Tag Archive | "Art Modell"

The 1st Day Of Christmas .....

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The 1st Day Of Christmas …..

Posted on 15 December 2009 by Rex Snider

Yesterday, I laid out my plans for the next 12 days …..

It’s Christmas, and I’ve got some “WISHES” to hand out. Deserving souls? I’d like to think so ….

There are some good deeds and decent people that need recognition. And, yeah, there are notable folks on the other end, too. We’ll all get our DUE, thru next Friday.

As promised, I plan on including EVERYBODY.

Today, it’s those who need a little bit of LUCK for Christmas – and as we greet 2010 …..

GOOD LUCK – Arthur B. Modell


The former Ravens/Browns majority owner is back on the list of finalists for Hall of Fame induction. This has been Art Modell’s plight for the 6th time in the past 7 years. Obviously, the NFL pioneer needs a little bit of luck – and he needs it very soon.

The current list of finalists will be paired down to 15, on January 7th. And, the 2010 inductees will be announced prior to the Super Bowl, on February 6th, in Miami. Thus, it’s about to get very tough for Art.

As we know, Tony Grossi, is getting ready to mount his high horse, in Cleveland. He’s been successful in soliciting opposition to Modell’s enshrinement in football’s class of immortality. Here’s to hoping Art Modell finally avoids the ill-will and personal disparities of the past.

He’s Hall of Fame worthy and I hope he’s lucky enough to realize it – SOON. I wish Art the very best of luck, this holiday season – and early, in 2010.

BAD LUCK – Tony Grossi

Whenever he gets a chance, Tony Grossi puts the BAD MOUTH to Art Modell. He can say it’s not a “personal mission.” Bullsh*# …..

Tony Grossi is a ONE MAN GANG and his bullying is themed at depriving Art Modell of a serious whiff at election into the Hall of Fame. At some point, Tony, you’ve gotta let it go. Trust me, you’ll feel better.

Everybody knows your stance. We’ve heard it more times than Mycheal Miller’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. What gives, Tony? Has something changed? Can the committee just listen to your recorded remarks from a couple years ago?

Or, has Art Modell done some additional heinous acts to Cleveland and YOU, since his last stint as a finalist?

I understand Tony Grossi’s frustration.

I think P. Thomas Shanahan singlehandedly squashed the immediate future of the Anne Arundel County Police Department. The agency is worse off, because of his 8-year stewardship, as Chief. It’s my opinion and I’ve been vocal about it. But. I’ve also let it go.

Heck, I hope he Facebook’s me.

And, I hope Tony Grossi gives it a rest, when Art Modell’s name gets bantered around be committee members. If he doesn’t, then I’ll simply wish lots of bad luck on him …..

GOOD LUCK – The Soprano’s Cast

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than two years since we last saw Tony Soprano fading from our TV screens to the sound of Journey’s, Don’t Stop Believin’ …..

I’ll be honest, I’m a junkie for anything connected to The Sopranos. Thus, I was really disappointed to see the show end. Personally, I felt more storylines existed – and this was really just about James Gandolfini’s reluctance to take the show any further.

And, Tony always gets his way, right?

Meanwhile, the careers of most of the mob-cast have gone nowhere – and, I mean NOWHERE.

Where is AJ, these days? Hmmm ….. how about Meadow, Janice and Carmine? A fair number of the show’s actors have been pretty scarce since the finale’. Ahh well, I guess that’s the way this biz goes …..

Michael Imperioli (Christopher) and Vince Curatola have realized some mild success with roles on ABC’s Life On Mars – which was canceled earlier this year. Drea De Matteo is enjoying some sitcom credibility, with a part on Desperate Housewives. And, Edie Falco is portraying a micro-managing, pill addicted health care provider, in Nurse Jackie, on Showtime.

Yeah, I’m being selfish. I wanna see the cast back together, in a MOVIE or a renewal of the series. Yeah, I know it’s not happening. But, I can always hope. Meanwhile, I wish good luck for all these actors.

