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

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

Posted on 28 June 2010 by Rex Snider

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I’m not so sure.

As the world now knows, Michael Vick celebrated his 30th birthday with a BIG BASH at a Virginia Beach nightclub, on Thursday night. It was promoted and advertised to the general public, via Facebook, Twitter and informal means.
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While some people might think that hosting parties and momentous celebrations are an expressed inclusion of our freedoms, many of us also realize that such events are an invitation to more than just dancing, drinking and eating birthday cake.

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

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

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

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

When is the last time this guy did something DUMB or ill-advised in a social setting?
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Good luck finding such an incident. You’ll likely search for days and still never find any smoking guns. And, there is a very plausible reason behind striking out on any quest in finding dirt on Peyton Manning – HE KNOWS BETTER.

Peyton Manning is aware of his image, reputation and obligation to an array of different people. The list includes …..
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His Team
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His Wife
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His Business Partners
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His Family’s Name
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I’m sure you see my point – even if you disagree. But, the names go beyond Peyton Manning. I’m confident this list of guys will not be arrested, accused of criminal conduct or attending a party where another attendee is SHOT, in 2010 ….. Drew Brees, Derek Jeter, Steve Nash, Donovan McNabb, Andy Roddick, Albert Pujols, Hines Ward, Tim Duncan, Jeff Gordon, Tom Brady, Joe Flacco …..

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

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

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

Hey, it’s accurate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we sit here today, Michael Vick has problems. He might not face any legal sanctions with his Probation Officer. But, I think that everything else is in limbo. I’d bet my HOUSE that a certain group of individuals are angry as HELL. They’ve attached themselves to Michael Vick and he has let them down. Of course, the most important one is obvious …..
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However, you can also include Jeffrey Lurie, Andy Reid, Tony Dungy and Arthur Blank. Each of them went to bat for him, helped him or had a HUGE part in giving him this most recent chance to make a living as a member of the National Football League.

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

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

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

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

Thursday’s incident is a loud, distinct message to one of Michael Vick’s former endorsers, as if they have really considered resurrecting his marketability …..
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You can bet the folks in Beaverton, Oregon, are thinking one thing …. “MIKE AIN”T WORTH THE RISK.” And, if Nike is scared off, so is McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Visa and Under Armor. Like humans, corporations are known to forgive and reconcile, but they arguably take far less chances than people do.

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

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

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

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

They know what they need to know.

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

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

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

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

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Thursday's PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

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Thursday’s PM Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 01 April 2010 by Chris Bonetti

Suggested Reading

WNST.net: “Wigginton has 2 hit, 2 RBI in Orioles win.” Jake Arrieta, who’ll start this season at Triple-A Norfolk, tossed four innings and allowed two runs on five hits while striking out four in the Birds 4-3 win over Tampa today in Port Charlotte.  Tomorrow’s game in Tampa against the Yankees will be shown on ESPN starting at 1:05pm.

WNST.net: Glenn Clark was at the Donte Stallworth Introduction Press Conference today.  You can hear it all live in the Buy-a-Toyota.com Audio Vault.

SI.com:  It’s April Fools Day.  Here’s George Plimpton’s, “The Curious Case of Sidd Finch.” I can still remember my Dad telling me the story and reading it for the first time.  Awesome stuff.

SI.com: Senior Baseball Writer Tom Verducci, like myself a Seton Hall Preparatory School alumnus, give us his, “Top 10 for ’10: What I’m most looking forward to this season.” Rookies Jason Heyward of the Braves and the Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg are Tom’s #1 and #2 storylines respectively.  My take on that… hmmm not sure.

FanHouse: Ed Price compiles an incredible list of, “Baseball’s Best Promotions of 2010,” while offering his own one liners that make the giveaways sound even more ridiculous than they already are.  Some favorites: “Orioles, April 11th – Plush Chick-Fil-A cows. Mooo rhymes with booo.”  “Reds, April 24th – Grow your own pot of Great American Ball Park turf.” Tim Lincecum doesn’t need it, thank you.”  “White Sox, Sept. 17th – Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day. Green White Sox caps given away. Ozzie O’Guillen throws out the first pitch.” “Nationals, Sept. 24th – Team photo and “early bird” 2011 schedule. Because it’s always better for Nats fans to look ahead.”  It’s a long list.

CBSSportsline.com: Breaking News here late… more “behavior” issues for the NFL.  “Browns’ Rogers bust at airport for loaded gun in luggage.” Good.  That’s good.

Deadspin.com:  “Last night’s Winner: Newark, NJ,” I’d just like to say… good for you, Newark, NJ.

Video of the Day

Kevin Garnett thinks Kevin Durant is, “Michael f*cking Jordan.”  Yikes not for the kids!  I don’t think his tone was complimentary there.  KG was clearly not happy with his team (and the refs!) giving up 37 points, including 15-15 FT shooting, to Durant on the parquet.

