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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.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (10/23/09)

Posted on 23 October 2009 by Jack McManus


Andy Behrens is on to offer his weekly fantasy advice. He tells me that Lance Moore is an obvious start this week and to stay away from Terrell Owens. He also tells me to start Brent Celek over Vernon Davis and that only one tight end is needed. He advises Glenn to start Steve Breaston and Leon Washington.


Y.A. Tittle, author of the new book Nothing Comes Easy is the next guest. He talks about how he broke into football by starting off in Baltimore. He explains that constant questions from fans prompted Tittle to decided to write the book. He says that today he follows both the Giants and the 49ers. He next talks about the difference between the game today versus when he played. He believes the main difference is the physical attributes of the players. Players today begin training much earlier in life. This is an all-time-great interview segment by the way, so please check it out in the audio vault.



Here is Drew’s idea for the new Chicago Bears logo.


















(Its the wind.)


Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is next up to talk some football. He starts off by talking about rumor that Joe Gibbs may be returning to Washington. He moves on to how certain teams always seem to make good coaching hires and others cannot seem to do so. Florio believes that Steve Spagnuolo will eventually be a good coach, if he is given the opportunity. He also speaks on the Tom Cable situation. The fact that Randy Hanson will most likely sue will make sure the news does not go away.



Randy Cross is on with Drew. He will be in the booth for the Navy-Wake Forest match-up tomorrow. Cross was at the Texans game last weekend. He explains how right now the team is very inconsistent. If the defense can continue to play at a high level they could be a problem for a lot of good teams this season. On the other side of the game, Cross states that he does not yet believe in the Cincinnati Bengals. He is also unsure of the NFC West teams (Cardinals and 49ers). In regards to the Ravens, Cross thinks the Ravens still have a chance to win the division. 



This morning we are discussing “lightning in a bottle.” Some of the best suggestions so far have been George Mason and Derek Anderson.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (10/15/09)

Posted on 15 October 2009 by Jack McManus


Former Oriole and current New York Yankee Jerry Hairston is the next guest. He describes the feeling he had when he played in his first ever playoff series. He compares the atmosphere in Yankee Stadium to that of Chicago when Michael Jordan made a game-winning shot. He appreciates how intense the fans are in New York. Finally, he talks about how he enjoyed his time in Baltimore. He states that Baltimore was a great baseball town, and it appears the team may soon bring that status back with all of the young talent. Despite being a Yankee, Hairston states that when he saw how Yankee fans took over Camden Yards, he felt some sadness.



Visanthe Shiancoe, Vikings tight end, former Morgan State Bear, and Maryland native talks with Drew. He talks about his experience playing with Brett Favre explains that the entire team has confidence that Favre will find the open receiver. He next describes how the Vikings offense has great balance and that is what makes it most difficult for defenses to stop. Shiancoe also explains how the coaching staff and the players have prepared the team to make sure it will not peak too early. He believes the Vikings are still far from reaching their potential.

I would post a picture of Shiancoe, but I’ll let you do the google image search for yourself.


Another call brings up how the next few teams have very strong quarterbacks. He talks about how this could be a problem for the defense, considering the struggles against Phillip Rivers, Tom Brady, and Carson Palmer. The discussion moves to how the team needs to better establish its running game in order to let the passing attack work properly.


A caller tries to come up with a solution to the problems the Ravens have this year that they did not have last season. He mentions the loss of Lorenzo Neal. This has limited the “three-headed monster” monster in the offensive backfield.


Drew reminds us that the Ravens started off 2-3 last season. He believes that many fans have overreacted to the loss to the Bengals.


David Koehn, the play-by-play voice of the Virginia Cavaliers comes on to talk about the team before its game against Maryland this weekend. He talks about Virginia’s win over North Carolina. He points out that this could be a turning point in the season. He talks about how the Cavaliers have recently had success throwing the ball. This could continue against a banged up Maryland secondary. Koehn calls the passing defense of Virginia one of the strengths of the team. However, he describes how it is difficult to prepare for an offense, like Maryland’s, that is so inconsistent.


Brian Billick comes on talk about football and the Ravens. This week, Brian will call the Arizona-Seattle matchup. Brian starts off by talking about the trend in the league toward passing offenses. He believes that many teams are vulnerablebecauseof their lack of ability to run the ball. He gives the Bengals as an example of a team that has good balance. The addition of Cedric Benson has allowed Carson Palmer to open up the offense more. Brian moves on to the parity in the league this year. He believes he has never seen a year in which all the teams in the middle of the league are very even. Next, Brian talks about how to deal with the referees when the team believes it has been the victim of some questionable calls. He explains that the players cannot use the officials as an excuse. Brian finishes by talking about the Denver Broncos. He states that if a team has confidence and momentum, as the Broncos do, it will help them on the field.


A caller takes a cheap shot at Ozzie Newsome. He believes that the team has made some poor personnel choices while making the roster this season. He talks about the loss of Jim Leonhard and the signing of an unhealthy Samari Rolle.



Glenn leads off “Cheap Shots from the Bleachers” by calling out fans who root for different college teams for different sports. He does not value the opinion of fans like this. He states that if you are going to be a fan you must root for every single sport at a school.

Drew follows that up with a cheap shot at the great Ray Lewis. He explains that Ray needs to be accessible to the media after a loss. He says that Ray should not make excuses about the officiating or being emotional, and instead own up to any mistakes he made. He finishes up by stating that this is both a fact and a low blow.


The newest Raven David Tyree is up early and on with Drew. Tyree explains how excited he is to have an opportunity here in Baltimore. He goes on to talk about how he welcomes making an immediate impact on special teams. He also talks about his amazing catch in the 4th quarter of the Superbowl 2 years ago.

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Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 3

Posted on 02 October 2009 by kevinpb

Ravens 34 – Browns 3. Three games, three wins. This just in, the Ravens are a very good football team. All things being equal with injuries, the Baltimore Ravens will be a factor in the AFC with regard to which team goes to the Super Bowl. These aren’t your Daddy’s Ravens. They are still solid on defense, and are diverse and exciting on offense.
The Browns had no chance on Sunday at the Purple Palace. The Browns are a bad football team.

In week 3, the Ravens offense was as imaginative as effective. Again the Ravens relied on the “no-huddle” offense early in the game to create tempo and keep Cleveland off balance. They also unveiled a new package, based on the principals of the “read option” that was used so effectively by Vince Young at Texas. Five to ten times Flacco set up in the shotgun and read the defense before handing off to the back. McGahee scored both his touchdowns off this set, and early in the second corner they ran the option to Mark Clayton out of this set. Joe Flacco was 25-35 for 342 yards and 1 touchdown. Three games into the season and Flacco has 2 – 300 yard games. The offensive line was dominant, opening gaping holes and keeping Flacco upright.

