Tag Archive | "Brian Billick"

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Counterpoint: Bordick not amongst Orioles’ best, but I’m fine with induction

Posted on 20 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Upon hearing that former SS Mike Bordick had been elected to the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame Saturday morning, I will admit that at first I thought to myself, “huh?”

But after a few minutes of thinking about it, it struck me that Mike Bordick is a fine choice for what isn’t a particularly significant honor.

Many Baltimore sports fans are particularly disappointed when they look towards the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium and see the name Earnest Byner listed with the young franchise’s best players (Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary); the man who returned football to Charm City (Art Modell) and the players who represented the Baltimore Colts franchise that captivated this city for over 30 years.

Earnest Byner was a marginal contributor for two seasons and an assistant coach for a few years after that. It is well known that Modell wanted to honor Byner and decided the Ring of Honor was the way to do just that.

When Ravens fans in ten years see the names of Ray Lewis, Todd Heap, Jamal Lewis, Chris McAlister, Matt Stover and Brian Billick honored at their “Purple Palace”, Byner’s inclusion will seem out of place at best, but could be somewhat embarrassing when opposing fans visiting town ask “Byner? Why don’t you go ahead and put Kyle Boller up there too?”

The reality of Bordick’s induction to the Orioles Hall of Fame is that the honor itself isn’t significant enough to warrant such opposition. The Orioles honor their greatest players in franchise history by retiring their numbers and featuring them with figures outside Orioles Park at Camden Yards and commemorative signs inside OPACY as well.

As an organization, the O’s do a good job of separating the all-time greats (Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson, Jim Palmer, Earl Weaver, Eddie Murray, Cal Ripken) from those who simply warrant a “thank you” for their time in orange and black (BJ Surhoff, Harold Baines, Rick Dempsey, Mark Belanger).

Make no mistake. Mike Bordick does not deserved to be remembered in the same way as some other Birds who have received Hall of Fame status. Ken Singleton, Boog Powell, Dave McNally, Mike Flanagan and others had a much more significant impact on the franchise than Bordick.

Instead of being featured prominently at The Yard, Bordick will only receive mention on a small Eutaw Street wall plaque. The Orioles will hold their annual luncheon and pre-game ceremony for fans to thank Bordick, then he will mostly be a name on a list.

They’re not trying to compare Bordick to Ripken-even if Bordick was the player to replace the “Iron Man” at shortstop.

With the only criteria for induction being that the player must have played for the team for at least three seasons, Bordick (parts of six seasons) qualifies. He’ll be remembered for his All-Star Game appearance in 200 and a stellar defensive season in 2002. He’ll be remembered by myself as being the piece that brought Melvin Mora to Baltimore from the New York Mets.

For these reasons, I applaud Bordick’s election. It will be nice for me to clap for one of the few players I have enjoyed watching during these dreadful 13 seasons of Orioles baseball.

-G

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Illinois LB Martez Wilson Top Inside Backer in Draft

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Brian Billick

Martez Wilson entered the combine as the top rated MLB prospect, and he backed up the hype with his workout.  Checking in at 6’3 3/4 250 lbs, he ran an eye popping 4.49 40-yard dash.  That time was best among all linebackers, both inside and out.  That speed is also on display when you watch WIlson’s tape – he easily runs with TE’s and receivers up the seam and plays well in man to man pass coverage.  He closes in quickly on the ball carrier and gets from sideline to sideline to make plays all over the field.  Wilson uses his length to his advantage and often gets his long arms on ballcarriers even when engaged by a blocker in the hole.  With that said, his read and react skills will need improvement to take his game to the next level.  He often got drawn in on play action and was easily fooled on misdirection plays.  In the college game, he made up for those false steps with his overall speed and quickness, but that will be magnified and exposed in the NFL.

Martez Wilson has all the physical attributes to be an impact player in the NFL, and he will continue to improve with better coaching and increased film study.  I look for him to be the first ins backer selected in the draft, but probably not until the middle of the 2nd round.