BAD LUCK – James Gandolfini

Yeah, I’m being selfish. But, I figure the only way I’ll ever see a reunion of The Sopranos will be if Jim Gandolfini needs it. If he doesn’t, we won’t …..

As with many TV actors, I think Ole’ Tony got way too big for his britches. He’s in Hollywood, now. And, as a result, we’re absolutely STUCK on Sunday nights.

Thus, I’m wishing bad luck on Gandolfini’s career. I’m being extremely selfish – and, I’m hoping he doesn’t see this blog. I don’t want my bullet-riddled body unearthed at the Glen Burnie landfill …..

GOOD LUCK – The Baltimore Ravens

They need LUCK. And, they need better clock management …..

Heck, they need fewer informal coaches on the sideline, and more STARTERS back on the field.

The Ravens have put themsleves in this spot – 3 games to go and they still must hope for help from the Dolphins and Broncos. We’re a far removed distance from that #1 ranking on the ESPN polls, huh?

Bears – WIN

Steelers – WIN

Raiders – WIN

And, lets just cross our fingers. Then again, if we lose just one more game, we can start talking about baseball – and how nice it would’ve been to see this guy in an Orioles uniform …..


BAD LUCK – See Below ……

Get the picture ???

GOOD LUCK – A Few Underdogs

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – The luster is starting to wear off. It’s abasolutely “PUT UP” time. Junior’s doubters are increasing and it’s starting to look like he might not be among NASCAR’s elite talents. I wish him luck and hope he has a GREAT 2010.

Erin Andrews – She’s had a very tough year. Nobody should have their privacy invaded – especially to the extremes Erin Andrews was subjected. Lets hope she has a good 2010 – God knows I’d like to see more of her on ESPN.

Brian Billick – I wouldn’t say he’s an “underdog,” but this is the most fitting place to express my wishes for The Coach. Before he ever became affiliated with WNST, I was one of Brian Billick’s staunchest supporters. I’m a fan …..

Since his departure from the Ravens, I think many Baltimoreans have enjoyed access to the “Real Brian.” He’s approachable, modest and generous with his time and shared thoughts. I really hope we see him on the sidelines, again, soon.

Here’s to wishing Brian Billick good luck, in 2010. But, if he gets another coaching gig, I’m gonna really miss those Coors Light commercials …..

Samari Rolle – Aside from football, I hope Samari is doing well. I wish him the very best and hope he has a great 2010. I wish him luck in whatever he does …..

Steve Johnson – This kid has seen baseball’s impersonal, business side way too many times in the past couple years. Honestly, I think he really needs some stability and a single zip code, for an entire season.

I hope he proves the Dodgers wrong. I hope he makes the Orioles think twice about not protecting him. I hope he makes it BIG TIME, in the “City By The Bay.” Good luck, Steve.

BAD LUCK – These Guys Need It

Jimmie Johnson – No offense, but I’ve had my fill of Jimmie Johnson. He now has 4 consecutive NASCAR Championships and he’s tied with Jeff Gordon for career titles. NASCAR’s “Chase For The Cup” program stinks. Jimmie Johnson is a good racecar driver – but, he can’t carry Jeff Gordon’s jock ….

Kanye West – If I had to burn every bit of BAD LUCK on one person, it would be Kanye West. He deserves it. He’s beyond being a bumbling buffoon. He’s an idiot and a radical, hateful dude. I can picture him with Vanilla Ice and Jose Canseco, on a reality series in a few years. I’m wishing him luck to start that downfall – NOW.

New Yankee Stadium – The Steinbrenners should be ashamed of their “Bronx Bandbox.” There’s nothing like homefield advantage, huh? Now we know why they insisted on breaking bank with Mark Teixeira’s LEFT HANDED STICK.

Here’s a surprise, the newly acquired Curtis Granderson throws righthanded, but he bats LEFTHANDED. Wow, say it ain’t so !!!! I’m wishing bad luck on Yankee Stadium – I’m hoping the ghost of ANYBODY jinxes the joint …..