Defensively, the line dominated the run, and provided steady yet unspectacular pressure all day. The secondary had a much better day, admittedly, against a far inferior quarterback. The defensive backfield was much more aggressive and attacked the ball when it was put in the air. One thing that I have noticed is that Brendan Ayanbadejo is playing a lot of inside linebacker, especially in obvious passing situations. I guess the coaches are not sold on Tavares Gooden’s coverage skills.

Special teams wise, they were better. Koch was solid with the limited punting he did and Hauschka was perfect in PAT’s and field goals. Our return game is still not good, it seems we are out of sync and always just a second late getting the hole. We covered better, but Harbaugh and Rossberg still like to tempt fate by kicking the ball directly to the dangerous return men. I will give them credit though, just before halftime after we scored, instead of kicking to Cribbs, like they did to Sproles last week, they kicked it high and short and made someone else field the ball. At least they learned their lesson.

I have to give credit to Cam Cameron, he was so far ahead of the defensive coaches for the Cleveland Browns with play calling. When the Browns loaded the box, he threw the ball down the field, when they backed off he pounded the ball with the run. It was a complete mismatch on the field and in the coaching booth.

Next week we go to Foxboro. I am really looking forward to this game. I don’t think it will be easy, but there is no team in football the Ravens can’t beat. They are going to have to stop the run, force Brady to throw a lot and then pressure and make him uncomfortable. Next week would be a good week to go back to the all out pressure defense that was our staple for many years. If Wes Welker does not play, the Ravens will play over the top of Randy Moss so he doesn’t beat us deep, they will stop the run and Flacco and company will put up enough points to get out of Boston with a win.

How bad are the Cleveland Browns – Pretty bad, but I have to question what they were trying to accomplish last Sunday in Baltimore. Loosing 27-0 late in the 3rd quarter or early in the 4th, with 4th and short on or about the Ravens 15 yard line, they decide to kick a field goal. I don’t understand the decision. For a team that has had trouble putting it in the endzone, and with the game already decided, why not pull out all stops to get a touchdown? Strange decision. Also, earlier in the 3rd quarter, James Harrison of the Browns rips off a 17 yard run for a first down. The Browns line up and run a quarterback sneak on first down. Who the hell called that masterpiece?

Man-Genius? I think not. Eric Mangini played coy all summer without naming a quarterback. Then he named Brady Quinn opening day starter. After only 2 ½ games, Mangini pulled Quinn, who was not performing, for Derek Anderson. Anderson comes in cold without proper practice with the Browns first team, against the aggressive Ravens defense. He throws three interceptions. Now Mangini has benched his chosen starter for the 2nd stringer who tanked against the Ravens. Beautiful coaching decision. The game was over at half time and no way Derek Anderson was going to change the outcome. If Mangini became convinced a change was needed, then he should have let Quinn finish the Ravens game, and prepared Anderson to start the next week. Now he has no quarterback. In a matter of three years, the Cleveland Browns have gone from having a Pro Bowl quarterback and a promising No. 1 draft choice at that position to no quarterback at all.

Shaun Hill, Vernon Davis, Jared Gaither, Domique Foxworth, D’Quell Jackson, Eric Barton, LaMont Jordan, EJ Henderson, Darius Heyward-Bey, Stephen Heyer, Shawn Merriman, Jeremy Navarre, Kris Jenkins, Joey Haynos, Dan Gronkowski, Erin Henderson, Eric Hicks, Moise Foiku, Kevin Barnes, Andrew Crummey, Madieu Williams, Josh Wilson, Randy Starks, Dave Philistin, Adam Podlesh, Isaiah Gardner, William Kershaw, Dre Moore, Edwin Williams and Jaimie Thomas. What do they all have in common? They are former University of Maryland football players that are currently with an NFL team. That is a lot of talent being sent to the NFL from a Division 1A program that routinely continues to underachieve. I wonder what the problem could be? Oh yes, your Maryland Terrapins were embarrassed again this week by that national power Rutgers.

Political Correctness makes me sick – The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim clinched a spot in the baseball playoffs by winning the American League West Division. Their clinching celebration included honoring a fallen teammate, Nick Adenhart. The celebration included an homage to his likeness on the centerfield wall and dousing his jersey with beer and champagne. The symbolization was clear, they were celebrating like he was still with them. There have been rumblings that this type of celebration was not appropriate because Nick Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver. Please. Way to go Angels, I think your celebration was pretty cool.

This Weiters kid can play – For all of you Baltimore Oriole fans out there who were uneasy about the play of Matt Weiters; or more appropriately, were concerned that he wasn’t going to be as good as advertised, fear not the kid can play. Long past the time most Orioles are on the shelf for the year due to injury, and the others have packed it in, Weiters continues impress. His defense has continuously improved and he is really stinging the ball even when he makes an out. The homerun he hit in Toronto was a monstrous shot. Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

“I can coach!” – Charles G Driesell. In the case of Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno, I don’t think that is the case any longer. I watched Joe Paterno on the sidelines the other night when Iowa beat Penn State. He looked completely mystified on the sideline. Bobby Bowden’s post game press conference after Florida State’s loss to South Florida is priceless. You really ought to try and find it and watch it. I am paraphrasing his statements, but they were something like, daggommit, they were good. They were a lot better then we thought they were. Don’t get me wrong, both Bowden and Paterno are Hall of Fame coaches, and while their respective programs are in decent shape nationally, they are no where near the viable force they once were on the national scene. It is clear that both coaches are pretty much figureheads for the corporations that are Penn State and Florida State football. Both programs are run behind the scenes by assistant coaches and are pretty much on cruise control. For either program to return to national prominence, a change needs to be made.

Do yourself a favor and check out the Showtime series, “Full Color Football: History of the AFL”. This series airs on every Wednesday at 8pm prior to Inside the NFL. It is a great documentary regarding the start up AFL and the years prior to the creation of the Super Bowl and all the way up through the AFL-NFL merger. If you are a football fan, you will love a look back at this league. It is really well done. Next week the episode will center on something that is near and dear to all Baltimoreans hearts, Super Bowl III. You can probably catch all the previous episodes on Comcast “On Demand” if you are so inclined.

Baby Steps – It’s good to see Steelers wide receiver, Limas Sweed progressing as a receiver in the NFL. Last week when he dropped a sure touchdown pass, he didn’t fall down and fake and injury. Baby steps, “Lame Ass”, baby steps.


