Tag Archive | "Denver Broncos"

So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

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So much for the “losing to a good team on the road” excuse, huh?

Posted on 25 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For me, the challenge in writing a good blog is partly bound in highlighting a specific theme or idea that hasn’t been addressed by other writers. While such originality is usually my mission, it’s not always possible.

But, I still try ….. So, as I walked out of M&T Bank Stadium, upon witnessing the Ravens thoroughly destroy the Buffalo Bills, I envisioned the things we would hear on the radio and see in blogs, come Monday morning.

Heck, I was hearing it as we walked across the Hamburg Street bridge. My wife is not a football visionary. However, she is a passionate Ravens fan. Thus, her ensuing comments were as predictable as the sunset every evening. “You and your buddies said there was no way the Buffalo Bills would hang with the Ravens” ….. “You gonna blame today’s crappy 4th quarter on the opponent being a good team?” ….. “This might’ve been a win, but it’s an embarrassing win” ….. If I would’ve had a rope, I could’ve hanged myself – right there, above the train tracks. It was a better alternative than begging her to “PLEASE SHUT THE HE@# UP,” which is not a good idea with my wife. Trust me, I’ve done it and I’ve paid for it. Besides, she was

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Duane Starks ten years after INT return in Super Bowl XXXV: “the longest 49 yards of running ever”

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Duane Starks ten years after INT return in Super Bowl XXXV: “the longest 49 yards of running ever”

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

On January 28, 2001, former Ravens corner back Duane Starks remembers clearly a particular play that would not only impact his life, but one of an entire city looking for a team to call “World Champions”.

That date of course was the day that the Baltimore Ravens, fresh off a 12-4 regular season and three playoff wins over the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, and the Oakland Raiders, earned the franchise’s first ever Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXV, winning of course by a score of 34-7 over the NFC Champion New York Giants.

It brought the city of Baltimore their first championship since 1983 with the Baltimore Orioles, and its first ever football title since 1970 when the Colts brought home the NFL title in Super Bowl V.

And of course, the play was Starks’ 49-yard interception return in that Super Bowl, one of four touchdowns and interceptions for the Ravens on the night.

This Sunday at halftime versus the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens will honor  30+members of the championship team, including the likes of quarterback Trent Dilfer, safety Rod Woodson, running back Jamal Lewis, and many others.

And while Duane Starks will not be in attendance Sunday, he said he will be their in spirit with his former teammates. He keeps in contact with most of his fellow champions.

“There’s a group of us that stay in touch,” Starks told Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat Wednesday.”I’m always in contact with Lional Dalton, Ray Lewis, Jamie Sharper, and all these guys, even Jermaine Lewis.”

Starks was drafted by the Ravens with the tenth overall pick in the 1998 draft out of Miami, and combined with Raven draft picks in former Hurricanes teammate Ray Lewis, Chris Mcalister, Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Starks became a pivotal and key component to the best defense in NFL history when it came to points allowed in 2000.

And he not only was big in helping the team reach the Super Bowl, his interception of Giants quarterback Kerry Collins may have put the nail in the coffin for the Giants.

In his four years in Baltimore from 1998-2001, Starks grabbed 21 picks and was also a big run-stuffer from the secondary despite only measuring 5-10, 175 pounds.

In that Super Bowl, Collins would throw several interceptions to the likes of Chris Mcalister, Kim Herring, and Jamie Sharper was desperately trying to get his team back in the hunt after falling behind 10-0 with minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Collins took a three-step drop and immediately threw the ball to Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer. Starks, who had also grabbed a pick in the AFC Championship game against Oakland, stepped in front of the slant pass and took it back 49 yards for a the score, making it 17-0 in favor of Baltimore.

Duane Starks

Starks remembers the moment as clear as day.

“I intercept the ball and the first thing I was like, ‘just catch the ball’,” Starks told Thyrl.  “I caught the ball and after that as I’m running, I’m like ‘Please nobody clip. Nobody clip. No penalties. No penalties.’ It would have been sad to have a penalty there because the play happened so fast.”

“That was the longest 49 yards of running ever.”

Starks looked back as he crossed the Giants goal line to see if there were any flags on the play, but none came down.

Starks’ play not only put the Giants deeper in the hole, it also set off a series of plays that will rarely be seen again in Super Bowl history.

