 

May 14, 2013

 

When I wrote “Purple Reign: Diary Of A Raven Maniac” in March 2001, it was no less than a small civic miracle that the Baltimore Ravens even existed. Given what our community had been through trying to get back into the NFL after the departure of Bob Irsay and the Mayflower van exodus of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis on that snowy night of March 28, 1984, just having an NFL team was a victory in itself. This is sometimes lost on the younger generation of fans in Baltimore and should never be forgotten.

The ensuing hostage situation involving civic money, stadiums, lawyers, lawsuits, a private-mostly-old-boys-club of NFL owners, and the expansion charade that Paul Tagliabue presided over in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was as big a part of the story for anyone who loves Baltimore, loved the Colts, or was falling in love with the Ravens. As an aside, two decades later the choice of Jacksonville and Charlotte look fairly dubious as NFL hot spots despite the insistence of The Sun King that Baltimore was unworthy and should consider building a museum.

Anyone who is over the age of 40 would tell you that they spent long stretches of their lives from 1984 through 1995 believing that Baltimore would never get an NFL team again. The odds were so slim that I went so far as to say on my radio show in 1993 that I’d run naked down Pratt Street if NFL football ever returned to Charm City. And, yes, you can google my name, “Nasty” and “naked run” to see that I pretty much paid up on the wager in the spring of 1996 after Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore to become the Ravens. I must warn you – it’s not a pretty sight, me running through rush hour traffic in tighty-whiteys taking $10 bills from cabbies who wanted to donate to the charity run.

I declared it a civic miracle that Baltimore got a team – and it really was. To think that all of the political machinations that ended with John Moag, building on the efforts of Herb Belgrad and the fading dream of outgoing governor William Donald Schaefer, succeeded in bringing the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore by offering Arthur B. Modell and his family a bigger, better deal is still the greatest “tipping point” event of my life. I’ll never forget that day and the promise that it brought to my life as a Baltimore sports radio personality and wannabe-entrepreneur.

I had faith. I was purple when purple wasn’t cool.

The Modell family brought football to Baltimore and allowed me to shed every piece of Houston Oilers’ gear I’d ever owned and loved.

The marriage between the Ravens and Baltimore gave my career life, my family the ability to hope, launch, grow and build WNST AM-1570 & WNST.net in 1998. It also landed me a nationally syndicated radio program for three years on Sporting News Radio that included the Ravens’ 2001 Super Bowl win. And it’s allowed me to follow my childhood dream to be a sports writer in my hometown in the modern era of social media. I love Baltimore sports as much as you do, and I’ve devoted my life to chronicling it.

You are holding a book that took 100 days to write, but 17 years to research and about 29 years to live. The championship was a gift to me, and I felt a calling to write about it and you’re holding the result.

And this miracle gift of NFL football in Baltimore that was willed to exist by a toxic stew of money, lawyers, lies, covert meetings, politicians, local business, fans, television, and a roomful of really wealthy white men over the past 40 years has given our sports community the highest highs and the lowest lows. It’s kinda like sausage: you really don’t want to know how it’s made.

Since 1958, Baltimore has won five NFL titles via the Colts and Ravens and three World Series via the Orioles.

I’m about to enter my 30th year on the Baltimore sports media scene that began in 1984 at The News American, and I’ve never seen a bigger – or better – local sports story than this unlikely Super Bowl run of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis marching the Lombardi Trophy through the streets of downtown amidst 250,000 people near the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards.

Here’s the truth: this book you’re about to read was an absolute labor of love because these stories jumped off the lips of those who gave me access and honesty from inside and outside the Baltimore Ravens organization. There aren’t enough pages in this book to express how grateful I am to have been involved in chronicling all of these Ravens games over the years. For better or worse, it’s defined my life and my career. And this book is the most important project of my career.

And my first question to virtually every person in February and March 2013 in researching this book was: “What were the most important decisions that led to a Super Bowl 47 win?”

I got a myriad of different answers:

 

  • The Ray Lewis last ride inspired the team
  • Joe Flacco emerged and was flawless in the playoffs & Super Bowl
  • Cam Cameron was fired
  • Jim Caldwell took over the play calling
  • Terrell Suggs coming back allowed Paul Kruger to rush the passer
  • Corey Graham could actually play cornerback in the NFL
  • Justin Tucker was a better kicker than Billy Cundiff
  • Anquan Boldin caught big passes down the stretch
  • Having Bryant McKinnie play well at left tackle and moving Michael Oher to right tackle gave Joe Flacco time and confidence to throw
  • Jacoby Jones made big plays all year

 

These are the obvious strategic and emotional issues that led to the team winning in December and January on the field, but there were thousands of decisions made off the field dating all the way back to the day that Ozzie

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For Ravens fans, a season to forget but a finish that must be remembered

Posted on 30 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s never easy trying to repeat as a sports champion. Ask anyone who has ever won.