1. New York Giants – Defense wins championships, and this defense is pretty good. They are running the ball well and Eli is meshing with his new receivers.
2. New Orleans Saints – beat a decent Buffalo team at Buffalo and did it by playing great defense and running the ball.
3. Baltimore Ravens – rolled against a really bad team. They did what they were supposed to do. Let’s see what happens next week.
4. New York Jets – Titans had them beat except for the muffed punt at the end.
5. Indianapolis Colts – demolished the Cardinals. Very efficient game, hitting on all cylinders right now.
6. Minnesota Vikings – great throw by Favre, even better catch by Greg Lewis. A miracle away from being 2-1.
7. Philadelphia Eagles – Wow, what a difference in Kevin Kolb from the Ravens game last year and the way he is playing now. Team hasn’t missed a beat.
8. Chicago Bears – went into Seattle, a very tough place to play, and got the job done. When “Good Jay” shows up they are a tough out.
9. Denver Broncos – I still don’t think they are as good as this ranking but they deserve to be here.
10. New England Patriots – I still think they are a little off kilter, but getting back to basics last week with the running game was a good first step. Let’s hope they don’t find their stride for at least one more week
11. Atlanta Falcons –no shame in losing at Foxboro, but their second half against the Patriots was nothing to write home about.
12. Green Bay Packers – gearing up for the Monday night showdown with ole what’s his name.
13. San Diego Chargers – still 2-1, but getting healthier. Would love to see them go into Pittsburgh and get the W.
14. San Franscisco 49ers – a good solid football team who got beat last Sunday on a hail mary. Frank Gore being hurt does not help them going forward.
15. Cincinnati Bengals – got to give this team some love, after that deflection loss the first weekend I thought they were dead.
16. Dallas Cowboys – I have no read on this team. They are 2-1, but I still think they are the odd team out in the NFC East.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers – 1-2 what a great break for the Ravens, but they will stabilize and make a charge before the year is done.
18. Tennessee Titans – notoriously slow starting team the last few years, puts an awful lot of pressure on the team to play perfect and stay perfect at the end.
19. Seattle Seahawks – this team is very talented, they just caught a bad break when Hasselback broke his rib.
20. Arizona Cardinals – should be lower, but I know they can play better. All of a sudden Warner looks old.
21. Houston Texans – there is potential here. The defense must get better.
22. Jacksonville Jaguars – does the nick name Jaguars work in Southern California?
23. Buffalo Bills – didn’t show up at home against the Saints. The TO explosion meter is ticking.
24. Miami Dolphins – brutal early schedule has not done them any favors. Pennington is hurt, time to audition for next year.
25. Detroit Lions – making strides as a team. I think they are getting better as a team
26. Oakland Raiders – the worst quarterback in the NFL.
27. Carolina Panthers – John Fox has had a nice run. I am afraid it is coming to an end.
28. Washington Redskins – should be embarrassed at how they are playing. To much talent to stink this bad. No accountability at all. Danny boy is getting nevous.
29. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – quarterback change already. Young coach is not ready for the adversity they are facing. This is going to get bad real fast.
30. Saint Louis Rams – Kyle Boller with 2 touchdown passes. Let’s go Kyle.
31. Kansas City Chiefs- all that money they gave to Cassell isn’t looking like such a good idea right now.
32. Cleveland Browns – I think they ought to hire Tony Grossi to coach the team.

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Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 2

Posted on 22 September 2009 by kevinpb

 Ravens, Rants and Rankings – week 2



Ravens 31 – Chargers 28.  We have witnessed a lot of defining moments in the career of Ray Lewis; his Super Bowl performance, his open field stick of Eddie George that knocked him out of the game, his interception and return for a touchdown in the playoffs against Tennessee, and now this destruction of the San Diego Chargers last play from scrimmage as they are driving for the go ahead score.  If you have the chance to see a replay of the game, check out Ray moving before the snap closing into the gap, really a thing of beauty. 


At this time, I would like to thank Norv (why does everybody think I am a good coach) Turner for choosing to run the ball on 4th and 2 at the 11 yard line.  The Chargers were gashing the Ravens like Freddy Kruger with the pass, and on the most important play of the game they go away from what they had success with all day.  I don’t have a problem getting the ball to Sproles, but get the ball to him in space and let him make a play for you.


Again special teams hurt the Ravens chance of putting the game away earlier.  After scoring to take a 21-13 lead with 2 minutes to go in the first half, they allow Darren Sproles to return the ball back over the 50 yard line.  Luckily, the defense was able to deny the touchdown, but giving up 3 points there changes it from a 2 score game to a 1 score game.  If you hold them without points there, you open the second half with the ball, then you have a chance to put them in a 15 point hole.  You don’t even kick the ball to Sproles in that situation.  The special teams have to get better.  Koch and Hauschka were very solid.


Defensively, the team showed a lot of heart, and you still can’t run on this offense, but the inability to get to the quarterback and our lack of ability to play physical and tackle at the corner position needs to be corrected.  With regards to Foxworth and Washington, I really did not see a lot wrong with their ability to stay with the receivers.  In most cases they were running stride for stride with them; but I didn’t get a sense that they wanted to compete.  By that I didn’t get the sense they wanted to make a play, when the ball was up in the air it seems that they were content to let the receivers make a play and then tackle them.  Fabian Washington can’t tackle at all.  I never want to see anyone get hurt, but we benefited by Frank Walker having to replace Washington at the end of the game.  I cannot believe I am praising Frank Walker…Geesh! 


The offense did not put up 500 yards like last week but was very effective.  They took advantage of the Chargers lack of depth on the front line and effectively pounded the ball with the run.  Willis McGahee was the more effective back on this day.  He ran decisively and with power.  Ray Rice did not have as good a game as the week before, he was bottled up as a runner bobbled the throw back pass late in the game which could have went for a big play.  Joe Flacco played a terrific game and the threat of him throwing the ball down the field keeps that 8th man out of the box and makes the running game that much more effective.  We didn’t throw the ball as much as the previous week but that was by design considering the bad shape the Chargers interior line was in.  You have to love the way Cam Cameron takes advantage of the defense’s weaknesses.


In any case we are 2-0 and it is Cleveland week.  This is a game at home that we should win.  Just don’t kick the ball to Josh Cribbs.




When an onside kick is not an onside kick – I have watched football for a lot of years but I was watching the Notre Dame – Michigan State game over the weekend and I saw something I have never seen and I am still not sure about the call that was made.  After scoring a touchdown, Michigan State kicked an onside kick from the 30 yard line.  The ball bound untouched just passed the 40 (the required 10 yards) and the next bounce it bounded backwards to the 38 yard line.  Michigan State fell on the ball and was awarded possession.  I guess that once the ball goes 10 yards it can go anywhere and it is still a live ball.  Interesting.


