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Chapter 15: Dancing on The Edge of Chaos?

Posted on 26 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”

– John Harbaugh (December 10, 2012)

 

 

THE SHORT RIDE HOME FROM Fed Ex Field after an excruciating loss was particularly disturbing for John Harbaugh. On the bus he started thinking about where the Baltimore Ravens would be in the coming weeks if things remained the same and this team continued to perform inconsistently. He’d been thinking about the end of this season since the end of last season. Harbaugh was a big picture guy with all of his assistant coaches. It’s the NFL – Not For Long. Change is inevitable.

But when exactly is the right time to make a glacial movement in philosophy? When, exactly, do you decide to decide to make a change in personnel? And how do you know if it’s the right decision?

“I was on the bus back from the Redskins game, and I just did it,” Harbaugh said. “I just decided this is what we needed to do.”

Twelve hours later, head coach John Harbaugh brought his longtime friend, former boss and current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron into his office in Owings Mills and fired him. Later in the afternoon, Harbaugh did his usual Monday press conference.

“We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell,” he began. “It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

In trying to piece together the story of how it had gotten to this point, this desperate place where Harbaugh felt he had no other option but to fire Cameron on the bus ride home from Fed Ex Field in Week 14 of the season, you have to go back to the biggest of big picture philosophies in Owings Mills.

“What gives us the best chance to win the Super Bowl?”

Much like when Bisciotti fired Billick nearly five years earlier, or when Billick fired his pal and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during a bye week in 2006, this was as much about the team as it was any one or two issues, disagreements, or personal relationships.

The truth? It was hard to find anyone in the building who truly trusted, fully understood or had an ideal two-way communication

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Chapter 2: High Standards, Low Profile of Steve Bisciotti

Posted on 13 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“Steve (Bisciotti) is straightforward and that makes it easy. He’s not a prima donna. He’s direct. He’s upfront. If there’s something he doesn’t like, he tells you. If he feels strongly about something, he tells you. There’s no secret agenda. There’s nothing you have to discover. Steve is a great believer in direct communication and he runs the business that way.”

— Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass (March 2013)

 

IN MANY CITIES IN AMERICA the owners of sports franchises can still somehow stay or hide in the shadow of their local investment and create nary a stir when they enter a room. Being anonymous has its privileges and benefits, a thought Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti would certainly echo. But in Baltimore, where the owners of the local professional teams have been true newsmakers and iconoclasts for the better part of a half a century, owning the NFL franchise that a community treats like family or a personal treasure can be like carrying the collective weight of the civic mood on your shoulders.

Bisciotti did his best to remain a private citizen after taking over the Ravens from Arthur B. Modell in early 2004, but you can’t be invested in the most significant sports soap opera in the community and stand at the top of the pyramid making the most important decisions for the fan base without becoming a public figure of the highest order.

If you are a sports fan from Baltimore, Maryland, you have endured your fair share of abuse. In the 1970’s, the Baltimore Bullets were dragged down I-95 to the Washington suburbs by owner Abe Pollin, professional hockey went into hibernation with the Clippers and there were strong whispers of the Orioles going to D.C. to replace the departed Washington Senators. It got no better in the 1980’s. There was always the ominous and omnipresent shadow of Robert Irsay, the man who acquired the Baltimore Colts from Carroll Rosenbloom in a swap for the Los Angeles Rams in 1972 and later moved them to Indianapolis in a convoy of Mayflower moving trucks in the middle of a snowy, teary night for the Charm City on March 28, 1984 after a decade of tyranny and threats to the community of the inevitable move.

Since the turn of the century, both the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles fan bases’ have been tormented and tortured by disastrous moves on the field and big moves downward in the standings since the involvement of Daniel Snyder and Peter G. Angelos have fallen upon the I-95 corridor. These two have shined a bright light on what can go wrong when poor decisions are consistently being made from the top of the organization and how quickly decades of support for enduring brands can erode and deteriorate when fans and customers smell the stench of poor ownership.

The reality in the 21st century is that with the scarcity of teams available and the cost of buying a sports franchise for hundreds of millions of dollars, no one wants to pony up the kind of money to be an owner without having a strong desire to be heavily involved in strategy and a strong desire to win – whether it’s on the field or at the cash register. Many of these thrill seekers have lacked proper training, background and the feel for sports ownership especially with such a public light illuminating every decision that is made in real time on the internet. What sounds like fun in the beginning becomes an albatross and a public nuisance once it becomes apparent how specialized each league, sport and business is from an ownership standpoint.

It was no secret that Art Modell was struggling financially in Cleveland and those ghosts of burgeoning debt followed him east to Baltimore in 1996. By 1999, the NFL and his debtors with the banks demanded that he find a partner to buy the team and help him find the exit door with the class and dignity that his departure from Cleveland clearly lacked.

