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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won't Get It ....

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Perhaps, Michael Vick Just Won’t Get It ….

Posted on 28 June 2010 by Rex Snider

While I’m not a passionate fan of Michael Vick’s play on the football field, I have been quietly rooting for him since last season’s return.

To be honest, my hope in seeing him overcome his past has no real tie to football or athletic achievements, at all. I’ve really hoped he would leave his sordid transgressions and the associated lifestyle in the rear view mirror, while proving to himself and others that he is indeed a “CHANGED MAN.”

Better yet, I thought Michael Vick could motivate a growing generation of adolescents who’ve made poor personal choices in their young lives. Maybe, just maybe, his story and ultimate rise from self-destruction would help others in an inspirational way.

There is just one “catch” ….. this anticipated story of a compassionate comeback needs to stay on track.

As recently as a couple weeks ago, things were looking very opimistic.

Today, I’m not so sure.

As the world now knows, Michael Vick celebrated his 30th birthday with a BIG BASH at a Virginia Beach nightclub, on Thursday night. It was promoted and advertised to the general public, via Facebook, Twitter and informal means.

While some people might think that hosting parties and momentous celebrations are an expressed inclusion of our freedoms, many of us also realize that such events are an invitation to more than just dancing, drinking and eating birthday cake.

And, discerning between these two considerations is probably where Michael Vick screwed up.

I don’t care that he’s a convicted felon and federal parolee; I don’t simply assume he’s done something illegal. He’s paid his debt to society – he has every right to attend charity functions at Martins West, movie premieres in Hollywood and parties thrown in his honor.

However, a clearly distinct line distinguishes the difference between the “RIGHT” to do something, and whether it’s “RIGHT” to do something. I’m certain celebrities employ such decision making methods when considering their presence and involvement at events – both public and private in nature.

It doesn’t matter if they organize or host the event, if a BIG NAME is in attendance and something goes wrong, they’ll be forever tied to it. Just ask TMZ’s Harvey Levin …..

When is the last time this guy did something DUMB or ill-advised in a social setting?

Good luck finding such an incident. You’ll likely search for days and still never find any smoking guns. And, there is a very plausible reason behind striking out on any quest in finding dirt on Peyton Manning – HE KNOWS BETTER.

Peyton Manning is aware of his image, reputation and obligation to an array of different people. The list includes …..
His Team

His Wife

His Business Partners

His Family’s Name

I’m sure you see my point – even if you disagree. But, the names go beyond Peyton Manning. I’m confident this list of guys will not be arrested, accused of criminal conduct or attending a party where another attendee is SHOT, in 2010 ….. Drew Brees, Derek Jeter, Steve Nash, Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, Albert Pujols, Hines Ward, Tim Duncan, Jeff Gordon, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco …..

How about this ….. I can think of a list of guys who have endured legal troubles, while making some very poor choices in their respectives pasts. But, they’ve given us every reason to believe we won’t be seeing their name associated with crime and punishment, by year’s end. For me, the list starts with Ray Lewis.

It’s been a decade since Ray ran afoul of the legal system or found himself in a public meltdown of poor judgement. He’s way beyond such indiscretions – he values his reputation and image. He has plenty of company among those who’ve had troubles and overcame them, like ….. Kobe Bryant, Ricky Williams, Josh Hamilton, Kurt Busch, Bernard Hopkins, Brett Favre and Jamal Lewis.

Of course, the final group is those who’ve committed multiple transgressions. Arrested? Yes. Stupid decisions? Yes. Numerous occurences of one or both? Yes. These are the guys you’re most likely going to be hearing about during a BREAKING NEWS segment, early in the morning. This is where you’ll find Brandon Marshall, Elijah Dukes, Sidney Ponson, Marshawn Lynch, Mike Tyson, John Daly, Jeremy Mayfield, Cedric Benson, Allen Iverson, Matt Jones, Delonte West and Michael Vick.

Hey, it’s accurate.

Michael Vick may very well have intended to celebrate an innocent occasion, last Thursday. In fact, I’d be willing to bet on it. He doesn’t want to screw up – he doesn’t want to be out of a job – he doesn’t want to go back to prison. I honestly believe these things.

However, I also believe Michael Vick lacks the sensibility to dissect a proposed action or decision, while considering the ramifications of the FALLOUT if something goes wrong. That’s exactly what he should’ve done when the idea of his birthday party being held at a nightclub, and open to the general public was tabled.


Well, there are a few reasons. Foremost, there is very little positive exposure to be gained in a nightclub environment. While nightclubs attract girls dressed in their sexiest wares, they also serve as a hotspot for people with checkered characters. Say what you will – Mike should be whoring himself to more “feel good” opportunities than President Obama, Tom Cruise and the CEO of BP, combined.

Another consideration is Michael Vick should not host, endorse or attach his likeness to ANY EVENT, unless he has direct control over it. I don’t care if a promoter really handled the party, its got the name MICHAEL VICK forever stamped to it. In the future (or in hindsight), he should celebrate his birthday with a party at home or in an establishment that can offer a respected reputation and a high degree of decorum.

