Tag Archive | "Art Modell"

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Newsome pinching himself over Super Bowl XLVII script

Posted on 25 January 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — General manager Ozzie Newsome cannot help but wonder if he’s walking around in a dream state these days as the Ravens prepare to play in the second Super Bowl of the 17-year history of the franchise.

But it’s more than just a chance for a second championship for Newsome when you remember the only owner he knew in his first 26 years in the NFL as both a player and front office executive, the late Art Modell, and the first player he drafted in Baltimore, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, are both up for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next Saturday. Super Bowl XLVII will also mark the final game in the career of linebacker Ray Lewis, the greatest player in the history of the franchise and the second pick made by Newsome in Baltimore.

The story would be almost too perfect for the architect of one of the finest franchises in the NFL.

“That has been the little dream that the little kids have along the way when they are growing up,” Newsome said. “Wouldn’t that be nice that we’re playing in the Super Bowl, and then we have the ultimate that our ultimate warrior is going to play his last down of football in that game? I don’t think you could write a script — I don’t think any of you guys could have written that script.”

In a rare in-season session with the local media, Newsome expressed pride over the Ravens’ resolve to overcome trials, injuries, and a three-game losing streak in December to make the trip to New Orleans. Newsome labeled the city his favorite destination for a Super Bowl and admitted he began thinking about the possibility of playing in this particular Super Bowl 15 months ago, with Ogden and Modell potentially up for Hall of Fame induction in the same year.

Sentimental story lines aside, Newsome appreciates watching the team he constructed finally get back to the Super Bowl after a 12-year absence following the Ravens’ first championship in Super Boxl XXXV.

“I said this to John [Harbaugh] on the bus ride: You just don’t know how hard it is to get to the Super Bowl,” said Newsome as he reflected on the aftermath of last Sunday’s win over the New England Patriots. “It’s even harder, now you have to go and win it. But 12 years since we did this, and we got knocked out in the AFC Championship twice; it’s hard. You’ve got to manage injuries, so many different things that you have to manage just to get this opportunity, and the other 31 teams don’t care for you. It’s hard to do.”

Asked to state the case for Modell to finally be inducted posthumously after he passed away shortly before the start of the regular season, Newsome presented clear evidence for the longtime owner who relinquished control of the team to Steve Bisciotti in 2004.

Next Saturday would appear to be Modell’s last best chance for enshrinement with his memory fresh in voters’ minds and the Ravens dominating the limelight as one of the two Super Bowl entries in New Orleans.

“He was involved in the collective bargaining agreement, involved in the TV deal, involved in the merger, won a championship in 1964, won a Super Bowl, diversity [in being] the first one to hire an African American,” Newsome said. “When you look at the body of work that Art did, then why shouldn’t he be in [the Hall of Fame]? If this game is as good as it is today – and we all think we have a very good game – then Art was an architect of the game. He helped build the game for what it is.”

Modell’s long-awaited induction would be one thing, but to see Ogden earn enshrinement while Lewis rides off into the sunset with a second Vince Lombardi Trophy would be the icing on the cake after Newsome chose the pair as the newest additions to a brand-new franchise in Baltimore in 1996.

It’s enough to make Newsome not want to wake up before Super Bowl weekend.

“It’s part of the dream, I think,” said Newsome as he laughed. “I don’t know, I’ve got to pinch myself to see if I’m still dreaming.”

Mum on Flacco contract

Newsome made it clear he would not discuss contracts and other offseason topics — saving those conversations for the team’s end-of-the-year press conference following the Super Bowl — but that didn’t stop a national media member from asking about the expiring rookie deal of quarterback Joe Flacco anyway.

“I’m not discussing that,” Newsome said. “You know what? I’ve gone on record -– Joe and I have a very good understanding about his contract and where we are. End of story.”

The Ravens desperately want to reach a long-term agreement with Flacco to avoid using the franchise tag. That designation would award him an estimated salary of $14.6 million and eat up the little cap room the organization is projected to have for the 2013 season. Signing Flacco to a long-term contract would increase the chances of keeping such impending free agents as linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and cornerback Cary Williams.

Newsome will address those issues after Feb. 3, however.

“I worry about winning today, but I’ve got to also worry about winning tomorrow,” Newsome said. “I’ve got to be able to balance those books every year.”

McKinnie move

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Ravens’ improbable run may not be fate, but sure feels like storybook

Posted on 15 January 2013 by Luke Jones

At some point over the final seven minutes of regulation in Denver on Saturday night, Steve Bisciotti saw the big picture while everyone else wondered if the Ravens’ season was coming to an end after Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas midway through the fourth quarter.