I am becoming a Boise State fan – Every year Boise State is a factor on the National Stage.  Chris Peterson, the head coach, is 37-4 in 4 years.  They consistently handle the teams in their conference and make a habit of beating “higher quality” programs.  They play an exciting brand of offensive football that puts a lot of points on the board.  I also find it interesting that ESPN routinely shows 3 or 4 of their football games on Friday nights throughout the college season.  This in effect makes them the only show in town as a kick off for each football weekend.  How long will it be before some big time school comes calling to hire Coach Peterson?


Tim Tebow is a terrific college football player.  He very well may end up being the most decorated college football player in history.  I love his passion and I love to watch him play, but he will never make it as a starting quarterback in the NFL.  The Jacksonville Jaguars have stated that they want to draft Tebow and feature him as their centerpiece on the team and in their marketing ventures.  That is a bold declaration and a terrific gamble for a player that most experts are still on the fence about being an impact player at the quarterback position in the NFL.


You went to St. Joe’s don’t embarrass me – Delonte West, who had the best game I ever saw a major college basketball player have, going 10 for 10 from the field and 6 for 6 from the foul line as St Joe’s beat Xavier in 2004, was arrested in PG County over the weekend.  He was arrested for speeding on a motorcycle when he cut off a police cruiser.  He was stopped and had a guitar case strapped to his back packed with 2 loaded hand guns and a shot gun.  Where was the guitar?  If you are speeding on a motorcycle carrying weapons in a guitar case, why would you even attempt to pass a police cruiser much less cut him off?  It was reported he was cooperative with the police…I guess so.

When the police asked him what he was doing, Delonte reportedly said that he was speeding because he was late to meet Lonnie Baxter down by the White House.


How long before the Terps basketball season starts? – That powerhouse Middle Tennessee State got Maryland again this year, beating the Terps 32-31 .  How long can this farce of a football team continue to represent a Major Division 1A University?  I was reading the reports of the game and press conference, and I cannot believe the things the head coach believes and is saying.  He stated after this loss, “we are going to do things the right way.” Gee Ralph, wasn’t that the idea from the get go?  You are an eyelash away from being 0-3 and you are now just going about doing things the right way.  Give me a break.  The good news is fans, that while Friedgen’s time may be limited (they have anointed James Franklin as his successor) the succeeding coach is already waist deep in the abyss known as Maryland football.  I don’t see that as a recipe for success.  Can Gary Williams coach football??






A real nice gesture – Vince Young, who has taken his share of criticism over the last 2 years, took time out of his week to show up at Steve McNair’s house to escort his sons to a father/son event at their school.  That is a pretty impressive and compassionate act.  Way to go Vince Young.


Who’s Number 2 – I don’t think there is any question that the Florida Gators are the best team in college football, but who is the next best team?  Is it Texas, a healthy Oklahoma, or Alabama?  It appears to me that the only team fast enough to play with the Gators is the University of Miami.  I am still not convinced that they have enough talent, but if they get through the next 2 weeks (against Va. Tech and Oklahoma), they can easily run the table in a weak ACC.  Are the college football fans ready for the 4th reincarnation of the Hurricanes?


No. 19 Forever – On Mike and Mike National Morning show on Tues. Sept 22, 2009.  There was a very open debate comparing Peyton Manning and John Unitas.  I think Peyton Manning is a wonderful quarterback, but he is able to do what he does, because of Johnny Unitas. While I think that comparisons like this are pretty ridiculous because of the different eras, there were certain aspects that came to light because of this debate.  First of all, I give credit to Peyton Manning for the class he showed in paying the proper reverence to John Unitas.  Secondly, the prevailing opinion of all the talking heads was that the records of the Baltimore Colts need to be separated from those of the Indianapolis Colts.  I know that such a distinction would have the overwhelming support of the people of Baltimore.  Maybe this debate will help further this cause.




  1. New York Giants – There is a lot to like about this team.  Not the least of which is to go into Dallas and beat America’s team on their opening night.
  2. New York Jets – If you are going to talk the talk, you got to walk the walk.  This is not a bad football team.
  3. Baltimore Ravens – You got to give them their due, they were not perfect, but they got the job done.  Big time win for the 1st place Ravens.
  4. New Orleans Saints – easily the most impressive team of the early season, my only concern is that their 2 wins are against Detroit and a “McNabb-less” Eagles.
  5. Atlanta Falcons – The Falcons went into Carolina and beat a talented team that was utterly embarrassed the weak before.
  6. Indianapolis Colts – still a very dangerous team, get dominated by the Dolphins and they still find a way to win.  They had the ball less then 15 minutes for the entire game.
  7. San Francisco 49ers – This team is really starting to remind me of the old Ravens.  Run, run and run again, then play defense.  Tough minded football team.
  8. Minnesota Vikings – they may be better then this ranking, but they have only beat the Lions and Browns.
  9. Pittsburgh Steelers – how many times have I waited for Jeff Reed to miss kicks against the Ravens.  Let’s see how they like to do the chasing.
  10. Philadelphia Eagles – tough loss to a real hot team without their quarterback.  I can’t penalize them to much for that.
  11. Chicago Bears – Monsters of the midway? No, but pretty effective football team which now has a good quarterback.
  12. San Diego Chargers – Threw at will on the Ravens, God bless Norv Turner.
  13. Tennessee Titans – I think they are a good football team, but they are in a big hole.  They cannot win a shoot out with Kerry Collins.
  14. New England Patriots– there are problems here.  The defense is too inexperienced, but there is also tremendous offensive talent.  They will get better as the year goes on.
  15. Arizona Cardinals– I am going to give them a mulligan for the first week, because I think the 49ers might be pretty decent.  Warner looked great against Jacksonville.
  16. Dallas Cowboys – Played Giants tough and won the first week, but there is something not quite right here.
  17. Green Bay Packers – loosing to Cincinnati at Lambeau is troubling.  Keep an eye on this team.
  18. Denver Broncos – Defense playing well, but Kyle Orton is still the quarterback.
  19. Seattle Seahawks – Still like this team, but only when Matt Hasselback is calling signals.
  20. Houston Texans – I can’t get their first week stinko out of my head.  Beat a real sound football team in the Titans.
  21. Jacksonville Jaguars – I am afraid this team is on a slippery slope.  This is not a good way to build the fan base. 
  22. Buffalo Bills – Played New England tough and soundly beat the Buccaneers.  They will get better if the offensive line doesn’t get Trent Edwards killed first.
  23. Miami Dolphins – this is not a bad team, but they have a brutal schedule, starting off 0-2 will come back to haunt them.
  24. Washington Redskins – we are one more loss away from sheer chaos among Redskins fans.  The Rams game was an ultimate embarrassment.
  25. Cincinnati Bengals – dug themselves out of a huge hole with the win at Green Bay.  They have potential, but they are still the Bengals.
  26. Oakland Raiders – this team is one player away from being a respectable team, unfortunately that player is quarterback.
  27. Detroit Lions – they are going to win 3-5 games this year.  There is definitely good talent here, just not enough of it.
  28. Carolina Panthers – played respectably against the Falcons.  Still have a long way to go.
  29. Kansas City Chiefs – played better on the road against the Ravens with Brody Croyle at the helm, then at home against the Raiders with Matt Cassell at the helm…hmmm.
  30. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – think they miss John Gruden yet?
  31. Cleveland Browns – Defense is not very good and offense is worse.  Will play next week like it is a playoff game, but will it be enough.
  32. St Louis Rams – the Kyle Boller watch has begun, and I am rooting for him.