Daniel Snyder – I don’t think the guy really GETS IT. He’s bad for the game and his core values really undermine what’s decent and good. But, this generally happens to the “silver spoon” generation.

I think rich dudes who really worked for their fortune possess a humility rarely found in the tycoons who inherit or luck into their wads. Heck, it’s the determining difference between these people …..


Dan Snyder is a trainwreck owner. His teams will never succeed, because they’re led by a man who doesn’t really lead. Mark my words, Jim Zorn will be a successful head coach, in the NFL. But, it won’t come in Washington.

I don’t need to wish Dan Snyder bad luck – he screws things up on his own accord. But, what the heck, he’s getting a bad luck wish, anyway.

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Twelve Days Of Christmas .....

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Twelve Days Of Christmas …..

Posted on 13 December 2009 by Rex Snider

Tomorrow, I’m kicking off a series of personally driven blogs, titled “The Twelve Days Of Christmas” …..

That’s right, for the next twelve days, I will devote a daily blog to wishing the Happiest of Holidays to some ideal folks. I suppose it’s my way of recognizing and saluting those who really struck emotion in me, in 2009.

And, it’s also my intended effort of putting a unique spin on the Holiday Season, while examining and discussing some people and topics that impact the world of sports and entertainment …..

Along the way, I’ll even include a few of Baltimore’s interests.

Each day, will be about a different message. And, it’s my hope to remember everyone.

Young & Old …..

Rich & Poor …..

Holy & …. Umm ….. well …..

You get the picture, right ???

I’d like to believe I know me – and my style. So, I’m gonna challenge myself to write about things that truly impact Baltimoreans, and, at times, people around the globe.

Believe me, I’m not gonna get “too heavy.” Nor, will I seize these twelve special days to be sarcastic, divisive or offensive. I still believe Christmas is a special time of year, and a time to hope for the best – even for those who need an extra special wish …..

And, aside from all the nincompoop Santa impersonators – this really is the “Season Of Giving”. So, I’m gonna do my part.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Joyous Kwanzaa ……

I hope you like my series of blogs over the next couple weeks. And, if not, will you buy me a gift, anyway ???

Oh, and I almost forgot …..

I got these guys covered, too …..

Happy Holidays Everybody ……

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Hey Jon Gruden: Welcome to the Baltimore manure list!

Posted on 17 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

It didn’t take long for the manure to hit the fan in Baltimore during the Monday Night Football broadcast from Cleveland on ESPN after Jon Gruden made his comments regarding the Ravens and their “historic contributions” to the NFL’s newest drive to market hideously grotesque old AFL laundry.

While swimming in the sea of obvious insensitivity and double negatives that encompass every Ravens-Browns matchup since Art Modell moved his franchise to the Charm City in 1996, Gruden uttered one of the more ignorant one-liners since Bob Trumpy wished us bad weather and cold hot dogs back in September of that fateful year: “If the Ravens wore their throwback jerseys, they’d be the Browns.”

While I was awash in the WNST Purple Haze chat room as well as scanning Twitter and Facebook, I saw that the Baltimore folks were bristling in social media during the second quarter. At halftime, I chased down Ron Jaworski, who I knew pretty well from our days working together at NFL Films on Mondays a decade ago and told him to deliver a message to Gruden for me: “If the Ravens wore their throwback jerseys, they’d ACTUALLY be blue and white with a horseshoe on them! But those were stolen from us, never to return – except of course this weekend when Peyton Manning and his group will be kind enough to come to our stadium and parade around in them in front of us for the 26th consecutive year.”

Look, I’m a Gruden fan – in virtually every way! He’s always been my favorite NFL coach and I even documented meeting him with this video two years ago at the Owners Meetings when he was still the head coach of Tampa Bay.

He’s by far the best coach-turned-broadcaster on national television and that’s in no way to be disrespectful to my partner and friend, Brian Billick.