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Ravens Observation: Disappointed in Stallworth

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Brian Billick

In addition to player analysis and specific team needs, I will also try to include 2/3 specific Ravens observations per week.  Please check back here frequently and feel free to post a comment or follow me on twitter @coachbillick.

I was disappointed to see Ravens WR Donte Stallworth rip into the Ravens coaches for “not using me properly”.  I understand that every receiver wants the ball and thinks whatever system the team is running is wrong unless he is the primary focus.  It is also standard operating procedure for a player who is on the market, to lash out at his existing team if he wants other teams to know he is available and interested in leaving.  I get all this.  But Stallworth came to the Ravens under the most severe of circumstance after having been banished from the league after being involved in a vehicular death.  The Ravens took a major risk on signing Stallworth and it would have been nice to see a player, regardless of his current position, show some gratitude to the organization.  He could have accomplished his purpose without venting to Peter King about his under productivity.

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Ravens Finalize Extension With Harbaugh

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Ravens Finalize Extension With Harbaugh

Posted on 14 February 2011 by Glenn Clark

Baltimore Ravens President Dick Cass announced Monday the team has finalized a contract extension with Head Coach John Harbaugh.

Details of Harbaugh’s extension were not immediately available, but initial reports indicated the deal gave Harbaugh an additional three years to the year left on his initial contract. Harbaugh’s extension would keep him in Charm City through 2014.

“(Owner) Steve (Bisciotti) said that we want to make sure John remains as our head coach and we reached a new agreement late last week and Coach signed it this morning,” said Cass in a statement. “Having John increases our opportunity to compete for the NFL championship every year, which is our goal.”

Harbaugh has gone 32-16 in the regular season since replacing Brian Billick in 2008. Harbaugh has collected at least one playoff victory in each of his first three seasons, with the Ravens receiving an AFC Wild Card playoff berth in each campaign. He has posted a 4-3 postseason record overall.

“This is much appreciated and I am thankful to Steve,” said Harbaugh in a statement. “I want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with him, (General Manager) Ozzie (Newsome), Dick (Cass), our players and everyone else in the organization as we work to bring championships to Baltimore. We have a lot of great people who are Ravens. I’m proud to be part of this. We all push each other and pull together. I said it when I came here: ‘It’s about the team.’ And, we plan to be a championship team.”

Harbaugh’s brother (Jim Harbaugh) recently signed a five year, $25 million deal to leave Stanford and become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith also received a three year extension this offseason.

Harbaugh’s deal is not believed to be as lucrative as his brother’s, but likely closer to the deal Smith signed.

harbaugh

-G

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At a crossroads ….

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At a crossroads ….

Posted on 08 February 2011 by Rex Snider

Take a few moments and slide into the “wayback machine” to February 8, 2001.  Our sports world was a distinctly different place ten years ago, huh?  From nearly every aspect imaginable, looking back just a mere decade paints a different picture for most of us.

From a local perspective:

Baltimore was still basking in the glow of a Super Bowl championship.

Brian Billick and Trent Dilfer were two of the most popular guys in town.

The Orioles were headed to Spring Training, with hopes of ending a 3-year losing skid.

Cal Ripken was entering his final season in uniform.

From a national perspective:

The Oakland A’s, St. Louis Rams, Cleveland Indians, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Mariners were near or atop their divisions.

Cellar dwellers included the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Falcons, Texas Rangers, New England Patriots and Minnesota Twins.

Highlight footage was dominated by players such as Sammy Sosa, Allen Iverson, Jason Giambi, Marshall Faulk and Daunte Culpepper.

Names like Lebron James, Tom Brady, Albert Pujols, Jimmie Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson didn’t resonate with most of us.

You get the point, right?

I think it’s pretty amazing to see how much any culture, including the AMERICAN SPORTS CULTURE changes in such a relatively brief span of time.  After all, we’re only talking about ten years ….

Another striking phenomenon of our sports world, in 2001, was the popularity of NASCAR.  I think it’s pretty safe to say this highest form of stock car racing was cresting atop its wave of popularity ten years ago.