Tweets of the Day

The Nasty One himself, Nestor Aparicio – WNST

Nestor: Never ceases to amaze me that #Capitals have grown fan base like this. The sea of red here in D.C. is a marvel! #Ovechkin #Caps

Comcast Morning Show Producer, Glenn Clark – WNST

GMC: By the way, Greivis #Vasquez WAS officially announced as Bob #Cousy Award winner-nation’s top point guard. #Terps

Live from the Donte Stallworth Press Conference at 1 Winning Drive today, Glenn Clark – WNST

#Stallworth: “I’ve become a better decision maker”…”making one bad decision can snowball into a whole terrible incident.” #Ravens

The Sporting News Senior College Basketball Writer, Mike DeCourcey – tsnmike

Can’t imagine a better way to spend 90 minutes than watching “The Street Stops Here.” What an impressive film. If it’s rerun, don’t miss.

CBS College Basketball Analyst, Seth Davis – SethDavisHoops

Worst AD in America? Holy Cross’s Richard Regan Jr. fired coach Sean Kearney after ONE season. Since Regan hired him, he should resign too.

FoxSports.com Senior College Basketball Writer, Jeff Goodman – goodmanonfox

Wake Forest’s Al-Farouq Aminu has declared for the NBA Draft AND will hire an agent.

New York Newsday New York Knicks Beat Writer, Alan Hahn – alanhahn

Either the BlazerDancers are unquestionably loaded with nines or this has already been a looong road trip.

ESPN Personality, Skip Bayless – RealSkipBayless

Rams should take Suh, then hope Colt there top of 2nd. Bradford little better than Colt, but Suh much better than Sam. Colt tough leader.

ESPN NFL Insider, Adam Schefter – Adam_Schefter

Herm Edwards on NFL Live suggested 49ers trade for Donovan McNabb AND Brandon Marshall. And they still would have a leftover 1st-rd pick!

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Ravens 2010 Offseason – To Spend or Not To Spend?

Posted on 13 February 2010 by Alex Thomas

As the 2010 NFL offseason moves forward, the Baltimore Ravens, like the other 31 teams in the NFL, are looking to improve their team through the free agent market.

With an uncapped year looming, free agency as we know it has been turned on its ear. Over 200 players who were originally slated to be Unrestricted Free Agents are now Restricted Free Agents under the current collective bargaining agreement. Obviously, this could hamper the Ravens’ ability to address their needs through the free agent market.

Sure, owners may use this uncapped year to rid themselves of some big salaries, but the Ravens are not in a position to go out and get one of those big name/big dollar free agents.

For example, if you think the Ravens are going to sign Julius Peppers, I have a purple unicorn that I’ll sell you on the cheap.

For starters, let’s all agree that the Ravens have three main areas of concern: wide receiver, tight end, and a defensive upgrade (either a pass rusher or a defensive back).

It’s no secret that the Ravens’ secondary struggled at times last year. Sometimes coverages were blown, but many times mistakes in the front seven (i.e. lack of a pass rush) left corners and safeties vulnerable. If the Ravens add another pass rusher to complement Suggs, that would take a lot of pressure off of the defensive backs to have to cover receivers for long periods of time.

And if you go back and look at the tape, especially toward the end of the season, the Ravens secondary made some significant improvements in every facet of the game. Greg Mattison and the coaching staff did a better job of scheming and making mid-game adjustments, and the players themselves put forth a better overall effort as far as tackling and coverage. Frankly, they just looked more focused.

But most importantly, they improved as a unit despite the slew of injuries. I guess the emergence of Lardarius Webb certainly didn’t hurt either.

This may be unpopular in some circles, but the DB position is probably not the Ravens’ main concern in this year’s free agent market.

And it shouldn’t be.

Defensive back talent is at a premium in the league, and teams tend to overpay for tenured veterans at that position (see also the Dominique Foxworth signing last year). The Ravens should choose to address that position in the draft, and probably will not do so until the later rounds.

The Ravens should also choose to address the tight end position in the upcoming draft instead of the free agent market. This year’s wide receiver class is not as deep as it has been in years past, and the Ravens are more likely to get a game-changing tight end at #25 than a top-notch wide receiver at that draft spot. Dez Bryant won’t fall that far, and after him, I wouldn’t waste a first-round pick on Golden Tate and the like.

As far as pass rushers go, it would be nice to have Julius Peppers on the roster.

It would also be nice if I didn’t have to pay taxes.

Peppers is simply out of the Ravens price range and is an unrealistic option at this point.

Richard Seymour? Pass. Too old.

Jason Taylor? Pass. See above.

Kyle Vanden Bosch? Eh…tempting. But he’s 31 and his stats took a dive this past year. Maybe due to injury, but maybe he’s entering the November of his career. Pass.

Aaron Kampman would be a good pick up…two years ago. His recently torn ACL makes him a liability.

If I were Ozzie Newsome, I would make sure that I re-sign Justin Bannan and try to address this position in the draft as well. Penn State’s Jared Ordick could still be there at #25.

The current free agent wide receiver list looks like a Christmas wish list if you’re a Ravens fan. But we have to look at the big picture here.

Miles Austin? Vincent Jackson? Too pricey. Both will probably end up re-signing with their current teams.

Brandon Marshall? A wonderful talent, but a locker room cancer. I like to call him T.O. Jr. for short, mainly because B.M. doesn’t really register appropriate with most people.

All of the previously listed free agents  just don’t fit the mold for what the Ravens need. Whether it’s a financial matter or a matter of having the proper personnel in place, the cupboard looks bare in the free agency market for the Ravens at these positions.

Except for Malcom Floyd…yeah, the other tall athletic guy from the Chargers.