The same man who found Modell in Cleveland and brokered the deal for the State of Maryland and the City of Baltimore in the Fall of 1995 was the same man who found a buyer four years later: local attorney and sports franchise expert John Moag. After Modell made the move to Baltimore, Moag became a trusted confidant and had all of the institutional knowledge that would be necessary to assist in finding a new owner for the Baltimore Ravens.

Moag knew Bisciotti and was privy to most of Modell’s financial struggles. The rest is history.

By any account, Steve Bisciotti is a sports nut. He’s long been a fiercely loyal University of Maryland supporter, close confidant of legendary Terps basketball head coach Gary Williams and a Ravens and Orioles season ticket holder at the time. At worst, he would’ve been a very educated sports radio talk show caller before he got involved in the purchase the Baltimore Ravens in 1999.

Bisciotti, born April 10, 1960 in Philadelphia, came to the Severna Park area of Anne Arundel County in 1961 when Bernard and Patricia Bisciotti moved from Philadelphia for Bernard’s new sales executive job. He was 8 years old when the Colts lost Super Bowl III to Joe Namath and the New York Jets. He was a huge Paul Blair fan during the heyday of the Earl Weaver-led Orioles in his adolescence. He journeyed with his friends up Richie Highway to Memorial Stadium in the 1970’s and loved the Bert Jones-era of the “Shake and Bake” Colts.

Bisciotti’s father died of leukemia when he was in elementary school leaving his sports-crazed widowed mother, who raised him by preaching faith, hard work, determination and manners. Nicknamed “Shots” by his college pals at Salisbury State, where he earned a Liberal Arts degree, Bisciotti became obsessed with making enough money by the age of 35 so that his wife and kids wouldn’t have to work if his father’s fate befell him. He had the early jobs of a kid who worked hard and learned the world: pumping gas, mowing lawns, and building piers in Anne Arundel County, where he graduated from Severna Park High School. He founded a staffing firm called Aerotek in his basement with $3,500 of seed money at age 23 during the Colts final season in Baltimore. He now owns a massive stake in Allegis

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Chapter 1: Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss

Posted on 12 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

Proverbs 29:18 says: ‘Where there is no vision the people perish.’ I guess that’s why I feel like we stuck to the vision and the team grew into it.”

— John Harbaugh (March 2013)

 

IT WASN’T EXACTLY A RESTFUL sleep for Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick on the night of Dec. 30, 2007, but the 27-21 home victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier that evening snapped a dismal nine-game losing streak to end the season on some semblance of a bright note and his agenda for beginning 2008 was clear after a disastrous 5-11 finish in a season that was steeped in promise with a 4-2 start.

Earlier that week, Billick sat for hours with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and General Manager Ozzie Newsome, as he frequently had, reviewing and evaluating the state of the Baltimore Ravens roster and future. After the final game with Pittsburgh, he visited emeritus owner and founder Art Modell in his box at the stadium feeling good about defeating the Ravens’ arch rival and snapping a nine-game losing streak to finish 2007 with a modicum of success and a hint of some future achievement.

The long, exhausting season was over, but while December 31, 2007 wasn’t officially 2008 just yet, Billick’s sleep deprivation had to do more with future planning than a future canning. He had repeatedly been told his job was safe during the agonizing losing streak and the team’s public relations machine moved earlier in the month to announce publicly that Billick wasn’t going to be fired. He was “safe.” Plus, he was only concluding the first of a four-year, $24 million contract he signed after the 2006 Ravens went 13-3, but suffered a tough loss to the Indianapolis Colts during the playoffs.

Yet, on what is always known around the NFL as “Black Monday” for its many coaching staff firings, many sports media outlets were still speculating about the state of Billick’s job security.

At 8:40 a.m., during a 25-minute phone call, he was insistent that his job security was, well, secure. Billick was always candid, always painfully honest and up-until-this-point, always “in the know” when it came to the state of the Ravens. Over the previous nine years, his integrity, honesty and information had been in his words “unfiltered” — meaning the unvarnished truth.

At 10:10 a.m. the internet and local sports world exploded with multiple reports that Brian Billick was out as the coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

The shots heard round Owings Mills were not only unexpected by Billick, but by most of the media, many members of his coaching staff, and everyone else in the organization who reasoned that the three years left on his contract — still damp with just 11 months of tread on it and $18 million more of Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti’s money guaranteed — made him amongst the safest coaches on the continent.

Sure, the Ravens had a bad year amidst a sea of injuries and another season of dreadful quarterback play with a broken down Steve McNair, an overmatched former Heisman Trophy winner in Troy Smith and the unfulfilled potential of 2003 first-round draft pick Kyle Boller, but firing a decorated coach was certainly a major risk (and expense) for Bisciotti.