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Blog & Tackle: NFL Week 1 review

Posted on 14 September 2009 by Chris Pika

An interesting Week 1 in the NFL had its share of big moments, surprises and injury news. Let’s take a spin around the league’s opening Sunday.

Atlanta 19, Miami 7: Not the start Miami was hoping for, by far. Several experts picked the Fins in an upset, but the Falcons took advantage of four Miami turnovers for nine points. Atlanta TE Tony Gonzalez can still catch the ball and find the end zone, and Miami should have kept running the ball at the Falcons, but decided to use the Wildcat too many times. Atlanta might have a kicking problem on its hands as Jason Elam struggled, despite a 50-yard field goal. This one should have been a blowout.

Ravens 38, Kansas City 24: A tougher game than many expected was put away by a late touchdown by Baltimore’s Willis McGahee at home. The Ravens posted a club-record 501 total yards, and they needed almost all of it with two touchdowns in the final three minutes of play. Joe Flacco’s 43 pass attempts weren’t expected as Kansas City prepared for a running attack. Ravens TE Todd Heap came back to form in a big way with 74 receiving yards and a touchdown.

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Philadelphia 38, Carolina 10: Story of two quarterbacks dominates Eagles’ victory. Philly QB Donovan McNabb breaks a rib and his status is undetermined for Week 2 against New Orleans. By the way, Michael Vick is not eligible until Week 3. Jake Delhomme struggled mightily as he was responsible for five of Carolina’s seven turnovers (Eagles scored 24 points off those seven miscues), but coach John Fox is sticking with him – for now. Carolina will have to do better than 2.4 yards per play to win games.

Denver 12, Cincinnati 7: CBS announcer Gus Johnson was in NCAA Tournament form as the easily excited play-by-play man cranked into full gear on Brandon Stokley’s 87-yard touchdown off a tipped pass late in the game. Stokley then stalled at the goal line to kill the clock and the Bengals. Chad Ochocinco had just one catch for eight yards – not much to Tweet about for the Cincy WR. Denver QB Kyle Orton was a winner in his debut and the folks in the Broncos front office have to be glad he’s the QB, instead of Jay Cutler today.

Minnesota 34, Cleveland 20: Vikings QB Brett Favre’s debut with Minnesota was the focus of the national media, but RB Adrian Peterson was the real show for the Vikes with 180 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries. Favre was 14-21 for just 110 yards passing. Again, his greatest contribution will be to safely hand the ball off to Peterson. A lot good Browns coach Eric Mangini did with his starting QB antics – Brady Quinn threw for 205 yards, including a late TD, and was sacked five times by the Minny D.

New York Jets 24, Houston 7: Rex Ryan had a very successful debut as the Jets’ head coach, thanks to – no surprise – the defense. The Jets pounded the Texans running game, and Texans QB Matt Schaub was harassed all day. The Jets got 272 pass yards from Mark Sanchez and 107 rush yards and two scores from Thomas Jones. Not sure what this victory means to New York, but Rex has the Jets buying into his way of football.

Indianapolis 14, Jacksonville 12: The Jags missed a chance to get a division upset in Week 1 as the Colts’ defense clamped down late in the fourth quarter. Jax QB David Garrard completed half his 28 passes for 122 yards, and RB Maurice Jones-Drew had only 97 rush yards and one TD. Colts QB Peyton Manning showed that even with the offseason coaching changes, he still runs the Indy defense with 301 pass yards, 162 to WR Reggie Wayne on 10 catches.

New Orleans 45, Detroit 27: The good news for Mt. St. Joe’s Jim Schwartz in his NFL head coaching debut? The Lions scored more points than they did in ANY 2008 game. The bad news? The Saints got a club record-tying six TD passes from QB Drew Brees in a blowout that extended Detroit’s futility streak to 18 straight games. Brees distributed the ball around as TE Jeremy Shockey scored twice – his first scores since being traded to New Orleans last season. Lions rookie QB Matthew Stafford will want to forget his first NFL game – three interceptions. He and Lions will have better days – but not soon.

Dallas 34, Tampa Bay 21: Cowboys QB Tony Romo successfully shook off the supposed hex by former girlfriend Jessica Simpson to throw three touchdown passes as part of a 353-yard passing day. Bucs QB Byron Leftwich probably thinks the blonde bombshell put the hex on the wrong guy, as he was battered by the Dallas defense once Tampa Bay had stop running the ball. Tampa Bay could be in for a long year as division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans have as much, if not more firepower, than the Cowboys.

San Francisco 20, Arizona 16: One of the few mild surprises of Week 1, as the defending NFC champs were beaten at home by a rapidly improving 49ers squad. 49ers QB Shaun Hill threw for 209 yards and a score, while fantasy darling Kurt Warner was picked off twice and subject to a heavy pass rush from San Francisco. Arizona was led in receiving by a running back, Tim Hightower, who caught 12 balls for 121 yards – that’s not the formula that helped the Cards go so far in 2008.

New York Giants 23, Washington 17: The Giants defensive line, sparked by the return of DE Osi Umenyiora, made life very difficult for the Skins as Washington was held to only 51 rush yards. Even without former WR Plaxico Burress, the G-Men are going to be a serious contender in the NFC because of their defense. QB Eli Manning completed 20 of 29 passes for 256 yards. Skins QB Jason Campbell was stripped of the ball by Umenyiora for a score, and DE Albert Haynesworth collected a check, but not many Giants runners in his debut after the monster contract handed out to him by Dan Snyder in the offseason.

Seattle 28, St. Louis 0: Good to see old friend Jim Mora get a victory in his opening game as Seahawk coach, thanks in part to instant replay that showed 12 men on the field for the Rams when St. Louis returned a blocked field goal to apparently tie the game 7-7 late in the first half. The penalty on the Rams gave the Seahawks new life, and Seattle converted for a late TD for a 14-0 halftime advantage. St. Louis folded their tents in the second half as Seattle got three TD passes from QB Matt Hasselbeck.