He fits the profile of what the Ravens are looking for: young, tall, athletic, and fast. And he won’t be nearly as expensive as his counterpart Jackson.

Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

The Sun’s Mike Preston wrote a great column on Malcom Floyd a few days ago, and I agree with him. Floyd fits the “right player, right price” model that has worked so well for the Ravens over the past decade.

At the end of the day, this is all just speculation. There isn’t a potion or tonic to magically fix all of the Ravens’ problems over night, or over one off-season for that matter. And nobody has a crystal ball that can tell us exactly how the draft will shake out, despite what Todd McShay and Mel Kiper may think.

But, it’s certainly fun to talk about. If nothing else, the pending uncapped year will give us something to think about besides the weather forecast.

At least until pitchers and catchers report.

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ReedWhiff

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Ravens 30 Broncos 7 (The NOT SLIPPING THROUGH OUR HANDS Game)

Posted on 03 November 2009 by Derek Arnold

ReedWhiff

From the game’s very first snap, you got the feeling that the Ravens were sick of it. Sick of letting near victories slip through their fingers in the final minutes of games. Sick of putting the game in the hands of the officials. Sick of hearing about how their defense had “gotten old” and was no longer a dominating unit. And just plain sick – of – losing.

And so it was, on that first snap, that Jarret Johnson came unblocked from Kyle Orton’s front side and blew him up with an 8-yard sack that was very reminiscent of Bart Scott-on-Baby Ben to Ravens fans. From that moment on, Orton NEVER looked comfortable in the game, and after a few more nasty hits on him by the rejuvenated B’More defense, he was pussy-footing in the pocket and you knew that this game was over, even if the scoreboard was yet to reflect the dominance the Ravens had brought to the table.

Double-J set the tone, but plenty of other Ravens’ defenders would soon get in on the act as well. Ed “Purple Blur” Reed was a man possessed, flying all over the field like the #20 of old, knocking Broncos’ helmets off, forcing fumbles, and nearly blocking punts. Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata were collapsing the pocket more effectively than they have all season. Terrell Suggs and Trevor Pryce were beating Denver’s tackles like rented mules. Rookie Dannell Ellerbe played well, and even the much maligned Chris Carr got on the stat sheet with a sack late in the game.

Speaking of Reed’s near-miss on the punt, though – we could watch every football game, on every level from Pop Warner to the NFL…and NEVER again see a punt go right through a players’ arms as Mitch Berger’s 2nd attempt did to Reed on Sunday. Add that to Jarret Johnson and Terrell Suggs BOTH dropping sure interceptions (and likely pick-6’s) and Ravens fans started to get a foreboding feeling that, despite the fire our club was playing with…it just was not meant to be our day. Add on the ridiculous non-call that led to Derrick Mason’s tantrum and subsequent 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, and the phantom pass interference on Dominique Foxworth (which the official 5 yards from the play did NOT see fit to penalize, yet somehow the gentleman trailing the play 30 or more yards away did, and IS ALLOWED TO – seriously, how is this possible?) and it seemed inevitable that the Ravens would again lose by the skin of their teeth to an undefeated team.

However, this was not to be a repeat of Minnesota. Rookie Lardarius Webb proved what we all suspected, that he SHOULD BE the kick returner for the Ravens, by breaking a 95-yard kickoff return touchdown on the first play of the second half, and in doing so turned the Ravens’ tenuous 6-0 lead into a much more poignant 13-0 version.

In the end, the good guys in purple would never trail, as all 3 phases of the game came to play for Baltimore, and a win in which the entire team played a part was the result.

Despite struggling early against the Broncos’ #1-scoring defense, the Ravens continued to stick to their game plan of short passes and runs to all parts of the field, and wore down Mike Nolan’s strong unit in the second half. This was a bit of a pleasant surprise, as the Broncos had dominated every second half they had been involved in through their first six contests.

Joe Flacco cares not for your prior successes. Flacco completed his final 14 passes, including each of the 10 he attempted in the final two quarters. The Ravens were 6/8 on 3rd downs in the second half, triple the amount of conversions Denver had allowed in the entire season to that point. Joe Cool finished a very cool 20/25 for 175 yards and one beautiful touchdown strike to Derrick Mason that sealed the game with 13 minutes to play. Flacco displayed his continually improving elusiveness and pocket presence, which was on full display as he dumped the ball off to Ray Rice for positive yardage even has he had All-World Safety Brian Dawkins hanging off of him like a Christmas ornament. His 80% completion percentage tied him with Elvis Grbac for best in a single game in Ravens history.

Ray Rice gained 84 yards on 23 carries, and Le’Ron “PAIN TRAIN” McClain got into the action in the 4th quarter, adding 3 carries for 31 yards, as the Ravens became the first team in 2009 to break the 100-yard barrier against the Rocky Mountain Horsies. Willis McGahee had 3 touches for 3 total yards, and at this point it just looks like Willis is in slow motion after watching Ray Rice for the past several weeks.

It wasn’t just the aforementioned Webb getting the job done on special teams. I’d be remiss if I didn’t give big props to Sam Koch, Steve Hauschka (3/3 FGs, several kickoffs in the end zone), Prescott Burgess (4 ST tackles), and the rest of the units that so impressively held Denver return man Eddie Royal in check. Royal, who scored TDs on both kickoff and punt returns a few weeks back against San Diego, had no room on either type of return Sunday, as the Broncos were consistently pinned inside their own 30 yard line.