Newsome was powerless and only became aware of Bisciotti’s intentions hours before. This was Steve’s decision and Steve’s alone.

The head coach who had led the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs in four of his nine seasons and a 2001 Super Bowl title was unceremoniously fired and suddenly an NFL head coaching job was now available, where only moments before there was a franchise with a clear leader and a clear direction that had

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Were PSLs really an ‘investment’ all those years ago? Ravens fans will soon find out

Posted on 27 December 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

Part 3: The Ghost of Baltimore Football Future

As Baltimore Ravens president Dick Cass recently pointed out in a letter to the club’s Personal Seat License holders and top financial supporters, the spaciousness of the team’s home games this season can certainly be traced back to a warm afternoon a continent away in London, England when a dozen players took The Wembley Knee during the National Anthem.

Or, on “foreign soil,” as so many patriots have stated on the internet. It’s unclear how many PSL owners are purposely keeping those seats empty as a boycott and how many just can’t resell or even give away the tickets for free as a gift.

The new “cool debate” during the holidays has been the loyal Ravens fans excited about a playoff berth and still going to the games fighting with the ones who used to go to the games about how any real, true-blooded American could possibly support the National Football League and these disrespectful black players who hate our military and The President.

That’s where we are in this debate entering 2018.

But you want me to “stick to sports,” right?

Let’s be clear about how the upper deck got empty and how the fan base got uppity: if Donald J. Trump didn’t go on the attack with NFL players and call them “sons of bitches,” The Wembley Knee wouldn’t exist nor would The Knee of 180 players of color that around the sport that day in September 2017.

No sane person should argue this point.

But, no matter the reason, rationale, politics, philosophy, patriotism or the color of your skin or theirs, the result has been quite eye-opening for anyone who has witnessed a home game for the Baltimore Ravens since The Wembley Knee and subsequent drubbing at the hands of the Jacksonville Jaguars in London back on September 24th.

Time will tell what the impact of The Wembley Knee will be in the coming years to season tickets and PSLs and their street value.

Time will also tell what real damage there will be to the franchise and how it rebounds from this political crisis that Steve Bisciotti never could’ve

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HOLIDAY VIP DEAL: Buy “Purple Reign 2” for Ravens readers here

Posted on 05 December 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Thanks for checking our section of purple cyberspace and for having interest in purchasing Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story via WNST.net. It’s been a labor of love for me — researching, writing and presenting the building of a NFL championship.

In 2001, I wrote Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac and I’ve had many inquiries regarding reprinting it and packaging it with the new book on the 2012 Ravens. So, below are the options to purchase both books as well as a 6-CD collection of our best WNST radio interviews with the many stars and interesting people from Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLVII. It will have original audio from 1990’s with Ray Lewis, Brian Billick, Jon Ogden as well as a two-hour life retrospective when I sat down with Arthur B. Modell in 2004. We’ll also include highlights from the past two years with Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, John Harbaugh and others. It will be nearly seven hours of conversation with Baltimore Ravens who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

The book is 480 pages, chock full of stories, background, behind-the-scenes information told in 22 chapters from the firing of Brian Billick to the hiring of John Harbaugh to the drafting of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice to the 2012 season and the Super Bowl XLVII win and parade down Pratt Street and celebration inside the stadium back in February.

And the best part of the book or books? They both have happy endings. If you love the Baltimore Ravens, you’ll love the book(s).

It’s the best work of my career and I know once you read it you’ll agree. Virtually every review has been a 5-star compliment since the book was released in June 2013.

Here are two links to excerpts from Purple Reign 2:

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

And here’s another from Chapter 10 involving Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti’s cash showdown in August 2012.

 

BUY PURPLE REIGN HERE:

Here’s our shopping cart for all things Purple Reign, new and old:

Purple Reign V.I.P. Box Set (HOLIDAY DISCOUNT)

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001) hardback 2nd edition

WNST Purple Reign Radio Memories (6 CD’s)

RAY 2:52/BELIEVE IN JOE New Orleans poster

Full color 12X18 poster of Purple Reign 2 cover (featuring fabulous artwork of local sports cartoonist Mike Ricigliano) that is suitable for autographs/framing or your mancave wall

And if you buy this deluxe package, make sure you let me know how to personalize the new book for you below:

$59.95 plus S&H

$49.95 WITH FREE SHIPPING!!!!!

How do we sign Purple Reign 2?