Under the weather and unable to make the trip to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Ravens owner did something he’d never done before by reaching out to John Harbaugh as the fourth quarter pressed on. Bisciotti knew the head coach wouldn’t see the text message until after the game, of course, but he wanted Harbaugh to know how impressed he was with such a valiant effort against the No. 1 seed Broncos.

“I’ve never texted you during a game,” Harbaugh read to his team following the 38-35 double-overtime win. “We are down 35-28. And I think it’s the best game I’ve ever seen us in the playoffs since 2000. Win or lose, I am so proud of the team and proud of you.”

Though not prophetic in the sense that Bisciotti predicted the final outcome or could foresee what would unfold, the gesture was just the latest in a list of special occurrences that make you wonder about these Ravens. Harbaugh and inside linebacker Ray Lewis have consistently referenced their faith and while I don’t subscribe to the idea that God or any divine being is concerned with the outcome of football games, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support that notion if you so choose.

The Ravens’ run to a second consecutive AFC championship game may not be fate, but it sure feels like a storybook tale, filled with trials, tragedy, and triumph. Perhaps that’s what Bisciotti was acknowledging in reaching out to his head coach in those closing minutes of regulation on Saturday night. Harbaugh couldn’t help but share it with his team following one of the greatest wins in the history of the franchise.

“It was just something I thought the team needed to hear, coming from him,” Harbaugh said. “He is a great leader. Our players love him. They love when he is around. He is an inspiration to all of our guys. To me, this organization, he sets the tone here. It’s a great organization because of his vision. The guys needed to hear that in that moment. I’ll tell you, I think they appreciated hearing it.”

And why wouldn’t they after such a remarkable season, filled with highs and lows?

The Ravens lost their original owner Arthur B. Modell just days before the start of the regular season. The man responsible for the very existence of the franchise here in Baltimore has been memorialized with a simple patch reading “Art” on the team’s jerseys all season long.

Personal tragedy struck young wide receiver Torrey Smith when his younger brother Tevin was killed in a motorcyle accident the night before the Ravens’ Week 3 meeting with the New England Patriots. Unsure if he would play earlier in the day, Smith caught two touchdown passes to lead the Ravens to a 31-30 victory as a national audience marveled at his courage on that Sunday night in September.

Injuries that would have devastated most teams have only strengthened the Ravens’ will as only two defensive players started all 16 games this season. Linebacker Terrell Suggs overcame a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason to return in mid-October before having to play through another debilitating injury when he suffered a torn biceps to begin the month of December. Playing nowhere near full strength all season, Suggs’ two sacks of Manning were critical in Saturday’s divisional-round win.

Ray Lewis, the face of the franchise playing in his 17th season, tore his right triceps on Oct. 14 as nearly everyone but the linebacker thought his season — and potentially his career — was over. Instead, the 37-year-old returned to action just in time for the playoffs and announced he would retire at the end of this “final ride” in the postseason.

A three-game losing streak in December that included the dismissal of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the promotion of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell threatened to dismantle the good vibes of a 9-2 start, but the Ravens rebounded to beat the New York Giants in convincing fashion to clinch their second straight AFC North division title in Week 16. An offense described as schizophrenic for most of the season has looked as potent as any in the NFL in disposing of the Indianapolis Colts and outscoring the powerful Denver Broncos in two playoff wins.

It’s rarely been easy or pretty, but here the Ravens stand in the middle of January, one of four remaining teams with a chance of raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the first Sunday in February.

“I don’t think a lot of people expected us to be here,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “For us to overcome a lot of things, not only injuries but some family problems with Torrey’s family, everything that has happened with our team, I think we all just understand that we’re a family here, and we can lean on each other and depend on each other.”

The highs have been as fun as any in franchise history as “Fourth and 29” and “The Prayer in Thin Air” are words that will now live forever in Baltimore football lore.

Under-the-radar performers such as Corey Graham and Jacoby Jones, signed largely for their special-teams abilities, have been critical to the Ravens’ success in ways few would have envisioned in the offseason. Even the former punchline of the 53-man roster, veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, has finally regained his starting job to bolster an offensive line playing better now than it did all season.

Rookie kicker Justin Tucker, anointed by the Ravens to replace Billy Cundiff after a heartbreaking 32-yard miss in last year’s AFC Championship, rewarded the organization for its decision by nailing the game-winning 47-yard field goal in double overtime Saturday to send Baltimore back to the conference championship game.

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Ogden, Modell named finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013

Posted on 11 January 2013 by Luke Jones

Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and late owner Art Modell were named among the 15 finalists in consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 on Friday.