If he wants to get CRAZEE and dance with some hotties, while fondling an expensive champagne bottle, he should have the party at home – and make all guests leave their cellphones at the door. Be assured, that’s what happens at Diddy’s house. And, he has much less to worry about than Mike does.

You don’t think Alex Rodriguez enjoyed the arrival of his 30th birthday? How about Ladanian Tomlinson? Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Shaq? They just make good decisions when it comes to enjoying themslves.

As we sit here today, Michael Vick has problems. He might not face any legal sanctions with his Probation Officer. But, I think that everything else is in limbo. I’d bet my HOUSE that a certain group of individuals are angry as HELL. They’ve attached themselves to Michael Vick and he has let them down. Of course, the most important one is obvious …..

However, you can also include Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Arthur Blank. Each of them went to bat for him, helped him or had a HUGE part in giving him this most recent chance to make a living as a member of the National Football League.

What could they do differently, specifically ask “Michael, will you be celebrating your 30th birthday in a nightclub” ??? They should’ve expected that he would exercise better judgement. No doubt, they rightfully expected it from him.

With each passing hour, more and more details regarding the NIGHTLIFE of Michael Vick are surfacing. Welcome to the age of Twitter, Facebook and online tabloids. We now know Vick hosted parties in May, as well as April.

I wonder if dog fighting co-defendant, Quanis Phillips, attended those events. Probably not. Why did he attend this one? Well, it was held near his home. But, most importantly, he attended last Thursday’s party, because he could.

NOBODY and/or NO PLAN was in place to stop such a situation. And, if they did plan for it, they failed …. which is even worse, if you really think about it.

Thursday’s incident is a loud, distinct message to one of Michael Vick’s former endorsers, as if they have really considered resurrecting his marketability …..

You can bet the folks in Beaverton, Oregon, are thinking one thing …. “MIKE AIN”T WORTH THE RISK.” And, if Nike is scared off, so is McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Visa and Under Armor. Like humans, corporations are known to forgive and reconcile, but they arguably take far less chances than people do.

Over the last few days, we’ve heard the typical “we will wait until all the facts are known before addressing the situation” line. It’s the SAFE thing to say …. and it may very well apply to the United States Justice Department’s role in the life of Michael Vick.

But, rest assured, NFL spokeman, Greg Aiello, was better off giving the politically correct statement, rather than saying “Roger is done with this experiment.”

As for the Eagles, did you expect them to say “Mr. Lurie is knee deep in trying to void Michael Vick’s contract.” Oh and “Jeff Garcia is visiting team headquarters, later this week.”

Perhaps, both Mr. Goodell and Mr. Lurie haven’t exercised such drastic measures. But, you can bet they’re not sitting on their hands while waiting for an outcome, either. Not a chance …..

They know what they need to know.

Michael Vick may never, EVER be involved in another incident of violence. He may never pose for another mugshot in his life.

But, he cannot be trusted to really think about a potential outcome to the hair-brained ideas of family, friends and cohorts. No doubt, he’s as spontaneously reactive to his cultural ideals as Paris Hilton is to shopping for shoes.

He’s evidently incapable of change. He is who he is …..

He just can’t be trusted to do the RIGHT thing.

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Wednesday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Wednesday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 31 March 2010 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Eagles falling apart in Philly.  You know, I guess I can understand the Eagles’ hesitance in trading Donovan McNabb.  Over the last decade the Philadelphia Eagles have been, if nothing else, one of the most consistent franchises in the National Football League.  Coming off a 3-13 record in ’98, team owner Jeffrey Lurie finally put in place the integral pieces of a puzzle that would result in 5 NFC East Titles, and 8 Playoff births over the next 12 years.  He hired Andy Reid as Head Coach, who in turn hired Jim Johnson as Defensive Coordinator, and the organization selected Donovan McNabb with the #2 overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft.  By 2001 Brian Westbrook was an undrafted rookie making an impact and the Eagles were on their way to 5 NFC Championship Games.  On January 18th, 2008 it seems the Eagles franchise officially began their rebuilding faze.  They lost 32-25 to the Arizona Cardinals that day in the desert and a tumultuous two year time span has ensued.  In the summer of ’09 Jim Johnson, after 40 years of service to the game of football, passed away after a bout with cancer and Brian Westbrook, due to continuous concussion issues, was released by the team this off-season after 10,000 yards and 66 TD’s combined rushing and receiving.  Andy Reid is still the head coach; and yes, he and McNabb are still attached at the hip… for the moment.  But as rumors, speculation, and proposed ‘front’-runners’ for McNabb’s services continue to emerge, it seems all the more likely his football marriage with Philadelphia appears headed for divorce.  It’s a shame, too.  If Jeffrey Lurie hadn’t decided to bring Michael Vick back into the league as his third-string quarterback and paid his $1.5M roster bonus this off-season, McNabb might stand in a better position with the only team he’s ever played for.  But as it stands now, Jeffrey Lurie, the man who facilitated bringing in the foundation of Reid, Johnson, McNabb, and Westbrook in the first place, may now have to hammer home the last spoke to break apart the final two, all by trading the best QB in Eagles franchise history.  Must be a tough trade trigger to have to pull.