 

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Purple Reign Both Books Hardbound

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001)

$49.99 plus S&H

 

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Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story BOOK ONLY (hardback)

$26.95 plus S&H

 

—————————————————

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac BOOK ONLY (hardback)

$24.95 plus S&H

 

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Purple Reign Radio Memories — a 6 CD set of WNST purple interviews with stars & heroes of Super Bowl XXXV & Super Bowl XLVII

Nearly seven (7) hours of classic audio conversations including the life story of Arthur B. Modell in his words

$19.95 plus S&H

 

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FOR E-BOOKS AND E-READERS

Both Purple Reign: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story & Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac are NOW AVAILABLE:

Click here to purchase via Smashwords for most e-formats

Click here to purchase via Amazon for Kindle

 

 

 

 REVIEWS FOR PURPLE REIGN 2:

By JL
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon Verified Purchase
If you want to read game reviews about the 2012 Ravens, just looks online. If you want to read the story of the 2012 Ravens, if you want to relive the journey of the 2012 Ravens then read Purple Reign 2. This book cover so much history about the Ravens and is told through the eyes of Baltimore’s own award winning Journalist, Nestor Aparicio.The history of the Ravens is recapped from a fans perspective with inside information. Aparicio makes you feel as if you are in the Ravens Locker Room, draft war room and the sidelines. Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Ed Reed, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Art Model, Steve Biscotti, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh all provide Aparicio with amazing insight and recap events of the 2012 journey in a way never imagined. A must read for all football fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have if you’re a ravens fan. August 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The interviews make it all worth it. He goes into detail how some of the players were chosen in the draft. Honestly I couldn’t put the book down. You get to have a better insight and understand the different players in the team. If you’re a ravens fan, this is one book you definitely should have.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ravens History August 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Nestor gives you behind-the-curtains access of the Ravens run to the Super Bowl!!! Amazing insight to the players, coaches and owners. A must have for every Ravens fan!!!
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Format:Kindle Edition
Nestor Aparicio is a true fan of the Ravens and his passion is what makes this book so great.. All of the “behind the scenes” moments that he describes in detail, show all of the hard work that went into this book.. A Ravens fan can open this book at any point and be captivated.. The 2012 season was a great ride and this book puts all of the pieces together.. From process of the hiring of Coach John Harbaugh to the magical win of Super Bowl XLVII, a true page turner.

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To honor an American hero, this week’s #WNSTSweet16 is about “dreamers”

Posted on 19 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

We’re into the third week of our year long #WNSTSweet16 celebration, recognizing a remarkable 16 years of WNST.net as Baltimore’s sports media leader.

To mark the occasion, we’re spending the year looking into the biggest “water cooler” topics in Baltimore sports history. If you’ve missed our first couple of lists, take a look back on them. Last week Luke Jones celebrated the NFL Playoffs by looking into the greatest postseason moments in local sports history. We introduced #WNSTSweet16 the week before when I took a look at the greatest debuts in local sports history.

As a country this week we’re recognizing one of our greatest Americans. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an incredible visionary and leader of the civil rights movement. We recognized the 50th anniversary of his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington just last August and continue to recognize the role he played in bringing social justice in our country as we celebrate MLK Day Monday.

It’s with that in mind that this week’s list is about “dreamers” as well. “The Nasty One” himself Nestor Aparicio will take on this week’s topic, the “#WNSTSweet16 Local Sports Figures Who Had A Dream”.

This is where we need your help. Nestor certainly has an idea of which 16 dreamers should be included in this list, but he wants your help to come up with those he might not have thought of and where these dreamers should rank on this list. Like in other weeks, we’re looking to make a “definitive” list, not just a personal opinion list.

As I thought about the possibilities for this week’s list, a number of names came to mind. William Donald Schaefer had a dream for downtown Baltimore that was heavy in local sports. Former Maryland football player Kevin Plank had a dream for a product that would help athletes in tough conditions that would ultimately lead to one of the biggest companies in the world. Lefty Driesell had a dream to make Maryland “the UCLA of the East”, Gary Williams had a dream for a new basketball facility in College Park.

Art Modell had a dream to re-create a football culture in Charm City, Steve Bisciotti had a dream to take that franchise even further. Daryl Hill had a dream to integrate the ACC. John Rallo had a dream to bring Mixed Martial Arts to the state of Maryland, Bob Bowman had a dream to coach Olympic swimming champions. Peter Angelos had a dream to…well…I’m not entirely sure.

Who else? What other local sports figures were “dreamers”? Where should they rank? Let us know here in the comments. We’ll be discussing our “dreamers” throughout the day Monday on AM1570 WNST.net. We encourage you to discuss the topic Monday via social media by using the hashtag #WNSTSweet16. On Tuesday morning, Nestor will unveil the list here at WNST.net and he will discuss it with Luke Jones on “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction” Tuesday morning at 8am. He’ll then check back in Tuesday afternoon at 4pm on “The Reality Check Driven by Jerry’s Chevrolet” to discuss the list with me.

Give us your thoughts. Whose dreams most shaped local sports?