The sport was dominated by a young Californian named Jeff Gordon.  Major brand sponsors were fighting to get their logos plastered on a hood or quarter-panel.  And, the kickoff to another season was just ten days away.

What could go wrong?

Unlike any other American sport, auto racing poses the threat of death for its competitors.  It’s a reality those same competitors accept. It’s also a reality that proved very true just ten years ago.

NASCAR’s biggest star was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500 ….

The fallout from Dale Earnhardt’s death was immediate and it spurred debate among nearly everyone with an opinion on sports entertainment.  As always, some such opinions were informed and others were both ignorant and ridiculous.

Those who really understood auto racing embraced a need for increased safety technology, while still realizing auto racing is not SAFE and it never will be SAFE.  Conversely, dissenting opinions ranged from outlawing the sport or slowing it down.

However, something that was lost amid all the sensationalism of Dale Earnhardt’s death was the profound effect his absence would have on the popularity of NASCAR.  In each successive year, since 2001, the sport has lost small slices of ratings and overall exposure.

Today, NASCAR is a drastically different environment and entity than it was 10 years ago ….

A playoff system or “Chase” now exists

Cars are fabricated by ideal template of design

The points system or standings has been restructured a couple times

Yet, NASCAR still appears to be losing ground.  Do those who control it realize such losses?  Sure – and they’ve even tried to “replace” the lost character of a Dale Earnhardt.

His son has been “whored” out in every possible marketing campaign.

The participating networks orchestrate supposed feuds among young guns, like Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Brad Keslowski.

Rock stars have replaced country stars.

Trust me, there has been a long list of endeavors aimed at finding NASCAR’s next “American Idol” and propelling the sport back toward popularity.  To date, it hasn’t happened …..

In a couple weeks, NASCAR will host its latest edition of the Daytona 500 – the 10th such edition, since the death of Dale Earnhardt.  This year, Daytona International Speedway features a brand new racing surface and a great event is expected.

But, the core problem still exists.  NASCAR is losing popularity.  The defending champion has won the crown five consecutive times – and he has the personality of a cardboard box.  The most talented driver hasn’t found a checkered flag in two years.  The most popular driver is shaping up to be quite average, at best.

And, they all belong to the same racing organization – Hendrick Motorsports.

Right now, NASCAR is at a crossroads.  Aside from competition and exciting finishes, they must find a CHARACTER.  They must find the next Dale Earnhardt … without replacing Dale Earnhardt.

According to TV ratings and racetrack attendance, time is running out.

If NASCAR doesn’t find an answer soon, it might be relegated to obscurity ten years from now.

Just count me as a guy who hopes that doesn’t happen.

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Serving Up Purple Kool-Aid

Posted on 20 January 2011 by Tom Federline

Did anyone indulge this afternoon? Anyone catch the end-of year “press conference” by the powers at be from the Ravens Castle? Is every one’s lips purple? Is everyone all revived? Everyone bought into - the best is yet to come, 100% effort doesn’t mean 100% results, I trust my guys, we hear the fans andthe media, we understand your frustration, this is a game of stats, blah, blah, blah, blah………..Was that Brian Billick with a Steve Bisciotti mask on? I did not drink the Kool-aid. I turned it off after 5 minutes. I have heard excerpts since and my thoughts – Let’s Go Terps. Bring on O’s spring training.

The Ravens went 12-4, made the playoffs, commendable. “Super Bowl or Bust” got busted. The Ravens organization blew this year, just like they blew creating a potential dynasty in the early part of the last decade. With the latter, they let a championship team disintegrate. This time they are supposedly keeping most of the coaching staff/engine that was responsible for their failure. The only coach they should have kept is gone. Horribaugh = High School Coach. Take away the Ray’s and Joe Flacco, ten bucks says Little Johnny H. doesn’t have a job or a record or stats for Brian Billick, I mean Steve Bisciotti, to gloat over. Hey Steve, what are you smoking up there in your double suite of the “non-smoking” stadium bowl?