Following Starks’ interception return, the Ravens kicked off to the Giants, and Giants KR Ron Dixon returned it 97 yards for a touchdown.

It was a game now. For at least a few more seconds.

The Giants on the opposing kickoff kicked the ball to former Maryland Terp Jermaine Lewis, who matched Dixon’s return with an 84 yard return of his own.

It was the first time in NFL history that each team returned kickoffs in the Super Bowl, and the first time they had been done back-to-back. It also finished a period of three consecutive plays where a touchdown was scored in a span of just 30 seconds.

The Ravens nearly earned the only shutout in Super Bowl history, but they were able to bring Baltimore a world championship and came home to celebrate on the streets of Baltimore.

Starks, who will be unable to attend Sunday’s festivities due to a previous engagement, said he still calls Baltimore home and will remain in contact with the Ravens for the rest of his life.

‘I’m not going to be able to make it to Baltimore, but I’m always visiting Baltimore and going to the office. I hate that I’m going to miss this glorious occasion.”

Miss the interview with Duane? Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for our interview with the former Ravens corner back and all our other interviews with the Super Bowl team! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Ravens Football!

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Ravens appear to be ready for the NFL’s elite teams …..

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Ravens appear to be ready for the NFL’s elite teams …..

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Rex Snider

For the past few years, we’ve been accustomed to witnessing some dismal, yet predictable outcomes whenever the Ravens play the National Football League’s best competition. Such shortcomings are undoubtedly tied to a few mitigating reasons, but most importantly, the opponents have simply been better teams.

Of course, for the purpose of this conversation, “best competition” = INDIANAPOLIS COLTS and NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.

Dating back to 2002, the Ravens have amassed a collective record of 1-11 against the Colts and Patriots. You got that? ONE WIN and ELEVEN LOSSES.

If we’re searching for answers, a few likely conclusions come to mind …..

The Colts and Patriots have outcoached the Ravens.

The Colts and Patriots have outperformed the Ravens.

The Colts and Patriots have outgutted the Ravnes.

And, as we all know, the Colts and Patriots have these guys …..


While Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have merited the significant hand in matchups against a young Joe Flacco, Kyle Boller, Steve McNair, Anthony Wright, Jeff Blake and Chris Redman, an even greater reality exists in justifying such one-sided dominance.

The Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots have simply been been better teams. Heck, they’ve been the BEST teams of the last decade.

The Ravens have mounted some very spirited efforts against Indy and New England …..

Rewind the clock to December of 2007. On a blustery, snow flurried night, the Ravens nearly upset the undefeated Patriots, at M&T Bank Stadium. But, in the final seconds, the better team prevailed.

How about the trip to Indianapolis, in October of 2002? The Ravens lost a heartbreaker, thanks in part to an Oscar winning performance by former Raven, Qadry Ismail, on a disputable last minute pass interference call. But, once again, the better team prevailed.

The real reason the Ravens own ONE WIN against ELEVEN LOSSES in most recent matchups with the Colts and Patriots really boils down to the more talented team making things happen when it matters most. Indeed, this is a quality winners possess.

It also appears to be a quality the 2010 edition of the Baltimore Ravens are developing.

Yesterday’s win against the Denver Broncos didn’t really showcase any last minute heroics from Flacco & Company, but it did feature a well balanced offensive attack and this season’s first glimpse of a proposed powerful Ravens running game.

While Joe Flacco did not bring loud applause from his respective fantasy football owners, he did manage the game appropriately. He picked on a vulnerable secondary fill-in, when needed. And, he led an offensive effort that clearly wanted to win more than the Broncos defenders on the other side of the ball.

With exception to the hiccup in Cincinnati, the Ravens have improved their overall effort each and every week. And, the wins are coming with contributions from many facets of the team’s makeup. Yesterday, Ray Rice dominated. Last week, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Flacco stepped up at the biggest moment. Two weeks ago, Anquan Boldin burned the Browns.

This is exactly how the Colts and Patriots have exploited the last decade. While Manning and Brady figure into every game’s outcome, they’ve reliably spread the ball, opportunities and credit among teammates.