-G

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We debut our #WNSTSweet16 list with the Greatest Local Sports debuts

Posted on 07 January 2014 by Glenn Clark

On Sunday night we introduced our first #WNSTSweet16 discussion topic for 2014. As we celebrate 16 years as Baltimore’s local sports media leader, we’re looking at some of the “water cooler” topics you’ve most discussed since we first turned on the microphone.

With the debut of #WNSTSweet16, our first list focuses on just that-debuts. The Greatest Local Sports Debuts is the topic in fact. As we look over the history of Baltimore (and Maryland) sports, what single games, seasons, etc. stand out as the best of the best?

We’ve been discussing the topic here, on-air at AM1570 WNST and on social media for the last couple of days and will continue to do so. Here’s the list.

16. The inaugural season of the Baltimore CFL Colts/Baltimore CFL’s/Baltimore Football Club/Baltimore Stallions (1994)

As I look back on the first of two years of Canadian football in Charm City, what stands out most was the attendance figures for the home games.

Courtesy of Wikipedia, that’s 31,000 or more fans at EVERY home game at Memorial Stadium to watch (let’s be honest) a second rate product. It was a remarkable testament to the rabid nature of football fandom in Baltimore and further proof of the city’s worthiness of a NFL return. The team itself was quite good-including future NFL players like O.J. Brigance, Josh Miller and Shar Pourandesh as well as Canadian Football Hall of Famers like Tracey Ham and Mike Pringle. The season ended with a loss to the BC Lions in the Grey Cup, a year before the franchise would become the only American team to ever win a Grey Cup.

No. 15 next page…

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A YEAR LATER: What really happened with Cam Cameron firing?

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

On December 10, 2012, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Eight weeks later, Joe Flacco led a winning offense to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. What really happened? What caused that fateful decision?

Do you want to know everything?

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 7 here on all things Joe Flacco and why the Baltimore Ravens fell in love with him:

 

15. Dancing on The Edge of Chaos?

“People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”
John Harbaugh (December 10, 2012)

 

THE SHORT RIDE HOME FROM Fed Ex Field after an excruciating loss was particularly disturbing for John Harbaugh. On the bus he started thinking about where the Baltimore Ravens would be in the coming weeks if things remained the same and this team continued to perform inconsistently. He’d been thinking about the end of this season since the end of last season. Harbaugh was a big picture guy with all of his assistant coaches. It’s the NFL – Not For Long. Change is inevitable.

But when exactly is the right time to make a glacial movement in philosophy? When, exactly, do you decide to decide to make a change in personnel? And how do you know if it’s the right decision?

“I was on the bus back from the Redskins game, and I just did it,” Harbaugh said. “I just decided this is what we needed to do.”

Twelve hours later, head coach John Harbaugh brought his longtime friend, former boss and current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron into his office in Owings Mills and fired him. Later in the afternoon, Harbaugh did his usual Monday press conference.

“We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell,” he began. “It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

In trying to piece together the story of how it had gotten to this point, this desperate place where Harbaugh felt he had no other option but to fire Cameron on the bus ride home from Fed Ex Field in Week 14 of the season, you have to go back to the biggest of big picture philosophies in Owings Mills.

“What gives us the best chance to win the Super Bowl?”

Much like when Bisciotti fired Billick nearly five years earlier, or when Billick fired his pal and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during a bye week in 2006, this was as much about the team as it was any one or two issues, disagreements, or personal relationships.

The truth? It was hard to find anyone in the building who truly trusted, fully understood or had an ideal two-way communication with Cam Cameron. Relationships change. People change. But sometimes philosophies remain stagnant and grow stale.

Since Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pre-dates Harbaugh, it begins with a vision even larger

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Reactions pour in to the passing of Baltimore icon Art Donovan

Posted on 04 August 2013 by WNST Staff

A number of luminaries have offered their reaction to the death of former Baltimore Colts DL Art Donovan, via AM1570 WNST.net, Twitter or press releases. Here are a few of the reactions:

Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti:
“We lost a friend, one of the finest men and one of the greatest characters we were fortunate to meet in this community and in this business. Baltimore is now without one of its best and someone who was a foundation for the tremendous popularity of football in our area. The world is not as bright tonight because we lost someone who could make us all smile.”

Former Baltimore Colts teammate and Hall of Fame wide receiver Raymond Berry:
“He’s one of the greatest people that I’ve ever been around. What he brought to a crowd was a very positive, uplifting experience. If he didn’t have a story, he’d make up one in a few seconds. It wasn’t any problem.”

“He is one of the most influential people in that what he brought to a group, what he brought to an individual, what he brought to a crowd was just a very positive and uplifting experience. When you were in his presence for any amount of time you benefited from the experience.”