And what of Mr. Brandon Marshall, who was supposedly going to give the Ravens’ secondary all sorts of fits, and have flashbacks of Sidney Rice and Vincent Jackson haunting the dreams of Ravens fans? B-Marsh had all of 4 catches for 24 yards, and short-armed several (T.O.-Style) once he realized the nature of the beast that he was on the field with. Also, as we alluded to here last week, Kyle Orton is NOT Brett Favre, Carson Palmer, or Philip Rivers. The Ravens put out the blueprint on how to beat Denver – unfortunately, their next opponent is the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Ravens must build off yesterday’s win, as they now face a Cincinnati Bengals team who is atop the AFC North standings, and who will be coming off the bye of their own. That Denver-Pit game will have much more significance to us here in Charm City if the Ravens can go into the Jungle and exact some revenge on Marvin Lewis & Co.

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Ravens vs. Broncos

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Broncos (6-0) @ Ravens (3-3)

Posted on 30 October 2009 by Derek Arnold

Ravens vs. Broncos

Ravens vs. Horseteeth Stats

Things certainly don’t get any easier for the Ravens coming off their bye. After facing 5-0 Minnesota in Week 6, our purple heroes now get 6-0 Denver in Week 8. Oh, and they will receive no competitive advantage from the schedule, since the Broncos too, are coming off their bye week. Realistically, the Ravens need to win 7 of their final 10 games to have a shot at the playoffs. It all starts now, and to have any prayer, the Ravens need to hold serve at M&T Bank Stadium. By winning their final 5 home games, the team will be able to finish double digit wins with perceived “gimme” games in Cleveland (Week 10) and Oakland (Week 17). Short of running the table at home though, the Ravens will likely face must-win scenarios in places like Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay.

The Denver Broncos, who were supposed to be pushovers in 2009, after one of the most tumultuous offseasons ever seen by any franchise, have instead come out of the gates gangbusters. First year head coach Josh McDaniels’ squad is already sporting a comfortable 3-game lead in the AFC West, and they would own the #1 seed in the AFC, were the season only 6 weeks long. They’ve remained undefeated by being surprisingly efficient on offense, and by featuring the league’s stingiest defense.

Quarterback Kyle Orton, acquired via trade for Jay Cutler from the Chicago Bears, has been a huge surprise. Expected to struggle (based on his 4 non-remarkable seasons in the Windy City), Orton has instead flourished, passing for 9 touchdowns to go with only 1 interception, which came on an end-of-half Hail Mary toss. His QB rating of 100.1 is nearly 25 points higher than his career average. Orton’s 2009 is reminiscent of Chad Pennington’s 2008 – a “game manager plus” who makes a few plays every game, and is extremely stingy with the ball. Of course, the Ravens had no problem making Mr. Pennington look quite pedestrian last year, but so far nobody is confusing the 2009 Ravens defense with the 2008 version.

Orton Kyle Show

Orton’s weapon of choice is wideout Brandon Marshall, subject of many trade rumors here in B’More last Spring/Summer. The disgruntled Marshall has put his gripes aside and hauled in 29 passes for 332 yards and 4 TDs, all tops on the team. At 6’4″ 230, Marshall is just the kind of WR that has been giving the Ravens’ undersized cornerbacks fits all year, and Sunday threatens to be no different. Not only can Marshall go up and get the ball, he is hell to bring down once it’s in his hands. If the Ravens’ secondary can’t make open field tackles, this one could be ugly. Tight end Tony Scheffler is no slouch either, and he is coming on strong after a slow start. Scheffler had 10 catches for 146 yards over Denver’s last two games.

Rookie Knowshon Moreno and veteran Correll Buckhalter share the carries for Denver’s 7th-ranked rushing attack. Normally, we wouldn’t lose much sleep over these two, but with the Ravens allowing back-to-back 100-yard rushers, things are feeling a bit different in Charm City. The Ravens are healthy on defense at the moment, but need players like Kelly Gregg and Dawan Landry to be more active in stopping the run, lest Moreno and Buckhalter find some holes early and make things even easier for Brandon Marshall down the field.

Keep an eye out for #21 on the Ravens, Lardarius Webb, who has been getting more reps with the first-team defense in practice.

Former Ravens defensive coordinator and 49ers head coach Mike Nolan has taken over the defense in the Mile High city, and has his unit playing well above expectations. Some guy named Elvis Dumervil leads the NFL with 10.0 sacks, just two shy of his career high through only six games. With the Ravens’ offensive tackle situation suddenly re-muddied (Jared Gaither missed practice Thursday with an apparent setback to his neck injury recovery), Joe Flacco may again find himself under duress. Michael Oher stepped in admirably in Gaither’s absence, and would go at LT again if needed. Dumervil, however, lines up all over the field, and RT Marshal Yanda will also have to be on top of his game.