Past games against the Colts or Patriots did not feature such an exercised strategy and performance from the Ravens. Years ago, Jamal Lewis was the lone offensive weapon, and more recently, Ray Rice and Derrick Mason have been the only real threats. Of course, the team’s defense has been heavily depended upon in each and every game.

But, it appears things are changing …..

Next Sunday, the Ravens will march into Foxboro with a more lethal offense than Bill Belichick has ever witnessed. Such a reality provides an optimistic feeling on this side of the fence. The Ravens pounded a “Welker-less” Patriots team, back in January. And, last October’s game …. well, lets just say that’s the game that slipped or “bounced” (off the chest of Mark Clayton) away.

There is legitimate reason to believe the Ravens are every bit as good as the Patriots. For the record, I think the Ravens are a better, balanced team.

That said, the Patriots are coming off their bye-week. And, history suggests Tom Brady is a very hard guy to beat when his team has two weeks to concentrate on an opponent. Regardless of the loss of Randy Moss, the Patriots will not lay down like the Broncos, nor will they be as unimaginative as the Steelers and Browns.

Next Sunday serves as a true test of the Baltimore Ravens legitimacy as an ELITE team in the National Football League.

It’s been nearly 9 years since the Ravens defeated the Colts or Patriots in a regular season contest. In the near-decade of matchups, Ravens losses have occurred in nearly every imaginable way. From last minute disappointments, to lackluster performances, to total blowouts, the Ravens have walked away from losses against the Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in nearly every possible scenario.

But, as I’ve suggested, that can really change next week. We could indeed witness the emergence of a couple of the NFL’s next BIG STARS …..

And, to be quite honest, that’s the way it has to happen. Ray Rice is already on the brink and with yesterday’s showing, he’s primed to renew his 2009 outburst. With Joe Flacco, he needs the stage of serving notice on one of the guys who has done it many times. Beating Tom Brady, on successive efforts would be huge.

Most of all, the Ravens need to beat the Patriots, because that’s what winners do; they beat the good and bad teams.

Beating one of the two teams that has dominated the NFL for so long would establish a new dominance for the Ravens, and I think it would serve as a psychological step in the belief they can beat any team.

The Ravens are better than the Patriots, and in 6 days they’ll have an opportunity to prove it …..

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Broncos shoot themselves in foot in loss to Ravens

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Broncos shoot themselves in foot in loss to Ravens

Posted on 11 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

The Denver Broncos gave all the credit in the world to the Ravens Sunday in the 31-17 Baltimore victory , but by helping the Ravens with costly penatlies that hurt their field position, losing big plays, or extending their opponents’ scoring drives , the Broncos said that they had to look in the mirror a little bit to see what went wrong in Sunday’s loss.

Denver Broncos

“I want to give credit to the Ravens. Coach John Harbaugh and their staff do a great job,” Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels said in his post-game press conference. “Today we were outcoached, outplayed, outoughed and on the road against a good team, it’s going to be hard to overcome those things.”

Denver committed 10 penalties for 90 yards in the 31-17 loss to Baltimore. Combined with with a one-dimensional passing attack and no running game (39 total yards),  and poor starting field position, the Broncos felt like they had to look at themselves in the mirror with their struggles.

“You can’t make 10 or 11 penalties, not be able to run the football, give up 200  some rushing yards on defense, and put the defense on the field as much as we did today and expect to come out of the game with a victory,” McDaniels added.

All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey, who shut down Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin to the tune of 1 catch for 8 yards, agreed with his coach.

“When you have that many penalties, you aren’t going to beat anyone,”  Bailey said. “When you have that many penalties, and you’re playing one of the best teams in the league, you have no chance to win. The only team you can beat is yourself.”

The biggest evidence of the Broncos’ mental mistakes came with 10:27 remaining in the second quarter when Broncos cornerback Perrish Cox was called for pass interference on wide receiver Derrick Mason in the end zone.

The ball was placed at the one-yard line, where on the next play, Ravens running back Ray Rice, who had a season-high 133 yards rushing, scored his first of two touchdowns to make it 14-0 in favor of the home team.

McDaniels couldn’t make any excuses for a play like that; he said it happens all the time and they indeed capitalized from a similar call Week 4 against the Titans , but it certainly was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back.