Former Baltimore Colts teammate and tight end Jim Mutscheller:
“We lost a great guy. He was one of those people that always made you feel good and kept you smiling. He loved to play the game. He was strong, he was quick. He was a good football player that kept you in the game.”

“He would say things to keep you on your toes and keep you from getting a big head or thinking you were better than you really were. He kept people in the ballgame as far as their heads were concerned. He was a true football player.”

Former Baltimore Ravens DT Tony Siragusa:

Ravens RB Ray Rice (via Facebook):
“RIP Art Donovan – truly a great player and a great man…a legend and someone to really look up to. Sometimes it seems like they just don’t make ’em like that anymore.”

Former WJZ sportscaster John Buren:
“Has there ever been a better fit for a television product and a town? He was wonderful. He was an absolute gift and I felt like I was undeserving of the gift, but by God I appreciated it. He had a great comedian sense of timing.

“Art Donovan knew who he was. He knew he was a star, but he never lost his interest in real people. He was just interested in talking to people. Artie didn’t big-foot anybody.”

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay:
“On a weekend when the NFL welcomed more players into the Hall of Fame, we lost one of its most significant enshrinees, Art Donovan. Art was the first Colts player to be inducted into the Hall, and his roots date back to the very start of the franchise. Art was a battle-tested veteran who stood among the giants in helping lead the Colts to their first two world championships. While many later knew Art as a colorful ambassador to the sport because of his personality, those who played alongside and against him attest to his grit and greatness. Art is a beloved figure to many and is the only player to wear number 70 in Colts history. His number is retired among Colts greats. Art truly is an unforgettable figure in our sport, and we extend our sympathies to his family.”

Pro Football Hall of Fame Vice President Joe Horrigan (Per NFL.com):
“One of the great, great players. Not only a great player, but a great person. Everybody loved him. Great sense of humor. Great human. Art was also in the Marine Hall of Fame. He fought for his country in World War II — distinguished himself there.

Art came to Baltimore in kind of an odd way. He came from the Dallas Texans, which went defunct. They went belly up and they ended up in Baltimore. Baltimore was looking for a football team back then in 1952. And they got this football team, and Art became this cornerstone along with a guy named Johnny Unitas a little bit later. Took them to that famous 1958 championship game. He was the first defensive character that the fans rallied around and loved. Even in his later years, he was a guest on late night talk shows. Just had this great personality. His father was a great boxing referee. He was a character, one of the true characters in sport.”

Baltimore actor and star of “The Good Wife” Josh Charles (via Twitter):
“Art Donovan was passionate about the game he loved, but never took himself too seriously. I only wish more athletes of today followed suit.”

Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller (Per NFL.com):
“It’s a great loss to the league. He was part of those teams with (Johnny) Unitas and Lenny Moore. And our careers just about crossed each other. Just was a great player was a hard worker. Was the kind of a guy I think his teammates got to know him personally and his antics and all of the stuff before the rest of the world did. The rest of the world learned that he really was a fun guy to be around, but he was a great tackle, a great player.”

Former Baltimore Colts RB Tom Matte:

“Artie was such an integral part of football in this town…he was an icon in his day and a character all by himself.  He was the personality of the team..he kept us loose…he was a character. He’s great spontaneously coming up with stuff.   The fans loved him because they identified with him…it made it really special how we blent into the city.”

Former Baltimore Colts DB Bruce Laird:

“We lost Art Donovan last night. The world lost a member of the Colts 1958 and 1959 NFL Championships, an NFL Hall of Fame player, a successful businessman, a character, a favorite of David Letterman’s, and an advocate for retired players.”

“I soon came to know Arthur J. Donovan and throughout our friendship of 41 years, he surprised me not only with his sharp wit, but also with his kindness, his generosity, his spirit, his commitment, and his enjoyment of life. Art became a mentor to me and to other Colts, entertaining us with his stories, guiding us with his wisdom and holding us accountable. He treated with respect each person he encountered, whether it was a young fan seeking his autograph, a patron at his liquor store or country club, a teammate or friend, or a secretary in the Colts’ front office.”

Maryland Football Coach Randy Edsall:

“He was a guy full of character. All about hard work, blue-collar.  But also, not taking yourself too seriously.  He loved being around people and wanted to let people know how good Baltimore was…he epitomized what Baltimore was all about. Not only with how he played the game, but how he interacted with people.  How he made people feel.  He could make you laugh.  I remember watching him when I was a youngster.  The enthusiasm he had for playing the game; that, to me, was special.  He stayed here and was involved in the community.  He gave back and made a difference in a lot of people’s lives.  He made you want to root for the Colts because of who he was.”

Colts WR Jimmy Orr, who played with Donovan in the 1961 season:

“He always had a funny story. When you ran into him, you just had to start laughing.  He was always joking around…he was always having fun. He was already big-time and well-known in Baltimore when I got there because he knew everyone.”