The first ever draft pick of the Ravens in 1996, Ogden was taken with the fourth overall pick and played 12 seasons in Baltimore, earning trips to 11 Pro Bowls as he was regarded as the best left tackle in the league for most of his career. Ogden was a key member of the Super Bowl XXXV championship team of the 2000 season.

This is Ogden’s first year of eligibility.

Modell was the longtime owner of the Cleveland Browns before moving his franchise to Baltimore in 1996 and maintained control of the Ravens as they raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the owner’s first Super Bowl title. Current Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti bought the team from Modell, purchasing a 49-percent stake in 2000 before acquiring the remaining majority stake in 2004.

Despite being regarded as a pioneer in viewing television as having a prominent role in taking the NFL to unprecedented heights, Modell’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame has been thwarted on multiple occasions in the past because of the controversial move from Cleveland to Baltimore. He was one of 15 finalists for Canton in 2001 and a semifinalist in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Modell passed away at age 87 on Sept. 6, 2012.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 17 finalists (15 modern-era selections and two seniors committee nominations) for the Class of 2013:

Larry Allen (G/T), Jerome Bettis (RB), Tim Brown (WR), Cris Carter (WR), Curley Culp (DT/G), Edward DeBartolo Jr. (owner), Kevin Greene (LB), Charles Haley (DE), Art Modell (owner), Jonathan Ogden (OT), Bill Parcells (coach), Andre Reed (WR), Dave Robinson (LB), Warren Sapp (DT), Will Shields (G), Michael Strahan (DE), Aeneas Williams (CB)

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Ogden, Modell named semifinalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration

Posted on 30 November 2012 by Luke Jones

Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and late owner Art Modell were named among the 27 semifinalists in consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 on Friday.

The first ever draft pick of the Ravens in 1996, Ogden was taken with the fourth overall pick and played 12 seasons in Baltimore, earning trips to 11 Pro Bowls as he was regarded as the best left tackle in the league for a large portion of his career. Ogden was a key member of the Super Bowl XXXV championship team of the 2000 season.

Modell was the longtime owner of the Cleveland Browns before moving his franchise to Baltimore in 1996 and maintained control of the Ravens as they raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the owner’s first Super Bowl title. Current Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti bought the team from Modell, purchasing a 49-percent stake in 2000 before acquiring the remaining majority stake in 2004.

Despite being regarded as a pioneer in viewing television as having a prominent role in taking the NFL to unprecedented heights, Modell’s candidacy for the Hall of Fame has been thwarted on multiple occasions in the past because of the controversial move from Cleveland to Baltimore.

Modell passed away at age 87 earlier this year on Sept. 6.

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Todd Heap tells Nestor he flew back to Baltimore honor Art Modell

Posted on 11 September 2012 by WNSTV

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Ravens-Bengals: Five predictions for Monday night

Posted on 09 September 2012 by Luke Jones

Here’s what to expect when the Ravens welcome the Cincinnati Bengals to M&T Bank Stadium for the season opener and Baltimore’s first Monday night home game since 2007 …

1. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata will exploit a vulnerable interior offensive line to collect a sack and put inside pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton. The Bengals only signed veteran center Jeff Faine at the end of August after starter Kyle Cook suffered an ankle injury and rookie Kevin Zeitler has struggled at right guard, meaning the interior of the Cincinnati offensive line is ripe for the picking. Ngata had a quiet preseason, but he appeared to be in much better shape by the end of training camp. He knows there’s more pressure on him to help the pass rush from the interior, and the All-Pro starter does just that in the opening game of the season.

2. Wide receiver Torrey Smith will build on a strong preseason with 90 yards and a touchdown reception. No one seems to talk about quarterback Joe Flacco struggling against Cover 2 defenses since the emergence of Smith last season. The University of Maryland product caught 11 passes for 198 yards and a touchdown in two games against the Bengals last season. The Ravens will use Smith on underneath routes early in the game — causing safeties Taylor Mays and Reggie Nelson to creep closer to the line of scrimmage — before the speedy receiver burns the Cincinnati defense for a long touchdown. The Bengals will be without rookie corner Dre Kirkpatrick and his absence will hurt their secondary.

3. Dalton will throw for 230 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals test the Baltimore pass rush and go after the secondary. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis gives the Bengals a better threat in the running game, but Cincinnati will not hesitate in being aggressive with their passing game. The secondary must remain cognizant of Bengals wideout A.J. Green at all times and will likely roll coverage his way often, but the Baltimore linebackers will struggle in coverage against Cincinnati tight end Jermaine Gresham, who had eight catches for 120 yards against the Ravens last year. The Bengals will need to be aggressive to pull off the upset in Baltimore, meaning Dalton will have plenty of opportunities to gain yardage against the most vulnerable Ravens defense we’ve seen in quite some time.