D.J. Williams leads the team in tackles from his inside linebacker position in Nolan’s 3-4, and one of the all-time great safeties of the game, former Eagle Brian Dawkins, roams the secondary along with perennial All-Pro Champ Bailey. Flacco, who threw “red zone” interceptions in back-to-back games against Cincy and New England, before his 2 TD 0 INT performance at the Metrodome, will need to be at his best against a Denver defense that features a lot of pre-snap movement and blitzes from everywhere. Against Pittsburgh’s similar scheme last season, Flacco struggled mightily. The Broncos may not have the big name personnel, or the defensive tradition that Pittsburgh does, but they have so far made up for it in execution. The Ravens face Green Bay, along with Pittsburgh twice, down the stretch, so there is no better time than now for Joe Cool to start executing against the 3-4.

Budding NFL superstar Ray Rice saw his lead in the league’s all-purpose yards from scrimmage category eclipsed by Adrian Peterson during the bye, but he will have plenty of chances to climb back on top this week. Willis McGahee has been relegated to afterthought in the B’More offense, while Le’Ron “Pain Train” McClain can only think back fondly on his days of double-digit touches. Rice will have to earn his yards, as the Broncos haven’t allowed more than 76 yards on the ground to any opposition running back this year.

During the bye, the Ravens had plenty of problems they needed to correct. Perhaps they even saw that some of those problems are not correctable with the present roster personnel. If the latter is the case, one can only hope that they recognized that they are no longer a defensive, run-first, grind-it-out type football team. They feature one of the most dynamic offensive weapons in the NFL in Rice, and a quarterback who is coming into his own in his second season. Flacco has come up just short on potential last minute game-winning drives in two of the last 3 games. It would serve the Ravens well to come out on offense picking up right where they left off in the 4th quarter in Minnesota, when they scored 21 points in the game’s final 8 minutes, rather than trying to establish a running game and play field-position with the Broncos. Go up early and make the Broncos throw the ball – don’t let them eat up the clock and keep Joe Cool and Ray Ray Jr. (anybody got a real nickname for Rice yet?) on the sidelines.

Denver has never won in B’More. Sunday can not, and WILL not be the day.

Everyone tilt your head back with me and take a big ol’ swig of that purple Kool-Aid. With a victory Sunday, we can go ahead and refill our cups. Should the opposite happen, we may well find that the fridge is empty.

Ravens 24 Broncos 13

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Blog & Tackle: How I see Broncos-Ravens

Posted on 30 October 2009 by Chris Pika

This Sunday’s matchup in M&T Bank Stadium features a pair of clubs going in opposite directions so far in a complete switch of where predictions had them for 2009.

The Ravens, expected to be one of the elite teams in the AFC, are sitting at 3-3 after a 3-0 start. Denver, expected to be one of the worst teams in the conference after off-season turmoil, is 6-0 and arguably one of the best teams in the NFL so far.

Both teams have had a week off, and the Ravens are back home. Adjustments made, personnel tweaked and self-scouting accomplished, the Ravens need this victory to stop a slide that has threatened a promising season.

(Remember that we will have our weekly Purple Haze chat this Sunday at 7 pm until halftime of the Sunday Night game to discuss Ravens-Broncos and the rest fo the NFL. Click here for info, and to see our previous chats).

Offensively, the Ravens been fearless, and that’s not a term used often when talking about Baltimore football in the 2000s. There have been a lot of positives in that phase of the game in 2009, and it will be the offense that decides Sunday’s contest.

RB Ray Rice has become a key cog in the Baltimore attack. He leads the team in rushing yards, averaging 6 yards per carry, and also leads the Ravens in receptions (second in receiving yards) with 33 catches for 325 yards. His versatility has allowed him to be the feature back and also be the safety valve for QB Joe Flacco, as evidenced by his 16 rushing first downs and 15 receiving first downs, the most-balanced stats on the squad. The 31 total first downs lead the Ravens, nine more than WR Derrick Mason.

In the last two games, Flacco has completed more passes for 0-9 yards (14 each game) than he did combined for passes of 10+ yards (6 vs. Cincinnati and 13 at Minnesota). In other words, defenses are allowing short passes to Rice and others in order to clamp down on the receivers downfield.

That’s where the run game has to take over for Baltimore against Denver. The Broncos, under defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, have not allowed any opponent to run for more than 100 yards as a team this season. Rice, Willis McGahee and even seldom-used Le’Ron McClain will have to run well to control the clock and the line of scrimmage to allow Flacco to run play-action and Ravens OC Cam Cameron to dictate play calls regardless of down and distance. Denver hasn’t allowed a third down conversion in the second half of the last four games, which is the longest streak since at least 1992.

The Ravens have not run for 100 yards as team or scored in the first quarter in the last two games — both trends have to reverse this week. Denver leads the NFL in scoring defense (11 points) and third-down percentage allowed (26.9 percent). The matchup to watch will be the Ravens offensive line vs. NFL sack leader OLB/DE Elvis Dumervil (10 sacks).

Baltimore’s defense will be tested once again this week by a quality offensive unit. QB Kyle Orton has thrown just one interception and RB Correll Buckhalter leads the NFL in average yards per rush at 6.7. Denver has the lowest percentage of rushes for negative yardage and are seventh in rushing yards per game (132.7).

The good piece of news for the Ravens here is that Denver runs up the middle more than to any other spot (61 plays) — much different than the outside runners that have given Baltimore a lot of trouble this season. Also, when the Broncos throw, it’s primarily short (less than 15 yards). Denver has 27 long-distance pass attempts as opposed to 166 from 1-15 yards.