Chucky is pretty freaking good on the air — and apparently re-upped for two more years with ESPN yesterday — but this latest comment has really chapped my ass and put him on my manure list.

Clearly, Gruden is a big lifer Cleveland Browns fan (not to mention a closet admirer of Brady Quinn, apparently) and no doubt smelled an opportunity to ingratiate himself to the Greater Ohio and Cuyahoga region while he auditions as the next coach of this or some other woebegone franchise somewhere down the road. Gruden wants to work as a head coach again. Cleveland is a better place for him to cozy up to than Baltimore at this point.

But, is Gruden this ignorant to the actual facts? Was he being insensitive or just stupid? Or was he holding “open mic” night in an audition for how much he’d love to wear ugly orange gear without a logo and a quarterback sometime in the future?

But Gruden owes Baltimore an apology. Especially this week!

Our history and “throwback” uniform will be visiting our city again this weekend awash in stolen memories, identity, colors and markings in the form of Peyton Manning, who continues to wear the laundry that was pilfered in the middle of the night more than 25 years ago.

It’s like a continual knock on the door from your ex-wife, who is flaunting what you used to have.

To hear Gruden say something as stupid as what he did on Monday night is just sad. And for Jaworski or Mike Tirico to not correct him is just as bad. And I let Jaworski know what was on my mind.

To be honest, I’m tired of hearing about what was stolen from Cleveland. I was there in the Mistake on the Lake on Monday night. For any Clevelander or fan of the Browns, NOTHING is gone, except the good judgment of Art Modell, who guided the franchise to the playoffs 17 times in 35 years, but is somehow now regarded as a buffoon even after their new franchise has only tasted the playoffs once in 11 years after being reborn with their original hideous uniforms, logo-less helmets and empty shelf space awaiting a shiny silver trophy that we’ve managed to win as a community twice.

It’s “Colts Week” here and Baltimore and so I’m especially sensitive this week.

I also spent the day with a busload of Baltimoreans at the Hall of Fame in Canton, where we’ll show you all of the “discrepancies” that still exist in the only place where the NFL’s history is “celebrated.” Just stay tuned to wnsTV for that…

Between spending the day in a museum that snubs its nose at all things Baltimore – from the records of Johnny Unitas and company under the sub-heading “Indianapolis” to the obvious disrespectful lack of acknowledgement for Art Modell’s contributions not only to the NFL but to the city of Baltimore and making us whole into perpetuity – I’m admittedly a little pissy this week.

So, how did Gruden’s comments sit with you? And how do they sit knowing that no one around here ever seems to defend anything Baltimore, including the continued banishment of Modell from a bronze bust and a moment in the sun in his ninth decade on the planet after serving the NFL for more than half of his life.

Art Modell might never get into the Hall of Fame because of cretins like Tony Grossi and his ilk, but it’s never going to stop me from yelling at full voice.

Of course, Baltimore has always seemed to get even on the field. And we did again on Monday in Cleveland. As a matter of fact, Cleveland still hasn’t scored.

But the city of losers in Ohio always seems to find the sympathy in defeat and despair that seems to be its civic calling card.

Hey Cleveland, want some whine with that cheese?

Maybe Chucky The Rat can feed it to you in a few weeks when Mangini gets shown the gate after another gloriuos 3-13 campaign?

I’ve got your “throwback jersey” right here.

Or, at least I will at 1 p.m. on Sunday…

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Give the Man his due

Posted on 09 September 2009 by kevinpb

On the eve of another football season starting, and with expectations for our Baltimore Ravens running higher then normal, there is something that I need to say with regards to our football team. Most sports broadcasts are doing their year preview and most all are predicting success for the purple birds. It is pointless to argue with “the expert’s” prognostication, because as a wise man once said, opinions are like a–holes; everybody has one. However, what bothers me is the introduction given to the Raven’s segment. Most begin by mentioning new coach John Harbaugh and what a fine rookie year he had. This is followed by some type of back handed comment deriding the previous coaching staff.