4. Cincinnati left tackle Andrew Whitworth will make the rush linebacker spot a non-factor for the Ravens in Week 1. Linebacker Terrell Suggs was often made to look quite mortal against the Bengals left tackle in prior seasons, so you can imagine how much of a challenge he’ll pose for starting rush linebacker Albert McClellan on Monday night. I’m still expecting the Ravens to use Paul Kruger at the rush spot at different times, but Whitworth is one of the most underrated left tackles in the game. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees will need to rely on the interior defensive line and blitzes to get to Dalton because the trio of Kruger, McClellan, and rookie Courtney Upshaw will not be up to the task in this matchup.

5. On an emotional night remembering the late Art Modell, the Ravens continue their impressive winning streak against the AFC North with a 24-21 win over Cincinnati. Until I see the Bengals prove they can do it in consecutive seasons, I still have a tough time viewing them as anything but third fiddle in the AFC North behind the Ravens and Pittsburgh. The combination of Dalton to Green will pose a major challenge to the defense, but running back Ray Rice rushed for almost 300 yards against the Bengals defense last year. The Ravens will start aggressively in the no-huddle attack to build an early lead through the passing game and wear down the Cincinnati defense with Rice in the second half. The emotion of honoring Modell and the home crowd will help propel the Ravens to their ninth straight win against AFC North opponents and their 19th win in the last 20 regular-season games played at M&T Bank Stadium.

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Harbaugh says Cleveland should be proud of Modell’s impact

Posted on 08 September 2012 by Luke Jones

(Updated: 4:35 p.m.)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After growing up in Ohio and rooting for the Cleveland Browns as a kid, John Harbaugh understands the emotions on display in his home state with the passing of former Browns and Ravens owner Art Modell.

But the Ravens coach also believes it’s fitting for the city of Cleveland to recognize Modell’s accomplishments as a pioneer who helped shape the empire of the modern NFL. The league had requested all home NFL cities to recognize Modell this weekend, but the Browns cancelled their plan to pay tribute to Modell’s memory at the request of Art’s son David Modell.

Their initial plan to join the rest of the NFL in recognizing Modell on Sunday had sparked much debate over how the Browns should handle what undoubtedly would have been a delicate — and potentially ugly — situation.

“That’s a tremendous thing that the whole league is going to be honoring Art Modell,” said Harbaugh prior to the Browns’ decision to cancel plans to recognize the late owner. “That speaks to his impact that he had on the National Football League. It’s something I think we all in Baltimore should be proud of, and I would also say everybody in Cleveland should be proud of that as well. I think most people, most Browns fans — speaking as a former Browns fan — [are].”

Harbaugh, who also attended Miami University in Ohio, acknowledged his comments were unlikely to go over well with much of the Browns fan base, but his conviction on the subject reflects his admiration for the former Ravens owner.

“[I’ll] probably hear something about this, but that’s OK,” Harbaugh said. “For Art Modell, it’s quite alright. I think everybody feels that way — I hope.”

Approximately 3,000 Ravens fans gathered at M&T Bank Stadium on Saturday to pay their respects to the late owner as his casket and the Vince Lompardy Trophy presented to Modell at the conclusion of Super Bowl XXXV were on the field for fans to view.

The Ravens plan to honor Modell prior to Monday night’s kickoff against the Cincinnati Benglas, and players will wear a decal on their helmets for the entire 2012 season.

“That is just so tremendous, such a good tribute to Art,” Harbaugh said. “To the Baltimore fans, thank you very much. We all appreciate that.”

 

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Lewis one of many football sons to bid farewell to Modell

Posted on 06 September 2012 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Long before Ray Lewis became the future Hall of Fame linebacker who now holds an entire city in the palm of his hand, he was a wide-eyed 20-year-old having just been drafted by the novel Baltimore Ravens.

Lewis was joining a new team — officially speaking, anyway — in a new city, but the former University of Miami product remembered fondly the man who embraced him from the moment he was selected as the 26th overall pick in the 1996 NFL draft. As Baltimore remembered the life of former Ravens owner Art Modell, who died of natural causes at age 87 early Thursday morning, even the iconic Lewis acknowledged he wouldn’t be where he is today without Modell’s leadership and vision.