Hall of Fame coach and former Colts DB Don Shula:

When I first met him, I only knew him as a teammate. It took awhile to get to know him outside the team…everyone wanted [Art] to tell stories. You could always get him to do that. As a teammate and football player, he was great. As a teammate, everyone wanted to be around [Art].” His personality was always happiness. There was always a smile, a chuckle, and a laugh”


David Letterman, host of “Late Night with David Letterman”

“We always looked forward to Art coming on the show because he would not only tell a great story, he just made you happy he was there. He was always humble and self-effacing, a guy from a different era of professional football who could make anyone laugh. We will miss him.”

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Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

This is an excerpt from a new, 480-page book on the Baltimore Ravens championship run called Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story. If you enjoyed every aspect of their Super Bowl win in New Orleans, you’ll love this book that chronicles how the team overcame adversity and personal tragedies, and used theology sprinkled with faith, family and love on the way to a Baltimore parade fueled by inspiration, dedication, perspiration and yes, a little bit of luck.

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco

This is from Chapter 9, “Injury after insult after implosion – Psychology 2012.” If you enjoy this small snippet you can purchase the book and read another excerpt here. You can also join the Facebook fan page here. The book will be released on May 31st and will be delivered before Father’s Day if purchase before June 5th.

 

AS THE TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED in the preseason, questions lingered, but Harbaugh felt great that the team had survived an offseason without arrests, without incidents, without any member of a veteran team blaming Evans or Cundiff for the New England loss. He inherited a fractured team in 2008, and by the summer of 2012 he was feeling good about the unity of the players and their maturity.

But the obvious questions for fans, media, and The Castle staff were all the same:

Is this the last chance for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Matt Birk?

Will the offensive line hold up?

Can the Ravens win the big one?

Can Joe Flacco win the big one?

As Bisciotti knew on draft day in 2008, and as Newsome, Harbaugh, and everyone else in the organization had experienced the hard way — it always comes back to the quarterback. Was Joe Flacco going to be the franchise quarterback who would win a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens?

Flacco, who played perhaps the best game of his career and threw what would’ve been the pass that took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his last drive in January, somehow went into the 2012 season as the man on the hot seat who had not only turned down a $90 million offer for more than six months, but who had gone on WNST.net & AM 1570 in April and said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL. As much as Tim Tebow was the darling of ESPN with a seemingly non-stop Jets theme on SportsCenter, Flacco became something of a punch line for a quarterback who could get a team to the playoffs, but somehow was perceived as “not Super Bowl caliber.”

Short of catching his own pass in Foxborough, he literally had done everything he could do to get his team into the Super Bowl and yet the abuse was seemingly endless.

But the game is won on the X’s and O’s and the execution, and Flacco knew this. Cameron and Flacco had talked about more passing, more shotgun formations, and more pressure on defenses, but over the summer of 2012 it became clear the Ravens would become more of a personalized offense for No. 5. If the Ravens were offering Flacco $90 million dollars, they’d need to trust him to earn that money. He loved the tempo of the no-huddle offense and loved that it allowed him to dictate to the defense both personnel and pace.

“What quarterback wouldn’t want to run the no-huddle or fast-paced offense?” Flacco said. “Let’s be honest, it’s more fun to play quarterback when you do that. We like the pace we’re running on offense right now, but it’s a work in progress. We’ve done OK, and we’ve played pretty quick. But, we know we can play better, and we will play faster as we get into it more.”

Harbaugh endorsed this ideological move from being a team that always allowed its defense to cut loose while always seeming to fear the worst from the offense — trying to utilize the clock, run the ball, and be more conservative. “We’ve talked about the no-huddle [offense] since Joe’s [Flacco] rookie season,” Harbaugh said. “He ran it at Delaware and has had success in it when we’ve run it the last few years. He is a key to running it, and he loves it. And, we have the parts for it right now, including the offensive line. We can run the offense very fast, a little fast, slower, and we can huddle. We’re in a good spot right now with how we can run our offense.”

While some of the idiot sports talking heads and media types were constantly flogging Flacco, the people who watch coaches’ film were always impressed with him, using the evidence and residue of four straight playoff appearances and his improving game to shout down the detractors.

“We’ve spent time with Joe [Flacco], and I perceive a change in him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw Flacco play at Audubon High in his hometown of Philadelphia. “He’s won since Day One with the Ravens, but he’s more confident now. They’re confident in him, too, and the improved offense reflects all of that. He can make every throw. He can bring his team from behind. The question becomes, ‘Can they win a Super Bowl with Joe?’ And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’”

Mike Lombardi, who was doing NFL analysis in the summer of 2012 before becoming the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, said “That anyone spent the offseason criticizing [Joe] Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn’t drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn’t make plays. While he doesn’t play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record [45-21] shows it.”