I need to be clear here. I think John Harbaugh is a very good coach and looks like he will have a long career here as Raven’s head coach. I understand why the decision was made to change coaches after the 2007 season. But what angers me is the local media’s propensity for taking cheap shots at former coach Brian Billick. I think it is pretty evident that coach Billick did not endear himself to the local media here. In fact, at times he was pretty combative with them. Mike Preston, conjuring up the ghost of Stan “the fan” past, drove the bus to get him out of town, and more then a year later cannot resist still taking shots.

Coach Billick was brash, brazen, cocky, and arrogant; he was also exactly the right coach for the Baltimore Ravens. He was what this town and this football team needed. Let’s go back and revisit the Brian Billick hiring. The Ravens came into existence in 1996. Due to Art Modell’s long standing financial problems in Cleveland, the team had to relocate. The financial problems were not immediately solved by the move. Let’s be fair to say that the team sustained life by operating in the red and cutting corners when needed.

Baltimore was thrilled to have football back and in an effort to bridge the past with the future Ted Marchibroda was hired to run the team. Ted Marchibroda is a fine man and had a great career as a football coach, but by the time he was recycled in Baltimore, his best days had passed him by. It is not fair to lay the mediocre to poor play by the early Ravens solely at the feet of Ted Marchibroda. The fact is circumstances conspired against Ted Marchibroda’s success. By nature and circumstance he was was forced to be a reactive instead of a proactive leader.

By 1999 a change was needed. The Ravens had reduced their coaching search to Chris Palmer and Brian Billick. Let’s think about that one a second. I think it is safe to say they made the right choice. Chris Palmer became an also ran NFL coach and Brian Billick became a Super Bowl winning coach. From the beginning Coach Billick, along with Ozzie Newsome and the other front office staff set about changing the Ravens from laughing stock to first class organization.

The first 3 years under Marchibroda, the team went 16-31-1 for a winning percentage of .333. In Brian Billick’s 9 years the team went 80-64 for a winning percentage of .556. The team was 5-3 in 4 playoff appearances, won 2 AFC north titles and, of course, a Super Bowl title. Brian Billick will not be remembered as a brilliant strategist, but rather as an incredibly prepared, intensely focused leader. His critics will site some of his outlandish comments, his combativeness with the press and his inability to produce a potent offense despite his resume as an offensive coach as reasons for his ultimate downfall. But the bottom line is as a season ticket holder, when I walked into the purple palace to watch the Brian Billick led Ravens I always thought they had a chance to win every game they played. There are very few coaches or organizations that your can say that about. He was one of the cornerstones that turned a “rag-a-muffin” franchise into a highly successful NFL franchise.

In my lifetime, let’s say from 1970 on, Brian Billick is the 2nd most important professional coach/manager that this town has ever seen. Only Earl Weaver meant more to his team. Give the man the credit he is due, embrace what he meant to this town and to our football team and stop treating his tenure like some sort of punch line. While we’re at it, put his name up in the Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium.

Now that I have got that off my chest…let’s go Ravens, kick some butt.

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Summer of 2009: a small step in the revival of Baltimore sports

Posted on 16 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

Since 1998 Baltimore has been a one sport town that has been dominated by the Ravens. After years of futility on the field and in the front office, few can blame fans for turning their backs on the Orioles. This summer looks like it might be an exciting one for the Orioles and has me wondering if Baltimore is on its way back to being a two sport town.

Many can argue that even from 1984-1996 Baltimore was still a football town despite not having any professional football outside of the Baltimore Stallions of the CFL. When the Colts left in 1984 people felt betrayed and hurt and Baltimore was left with one professional sports team, the Orioles. The O’s struggled late in the 80’s and earlyy90’s  until they built what was at the time and still is the most beautiful ballpark in the Major Leagues, Camden Yards.Because of Camden Yards there was a  baseball revival in Baltimore. However, just five short years after hosting the All-Star game, baseball was dying in Baltimore.