Does Bisciotti really care? His “business plan” is thriving. He knows his target audience, he has semi-competent propagandist serving up the Kool-aid and people are buying it. The whole organization is riding the Ray Lewis wave. That wave may be headed out to sea. And even if it isn’t, the wave is not as big or powerful as it once was. The waves popularity and legacy is still there – it’s just not at that “rare ultimate level”. Actually, the defense played beyond expectations.

It was the offense, top to bottom. For the hundredth time, the talent level on the field and bench exceeded the capabilities of the coaches and upper management. It is tough to say and tough to write, that a team with a 12 -4 record was disappointing. Have we become to spoiled? From what? 10 years ago? Since then, there has always been the Colts and the Steelers to cut us down to size. Did we expect to much? Sure. But when you add the offensive weapons that the Ravens did, why wouldn’t you expect positive results from the offensive side of the ball.

Has anyone seen Marc Bulger? Jared Gaither? Sergio Kindle? Oh that’s right – providing guidance, perpetually hurt and still partying. Why did Joe Flacco play every QB offensive down this year? Why do you run Ray Rice 3 times in a row and punt? Or better yet, why do you call Ray Rice’s number for a third times in a row after a 18 yard screen pass and 30 yard burst? Why did you pick up Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmanzadeh and Dante Stallworth? Why is Willis McGahee on the team? Why do Cam Cameron, Jim Zorn and Horribaugh still have jobs?

Besides drinking to much Purple Kool-Aid, me thinks there may be to much “Purple Haze” – (Jimi Hendrix), being passed around the Castle. Whatever is going at the Ravens Castle – keep it there – I don’t want any. Anyway, I drink plenty of Orange Kool-Aid. I don’t know what loss was worse, this past Sunday or the Dolts playoff loss a few years ago? Tough year. Hey, they won more than they lost. I’m glad it’s over. Go Terps. Go O’s.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Welcome Chuck Pagano! Now, let me be the first to tell you…

Posted on 19 January 2011 by Drew Forrester

Welcome aboard Chuck.

I’m not sure if you know this or not, but Royal Farms has a sale on THICK-SKIN.  They’re selling two tubes for $9.99.  If I could make a suggestion to you…take advantage of the buy-2-get-1-free deal and get yourself six tubes.

You’re gonna need it, pal.

Let me be the first guy to give you a reality-check.  It goes like this:  If you can’t go to the Super Bowl, you’re going to be fired by the community-of-popular-opinion.

You’re the new God today, because you’re replacing Greg Mattison.

You’ll be the new Bum this time next year if you’re not the coordinator of the defense that’s heading to Indianapolis for the Super Bowl.

Fair?

Probably not.

But that’s how we roll here in Baltimore.

You either win or you pack your bags.  We’re not known for our patience when it comes to the football team.  Three years ago, everyone in town wanted Brian Billick fired after a 4-year run of 33-31 and only one playoff appearance in that time.  The man who replaced him – John Harbaugh…your boss – has gone 32-16 with THREE playoff appearances in THREE years…and this week, idiots around town want HIM gone too.

I’d suggest to you another thing, Chuck: Rent, don’t buy.

Oh, and one other issue that you’re going to find a tad important as you start your gig here: You better beat the Steelers.  If you’re part of a coaching staff that lets those clowns beat the Ravens again next season, you’re walking the plank.

Another thing, Chuck: You need better players on your side of the ball.  I know you don’t exactly control that, but I’m here to remind you that the current group of defensive players you have isn’t good enough.  If I’m you, I’d be making my wish list now for some fast, strong chase-the-quarterback monsters who can make life miserable for that guy in Pittsburgh or the two champions in Indianapolis and New England.

I think there’s a chance you’ll enjoy this ride as the Ravens Defensive Coordinator.

As long as you win the Super Bowl.

Anything short of that and you’ll be fired by the community-of-popular-opinion.

Just like Matt Cavanaugh.  And Jim Fassel.  And Mike Nolan.  And Rick Neuheisel.  And Brian Billick.  All of those guys got the witch-hunt treatment in Baltimore.  Some of them, it should be noted, were chased out of town after having success and some where chased out of town after not having success.