Suggested Reading

Pittsburgh Post Gazette: “Steelers are no better than the Bengals.” Strong headline from Ron Cook, who’s not talking about talent, or even winning games, on the field.

Deadspin: Editor Will Leitch takes a look at Baltimore’s very own Orioles in, “The Stacked Deck.” While the title gives the impression of a very positive, upbeat write-up, Leitch comes to this by the end, “Is this what this new plan is leading to? A 78-win season in 2013? That’ll sell some tickets.”  Haha.

SI.com:  Thirteen Sports Illustrated Baseball Experts give their predictions for the 2010 season in their very appropriately named, “2010 MLB Preseason Predictions.” In case you’re wondering, Matusz was named as A.L. ROY on 7 of 13 ballots.

New York Post:  More Tiger details from David K. Li in, “The naked truth on tomcat Tiger.” Apparently we’ll have a long ‘Vanity Fair’ cover story on Tiger’s mistresses coming up very soon.  The Post scoops in for a preview.

Deadspin: Barry Petchesky looks at, “The (other) Least Desireable Gig in College Basketball.” I gave St. John’s a hard time, but it seems they ended up doing decently for themselves with Lavin.  Who does DePaul turn to?

Video of the Day

Who doesn’t love ‘Ridiculous Shots That Don’t Count’ videos?  Here’s Flip Murray’s from last night… pretty incredible.

Tweets of the Day

WNST Comcast Morning Show Producer, Glenn Clark – WNST

GMC: #Ravens vs. #Carolina 8/12 on #ESPN; @ #Skins Aug. 20 or 21; vs. #Giants 8/27 or 8/28; @ #Rams 9/2 in preseason

WNST NFL Correspondent, Chris Pika – WNST

Chris Pika: Former #Maryland hoops player/asst. coach Dave Dickerson is out as #Tulane head coach after 5 seasons, according to media reports.

New York Times College Basketball Columnist, Pete Thamel – PeteThamelNYT

Theme song from Indy: “Its the end of the world as we know it.” Jim Delany (Big Ten Commissioner) tells USA Today that expanded tourney “probable.”

ESPN College Basketball Insider, Andy Katz – ESPNAndyKatz

News conference at Pitt this afternoon to announce coach Jamie Dixon — getting an extension. Not leaving for Oregon as expected.

D1scourse Blogger, Patrick Stevens – D1scourse

So, if Carolina wins tomorrow, will the banner in the Dean Dome read “NIT champion” or “A-10 semifinalist”?

Baltimore Sun National Baseball Writer, Dan Connolley – danconnollysun #Orioles getting clubbed in 5th inn by Red Sox, 9-1. Lester has allowed 2 hits. Maybe both clubs are ready for the season

ESPN NFL Insider, Chris Mortensen – mortreport

Next QB Class: Washington’s Jake Locker, Stanford’s Andrew Luck and Arkansas’ Ryan Mallett could all be top 5 picks in 2011.

ESPN NFL Insider, Adam Schefter – Adam_Schefter

Waiting on Donovan McNabb gives us something to do while we’re waiting on Brett Favre.

Sports Illustrated Soccer Columnist, Grant Wahl – GrantWahl

Wayne Rooney out 2-4 weeks w/ankle sprain. Could impact ManUtd in Prem/CL, but not England for WC. http://bit.ly/9sIbeJ

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog(11/17/09)

Posted on 17 November 2009 by Jack McManus


A caller brings up the struggles of the offensive line in the last few games. Drew believes that the team’s guards did not have good games last night. With matchups against Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis coming up, the line needs to step up.



A caller compares the Ravens offense to that of the Philadelphia Eagles. Both teams rely on a small running back to carry much of the load. This could very well be due to John Harbaugh’s long tenure under Andy Reid. Drew thinks the team over-relies on Ray Rice. This makes that team too easy to plan for.



Tommy Polley is now on with Drew to talk some football. Polley talks about his participation in games that are simply very boring, like the one last night. He moves on to the Ravens’ improved talking last night. You must take whatever you can from a game like that. Polley next talks about playing against Peyton Manning. He states that he learned that football is more of a mental game than it is a physical game.



Pete from Downtown is the next caller. He explains that the Ravens will not be prepared to play the Colts on Sunday. He blames this on the coaching. He thinks the team should protest the people coaching the team, similar to what the Browns did last night.



A caller points out the fact that the Ravens were out of timeouts halfway through the first quarter. Drew does not understand what the coaching staff was looking at on the early challenge.