For the 2013 Baltimore Ravens it became clear quite early in training camp that last season was a long, long time ago. This year’s version of the defending champions spent 16 mostly-long weeks, like Barry Manilow, trying to get that feeling again. And as the clock ticked down on the final, gruesome minutes in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t hard to get inside the brain of general manager Ozzie Newsome because his thoughts probably mirrored ours.

This team just wasn’t very good.

For the 18th consecutive year I walked through the Ravens locker room at the end of a season and this time surveyed the carnage of lost hopes and dreams. There were two times — in Tampa and New Orleans — when I still was wondering about the future even as delicious as the present was at that precious moment in time. Every year I look around that room of mostly battered men and wonder how many will be on the field in Owings Mills when they take the field in late July. This time I had more questions and more confusion because of how under-performing so many players were at so many positions across the roster.

At heart, the Ravens lacked “great” players. All over the place.

Owner Steve Bisciotti will take the podium at some point in the next 10 days and discuss his thoughts on trying to repeat and what he gleaned from an 8-8 finish and four months of woeful offensive theater.

When the years pass and any fan looks back on 2013 and sees that somehow the kicker was voted the team’s MVP, well…that just about says it all. No offense to kickers anywhere, but when Justin Tucker is your team’s MVP – and really, there wasn’t much argument regarding his choice — you probably don’t deserve to make the playoffs.

And yet somehow this pesky group from Baltimore made it all the way into the second half of Week 17 with a chance to play into 2014. They weren’t 4-12 and playing out the string. The season wasn’t over in October. And given the heroics and determination we’ve witnessed over the past six seasons since John Harbaugh arrived, when the game was 17-17 in Cincinnati yesterday it wasn’t hard to envision a 9-7 finish and some unlikely hero finding some way to create a play that extended the season into the New Year.

But, alas, the Ravens probably got what they deserved – an early trip to the golf course with the rest of the 19 other teams who stumbled and bumbled through the fall.

“We’re an 8-8 team,” Flacco said from the podium at Paul Brown Stadium. “We didn’t deserve to go to the playoffs.”

True, that.

I see the mindless posts from football fans who drink too much in the first half of games each week. The unseemly criticism of Flacco and his salary and his play – much of which is predicated on blocking, scheme and route-running from others — is almost comical for anyone who really watches football and understands the value of a world-class quarterback and a well-oiled offensive machine. Flacco’s “eliteness” has become a running civic conversation. The parade, the Super Bowl MVP performance, the five straight years of exciting football in January seems to be vanquished into the gutter of people’s minds in Baltimore anytime the Ravens lose.

It’s really unbelievable to me how unappreciated Flacco is by the mental midgets in the Ravens fan base who clearly don’t remember the 15 guys who played quarterback before him from 1996 through 2007.

There’s even a case to be made that the season ended two weeks ago when Flacco limped off the field in Detroit. Without Joe Flacco, there’s very little doubt that the season would’ve ended before it began especially given the lack of talent and results across the roster.

It was clearly Flacco’s worst season in the NFL but it’s also very clear that virtually every component of the team around him underachieved and

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Rice: “We’ll bounce back”

Posted on 29 December 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco: “We weren’t good enough”

Posted on 29 December 2013 by WNSTV

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Rice says Broncos earned victory in Denver

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNSTV

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The TBA Top 40 Players in the NFL

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The TBA Top 40 Players in the NFL

Posted on 01 June 2013 by Dwayne Showalter

NFL Network has been releasing its Top 100 Players of 2013 on its channel over the last few weeks.   They’ve made it up to number 41.  You can check out the Nos. 100-41 here.

The list includes Dennis Pita at No. 100, Jacoby Jones at No. 88, and Anquan Boldin at 93.  Haloti Ngata checks in at 42, Terrell Suggs at 56.

If you study the whole list you’ll certainly have issues with the who’s and the wheres.  With 40 to go, i figure it might be fun to take a swing at who remains to be unveiled in the vote which i believe is being done by NFL players but honestly, two Google searches couldn’t validate that and its late. So i’m not sure who is voting.   Anyway, here is my guess at the next 40.

I think these players are locks with my lock value (1-10) listed behind the player.  There are 35 of them.

QBS (8 of them)

Peyton Manning  Den (10) (Voted No. 2)

Tom Brady NE (10) (Voted No. 4)

Aaron Rogers GB (10) (Voted No. 6)

Drew Brees NO (10) (Voted No.11)

Andrew Luck IND (8) (Voted No. 23)

Robert Griffin WAS (9) (Voted No. 15)

Matt Ryan ATL (7) (Voted No. 17)

Joe Flacco BAL (9) (Voted No.19)

RBS (5 of them)

Adrian Peterson MIN (10) (Voted No. 1)

Marshawn Lynch SEA (9) (Voted No. 24)

Arian Foster HOU (10) (Voted No. 8 )

Jamal Charles KC (9) (Voted No. 20)

Ray Rice BAL (9) (Voted No. 13)

WRS (5 of them)

Calvin Johnson DET (10) (Voted No. 3)

Andre Johnson HOU (8) (Voted No. 14)

Brandon Marshall MIA (7) (Voted No. 27)