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski spoke out on Flacco’s arm strength and ability to attack opposing defenses. “Arm strength – that’s Flacco’s No. 1 attribute,” Jaws said. “I get so tired of hearing how arm strength is overrated. It’s far more important than people think. He has the strongest arm in the NFL. And he has an aggressive, confident throwing mentality. The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It’s all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.”

Flacco took the responsibility as a personal challenge and something he embraced.

“It’s definitely my offense as a quarterback; it’s my job to get out there and lead these guys and direct them and run the traffic, and get it run the way that I want it to be run,” he said in training camp. “Cam may be running the plays, and I may be controlling certain things on the line depending on what the play is, but the fine details of being a good offense are all of the fine details. And it’s my job to get those correct and that we have everyone on the same page. As long as I’m out there in practice getting it to the games and on game day, as long as I’m doing that and expressing to the receivers, expressing to the running back, and to the offensive line how I feel, and what I see back there and as long as we can get on the same page as that together, then that’s when we’re doing something, and that’s when I’m doing my job.

“You talk about being paid that much money, they don’t do that so that they can go out there to do every job, they do that so they can delegate some jobs onto me. And I can go out there and get it done the way it should be. That’s a big part of being a quarterback. To be able to make sure that everything is running smoothly and everybody sees it the way I see it. And that once we get there on Sunday, we can just react and play. Because we’re all up to speed and we all have the same vision of everything. I think that’s what good quarterbacks are able to do, is to take that and then take a certain play and make it great, just because everyone has a good understanding of that.”

By the beginning of training camp it was very clear that the Ravens and Flacco were at an impasse in negotiating a new contract that would replace the final year of his five-year deal from 2008. Newsome called Bisciotti and said that after tireless conversation with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, there was no way to get a long-term deal and that the Ravens would need to play out the season and consider signing or franchising their star quarterback in 2013.

Bisciotti authorized a final offer – a “bump and roll” contract that gave Flacco a $1 million per year bonus if he won a Super Bowl and $2 million per year for the six years of the deal if he had won two Super Bowls. It would’ve been a raise that stayed on the books for the life of the deal. The average salary number was $16.7 million per year on the Ravens’ base offer, which would’ve made Flacco the fourth-highest paid quarterback behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Flacco was essentially turning down $90 million because he was rejecting the notion that he was the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.

Linta and Flacco once again turned it down the week before training camp opened.

Bisciotti was flustered, wanting to get the deal done and ran into Flacco in the cafeteria in Owings Mills during the first week of training camp and summoned the quarterback to his office upstairs.

“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”

They spent 45 minutes with the door closed.

“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!’ ”

Flacco was nonplussed. “I really don’t care about my critics,” he bluntly told the Ravens owner.

Bisciotti was exasperated. “I don’t understand it. Joe, don’t you think you’d play better with a clear head and having this contract behind you?” he continued. “You won’t have to answer questions from anybody, and you can just focus on playing and winning the Super Bowl.”

Flacco said it again. “Steve, I appreciate the offer, but I really don’t care about the media, critics, any of it. I’ve gotta trust my agent, and he doesn’t want any incentives in contracts. And I’ve gotta leave it to him.”

Bisciotti reasoned that until they won a Super Bowl together neither one would get that ultimate respect they desired. “I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Flacco wasn’t upset or emotional, as is his custom. He simply smiled and said he was going to play out the year. Bisciotti said, “Well, I tried,” as he shook Flacco’s hand. “Then go out and put a few rings on my desk and get what you think you deserve.”

“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!’ ”

Flacco remembers the conversation vividly. “Yeah, he couldn’t get over it,” Flacco said. “He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!’ I told him I knew what I was doing and my price wasn’t getting cheaper. I saw his point of view but I also thought that I was right. I’m a little bit of a hard head.”

Flacco believed the market always get set by the next elite quarterback that signs and the price always goes up if you perform. “It wasn’t a bad offer but I felt like I could do better if I waited,” he said. Like his adversary in this $100 million negotiation, he had gone to the Bisciotti school of downside management.

“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. The downside here would’ve been a catastrophic injury or a bad 2012 season on the field. “If I got hurt, I got hurt,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”

Flacco said he turned the tables on Bisciotti: “I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ – ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.’ ”

Flacco figured he was still only making his base of $6.5 million in 2012 no matter what. The Ravens weren’t ripping up his deal. It was an extension. And there’s always a new “going rate” for top quarterbacks.

“I was actually glad that he called me up to talk about it because it was a cool conversation to have,” Flacco said. “Even though we weren’t agreeing it was a great conversation. It’s one of those talks that grows a relationship, I think.

“Hey, I tried to throw him a bone and save him some money.”

 

To purchase Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story, click here.

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