The reasons for the Ravens dominance of the Baltimore sports landscape are pretty simple. First, Baltimore was a starved football town that would embrace any team that came after a 12 year hiatus without an NFL franchise. Second, they won the Super Bowl in just their fifth season as a franchise. Third, Art Modell is one of the classiest men in all of professional sports and the Ravens treated their fans and community much better then the Orioles. Another reason for the Ravens dominance is the “us against the world” attitude they have had since their Super Bowl run – an attitude the fans have more then embraced. Lastly, the Ravens players are much more identifiable then the Orioles players. Even the most casual fan will recognize a second stringer like Justin Bannan more so then they would recognize Nick Markakis. Why is this?

Because of ownership, no access to players, fan treatment, poor playing and recruiting – the Orioles have been nothing more than an afterthought in this town for the last 12 years. Hopefully things are changing in the right direction.

Andy MacPhail has instilled a sense of hope in a fan base that has had nothing but despair for a decade. Hope alone will not return the Orioles back to relevance, but it is a major step. If the Orioles have a summer where they improve instead of digress then I truly believe Baltimore will be on its way back to being a two sports town.

I was born in 1983 and for my entire life outside of one or two years, Baltimore has been a “one sport” town.So for selfish reasons, more so then anything else, I want Baltimore to return to the glory days of the 60’s and 70’s. From 1984-1996, 12 of the first 13 years of my life, Baltimore was a one sport town because they only had one team – the Orioles. Enter Art Modell and the Ravens in 1996 combined with a wire-to-wire 1997 season for the Orioles; Baltimore seemed to be back on the sports map. Just a few short years after the arrival of the Ravens, the Orioles went down hill and became nothing more than a way to pass time until the start of football season.

I absolutely love the Ravens, and I support them through good times and bad, but all I have ever wanted in my life was for the Orioles to be good. When both teams are winning and relevant the city is a buzz and life is just better all around.

Baltimore sports fans have so many sports memories from the Miracles on 33rd st, the Orioles dominance of the 70’s, the Ravens arrival in Baltimore and the Lombardi trophy returning back to his rightful destination in 2001. Hopefully, under the direction of Andy MacPhail and our farm team prospects, along with some exciting wins this year, there is light at the end of tunnel.

I’m hoping to look back years from now and remember the “summer of 2009” as the rejuvenation year – the beginning of Baltimore becoming a “Two Sport Town once again” – the re-emergence of “The Magic of Orioles Baseball”

Wouldn’t that be one the greatest memory of all?

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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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Art belongs in

Posted on 08 January 2009 by caseywillett

Those were the words of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh just moments after he had visited with Art Modell moments after Thursday’s afternoon practice. Coach Harbaugh spoke of the contributions that Art made to the NFL,”here is a guy that made contributions on about 4 or 5 fronts that were critical to the development of this league and what it is today. Coach Harbaugh went on to say there is, “no question in our mind that he should be in the Hall of Fame.”

Catching up with Art

When Art Modell is at the Ravens facility, Coach Harbaugh will go over to him and chat with him for a few minutes on his way to meet with the media. Coach Harbaugh talked about how the Modell family has been great to them every since Coach Harbaugh was hired. As far as what is talked about during those conversations after practice, Coach Harbaugh says they talk about several things,”some times he shares some observations that he has from a football perspective, other times it is just chatting. He is excited about the game.” Coach Harbaugh also added that Mr. Modell wanted to know about the injuries and how they look going into Saturday.

No worries about short week slip up

With the Ravens coming off of a game on Sunday and turning around and playing Saturday, the concern some have mentioned is a short week catching up with the team. Coach Harbaugh said today that he has gotten no indication of that,”just seems our guys don’t think that way, they don’t get involved in that, and of course it is such a big game so they are looking forward to playing.” 

Mangini to the North

With the Cleveland Browns announcing the hiring of Eric Mangini today to be their new football coach, Coach Harbaugh feels like it makes the division better,”he makes our division stronger, and we look forward to competing against him.”