Larry Fitzgerald ARI (9) (Voted No. 22)

AJ Greene CIN (8) (Voted No. 16)

OL (5 of them)

Marshall Yonda BAL (8)

Ryan Clady DEN (9)

Jahri Evans NO (8)

Mike Iupati SF (8)

Joe Thomas CLE (7) (Voted No. 28)

TE (2 of them)

Rob Gronkowski NE (9) (Voted No. 25)

Vernon Davis SF (8) (Voted No. 38)

DEFENSE (10 of them)

JJ Watt HOU (10) (Voted No.5)

Von Miller DE N (9) (Voted No. 9)

Patrick Peterson ARI (9) (Voted No. 33)

Aldon Smith SF (9) (Voted No. 7)

Geno Atkins CIN (8) (Voted No. 36)

Charles Tillman CHI (7) (Voted No. 34)

Clay Matthews GB (7) (Voted No. 31)

DeMarcus Ware DAL (8) (Voted No. 12)

Jerod Mayo NE (7)

Patrick Willis SF (9) (Voted No. 10)

 

With 5 spots left, i have 15 wild cards here:

WRS:  Roddy White  ATL (No.39),   Dez Bryant DAL (Voted No. 35),  Torrey Smith BAL,  Mike Wallace MIA.

TE: Jimmy Graham NO

OL:  Maurkice Pouncy PIT,  Joe Staley SF (editors note:  Staley was No. 78)

DEF: Navarro Bowman SF (No.37),  Ahmad Brooks SF,  Justin Smith SF(Voted No. 29) ,  Vince Wilfork NE(Voted No. 30) ,  Jarrius Byrd BUF,  Eric Weddle SD, Ndamukong Suh (No. 40), Trent Cole PHI

Gun to my head for the final 5, I take Bowman, Byrd, Roddy White, Suh and Trent Cole.(VOTED: Suh No. 40, White No. 39, Bowman No. 37)

 

No Ed Reed (Voted No. 18).  I can’t believe he would be top 40.  But i cant believe Troy Polamalu is rated higher either.  I can’t believe Torrey Smith would be top 40 either but not as good as Dennis Pitta?  No Vonta Leach either.  Fullbacks just don’t get the juices flowing anymore.

In a few weeks, we’ll go back and see how well I did.  Honestly, I’d be happy to get 25 of them.  I’m just a Shmoe sitting behind my laptop.

 

 

 

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Are you ready for Ravens to open 2013 on road without Kickoff game in Baltimore?

Posted on 18 March 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

PHOENIX — So, the Baltimore Orioles hold all the cards. And that’s always a dangerous thing. And that’s the way Peter Angelos loves it.

If you are a lover or fan of the Baltimore Ravens and are awaiting the big announcement from here at the NFL Owners Meetings at the beautiful Biltmore in Arizona about the NFL Kickoff extravaganza at M&T Bank Stadium on Thursday, Sept. 5th you’ll be waiting a little longer.

There’s been an impasse. The Orioles have a game scheduled against the Chicago White Sox on that night of the traditional NFL opener and it appears that moving that baseball game back by seven hours is more difficult that it appears.

Of course, it’s on the desk of Peter Angelos now and has been passed onto the desk of Bud Selig and well…there’s really no reason for MLB to do anything or move anything on behalf of Baltimore’s truly loved NFL team.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has been on the phone with Bud Selig for the past week and there’s still nothing even remotely promising on the horizon and it’s pretty evident that the Ravens are concerned and the word is now on the street.

Moving the game to Thursday afternoon would take the approval of MLB, the Orioles, the White Sox and the MLB Players Association.

And here’s the real story – all parties have known about this issue for six weeks and nothing substantial has been accomplished.

A source with the Baltimore Ravens told me that the Ravens and NFL would be willing to pay the Orioles to move the game.

“If there’s a financial loss for them, sure we’d be willing to compensate them. It’s only fair.”

Moving the Ravens kickoff game to Wednesday, Sept. 4th was an option but the team and the NFL will not play on Rosh Hashana. Moving the game to Friday night wouldn’t help because the Orioles are home that night and the NFL has a long-standing “no play on Friday” rule to stimulate interest in high school and college football.

If the Ravens were to not host the game there’s a line of reasoning that they’d still play the Thursday night opener but it would be on the road, potentially in a division rival (Pittsburgh is the hottest rumor with Denver not far behind.) There would be a television issue with CBS losing a key game like that to the NFL kickoff game.

The Ravens consider playing the Thursday night game a huge competitive advantage because of the 10 days off after the game. They almost consider it a second bye week after a long training camp. They will almost certainly play a game on the night of Sept. 5th.

There’s also a rumor of a concert or event in Baltimore in conjuction with a potential road game but all of these are in limbo because the NFL still wants the Ravens to play at home on Sept. 5.

Stay tuned.

The Ravens are hoping for the generosity of Peter Angelos to kick in and a reasonable settlement to have the game in Baltimore.

We’ll see how that works out for them…

I can report with full confidence that the Ravens are not optimistic.

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