John Harbaugh is getting witch-hunted right now by goofs around town because he said “I’m proud of my football team” after the game instead of saying, “F**king Anquan Boldin has to catch that f**king ball in the end zone.  That drop was un-f**king-acceptable!!”

And that gets back to my point I made earlier.

You have to beat the Steelers, Chuck, or you’ll be on I-95 heading north or south…to another team.

It’s just a matter of time with this fanbase, chief.

And that’s part of Baltimore’s charm, actually.  Maddening?  Sure.  But it’s one of the reasons why Baltimore is a unique place to live and work.  We love ourselves a winner here.  We, like most cities, don’t really know how to handle losing.  You’ll find that out firsthand if your defense ever gives up 28 points in a loss to the Bengals.

I wish you well, Chuck.

Bury your head in your work over at The Castle.  Don’t listen to talk radio.  Don’t read the newspaper.  Don’t surf the internet. If you can shield yourself from what the fans and the media think, you just might maintain your sanity.

Oh, and make sure you beat the Steelers.

If you can’t do that, we don’t have any use for you.

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Top 5 moments of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry

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Top 5 moments of the Ravens-Steelers rivalry

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Luke Jones

Saturday marks the 33rd meeting (including playoffs) between the Ravens and Steelers in the 15 years since the NFL returned to Baltimore.

With Pittsburgh holding a 20-12 all-time edge and always coming out on top when the stakes are at their highest, the highlights are admittedly scarce from the Baltimore perspective despite the matchup blossoming into the most intense rivalry in the NFL. A conflict bred from off-field venom and disdain (circa 2001) has morphed into mutual respect and even tighter competition in recent years as the last six meetings in the regular season have been decided by four or fewer points (the Steelers won 23-14 victory in the 2008 AFC Championship).

The divisional-round encounter will add another memorable chapter to Baltimore-Pittsburgh lore, but before looking ahead to potential triumph or bitter disappointment, we look back at the top 5 moments (with a couple honorable mentions added for good measure) in the history of Ravens vs. Steelers — from the Baltimore perspective.

And for our Pittsburgh brethren lurking and ready to chime in, be sure to check back later in the week for the five worst moments in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry.

Honorable mention >>>

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Huevos! Maryland’s Vasquez Named WNST Local Sports Person of the Year

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Huevos! Maryland’s Vasquez Named WNST Local Sports Person of the Year

Posted on 23 December 2010 by Glenn Clark

Had it simply been based on accolades, Greivis Vasquez would have won WNST’s 2010 Local Sports Person of the Year award going away.

In 2010, the former Maryland Terrapins guard was named first-team All-ACC, second-team All-American, ACC Player of the Year, and the Bob Cousy Award winner — given to the nation’s top point guard. He also helped the Terps clinch a share of the ACC regular season title. When the Memphis Grizzlies selected him with the 28th pick of the NBA Draft in June, Vasquez became the first Terrapin selected in the first round of the NBA Draft since Chris Wilcox and Juan Dixon were picked in 2002.

In terms of on-field (on in this case on-court) accomplishments, no athlete in the state of Maryland reached the heights that the “Vivacious Venezuelan” did in 2010. As Jason Jubb (WNST.net contributor and former “Sunday Morning Blitz” co-host) said, Vasquez “took over this year.”

However, Vasquez’s selection was about more than just on-court ability. There was something about watching Vasquez play in 2010 that made fans in Baltimore and throughout the state heap adoration at a level not seen since Dixon’s graduation.

Sometimes a picture explains just about everything.

vasquez

It was the passion displayed by Vasquez when he stepped foot on a basketball court that made fans fall in love.

WNST’s Ryan Chell said Vasquez in 2010 was “hated by every other ACC fan and adored by the Terps nation. He put the team on his shoulders.”

Never was it more evident than in the game pictured above.

On March 3, Maryland defeated then No. 4 Duke, 79-72. It was Senior Night at Comcast Center, and Vasquez’s final game was one of the more passionate displays in recent college basketball history.

Vasquez led the way for Maryland with 20 points and 5 assists in the victory, but it was one particular shot that was a total display of “huevos” (a term first labeled by ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt) in the final seconds.