When Orton passes, his main target is the reformed WR Brandon Marshall, with 29 catches for 332 yards and four TDs. One other person to watch for is TE Tony Scheffler, who leads all NFL TEs in yards per catch (13.8) since coming into the league in 2006. He has 18 catches for 217 yards to date.

Believe it or not, despite the effectiveness of the Broncos offense so far, the Ravens average more offensive yards per game (393.2 to 368.7) than Denver.

Special teams will be crucial. The Ravens’ switch to Ladarius Webb has helped with Webb’s 25.6 return average. Baltimore needs a shorter field to work with on offense, and Webb’s returns have helped there. On the other side, Eddie Royal returned a kickoff and a punt for TDs at San Diego. Baltimore will be very careful in their decisions to kick to, or away from, Royal during the course of the game.

PREDICTION: Another mirror image in gameplans this week. Both teams will try to stop the run, and put the game in the hands of the quarterbacks. Flacco shredded Minnesota in the fourth quarter in the last game, and the wraps might be off again this week. Can the Ravens find the right combo against a tough defense? If the Ravens can keep Dumervil at bay by getting decent run yards and running play-action, they have a pretty good shot at winning. Baltimore is extremely tough at home, and Denver will go against a defense that feels like they are against the wall. It won’t be easy, but the Ravens will pull out a high-scoring affair late on a Steve Hauschka field goal. Ravens 31, Broncos 28.

To follow Chris Pika (BlogAndTackle) on Twitter, click here or go to: http://www.twitter.com/BlogAndTackle.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (10/30/09)

Posted on 30 October 2009 by Jack McManus

9:49-

Andy Behrens is on to give his weekly fantasy advice. Make sure you check out Andy’s blog to get his in-depth fantasy analysis and positional rankings.

9:32-

Yet another caller is on and guarantees a Ravens’ win as well. He will sing with Drew on Monday if the team loses. He also signs “Score, Ravens, Score” for us.

9:26-

Another caller states that the Broncos game is a “must win.” This is because of the “can’t win” games on the schedule. He explains that there is no way the Ravens will defeat the Colts this season.

9:23-

A fan calls in to talk about the Orioles’ decision to decline the option on Melvin Mora. He believes the team made the correct decision in this case. He also expresses his concern regarding the Ravens game this weekend. He does not see how the secondary can contain the Broncos’ passing game.

9:10-

Drew guarantees a Ravens win on Sunday. If they lose he will sing the Broncos’ fight song on Monday morning.

8:53-

Broncos sideline reporter Alan Roach is next up to talk about the Ravens-Broncos game. He explains that the Broncos are winning using a simple style of football. Kyle Orton has thrown only one interception this season and it occurred on a Hail Mary pass. The Broncos also have used all of their offseason acquisition, including Mike Nolan to improved the defense. He next talks about how Josh McDaniels has had the perfect start for a rookie head coach. It began with the last second win over the Bengals in Week 1.  Roach next brings up Brandon Marshall who is a big, strong, and physical wide receiver and could present a huge matchup problem for the Ravens secondary.

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8:38-

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com is on with Drew. He begins by discussing the rumors about the sale of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It appears that these are just that, rumors. He next talks about the Vikings-Packers game. He states that Brett Favre must keep his emotions in check if the Vikings want to win the game. Florio moves on to how the AFC has many teams with middle-of-the-road records this season. He explains that this is normally the case in the NFC, but not this year. He states that the Ravens have the best chance to break out from this group of teams. Florio next describes Vince Young’s situation. Young has gone down a very odd path. His career was derailed one afternoon and he is finally being given the chance.  

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8:12-

It’s time for Cheap Shots from the Bleachers. Glenn starts off by bring up how Hereford High School was cost the Boys’ Cross Country County Championship because of the stitching on one of the runner’s undergarments. The runner finished in fourth place and his disqualification dropped the Bulls into second behind Towson (my school by the way). Glenn states that the officials should tell the runners that they have uniform violations before the race begins. He goes on to say that regardless of the rule, a student should not have to run the race and then be disqualified. Drew also had planned to take a cheap shot about the same event. He adds on that some schools were told that runners had uniform violations. He explains that common sense would make sure that a team is not penalized if it was not checked prior to the race while other teams were.

7:33-

A caller brings up the idea of Peter Angelos moving the Orioles to another city. He agrees with Drew that if the city was promised a new team in a few years (like the Browns) it would be fine. The caller puts some blame on the politicians of the city for not putting pressure on Angelos to field a quality team.

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When Life Gives You Lemons – Read My Blogs …..

Posted on 20 October 2009 by Rex Snider

Stover Would’ve Made It …..

Damn, it felt good to say it. And, as preposterous and pig-headed as it sounds, you know the prospect of Matt Stover, lined up for a 44 yarder, crossed your mind. You envisioned it – DON’T LIE TO ME …..

I’m not sitting here saying “WHAT IF ….”

It’s impractical. But, more than a few Baltimore football loyalists have been wondering how Steve Hauschka would fare when finally fronted with a crucial game-deciding field goal attempt.

You’ve been to Training Camp – it’s easy to put the ball between the uprights on a steamy summer morning, in Westminster.