“I know the penalty that put the ball down there at the 1 yard line-we’ve benefitted from one of those last week and they had one today. You have to play the ball while it’s in the air. This is a team that forces its opponents into a lot of penalties and we fell into the same exact situation today,” the Denver head coach said.

Broncos wide receiver Eddie Royal was hurt most by his teammates’ penalties, as on the Broncos first drive of the game, a 33-yard end-around to Royal was negated by a holding call on receiver Demaryius Thomas. Royal had reached the Baltimore 37 yard line, but instead the ball came back to the Broncos 20 yard line.

Royal again had a 17-yard grab from Denver’s 44-yard line with 3:45 in the second quarter that advanced them to the Raven 39-yard line. It too was negated by a holding call-this time Broncos lineman Russ Hochstein was to blame.

Continuing to back themselves in unmanageable 2nd or 3rd-and-longs, the lack of the home-runs on offense-while shooting themselves in the foot and playing into the Ravens’ game plan-kept Denver out of reach.

“Anytime you make a big play and its negated by a penalty, certainly you have to look at it and see if the penalty was the reason why you made a big play,” McDaniels admitted.  “But when you have a chance to change field position and all, and all of a sudden you’re at first-and-20 or second-and 25, that makes it very difficult.”

Denver punted on each drive.

“When you have that many penalties early on a good football team, you dig yourself a hole which is hard to get out of,” Royal said. “I think we had some good playcalls early…but against a good defensive football team with an explosive offense, it’s not going to be a good thing.”

The Broncos missed those two chances to drive the ball into  Baltimore territory, and failed to drive into the Ravens part of the field until there was 1:33 left in the second quarter, when the Broncos finally found the end zone on a 42 yard pass to Brandon Lloyd from Kyle Orton, which made the score 17-7 in Baltimore’s favor.

Orton would find Lloyd again in garbage time over corner Josh Wilson. Orton finished the game with 314 yards passing and the two touchdowns to Lloyd.

Minus those throws, Denver appeared to go nowhere running the ball–and getting backed up by their penalties.

Even quarterback Kyle Orton was guilty of committing a penalty, with a false start before his first touchdown pass to Lloyd.

“It’s very frustrating,” Orton said. “It seemed like we had so many third-and-12, third and 17 plays. Really, it’s a miracle we didn’t turn the ball over. Truthfully, you can’t beat a college team when you’re always running plays at third-and-17 or third-and-12.”

And it doesn’t get an easier for the Broncos. A similar kind of defense awaits Denver next week against the Broncos.

“They are both really good defensive teams,” Orton said. “And we’re going to have to play much better.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Ravens throughout the 2010 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Ray Rice returns to form against Broncos

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Ray Rice returns to form against Broncos

Posted on 10 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens were not only happy to earn a 31-17 win at home against the Denver Broncos Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, they were also content in how they did it.

One bright spot in the Ravens’ performance Sunday was their 233 yards rushing; highlighted by the play of running back Ray Rice, who got the ball from the start, rushing the ball 29 times for 133 yards and two scores.

Ray Rice

The two touchdowns were not only his first two scores of the season-they were his first touchdowns since last December’s 48-3 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 14 of the 2009 season.

Rice had been nursing a bruised knee that he suffered in the Ravens’ Week 3 victory over the Cleveland Browns and it had severely impacted his running style the last several weeks in game and in practice.

While Rice did suit up in last week’s 17-14 victory over the Steelers, running back Willis McGahee got the start over Rice and neither back really looked perfect, and Rice still seemed hobbled, crippled, and not 100 percent.

Not on Sunday. From the get-go, Rice appeared healthy as can be-making his signature cuts and moves with ease, and Rice said he felt as comfortable as he ever has been.

Rice’s longest run went for 18 yards, and he had two other runs of 12-yards, his second being the run with 11:45 remaining in the fourth that put him over the century mark for the first time this year.

And he got all the help he could ever need from an offensive line that opened lanes and a fullback in Le’Ron McClain who delivered several bone-crushing hits on Broncos MLB D.J. Williams, who did finish the game with 15 tackles, mostly on Rice downfield.

“That was all offensive line,” Rice said. “They got me to the safety.”

“I’ve never seen a group work harder,” Rice added. The stats haven’t shown the last few weeks, but today, if I was to give a game ball, I’d have to give it to them.”