Modell and the organization entrusted Lewis with leading the defense even though many questioned if the Hurricanes linebacker was big enough to man the middle of the unit. Like countless others before him, Lewis instantly became a family member to Modell, who maintained his personal touch of doing business in the lucrative empire the NFL was becoming.

Aside from football, Modell meant so much more to the linebacker who’s spent his entire 17-year career with the Ravens.

“He respected you as a man, but me, he just grabbed me as a son from Day One and he never let me go,” Lewis said. “Everything, it didn’t matter what it was, whenever he saw me, he would always tell me how much he loved me and always tell me how much I meant to him.”

Though it didn’t take long for Lewis to become the face of the infant franchise with his intimidating play and charisma on the field, Modell was initially the most recognizable figure associated with the new Ravens, if for no reason other than the manner in which he was demonized nationally for moving his franchise from football-crazy Cleveland.

Lewis offered little in response to a question about Modell’s detractors, reminding everyone that the bond he now shares with the city of Baltimore wouldn’t have been possible if not for the difficult decision Modell made to uproot his franchise from the place he had called home for over 30 years.

As the linebacker approaches the rare status held only by the likes of Johnny Unitas, Brooks Robinson, and Cal Ripken, it’s strange to think about a Baltimore without the Ravens and No. 52 after the way they’ve captivated the city over the last 17 years.

“How would you be here if he wouldn’t have made the stand to build a franchise in Cleveland and then to say, ‘It’s time to do something else?'” Lewis said. “He made that change, and for him to make that change to come to Baltimore, to pick up his franchise and come to Baltimore, then that’s the only way Baltimore and Ray Lewis connected.”

Though their lives took vastly different paths, Modell and Lewis enjoyed the same pinnacle of their respective careers as the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28, 2001.

For many, the iconic image of that night was the image of the Super Bowl MVP Lewis embracing the aging owner, who was finally enjoying a title after 40 years in the NFL. The juxtaposition of Lewis, coming off the most trying time in his life that included double-murder chargers stemming from the events of a year earlier in Atlanta, and Modell, the man still vilified by many after breaking the hearts of the fans in Cleveland, in that single embrace was fascinating to witness as each man could now take satisfaction in what they’d accomplished and push their critics to the side.

It was Modell who remained by Lewis’ side in the aftermath of what had transpired a year earlier, and Lewis helped repay that debt by being the best defensive player on the planet and leading one of the greatest defenses of all time to Super Bowl glory.

Lewis said his fondest memory of Modell was telling the Ravens owner he would need to do the linebacker’s famous dance after the Ravens won the Super Bowl, a request Modell humorously fulfilled as Baltimore celebrated its first NFL championship in 30 years.

“I think it capped off exactly the way it was supposed to end,” Lewis said. “Somebody had put in all of that work and now we were able to bring him what his true dream was, [which] was the Lombardi Trophy.”

As news came that Modell’s condition was worsening at Johns Hopkins Hospital Wednesday evening, coach John Harbaugh invited Lewis to join him in bidding farewell to the owner. Teammates Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata tagged along as Lewis spoke words of encouragement and prayer to Modell in his final hours.

Though it didn’t take place in the public forum of their bear-hug embrace in the final seconds of Super Bowl XXXV, hearing an emotional Lewis describe his goodbye to a man he admired so deeply — a man to which Baltimore football fans owe a great deal — was a lump-in-the-throat moment in an exhausting day for the organization.

It would be the last of the many talks they enjoyed over the years with shared lunches, phone conversations, and warm embraces whenever they crossed paths.

“The things that I shared with him in his ear, I will always keep that between me and him because it is a son talking to a father,” said Lewis as his voice trembled. “That’s the way I looked at it from the moment I started whispering in his ear because that’s what he always used to do to me.”

With Lewis nearing the end of his career, you wonder if he’ll be able to reach the pinnacle of his profession yet again. As if the linebacker didn’t need any extra motivation as he prepares to take the field for another season at age 37, the memory of Modell will be on his mind as he tries to help lead the Ravens back to a Super Bowl.

It wouldn’t top the first one or the warm embrace he enjoyed after it was over with the man he — and countless others — viewed as more than just the owner of the team, but it would be fitting as the Ravens memorialize the man responsible for their existence in Baltimore.

“He’ll always be watching, and he’ll definitely be missed,” Lewis said. “This season, we will definitely dedicate to him and give it everything we’ve got. Hopefully, we can sit another Lombardi Trophy beside him.”

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Emotional Ray Lewis calls Art Modell “a father to me”

Posted on 06 September 2012 by WNSTV

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Ravens senior VP Byrne reveals Hall of Fame induction was important to Modell

Posted on 06 September 2012 by WNST Audio

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