There are rumors going around that  Mangini may be hiring Rex Ryan’s twin brother Rob Ryan to become the Browns defensive coordinator.

Browns looking to Ravens to fill GM position ?

With the Browns hiring Eric Mangini as the new head coach, the belief is that they will fill the void at General Manager soon. Lot’s of speculation is that Ravens Director of Pro Personnel George Kokinis is a very good candidate for that job. His ties to Mangini go back to the last days of the Browns in Cleveland before the move. Coach Harbaugh said today that if Kokinis was to leave, it would be “tough, and a disappointment.” Coach Harbaugh did say that it would be a good opportunity for Kokinis if he left.

Kokinis could interview as early as Sunday or Monday following the Ravens game versus the Titans on Saturday afternoon.

All signs good heading to Nashville

With today being the last practice before the teams has a walk thru and boards a plane tomorrow headed to Nashville, Coach Harbaugh was pleased with what he saw,” I thought  we were sharp, everyone is excited to play.”

As far as the state of the health of the team, Coach Harbaugh could not be happier,” we are healthy, amazingly healthy for the fact that we have turned it around so quickly.”

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Ravens Win…

Posted on 08 December 2008 by roblong

Last night, I had a chance to watch the game from an interesting perspective. I worked the game for Westwood One/CBS Radio as a sideline reporter.

No, I’m not trying to “big time” you. Sitting on the sidelines gives you a completely different view on the game. For years, as a youngster, you always look at NFL players and think if you were in the right situation, you could have ended up in the League. After being that close to the speed of the game, I realize that there’s no situation that could have put me in the NFL. Those guys are too strong and too fast and down right scary. I’d rather talk about it than get hit by Ray Lewis and Bart Scott.

Now, for the Ravens and their 9-4 record. Who would have thunk it? Nine wins by the Baltimore Ravens, and the season still isn’t over. John Harbaugh and his coaching staff has really pulled these guys together and made the most out of this season.

When the coaching change was made, I was not in favor of it. I’ll admit that now. I was scared of change because of the past success we’d experienced. Now, I realize the Ravens reached the ceiling under the previous coaching staff.

No, I don’t think Brian Billick forgot how to coach, I just believe his message got old with this team. That’s what happens in the professional ranks. It’s clear to see that this Ravens’ team looks fresh. Their approach is completely different.

Last night, when the Washington Redskins narrowed the score to 17-10, the Ravens got the ball back with 11:27 left in the game. In years past, the Ravens’ would have played passively. I’m not sure if the passive play was caused by the play calling, or by a lack of faith in the system by the players.

On Sunday night, Joe Flacco and the Ravens’ offense ate up 7:52 and capped it off with a touchdown pass to Derrick Mason. I can’t really say that there was a lot done different from the way it use to be done, but I can say the results were different. That means change was certainly needed.

Will the Ravens get into the play-offs this year? I believe they will. Either way, this is a better team, and an even better franchise now. I said back in February that this was the first big move of the post-Modell era for the Ravens, and that this group would be judged, ultimately, on how they handle it.

So far, so good…

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Modell, Sharpe & Woodson up for Hall of Fame

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Modell, Sharpe & Woodson up for Hall of Fame

Posted on 26 November 2008 by caseywillett

Art Modell, Shannon Sharpe, and Rod Woodson have all made the list of modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This is the first time on the ballot for Rod Woodson and Shannon Sharpe. They are three of the 17 names on the list right now that will be reduced to 15 finalist which will be announced in January. The Class of 2009 for the Hall of Fame will be selected the Saturday before the Super Bowl. Having had the privilege to be there at the press conference when they are announced, it is amazing to see the reaction of these men when they are told the news.

Although there is no set number that has to be enshrined every year, the ground rules say that between four and seven new members will be selected each year.

My guess is that Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson will be the first players in the Hall of Fame to have played for the Ravens. Unfortunately, I do not think that Mr. Modell will make it again. Every year it seems that he gets knocked out of the final selection process early.

Here is the rest of the list of people eligible for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame in 2009.

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