Green Bay 21, Chicago 15: This wasn’t the script Bears fans had in mind for the season opener against hated rival Green Bay. Jay Cutler threw four interceptions, and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers threw one TD pass, but it was a game-winning 50-yard toss with just over a minute to play. Chicago killed a lot of clock in the fourth quarter to kick a field goal that seemed to put them in charge, but Cutler’s fourth pick in the dying seconds sealed the Green Bay victory. The Bears’ loss could be costly in other ways as LB Brian Urlacher might be finished for the season with a wrist injury.

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Notes from Ravens Rookie Camp

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Luke Jones

The Ravens’ newcomers have a final opportunity this week to get acclimated to the NFL before reporting to McDaniel College for training camp on July 27.

The offseason OTA schedule concludes this week with a rookie camp, allowing coaches to work more closely with the team’s six draft picks and numerous rookie free agents vying for a regular season roster spot. 

“It’s obviously a different atmosphere and tempo because the vets aren’t here,” coach John Harbaugh said.  “It’s a little slow.  We take a little more time between reps.  I don’t want to say it was more teaching, because there is a lot of teaching when the [veterans] are here, too.  But it was a little more fundamentally-oriented, a little simpler with the calls, but they did a good job.”

The rumors circulating about Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall were a hot topic at the training facility in Owings Mills.  The disgruntled receiver wants to be traded, and the receiver position is an area of concern with Derrick Mason (shoulder), Mark Clayton (foot), and Demetrius Williams (ankle) all slowed by injuries this offseason.

Earlier in the offseason, the Ravens explored a trade for Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin, but the Cardinals’ reported asking price of a first- and third-round pick and Boldin’s demands for a new contract proved too steep.

Marshall’s contract expires after this season, so a new deal would be needed.  The Pro Bowl receiver has grabbed 206 receptions in the last two seasons.

We’re interested in anybody that can help our team,” Harbaugh said.  “You know [Marshall] plays for the Broncos, and he’s under contract. So he’s not a guy that we’re considering or concerned with right now. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

His off-the-field issues are also a concern, including a pending misdemeanor battery charge.  Marshall has had several run-ins with the law since beginning his NFL career in 2006. 

“[A player’s] background matters,” Harbaugh said.  “We want to bring guys in here that are what we consider ‘Ravens.’ Any player that we bring in here, we’ve got to be convinced that he’s a man of integrity, a high-character guy and that our players can respect him in the locker room. That’s going to be true whether it’s in a draft or free agency or any guys we choose to re-sign. We look at that real hard because we think those are the type of people that you win with, and we’re never going to compromise on that.”

– Veteran tight ends Todd Heap and L.J. Smith have been slowed by injuries during OTAs, leaving plenty of reps for rookie Davon Drew.

The fifth-round pick, who signed a three-year contract last week, will most likely contribute on special teams but has impressed coaches with his route-running ability.  He credits Heap and Smith in helping him adjust to the NFL.

“Definitely when you’re just standing around those guys–veterans that have been doing it–that’s something that makes you want to be just like them,” Drew said.  “I look up to those guys.  Anytime I have a question or something, they help me out and sometimes when I don’t even ask them things, they just come up and give me tips or pointers.  I’m appreciative of the situation I’m in.”

– Former Maryland Terp and rookie receiver Isaiah Williams faces an uphill battle making the regular season roster, but he jumped at the chance to become a Baltimore Raven. 

Despite having discussions with other teams including the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and San Diego Chargers, the undrafted rookie signed with the Ravens only 20 minutes after the April draft ended. 

“I just felt this was the best place for me,” Williams said.  “It’s close to where I went to school, so it’s something I’m used to and real familiar with.  I love it.”

The 6-3 receiver has good speed but never lived up to lofty expectations at College Park, catching 64 passes for 902 yards and five touchdowns in his Maryland career. 

Williams has been slowed with a hamstring injury this week.

 – Be sure to join WNST tonight at The Barn at 7:00 p.m. to meet many of the Ravens rookies including Michael Oher, Paul Kruger, Lardarius Webb, and others.  It will be a great time getting to know the rookies and enjoying $1.75 Miller Lite.

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Several dominoes must fall for Boldin to fly to Baltimore

Posted on 18 April 2009 by Luke Jones

In the months leading to the NFL Draft, talk has persisted over the Ravens’ need to select a receiver in the first round.  But now with the draft only a week away, could Pro Bowl wide receiver Anquan Boldin be heading to Baltimore?

The Arizona Cardinals have officially placed Boldin on the trading block, and the Ravens are interested in the 28-year-old wideout according to numerous media outlets.

Boldin would certainly be the playmaker the Ravens’ offense needs, but there are several barriers to overcome before the three-time Pro Bowl selection can begin reining in passes from quarterback Joe Flacco.

The Cardinals are reportedly seeking a first- and third-round pick, a likely sticking point for the Ravens who have only six picks in the draft.  General manager Ozzie Newsome has not traded out of the first round since 2003 when the Ravens sent their 2004 first-round pick to the New England Patriots in order to select quarterback Kyle Boller.

The fact that the Ravens are even discussing the possibility of trading picks for Boldin suggests a lack of enthusiasm for the group of receivers that could be available with the 26th overall pick.  Maryland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey, Rutgers’ Kenny Britt, and North Carolina’s Hakeem Nicks have been mentioned as potential first-round choices, but all have weaknesses and would likely struggle to make an impact in their rookie season.

Director of player personnel Eric DeCosta mentioned earlier in the week that more failed picks have come at the wide receiver position than any other between picks 24 through 32.

And despite Newsome’s immense success on draft day, wide receiver is not a position on which the Ravens typically hit a home run.  Past early-round picks include Patrick Johnson, Travis Taylor, Devard Darling, Mark Clayton, and Yamon Figurs–not exactly a group that strikes fear in a secondary’s heart.

If the Ravens are truly serious about getting better at the wide receiver position immediately, Boldin is a far better option than anyone in the draft, including top-rated receiver Michael Crabtree from Texas Tech.  While a young receiver could become a threat in the future, none would transform the Ravens into a legitimate Super Bowl contender like Boldin.

Even the asking price of a first- and third-round pick is not a steep one when solely considering the value of the picks.  Using the NFL draft-pick value chart, a point system used by general managers to consider potential trades, the Ravens’ first-round pick (26th overall) is worth 700 points and the third-round pick (88th overall) is worth 150 for a total of 850 points.  This is roughly equivalent to the 20th overall pick.