Merton now joins from way over in Indianapolis. He asks if the Baltimore fans heard the 50 million people turning their TVs off. He states that the Ravens do not belong on the same field as Peyton Manning and the Colts. He leaves us by telling Baltimore that the curse of Robert Irsay will not go away until the city builds a statue of him in front of the stadium.


Another caller brings up the Ravens’ recent struggles. He believes that Marvin Lewis must have figured out how to defeat the Ravens. He explains that ever since the team’s first loss, every other team has taken the same strategy and it has been effective.


A caller blames the fact that the Ravens struggle to start off games on the team’s struggles on 3rd down. In order to fix that the Ravens need to be more dedicated to running the football. Another caller supports this point. He hopes that the team will change the game plan. The use of different backs will hopefully catch their opponents by surprise.


Another caller talks about how the Ravens got Willis McGahee and Le’Ron McClain more involved in the offense. Drew thinks that the team is still too predictable on offense by not utilizing these two players. Someone else calls in and agrees with this point. He states that other teams seem to mix up their running backs more effectively than the Ravens.


A caller talks with Drew about the impact of last night’s game. Drew explains that the only way to take the game is as “a win is a win.” The caller states that the Ravens have had too much difficulty in the passing game right now.


Glenn is joining us this morning to talk about the Ravens Browns game last night. He and drew discuss the kicking situation. Drew will not make any excuses for any kicker missing a field goal less than 40 yards. However, he does not think the team makes a change because of the short week. Glenn agrees, but states that at some point Steve Hauschka must prove he can make points.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (11/5/09)

Posted on 05 November 2009 by Jack McManus


And today we finish up with salutes to all those who got involved in the show this morning as we every day.


Sean Salisbury is the next guest. He is on to talk about the NFL with Drew. Sean believes that a must win game can occur early in the season, and this week’s Ravens-Bengals game is just that. He thinks that the Ravens will use their toughness and physicality to win the game. Sean explains that the Eagles beating of the Giants says a lot about the momentum of both teams. The Eagles are in midseason form that Andy Reid always gets his team into. He also thinks the Giants will be able to turn the season around and still be a force in the NFC East. Moving on, Sean states that the 49ers are much improved, but they must learn to finish games. He calls “winning ugly” something that good teams are able to do. The Colts did this against the 49ers last week.



Mark Mussina joins us now. He starts off by saying that he believed that both starters would struggle last night. This only partially was the case. He also talks about the Phillies’ failure to hit left handed pitchers. Mussina calls Jimmy Rollins vastly overrated. Rollins was very ineffective as a lead-off hitter. His on-base percentage against lefties is very low. Discussion next moves to Johnny Damon’s career. Damon’s numbers are very impressive and if he continues to play for a few years he could make a case for the Hall of Fame. Mussina also talks about Andy Pettitte’s Hall hopes. His postseason performance will help his case. His numbers also compare favorably to Curt Schilling in some areas. Finally, Mussina compliments the ability of Mariano Rivera. He states that he has never seen a pitcher able to control his pitches like Rivera is able to.



Joey the Yankee fan calls in. He calls himself a “Yankee apologist.” He apologizes to Orioles fans for his team constantly beating the O’s.


Drew follows Glenn up with by taking a shot at Steve Melewski. Melewski recently stated that WNST has an agenda when it comes to the Orioles. Drew explains that his only agenda is to have the Orioles be a winning franchise again. He says that Melewski is being paid to be an Orioles apologist.


Glenn kicks off “Cheap Shots From the Bleachers” with a shot at The Tribune Company. Glenn sat next to Dan Connolly last night at a viewing of “The Blind Side.” Connolly is the national baseball beat writer for the Baltimore Sun. Glenn explains that The Tribune Company believes that one national writer is enough to cover an event as large as the World Series. Instead, writers like Connolly should be sent to the Series to write stories that have a Baltimore connection. Topics that could have been used for this year’s Series include Mark Teixeira, Sam Perlozzo, and AJ Burnett.  


Brian Billick is next up to talk some football. He begins by talking about the Cardinals-Panthers game this past weekend. The game mirrored the Cardinals upset of the Panthers in the playoffs last year. Brian next comments on the teams that are facing major organizational problems, including the Browns who are rumored to be interested in Brian as coach. He explains that the Browns are in trouble because they are in need of a new coach and a new general manager. He states that he would not want to go to a team where the coach had no say in regards to personnel decisions. Brian will be calling the Panthers-Saints game this weekend. The Panthers must use the same formula to beat the Saints that they used to defeat the Cardinals.



A caller congratulates Drew for the Yankees victory. The caller explains that just because the Yankees win they way they do, not every team needs to spend huge amounts of money. He also points out that despite the expensive payroll of the team, the team was still very close to not winning the World Series.  


I apologize, but I just feel the need to post this picture.