With Maryland clinging to a 71-69 advantage over the Blue Devils in the final minute, there was no question Vasquez would take the shot. And despite the shot being an off-balanced, running 12-footer that looked more like a heave than an actual basketball shot, there was really no question whether or not the shot would go in…even if it had to find every piece of the rim before it would fall.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dA_qoFMFITA[/youtube]

It wasn’t only the Duke game that stood out in 2010 for the young man from Caracas. In fact, Vasquez’s shining moment may well have occurred just one game earlier.

The Terrapins traveled to Blacksburg to face Virginia Tech February 27. The game was delayed more than three hours due to a water main break outside Cassell Coliseum. Maybe the anticipation built during the delay made the nature of the performance even greater.

Vasquez posted 41 points, seven rebounds, and six assists en route to 104-100 win over the Hokies in two overtimes.

The two wins would ultimately be the difference for the Terps in sharing the ACC crown.

Watching Vasquez play in 2010 was special.

It’s unlikely that Vasquez could have won a 1-on-1 contest with some of the great all-around players in recent Maryland history. Vasquez’s game wasn’t nearly as polished as someone like Dixon, Steve Francis or even John Gilchrist.

Yet in terms of fortitude, only Dixon could match Vasquez. Vasquez cared deeply about representing the students, the University and the entire state.

“Every time I put on the jersey I did my best and cared about them,” said Vasquez after learning he had won the award. “Those four years at Maryland were a big part in my life, and I eventually want to raise my family around Maryland because it meant very much to me.”

It was the type of passion that rubbed off on everyone around him, including his teammates.

“He was a great teammate,” Maryland guard Adrian Bowie told WNST. “His passion was evident on and off the court. He loved us and we loved him.”

Perhaps that passion was no more evident than in his final act as a Terrapin, a devastating 85-83 defeat to Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Trailing by 16 late in the second half and seemingly limping out on a disappointing note, Vasquez took his team on his back a final time, scoring nine of Maryland’s 11 points in the final two minutes. His final basket with six seconds left to give the Terps a one-point lead looked to be another brilliant moment before the Spartans’ Korie Lucious broke the hearts of Terrapin Nation with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, ending Vasquez’s collegiate career and leaving fans wishing for one more chance to watch him.

“It’s a memory all Maryland fans want to forget, but his final game left you wanting more and epitomized what he meant to this program,” said WNST’s Luke Jones. “We throw around words like courage and heart all the time in the sports world, but his passion, his determination was authentic. In those final minutes when he nearly willed the Terps to victory when it seemed all but impossible, it summed him up perfectly. As disappointing as it was for the team, knowing Vasquez would never wear that uniform again was sobering. You didn’t want it to end.”

Vasquez truly was loved by fans both on campus in College Park and throughout the mid-Atlantic region. His talent as a basketball player was appreciated, but his incredible passion made watching him play a joyous experience for Terps fans.

For as much joy as Maryland fans (and WNST contributors) took from watching Vasquez on the court, Maryland Head Coach Gary Williams told WNST he took equally as much joy from coaching him.

“If you pay a lot of money for a ticket, I think you want that guy that you paid the money to see to really work as hard as (in your mind) you would if you were a player,” said Williams after learning Vasquez had won the honor. “And that’s what Greivis gave all those people that bought the tickets. He gave them that player that played they way they would play if they got the chance.”

“I’ve always felt a big part of college basketball is the passion in the game,” added Williams. “I talk to pro players that have played here, played other places, and they really miss that passion that you get at college basketball in big games. Greivis was a part of that. He was nationally known as one of those guys.”

In a fitting twist, the brilliant performance of Vasquez in 2010 came after what would have to be considered the last “low” moment in what had previously been a roller-coaster career.

On Dec. 30, 2009, Vasquez pulled up but missed an important three point shot in transition in the second half of Maryland’s 83-77 loss to William & Mary at Comcast Center. Trailing by seven points, the miss turned into a five-point swing in favor of the Tribe as they would go on to upset the Terps.