The chart is only used as a tool for evaluating potential trades, but the surrendered picks would be worth no more than the value of a mid-first-round pick.  In return, the Ravens would receive one of the best receivers in the NFL.  Despite the possibility of only having four remaining picks, the decision is a no-brainer from this standpoint.

And remember, the Cardinals are asking for a first- and third-round pick; that doesn’t mean they will get them.

The bigger issue working against a potential deal is obviously the money.  Boldin wants out of Arizona, because he wants a new, lucrative contract to replace the current one with two years remaining.  Any team acquiring the wideout would unquestionably have to sign him to a new deal with a huge signing bonus, a proposition far more costly than signing the draft picks that would be surrendered.

The reality is the Ravens have very little salary-cap room.  Even the possibility of restructuring existing deals and releasing one or two average veterans would not clear enough room to sign Boldin.

The only way the trade happens would be the signing of Terrell Suggs to a long-term deal, something Newsome has been unable to do after designating the linebacker with the franchise tag for the second straight season.  Suggs’ 2009 salary is $10.2 million, eating up a large chunk of cap room.

Signing Suggs to a long-term extension would create several million dollars of cap room, leaving the flexibility to complete a Boldin deal.

Suggs discussed the possibility of providing a hometown discount to re-sign linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott earlier in the offseason.  It would be interesting to see if he would be more flexible in signing a deal if it meant the Ravens could add an elite receiver to the offense.

Even if Suggs agrees to an extension, Newsome will have to assess whether Boldin’s production is worth the much larger financial commitment than the modest investments that would go into the draft selections.

Considering any deal for Boldin would involve an expensive contract, Arizona may not find a team willing to trade the draft picks they desire.  It’s possible the Ravens could offer a first-round pick and a conditional 2010 selection, perhaps a third- or fourth-rounder, to get the deal done.

It’s always a risk trading early draft picks for a veteran player, but Boldin is the receiving threat that could push Flacco to become an elite quarterback in the NFL.  The combination of Boldin and Derrick Mason would become one of the best receiving duos in the league.  It would also allow Mark Clayton or Demetrius Williams to compete against the third or fourth defensive back on the field, creating favorable matchups in Cam Cameron’s offense.

But what about critics suggesting Boldin cannot put up the big numbers without fellow receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the same offense?

Boldin caught 101 passes for 1,377 yards and eight touchdowns in his rookie season in 2003 while Fitzgerald was making acrobatic catches–at the University of Pittsburgh.

I’d say he’s an elite receiver.

The need for an improved offense is more apparent when considering the age of the defense.  Mainstays such as Lewis and Trevor Pryce are in the twilight of their careers (both will be 34 at the start of the season) and cannot be expected to play at the same level that they have over the past few seasons.  Even the dynamic Ed Reed will be 31 in September and has an impingement in his neck and shoulder that could potentially shorten his career.

The defense can still play at a championship level, but for how long?  The window for the veterans on the team is small, so Boldin could be viewed as the missing piece for a trip to the Super Bowl.  Keep in mind, this team was a fourth-quarter touchdown drive away from advancing to the Super Bowl last January.

Boldin could be the difference in simply being a playoff contender in 2009 versus becoming a legitimate Super Bowl contender right there with Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and New England.

They’re close.  Trading for Boldin is certainly a risk, both financially and to future player development by surrendering draft picks, but it just might be enough to get the Ravens to the Super Bowl.

With great risk, comes great reward.

Trading for Boldin is a chance worth taking to seize the Lombardi Trophy next February.

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Kurt Warner vs. Ray Lewis = No Contest

Posted on 05 March 2009 by Rex Snider

By now, you know Ray Lewis stayed with HIS team for 2009 and beyond.  Ironically, on the same day, it was announced Kurt Warner was doing the same thing.




Aside from being football players and filthy rich ones ….. the similarity between these two Hall Of Famers are really few and far between.  I’ll just say this – Ray Lewis could learn a lot from Kurt Warner.


Lets face it, both players took distinctly different paths toward NFL stardom.  Lewis was a standout at Miami and a first round selection by the Ravens.  Conversely, Kurt Warner wasn’t even drafted, after a stellar senior season at Northern Iowa.


Ray Lewis hit the ground running, even as an NFL rookie.  Kurt Warner scratched and clawed for everything, through the Arena Football League, NFL Europe and as a backup with the St. Louis Rams.


Both players came from humble beginnings to become NFL superstars.  One of them has continued a humble existence and the other ….. well, I’m pretty sure he’s never touched a buck he didn’t like.  Here’s where it really gets bad for #52 …..


Over the past few weeks, both players have been in similar circumstances.  And, both players have had tough negotiations to navigate.  Yet, each man conducted his respective strategy and gameplan in totally different ways.  One guy emerges looking humble and the other looks selfish.  Yep, some things never change.


Kurt Warner and the infamously frugile Arizona Cardinals have been playing a game of high stakes “dare” since the Steelers raised the Lombardi trophy, over a month ago.  But, whenever confronted by a microphone, Warner has touted his love for the Cardinals and an everlasting hope a deal could be struck.  He’s never broke from the “company line.”


On the other hand, Ray Lewis has been issuing ultimatums ….. in Tampa ….. in Honolulu ….. in Baltimore, and beyond.  We all know the quotes …..


“If you don’t play less, you don’t take less.”


“I see Dallas as a great opportunity.  It’s always been America’s Team.  It’s just a great place to play football.”


“Wow, if something does happen where you’re not back in Baltimore, the Jets wouldn’t be bad.”


You can say this was just Ray posturing or to steal a line outta L.A., it’s just “Ray being Ray.”  But, only a few guys play this silly shell game.  No offense to Ray, but the guys who play it aren’t the best citizens, if you catch my drift.


A poignant comparison for Kurt Warner and Ray Lewis is how differently each guy has corralled the media over the last week.  In every public appearance, including a very vivid on-set interview on ESPN, from Disney World, Warner continued to levy his love for the Cardinals organization, while renewing hope a deal would be struck.


On the other hand, Ray Lewis has manipulated the media through his minions, like Deion Sanders and Rod Woodson.  They’ve dropped innuendos and ultimatums, none of which worked.  In the end, Ray looked just as silly as these jedi-mind trick games he’s been playing.


Do you think the way these guys handled themselves and their respective negotiations had an effect on potential suitors?  You bet.  Kurt Warner spent Monday with the 49ers and they tried hard to land him.  Ray ???  He’s been as elusive as Waldo over the last few days.  But, you can bet he wasn’t visiting any NFL facilities.


I’ll admit ignorance ….. I have no inside track or information.  We all know that.  But, I can read the tea leaves and the smoke signals waffling high up in the sky.  I’d wager my house – heck, I’ll wager all 3 of my houses that David Dunn never received a meaningful phone call from another NFL team.