TowsonUniversityMen’s Basketball coach, Pat Kennedy is on with Drew. He starts off by describing the changes to his coaching staff this season. The team has lost a few key assistants this season to other schools. Three new coaches have been brought in. He next talks about how the team still has a couple positions that are notcompletely set. He states that the team has excellent depththisseason, with two solid players at each position. The team will open the season on November 13th at home against Miami of Ohio. He calls Old Dominion a team to look out for in the CAA. He explains that the top teams in the conference will be as strong as they have ever been.


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Blog & Tackle: Vacation’s over, it’s back to work

Posted on 26 October 2009 by Chris Pika

Now that everyone has had a chance to remember what it was like to be outside, do the laundry or actually acknowledge their children/spouse/significant other on Sundays for the first time since August, the Ravens are back on the clock this and every week until January (and beyond?).

Bye week in the NFL is almost like getting a forced vacation. You go full-bore from the start of camp, and then you get four days off to recharge, play golf, see the family, etc. The long weekend comes to an abrupt end as game plans and position meetings replace sleeping in and cooking breakfast. You come back to a desk full of memos, projects and missed calls, and you can’t stare at the stack and wish it away. You have to dive in and deal with it in small doses.

So after Week 7 action in which we saw Minnesota finally get stopped in the fourth quarter (by the Steelers), the Bengals dismantle the Bears, the Giants lose for the second straight week, the Cardinals win on the road for the third straight time, the improbable comeback by the Saints in Miami and a Texas-sized beatdown by the Cowboys over the Falcons, where does that leave the hometown purple heroes?

Well, right where we left them at 3-3. Unfortunately, neither the Vikings or Bears were much help to the Ravens in the standings. Denver had the week off, too, and the Broncos will be raring to go this week in Baltimore.

The Ravens players and coaches know they could have been 4-2 or even 5-1 (or just as easily 2-4), but as the most astute coach will say, “It is what it is.” The Ravens have put the first six weeks behind them. A must in the NFL, since the schedule will not allow for time to for the “what might have been” game. That game’s for the fans to play on sports talk stations, in bars and on the internet.

That doesn’t mean the coaches and scouts haven’t been hard at work looking at tape of games and practices, trying to figure out what hasn’t worked and replacing those items with ones that do succeed. The problem is, the Broncos have had the opportunity to do the same. Nothing is static in the NFL, except for the fact that if you can’t stop something in particular, teams will keep pressure on that issue until you do — and then they will go on to something else. It is a chess match each week.

Everyone has something to play for, whether it’s the playoffs, or fighting for jobs. Everyone comes to play each week, and you have to be ready whether you play a team that’s 5-1 or 1-5. Just ask Philadelphia about Oakland. You think Eagles coach Andy Reid hasn’t gotten that point across about a reeling Redskins squad under a seemingly lame-duck head coach they play Monday night?

Right now, the final 10 Ravens opponents in the regular season have six winning records, three losing marks and one .500 club. Fortunately, three of those 10 games will come against the two teams currently in front in the AFC North race, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

Gone are the 14-10 games Ravens fans were accustomed to earlier in the decade. There will be more of the 33-31 variety going forward this season. You can’t make wholesale in-season personnel changes, but gameplans can be tweaked to maximize the positives and some younger players will be asked to step up. The Ravens offense isn’t afraid on the road, Joe Flacco can make the tough throws, Ray Rice has become the primary rushing threat who can also catch the ball out of the backfield for big yards and Ladarius Webb can return kicks effectively to shorten the offense’s yardage workload — all positives.

It will be up to the offense to carry the day. Control the line of scrimmage and the clock and minimize the exposure of the defense against the high-powered offenses like Denver, Cincy, Indy and others possess. Grab the lead early, and impose the playbook on the opponent. Carry the lead to the fourth quarter, and pound the ball to move the chains and the clock. Defensively, stop the run and find ways to pressure the quarterback into bad decisions. In short, the formula that helped the Ravens so much in 2008 and in the first three games of 2009.

It’s time for the Ravens and their fans to get back to work, and not panic at the pile of work sitting on the desk when you get in the office. It’s a manageable stack — you just have to approach it one week at a time.

Follow Blog And Tackle on Twitter by going to http://www.twitter.com/BlogAndTackle.

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NFL 2009 Forecast

Posted on 12 September 2009 by Luke Jones

Alright, I’m a couple days late, so I guess I lose points much like a high school kid turning in a research paper two days late.  What can I say? I’m a procrastinator.

I had to take out my fearless prediction of Steelers safety Troy Polamalu going down with an injury on Opening Night, because no one would believe me.  Trust me, it was there. I’ve also included a random thought for each team, some of them serious and others not so serious.

AFC East:
1. New England – The Belichick kool-aid tastes like rancid milk, but I’m still drinking it.
2. Miami – Anyone else surprised at the lack of attention the biggest story of 2008 is receiving?
3. New York Jets – Rex Ryan is either a perfect fit for the Big Apple or a disaster waiting to happen.
4. Buffalo – T.O. will be looking for a payday after the season, so he’ll behave himself…and hate it.