The tone for Vasquez in 2010 was set that night. Not by the miss, but by the support shown by Williams despite the crucial miss (and poor decision). When asked about the shot after the game, Williams responded:

“Greivis has won a lot of games for us pulling up for threes. He didn’t make that one. Sure, he missed it, so I wish he would have driven the ball. But if he would have driven the ball and gotten his shot blocked, I’d wished he would have taken the three. It’s the way it works. I want Greivis to keep playing like he’s playing. He’s working hard, he’s trying to help us win. As long as he does that-I’ve had a lot of great players here that take shots once in a while that take shots that you might not like as a coach but that’s part of what makes them great. They have that aggressiveness, they have that no fear of being out there playing which you try to put into a lot of players, but not everybody has that.”

With that support, Vasquez never looked back in 2010.

“I can’t say enough about coach,” Vasquez told WNST. “I think he made a big impact not only in my game but in my life. He mean so much to me not only as my coach, but as a father and a friend, everything I needed. He’s more than a good friend, he’s a mentor. That’s why he’s successful and wins championships and went to the Final Four. I can’t say enough about coach Williams and he will be a special person to me for the rest of my life.”

Vasquez’s personality wasn’t left on the floor. He was as engaging on the campus in College Park and in the community as well.

“Greivis always had time for people,” Williams said. “Sometimes I’d have to get on him because he was trying to do too many things to please too many people. The time he read books in elementary school to kids in Spanish-in a lot of Spanish areas around here-nobody even knew about that stuff. He was just always willing to show up. If they had a shoot-a-thon to raise money for charity on campus, Greivis would come in and try to make one from half court. That’s just the way he was. He was just always willing to be like the other students, which they really appreciated.”

“Greivis had a passion for both basketball and for life that was infectious,” Maryland associate Athletic Director Doug Dull told WNST as well. “He had a confidence and a personality that was magical and unforgettable.”

Watching Greivis Vasquez play basketball in 2010 was a special feeling for Terrapins fans and even those who support other schools but live in the area and found themselves glued to Maryland games.

There were two voting qualifications for the Local Sports Person of the Year honor.

The first was that the person had to play for a professional, college or high school team in the state of Maryland OR represent the state of Maryland in an individual sport.

The second was that the honor was year-specific. The honoree had to be someone for whom 2010 stood out not only in comparison to other sports figures, but also to things they had accomplished themselves in other years.

D1scourse.com writer (and regular contributor to “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST in 2010) Patrick Stevens offered a very well thought out explanation as to why Vasquez best met both qualifications.

“Vasquez came to Maryland with maybe his biggest obstacle being the language barrier. That’s almost a bigger impediment for someone who sort of knows a second language and tries to fit in while learning on the fly than someone who just relies on a translator and stays in his comfort zone. The thing was, Vasquez was always supremely at ease on the court, where it was immensely easier for him to express himself than through his many, many words.”

Stevens added, “For as much as people latched onto Vasquez’s rhetoric throughout his college career, he was always better measured through his deeds. It didn’t matter if it was on the floor (a 41-point night at Virginia Tech or helping topple Duke in his last home game) or off (posing for picture after picture well after games ended or simple gestures like handing a pair of shoes to a security guard at the ACC Tournament). Vasquez was the most impactful University of Maryland athlete since Juan Dixon, and never more so than in 2010.”

Vasquez’s often hard-nosed head coach was emotional in summing up his feelings about his former star player.

“The person that he is…is really tremendous. I really miss him. Obviously, you miss his playing ability, but you miss him being around.”

He’s not the only one.