You’ve also been to the pre-game festivities, at M&T Bank Stadium, when kickers display their version of batting practice homeruns, with 60 yard field goals.

You’ve watched Steve Hauschka convert extra points and “low-pressure” field goals without much regard for his game breaking ability.

You waited for Sunday’s game to get here. It’s HERE. And, now, the Ravens have another thing to worry about, because everybody has this uneasy feeling in their stomach. One thing will cure it – getting another chance and making it.

Until that time arrives, we’re gonna allow lots of crazy things to cross our minds.

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Steve Bisciotti- Wasting Money ??? Say It Isn’t So …..

For years, we’ve been told the Ravens owner is a guy who’s made his money the old fashioned way – he’s earned it. We know the real-life accounts …..

A modest childhood, in Anne Arundel County …..

Working his way through school, including Salisbury State University …..

Starting his own business, with little more than an insatiable desire to succeed …..

Steve Bisciotti isn’t living the American Dream. HE IS THE AMERICAN DREAM.

Right?

Every person living within the borders of this great country knows the economy has truly struggled over the past couple years. Times are tough – and we’re subsidizing some companies, while bailing-out others.

Whenever I see a corporation that has landed in the lap of dysfunction and desperation, I’ve wondered “Hmmm …. How would Steve Bisciotti feel about this?” Does he support the free rides given to GM, Chrysler and AIG?

I’ve never observed Steve Bisciotti as a guy who wastes money. By all accounts, he appears to be a MONEY MAKING MACHINE – and correct in virtually every business decision.

But, now, I’m not so sure. In fact, I’m wondering if Maryland’s Most Notable Gazillionaire is feeling duped by his staff’s decision to give Domonique Foxworth enough money to buy 540 brand spanking new Corvettes?

Yes, that would be Domonique “The 27 Million Dollar Man” Foxworth …..

The return on investment? Well, he really looks good while chasing guys – who have a football in their hands, huh? Actually, Foxworth wasn’t the most pedestrian member of the Defensive Secondary, on Sunday, but he’s still done very little to earn that new contract.

In all fairness, the Ravens owner and his staff have made good signings, as well …..

But, I do wonder what “Bank Bags” Bisciotti is thinking these days …..

The Return of “Little Bill” on Nickelodeon

If you’re a parent of a son or daughter under 25 years old, you certainly remember the hit Nickelodeon cartoon, “Little Bill.” It featured storylines from a book series, by Bill Cosby.

Well, I’m happy to report I’ve started writing the screenplay for “Little Bill – 2,” which I will be submitting for Mr. Cosby’s review. I plan on keeping it elementary and consistent with the preceding version.

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In “Little Bill – 2,” our main character, Little Bill, played by John Harbaugh, imitates his hero, Big Bill, played by Bill Belichick. And, with normal human instinct, Little Bill repeats his role model’s moves, mannerisms and quotes.

Look for Harbs, as he continues coining his trademark Belichick bytes …..

“They scored more points ….”

“We need to do a better job ….”

“We will work hard ….”

Thanks, coach. Can we quote you on that? By the way, it seems more credible for coaches with fists full of Super Bowl rings to do things as they please. Whereas, the coaches who are still learning the job and the town, itself, might want to be a little more endearing and cooperative.

When the Patriots lose a couple games (which hardly happens), the fans can rely on the team’s record of FOUR SUPER BOWL appearances, in eight seasons, as evidence that things will be okay. Bill Belichick has the “cred” to bluntly suggest “don’t worry about it” in very few words.

Where did John Harbaugh develop such a resume’ ???

He hasn’t …..

Thus, when reporters and fans ask for some reassurance or hopeful outlook, would it be too hard a task to elaborate a little bit? In fairness to Coach Harbaugh, I’m not referring to the post-game pressers, when emotions still run high.

But, the dramatic three word clichés, as a formidable response to a plausible question, a day later, are not acceptable. Oh, they might be allowed, per policy. But, it’s as unacceptable as the efforts of some players.

So, repeat after me ……

BIG BILL
LITTLE BILL

BIG BILL
LITTLE BILL

See the difference ???

Well, well, well …..

In fairness to Ravens Head Coach, John Harbaugh, his former D-Coordinator – turned Head Coach of the New York Jets, hasn’t been spewing his very quotable and borderline pompous remarks lately …..

I guess that’s what a ‘lil bit of losing can do for you, huh?

Damn, it was getting to the point where I was starting to avoid another guy named “Rex.”

What’s Sexy-Rexy gonna do if his team keeps doing stupid things, or if young Mark San-CHISE keeps throwing strikes to players in the wrong colored jerseys?

If things don’t work in the Big Apple, I would think Mr. Bisciotti would borrow some money from Domonique Foxworth, and lure his former D-Coordinator back to Bawlmer, for a promotion to D-Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach/Official Team Spokesman …..

Seriously, can you imagine this exchange …..

Reporter – “Coach, what happened out there today ???”

Rex Ryan – “They scored more points.” “We will circle the wagons.” “We are men.” “By the way, that’s a good question.” “Our players are tough.” “Play Like A Raven.” “Thanks for the good question.”

Nah – NOT A CHANCE !!!!

The Trade Deadline Arrives …..

We will finish this off in the spirit of all good Orioles fans …..

To recognize the looming NFL’s trade deadline, I’d like to propose the following possible deals …..