Ray has been doing everything wrong for the past week.  Kurt Warner has been doing everything right for the past week.  Both worlds culminated within the past couple days.  The Lewis drama ended with a lackluster acknowledgement that Ray has accepted the Ravens offer.  The Warner speculation all but ended when the ‘slinger made a public plea through his agent to offer the Cardinals a “hometown discount.”  That got it done.


Perhaps, Ray Lewis and Kurt Warner have been very different people with distinctly different paths all along.  It’s just the way it is.  I’ve already said it, but I’ll offer the same observation one more time …..


Ray Lewis could learn a lot from Kurt Warner

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Blog & Tackle: Cleaning out the Super Bowl notebook

Posted on 04 February 2009 by Chris Pika

It was a long week in Tampa, capped off by an extremely entertaining fourth quarter in Super Bowl XLIII, so it’s time to put a lid on the week that was.

I thought the final quarter of the Super Bowl was the best we have ever seen, even topping the Giants’ victory over the Patriots a year ago. Now, the other 45 minutes were good, not great, so I can’t give SB43 the “best-ever” status some media have already bestowed.

Speaking of bestowed, maybe the talk of Kurt Warner’s eventually induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will slow down a little. Warner belongs in the Hall of Very Good, not the HOF. A voter for the Hall said Sunday night that he thought that Warner deserved to be in with three trips to the Super Bowl with two different teams, his two MVP seasons and a Super Bowl MVP trophy. But, his seasons as a backup, and struggles in some years as a starter can’t be ignored. He is a Hall of Fame person by all accounts, but there is a reason why players have to wait five years – it gives the voters a chance to reassess the candidate’s entire body of work against his peers. Has it been a good career for Warner? Yes, but not yet bust-worthy in Canton in my opinion.

As for the HOF, there are a few voters I spoke with who endorse Art Modell’s candidacy for induction. Modell made the 25-man semifinalist group, but did not make it to the final 15 modern-era candidates. The problem for anyone in Modell’s group, called “contributors” – think owners, GMs and coaches – is that once you make it to the final 15, you have to survive two cut-down votes, first to 10, and finally to five. It’s hard for voters to give an owner a spot in his personal top 10 or top five over a player on the ballot.

So, how did Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson, Jr. get in this time around? He is certainly deserving, based on what he meant to the upstart AFL. He quietly kept other teams afloat during the fight with the NFL over players, and was a key part in the merger between the “Foolish Club,” as the AFL owners called themselves, and the established NFL, which was gaining momentum from the 1958 NFL title game and catching up to baseball in popularity. Many of the newer panelists had to brush up on their history to see that Wilson was a fit in Canton. Plus with the 50th anniversary of the AFL’s founding being celebrated this year, and his continued active ownership of the club in a small market, there was a groundswell of support that built in Wilson’s favor.

Wilson’s induction gives Modell’s supporters hope for the same kind of re-evaluation of his overall contributions to the league in terms of television’s impact on the game. But his road is tougher with the amount of deserving first-timers coming on the ballot in the next few years, combined with those who came close recently. And the result might be a continued shutout.

As one voter put it, we are entering the “fantasy football” era on player stats and contributions, and that will change how players are evaluated. Other panelists who are on the fence see two sides: Modell’s league-first ideals and personal example that helped the NFL grow at a crucial time and his controversial move of the Browns to Baltimore. Had he stayed in Cleveland, he would have been a sure-fire selection, but the move left some voters, even outside of Cleveland, conflicted on his overall legacy and HOF worthiness.

One piece of news from the HOF voting that was of interest if you are a Baltimore fan, was that Paul Tagliabue was eliminated in the first cutdown from 15 to 10. He was again a hot topic, as voters spent one hour discussing his candidacy. Supporters point to the fact that labor peace was a constant through his tenure, he got several new stadiums built, and television contract money went through the roof, ensuring the long-term health of the league. But the perception that he didn’t always help the media as much as his predecessor Pete Rozelle, the current labor issues looming over the game because of the last CBA agreement he helped negotiate, and that the on-field product seemed to rank a distant second behind league profits are the negatives. He may well also be a victim of the same problem that dogs Modell’s candidacy – a wealth of deserving players up for election over the next several years.

No matter what you may think of the Steelers, you have to admire head coach Mike Tomlin. He is a dynamic personality, and when he spoke during Super Bowl week, some media joked that they were ready to go through walls for him. Everyone connected with the club has the highest regard for how he relates to his players, while not compromising on his principles for success. As a result, he and his clubs will be worthy rivals to the Ravens for a long time to come.

Also, seeing Ben Roethlisberger play from field level, I can see why opposing defenses hate to face him. A term used by a former NFL personnel executive about a drafted player a few years ago fits here: Roethlisberger is a “big human.” His ability to keep plays alive, and not be brought down in the backfield was the biggest reason the Steelers beat the Cardinals.

With all of the talk about the overtime rules in NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference last Friday, there may have been an audible sigh of relief from league officials that Super Bowl XLIII did not go to OT. It’s the only thing that has never happened in the 43 editions of the Super Bowl, and could you imagine an overtime that lasted over one quarter as the Colts-Raiders 1977 divisional playoff did? What’s more amazing is that it would have happened 50 years after the first sudden-death title game in the NFL’s history, the “Greatest Game Ever Played,” another game that was not the best-played contest overall until the final quarter.

Speaking of Goodell, an interesting sight on Saturday night at the NFL headquarters hotel was the commissioner standing by the lobby bar enjoying an adult beverage while listening to fans who had wandered in to get a drink. I can’t imagine Bud Selig, David Stern or Gary Bettman doing the same thing before their respective championship series. Goodell also made the rounds at the traditional postgame dinner held for game staff and media in the early hours of Monday morning. It is part of what has made Goodell such an effective commissioner so far; his ability to walk with kings of industry and the owners who pay his salary, his ease in listening to fans’ concerns and his stewardship of the game on the field.

For the record, since I didn’t have a chance to write a blog prior to the game because of my duties for the league during the week, I predicted on Nestor’s Friday show from Radio Row that Arizona would win 34-28. So with that stellar pick, I was 6-5 in picking the NFL playoffs in 2008.

Last item: Keep your eye on the NFL Players’ Association negotiations with the league on a new CBA. There is a lot of talk about who will represent the NFLPA at the table, and the rhetoric about the game’s finances grew louder on both sides during Super Bowl week. The owners thought they gave too much to the players in the previous agreement, and the death of union executive director Gene Upshaw sent the NFLPA into an unexpected power vacuum. No predictions here, but if you are interested in the business of football or sports, this will be a great case study.

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