-G

(Vasquez joined Rex Snider, Luke Jones and Glenn Clark on “The Afternoon Drive” Thursday to accept the honor. That interview is available now in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

Final Voting For WNST Local Sports Person of the Year-

1-Greivis Vasquez (20 points)
2-Buck Showalter (19 points)
3-Ray Lewis (10 points)
4-Joe Flacco (7 points)
4-Danny O’Brien (7 points)
6-Anquan Boldin (5 points)
7-John Rallo (4 points)
8-Gary Williams (3 points)
8-Jay Davidson (3 points)
8-John Harbaugh (3 points)
8-Forest Boyce (3 points)
8-Caitlyn McFadden (3 points)
8-Pam Shriver (3 points)
8-Cal Ripken (3 points)
15-Bill Ripken (2 points)
15-Ben’s Cat (horse) (2 points)
17-Pete Caringi (1 point)
17-Kevin Plank (1 point)
17-Reggie Holmes (1 point)

Panel of AM1570 & WNST.net contributors eligible to vote included: Glenn Clark, Drew Forrester, Thyrl Nelson, Rex Snider, Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones, Ryan Chell, Ashley Bishoff, Pete Kerzel (CSNBaltimore.com writer/regular contributor to “The Mobtown Sports Beat”), Jon Schmidt (WNST Sales), Paul Kopelke (WNST General Manager), Christine Cortezi (WNST sales), Jason Jubb, Mark Suchy, Patrick Stevens (D1scourse.com/regular contributor to “The Morning Reaction”), Sam Angell (WNST.net contributor), Allen McCallum (regular contributor to “The Afternoon Drive), Ed Frankovic, Gary Quill, Derek Arnold (BMoreBirdsNest.com/WNST.net contributor), BJ Appel (WNST.net contributor), Chris Pika, Lawson Lambert (WNST.net contributor), John Rallo (“Shogun Fights”/regular contributor to “The Mobtown Sports Beat”), Jay Trucker (Examiner.com writer/WNST.net contributor), Todd Helmick (NationalChamps.net writer/regular contributor to “The Mobtown Sports Beat”) and Brian Billick (WNST part-owner). Not all contributors eligible submitted ballots.

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I’m rooting for the Falcons, but not tonight …..

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I’m rooting for the Falcons, but not tonight …..

Posted on 11 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Tonight’s game between the Ravens and Falcons is being billed as a matchup of two very similar teams, with characteristics and qualities mirroring each other. And, for the most part, I understand the comparisons …..

Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan spawned from the same draft class and they’ve assumed starting duties, since day one.

John Harbaugh and Mike Smith ascended into their head coaching roles at the same time, as well. And, they’ve experienced early success.

Ray Rice and Michael Turner have developed into a couple of the NFL’s best running backs.

Both teams have achieved regular season records of 26 wins and 14 losses, since the Harbaugh/Flacco and Smith/Ryan tandems joined ranks.

The comparisons really are aplenty.

That said, I think it’s quite fair to suggest one team has overcome much more adversity and dysfunction, as they’ve climbed back to respectability.

To be blunt, it’s not even close …..

When Brian Billick left the Baltimore Ravens, he left a solid, organized, respectable franchise in his wake. The Ravens were a better team, thanks to his nine years of commitment. While the 2007 season was dismal, the organization was still foundationally strong.

However, the same flattering description cannot be attributed to the Atlanta Falcons …..

As we all know, the Falcons were a dysfunctional mess as the world celebrated the New Years holiday, in 2008. Their head coach deserted them, much like a call girl leaves her john behind …..

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - SEPTEMBER 09:  Head coach Bobby Petrino of the Atlanta Falcons looks to congratulate Brad Childress of the Minnesota Vikings after Petrino's NFL head coaching debut as the Vikings defeated the Falcons 24-3 at the Metrodome on September 9, 2007 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Their franchise quarterback was no longer the “franchise quarterback,” and the team was horrible, as it finished up with a 3-13 season.

As Michael Vick was settling into prison life, Bobby Petrino was familiarizing himself with the University of Arkansas …. and the Falcons were limping to close out a horrid 2007 campaign.

Say what you want, that organization didn’t deserve such an obstructed road of hardship and anguish.

It was beyond bad luck. It was wrong …..

In Baltimore, we’re spoiled by the riches of a football franchise built on stable management and in-depth personnel – on and off the field.

In Atlanta, just three short years ago, the Falcons faced the potential of unraveling into an era of disaster. They faced the uncertainty of finding the right general manager, head coach and quarterback to reverse the team’s wrong direction.

Enter Thomas Dimitroff …..

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