Baltimore Ravens TRADE Frank Walker, Prescott Burgess, the rights to former Raven Dan Cody, a Michael Phelps’ autographed bong and a handpainted portrait of Al Davis on the underbelly of a blue crab ….. to the Oakland Raiders for Nnamdi Asomugha

Baltimore Ravens TRADE Justin Harper, Jason Phillips, Samari Rolle, the rights to former Raven Leon Searcy, an autographed copy of his new novel “Burning Down The House” by Peter Angelos and an unopened suitcase found floating in the inner harbor ….. to the Cincinnati Bengals for Rey Maualuga

Baltimore Ravens TRADE Willis McGahee, the rights to former Raven Chris McAlister, any future rights to Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin, an authentic Anita Marks-Miami Fury jersey and a pair of New York Yankees panties ….. to the New England Patriots for Randy Moss and Steven Gostkowski.

Let The Countdown Begin …..

Without providing any free advertising to other Baltimore radio stations, we have just 19 days until the start of 24/7 Christmas music on one particular affiliate …..

Merry Christmas & Happy Halloween !!!!

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ENOUGH!!! With the Big-Name WR Talk

Posted on 01 September 2009 by Derek Arnold

I had hoped that after Joe Flacco’s 23/28 247 yard performance in just over two quarters on Saturday night, the jibber jabber on Baltimore’s airwaves about the Ravens “needing” a dynamic wide receiver would quiet down at least a bit. Well, we’re now in just the second day of sports talk radio since the game, and it is obvious that those hopes are not even close to coming true.

Without singling out any particular local personality or caller, let’s refute the argument that the only piece missing from making the Ravens the 2009 Super Bowl Champions is a Brandon Marshall/Anquan Boldin type. Let’s also ignore for a moment the ramifications for everything from team chemistry to salary cap to future draft picks that would occur as a result of any hypothetical trade for either of the two aforementioned disgruntled wideouts, and focus on the bigger picture.

More specifically, let’s look at the Super Bowls from the last few years and see if the “game-changing WR makes all the difference” argument holds up.

Super Bowl XLIII

The best two wide receivers in the game, Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, both lined up for the same team. The LOSING team. The Steelers won with their defense and a QB who made plays when he had to. Santonio Holmes, despite his big postseason in 2008, will never be confused with Andre or Calvin Johnson.

Super Bowl XLII

Best WR in the game? Randy Moss. Again, on the LOSING team.

To be fair, the Giants had Plaxico “Shot my Leg Off” Burress, who was a game changer in his own right, but again, the Giants proved that a well designed defense can slow down any passing attack, even one as dynamic as the near 19-0 Patriots.

Super Bowl XLI

Let’s be honest. Yes, the Colts had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, while the Bears had Bernard Berrian and Mushin Muhammed. But this game came down to Rex Grossman vs. Peyton Manning.

Are there any among us who would argue that, had those two QBs switched teams, that the Bears, and not the Colts, would have hoised the Lombardi Trophy?

Pass throwers were the deciding factor in Miami, not pass catchers.

Super Bowl XL

Hines Ward, Antwaan Randle El, Joe Jurivicius, Bobby Engram. Those were the four leading receivers in the game for the Steelers and Seahawks, respectively, and not a single “dynamic game changer” among the group.

Super Bowl XXXIX

Eagles – Terrell Owens

Patriots – ?????; I can’t remember, can you?

Who won that game?

Super Bowl XXXVIII

Panthers – Steve Smith

Patriots – See above. Again, the Patriots came out on top.

I could go on, but is it really necessary?

I’m going to side with my head coach, John Harbaugh, who has stated several times, in several ways, just how I feel about the whole debate:

“We don’t believe in one piece to the puzzle; that you plug one guy in, and all of a sudden you’ve got an offense.”

“I don’t know if [Todd Heap’s play] would end the talk about not having a big-name receiver, but maybe it would cut down on the talk. But it gives you another playmaker in the mix. We can spread the ball around pretty well, and [quarterback Joe Flacco] has proven he can spread it around.”

The second quote speaks to the other part of the argument against selling the farm for a big-name WR, the effect that a healthy Todd Heap, along with an improved offensive line that now includes Matt Birk, Michael Oher, and a more experienced Jared Gaither, will have on the Ravens’ passing game.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – a Brandon Marshall or Anquan Boldin is NOT the fail-safe missing piece keeping the Ravens from their second Super Bowl.

TO, Randy Moss, Andre Johnson, Steve Smith, Greg Jennings, and Larry Fitzgerald have as many Super Bowl rings COMBINED as you and I do.

Enough already.

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Just Say “NO!” to Brandon Marshall

Posted on 28 August 2009 by Derek Arnold

No B. Marsh

Listening to Ravens fans whine on the airwaves lately about the team’s wide receiver situation has been particularly irksome. Never is it worse, though, than when a caller (usually led by a particular noodle-haired sports talk show host in town) practically begs Ozzie Newsome & Co. to sell the farm and go get Denver Broncos WR Brandon Marshall.

Take a look at this video, of Marshall making a mockery of practice this week, and reevaluate your stances please, Anita those of you who think the NFL works like fantasy football.

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/video/20590420/index.html

That’s what you want on your team?

When it comes to Brandon Marshall, just say no.

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