AFC North
1. Baltimore – Ray Rice will be one of the breakout players of 2009, but Willis McGahee will also contribute.
*2. Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger looks terrible early in the game but makes his money in the fourth quarter.
3. Cincinnati – A healthy Carson Palmer and an underrated defense makes this a dangerous team.
4. Cleveland – Anyone else get the feeling Eric Mangini will be Chris Palmer IV?

AFC South
1. Indianapolis – Dungy will be missed, but Peyton has always run the show.
*2. Tennessee – Can Kerry Collins keep it all together for another great season?
3. Houston – The sexy surprise pick by many prognosticators, but I don’t see it.
4. Jacksonville – No sellouts in 2009? A fine choice for NFL expansion over Baltimore and St. Louis in 1993.

AFC West
1. San Diego – This team is too talented to do anything but succeed, but we’re talking about Norv Turner.
2. Kansas City – Matt Cassel will find things don’t come as easily without the New England personnel around him.
3. Denver – Has a head coach ever needed less time to turn his team upside-down?
4. Oakland – I didn’t know the Orioles played football!

NFC East
1. Philadelphia – What happens if McNabb goes down and Vick lights it up in the City of Brotherly Love?
*2. New York Giants – Regardless of what they say, this team will still miss Plaxico Burress.
3. Dallas – You think T.O.’s bloated ego would have hit the new video board too?
4. Washington – Another sterling year in the NFC East for the burgundy and gold.

NFC North
1. Green Bay – Aaron Rodgers will make Packers fans happy that Favre is no longer the quarterback.
2. Chicago – Lovie Smith needs to have a big season after the Bears’ surrendered two first-round picks for the franchise quarterback.
3. Minnesota – “I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not physically or mentally 100%.” Aren’t you glad he’s finally on your side, Vikings fans?
4. Detroit – Jim Schwartz is a great choice to rebuild this team, but asking for more than 3 or 4 wins would be a stretch.

NFC South
1. Atlanta – How good can Matt Ryan be in this league?
*2. New Orleans – Drew Brees is too good to find himself out of the postseason again, right?
3. Carolina – I’m no longer a believer in Jake Delhomme…or the defense.
4. Tampa Bay – With Derrick Brooks and company gone, it’s tough to recognize this team anymore.

NFC West
1. Arizona – Will the Cardinals avoid the Super Bowl loser jinx? They will in this division.
2. San Francisco – It’s great seeing Vernon Davis back in the good graces of the head coach, but now he’s a captain?
3. Seattle – I know Matt Hasselbeck is healthy, but does anyone really like Jim Mora as a head coach?
4. St. Louis – It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since the original “Greatest Show on Turf.” It feels even longer for Rams fans.

* = Wild Card

Wild Card Round:
Pittsburgh over Indianapolis
San Diego over Tennessee
Atlanta over New Orleans
NY Giants over Arizona

Divisional Round:
Baltimore over Pittsburgh
New England over San Diego
Atlanta over Philadelphia
Green Bay over NY Giants

AFC Championship:
New England over Baltimore

NFC Championship:
Green Bay over Atlanta

Super Bowl XLIV:
New England over Green Bay

MVP: Tom Brady
Defensive Player of the Year: DeMarcus Ware
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Knowshon Moreno
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Brian Orakpo
Coach of the Year: Andy Reid

Check back in January—or even four weeks from now—for a great laugh.

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WNST notes from Ravens passing camp

Posted on 09 June 2009 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are holding their last full-squad voluntary passing camp this week before wrapping up the OTA schedule with rookie camp next week.

This week’s workouts are focused on game planning for their three AFC North opponents.  Coaches and players have discussed opposing personnel and simulated game-week preparation for the rookies and newcomers.  The team focused on Cincinnati Monday, Cleveland today, and will examine the Pittsburgh Steelers on Wednesday.

Coach John Harbaugh borrowed this approach from his days with Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid.

–  Todd Heap continues to make his way back from a back injury suffered at the end of last season.  Harbaugh is encouraged with the veteran tight end’s work this week, particularly on Monday.

“Todd seems like he’s really come along,” Harbaugh said.  “He did more yesterday probably than he did today.  I think he was a little bit sore from the workload yesterday, but that’s a good sign.  Once you get to the point where the injury’s not causing the soreness and the workload’s causing the soreness, now you can start working your way to where you need to be.  Significant progress, and hopefully, he can do a little bit more tomorrow.”

Despite the Ravens’ interest in drafting tight end Brandon Pettigrew (selected by the Detroit Lions) and the free agent signing of L.J. Smith, Heap still figures to be a major part of the Ravens’ passing attack if healthy.

One of the biggest goals for Cam Cameron’s offense will be to expand the passing game in the middle of the field and not to rely so heavily on sideline routes to Derrick Mason.

“Our expectations for Todd are to be the player he’s always been and even better,” Harbaugh said.  “All of the things he did last year sometimes get undersold…all the things in the blocking area; we want to definitely expand [his role] in the passing area.  We want to control the middle of the field with our passing game, and Todd Heap’s got to be a big part of that.”

– Receiver Marcus Smith continues to impress during offseason OTAs after failing to catch a pass during his rookie season.

The 6-1 receiver from New Mexico was a fourth round pick in 2008 and played running back for two years in college, giving him the instincts to run after the catch that many receivers lack.

“We’ve always thought Marcus was going to be a really good player,” Harbaugh said.  “He’s physical, he’s tough, and he’s a hard worker.  That’s a good place to start…I’m excited about Marcus.”

–  Harbaugh will join New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, and former NFL head coaches Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden on a tour of the Persian Gulf at the end of the month.

The Ravens regularly invite military service members to the complex in Owings Mills, and Harbaugh is honored to receive the opportunity to visit with active military personnel.

“I think I’m going to learn more and enjoy it more probably than [the troops will], for sure,” Harbaugh said.  “What am I going to say to them?  I’m looking forward to what they have to say.  It’s going to be a neat trip.”

The head coach jokingly downplayed the significance of being invited on the trip in only his second year in the NFL head coaching fraternity.

“Maybe I’m just one of the guys who said yes.  Who knows?  It’s going to be a great opportunity to go with some neat coaches, too.”

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Lunch With A Philly Fan ….

Posted on 22 January 2009 by Rex Snider

I’ll admit, for years I’ve been buying the storied reputation of the typical PHILLY FAN.  You know, the foul-mouthed, hometeam heckling, battery chucking, Santa hating neighbors to our immediate north? 

In my 41 years on this earth, I’ve been to Philadelphia once ….. and I never left the train.  I can’t give you a vivid recollection of the Spectrum or Veterans Stadium.  And, to date, I’ve missed out on the ‘Linc and Citizens Bank Park. 

There really isn’t a good excuse ….. I’m an American League guy and I’ve always been indifferent about the Eagles and Phillies.  And, yes, I’ve allowed the feared warning about dealing with the passionate fan base to discourage me from ever considering a trip up I95. 

To a point, many of my uninformed feelings changed over just one meal.  A couple days ago, I settled in for a mid-winter lunch with a lifelong Philly guy.  And, I’m not talking about a snot-nose kid who considers Allen Iverson “old school.” 

Nope, I met OLD SCHOOL ….. and I liked it.  As we sat in MaGerks and ate some pretty tasty food, while loosely monitoring the inaugural activities, I absorbed every subject, from the Ravens – to cancer research – to the Phillies – to Barack Obama ….. and finally, to the famed “Wing Bowl,” which is evidently a Philly tradition. 

My source of information and recollection is named “Earl,” and in just an hour’s time, he diffused my uneducated opinion of Philadelphia’s faithful.  To hear some known personalities and fans say it, the only good things to come out of Philly is the “whiz” on cheesesteaks, the O’Jays and several dollars – according to the stamp. 

In chatting up Earl, I learned Philadelphians are really no different than us ….. they battle cancer and other diseases, they love their sports teams and they truly want what’s best for our nation.  Of course, we talked about Obama ….. he was plastered on the 47 tv’s throughout the joint.  Earl’s message ….. “I just want him to fix it.” 

Throughout our conversation, I learned Andy Reid is not Earl’s guy – not a chance.  Yet, he likes Donovan McNabb.  As for Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie – Earl said, he doesn’t even live in Philly !!!!  Can you imagine that? 

I also learned that Philly people don’t dislike Baltimore, which really confused me after attending the Ravens/Eagles game, earlier this season.  Remember that affair ….. about 5,000 hooligans in Eagles jerseys, acting like a hybrid breed of Dingoes and Gremlins. 

I didn’t relate my recent Eagles experience to Earl, but I sensed it could’ve been an isolated incident.  After all, it’s not as if we don’t have 5 – 10 – or 20,000 asshats, in Baltimore.  If you doubt me, just try wearing a Steelers jersey while walking down Ostend Street, on gameday.  You’d think the dude was wearing bombs ….. 

In Earl, I found a guy who’s grown to like the Ravens, since he’s been in Baltimore.  He likes Joe Flacco and the new direction of the team.  Who could argue with that?  I certainly expected the likelihood of a little trash-talk, when the Ravens came up. 

I never did get that “typical Philly feeling” I’ve been warned about for years and years.  Thus, I’m inclined to ask if Earl is the consummate Philly fan or simply a lucky, rare find?  I guess I won’t really know until I meet more of them. 

But, I’m glad I met Earl ….. and I didn’t pay for lunch, either.

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Thoughts on Kyle and other notes from 1 Winning Drive today

Posted on 21 January 2009 by caseywillett

One of the more interesting things that I though came out of today’s press conference was the praise that Steve Bisciotti gave to Kyle Boller and what he has meant to this team. Bisciotti talked about how Kyle wanted to be around the team, and how he traveled with the team, and was one of the biggest supporters of Joe Flacco. There are several people in the organization that think the world of Kyle Boller and the character that he has. Like Kyle or not, he has always been a stand up guy and a guy that his teammates like.

I personally would not rule out Kyle coming back here next year. He will obviously want a chance to compete for a starting job in the NFL, but those jobs are sort of few and far between in the NFL now a days at the quarterback position.

Here are some other news and notes from this afternoon :

Drew Forrester has a really good piece as it relates to the news regarding Ray Lewis from today’s press conference.

You can also listen to the audio and see some exclusive video from the press conference on WNST’s website.

– The Ravens will probably announce a new defensive coordinator in the next week or so for the team. It will definitely be done from in house and it appears that the front runners are Chuck Pagano or Vic Fangio.

-Do not expect to see any other coaches from the Ravens defensive staff leave to go join Rex Ryan in New York. Mike Pettine got a huge oppurtunity to become the defensive coordinator of the New York Jets, and the Ravens are happy to see him get such an oppurtunity.

– Coach Harbaugh will soon be flying to Hawaii to coach the AFC in the Pro Bowl, where he will oppose his former co worker and mentor in Andy Reid. Maybe Coach Harbaugh will be able to see some guys up close and personal that he would like to add to his football team next year.

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2008 Ravens Top 20 Moments: Nos. 10-6

Posted on 21 January 2009 by Alex Thomas

Let’s hop right into the top 10 moments of the 2008 Ravens season. Which of these moments are in your top ten? I’d love to hear from the readers as we finish this thing up.

You can read moments 20-16 by clicking here.

You can read moments 15-11 by clicking here.

10. Wild Card Win vs. Dolphins – The rematch at Dolphins Stadium…well, pretty much went like the first game. Led by their defense, the Ravens beat Miami in the Wild Card round of the playoffs to advance to the divisional round. Ed Reed broke a 3-3 tie in the second quarter with an impressive 64 yard interception return for a touchdown. He added another pick late in the game as the Dolphins were driving down the field which all but sealed the game for the Ravens. Reed and Co. forced five turnovers by Comeback Player of the Year QB Chad Pennigton–the Dolphins had only turned the ball over thirteen times total in the regular season. Most of us thought that it was a foregone conclusion that the Ravens would emerge victorious, which is why this moment didn’t break into the top five.

9. Cry Eagles Cry – The Ravens lambasted the visiting Eagles in week 12 36-7, highlighted by 24 fourth quarter points that left Eagles fans boiling mad. Of course, this was the game where the infamous benching of underappreciated quarterback Donovan McNabb occurred. After this game, the outcry in Philadelphia could be heard in Elkton. There were hateful calls to local radio stations, where Eagles fans attacked Andy Reid, Donovan McNabb, and the Eagles defense. Although the sack-happy Eagles got to Joe Flacco three times, Flacco still managed to throw two touchdown passes and didn’t turn the ball over. Le’Ron McClain had a big day, rushing 18 times for 88 yards and a touchdown. But the lasting memory from this game was the sweet, sweet sound of crying Eagles fans. What made it even sweeter was the fact that the Ravens were the reason for their sorrows.

8. Mason Mans Up – The win in Dallas was special for many reasons, and one of those reasons was the play of Derrick Mason. Still battling a dislocated shoulder that had plagued him since the Texans game, Mason played the entire game with one arm. Despite not being able to lift his arm above his shoulder, he recovered a Le’Ron McClain fumble that kept a drive alive and eventually led to a touchdown pass that would be caught by…guess who? Mason’s ability to perform so well with such a painful injury was one of the main reasons that Baltimore picked up a key win in Dallas. Mason put on one of the grittiest performances in the history of the NFL, as he had to come out of the game several times to get work done on his shoulder. And it’s strange to say that about a wide receiver, which is a position that is usually occupied by divas and cry babies.

7. Sunday Night Smackdown – The Ravens beat up on the Redskins on national television back in week 14 by a score of 24-10. Ray Lewis and the staunch Ravens rush defense held Clinton Portis to just 30 yards on the ground and forced two Jason Campbell interceptions and a Portis fumble. Ed Reed ripped the ball away from Portis, scooped it up, and returned it for a touchdown. I’m sure we all remember #20 back-peddling into the end zone after bouncing off several poor tackling attempts by the burgundy and gold. The Ravens rushing attack rolled over the Redskins, amassing 147 yards on the ground against an overrated Redskin rush defense. Le’Ron McClain led the way with 61 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hail!

6. Flacco’s Opening Day TD Run – Who would have thought that Joe Flacco’s first professional touchdown would be made with his legs and not his arm? Well Bazooka Joe shocked the purple faithful on opening day by scampering 38 yards down the sideline, and aided by some good down field blocking, dove for the endzone to give the Ravens a 17-3 lead. His numbers that day weren’t spectacular by any stretch (15/29 for 129 yards), but he didn’t turn the ball over and looked calm and poised in the pocket. It was too early to know for sure, but after week 1 there was definitely a buzz around Baltimore. “Maybe this kid from Delaware is for real.” 

Check back later for the final five.

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