The Broncos defense had actually came off a pretty good game in their Week 4 victory over the Tennessee Titans, in which the Denver defense held Chris Johnson to 53 yards rushing on 19 carries.

“I’m not sure what Tennessee tried to do against them last week, but we wanted to attack them up front,” Rice said. “We wanted to get them moving.”

“The littlest guy they have in their front seven is D.J. Williams, who is a great player. The rest of them were 270, 280 anchoring the front…I know our defense, when they have to play long drives, they get tired.”

The other surprising note about Rice’s scores were that they were both from one yard out-the first being his score with 2:30 left in the second quarter to put the Ravens up 14-0, and the later coming with 14:21 remaining in the final quarter that put Baltimore out of reach of Denver, 24-7.

Most of the time, the goal line duties are relegated to McGahee or fullback Le’Ron McClain, who are bigger backs, but after both showed indecisiveness near the goalline on the Ravens first two drives of the game(especially a turnover on downs on the first Ravens drive highlighted by not being able to score on the 1 yard line), Rice saw action near the end zone and made the most of the opportunities.

Rice said he being put in that situation meant that offensive coordinator Cam Cameron had all the faith in the world that Rice was going to show off his skills.

“That’s trust,” Rice said. “You trust that coordinator, whoever is calling the plays, is going to do what’s best for the team. I don’t consider them bad calls down there. It’s about execution…Cam’s just calling the plays. The players, we’ve got to execute them.”

Rice not only was a factor in the running game, but he also got his normal touches in the passing game from quarterback Joe Flacco.

Rice also caught four passes for 26 yards, and liked the balance he saw out of the game-plan Sunday.

“I like to call it a well-balanced attack,” he said. “When you define identity, last year we were a physical running team. The thing about this season so far is that when we needed to pass the ball, we passed it. Today, when we needed to run the ball, we ran it. There was no second-guessing what we were going to do.”

Gaining 233 yards on the ground, the Ravens’ offense looked as if it was from two years ago, when the three-headed monster of Ray Rice, Willis McGahee, and Le’Ron McClain got the Ravens to an 11-5 record and an appearance in the AFC Championship game.

“It’s back,” McGahee said of the three-headed attack. “We’ve been away from it for awhile, but we did a great job today.

“That’s our goal every week,” McClain said of the 233 yards rushing. “We set a high standard level. We want 250 a week. We take pride in that. We got Ray going today.”

And if the Ravens play defense the way they did against the Broncos today combined with the churning of the clock and the opposing defenders today, the Ravens feel like they can beat anybody, anytime.

“I think we can go all the way as long as we don’t hurt ourselves,” McGahee said. “That goes for everybody. The sky’s the limit for us.”

Tune into WNST and WNST.net as we continue to follow the Ravens through the 2010 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Friday Football Frenzy ….

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Friday Football Frenzy ….

Posted on 08 October 2010 by Rex Snider

It’s Friday, and we’ll greet the start of another weekend in grand style, this afternoon. Of course, this means plenty of RAVENS talk and some lighthearted fun during today’s edition of the FRIDAY FOOTBALL FRENZY, sponsored by Guiness …..

Once again, I’ll be joined by Nestor for a solid four hours of bantering back and forth, while breaking down Sunday’s game between the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos. Last year’s matchup was less than competitive. However, we expect to see a much more explosive Broncos passing attack on this visit.

Led by Kyle Orton – YES, I said KYLE ORTON ….. the Broncos are the top rated passing offense in the NFL. In fact, Orton is on pace to establish new records, as he currently has thrown for more yards, thru 4 games, than any quarterback in history.

That’s okay, EVERYONE knows the Broncos will be throwing the ball nearly every down. To say they don’t have a running game is an understatement. And, late word this afternoon is starting running back, Knowshon Moreno, has been ruled OUT for Sunday.

The Broncos offense is predictable, but stellar. And, they’ve made opponents pay …..

Wait a minute ….. is he cross-eyed ???

The Ravens are coming off a big win of their own, in Pittsburgh. With the increased health of Ray Rice and Willis McGahee, we might just see a return to the 2009 prominence of the running attack.

Joe Flacco and his corps of receivers are likely to realize increased success, this week, as well. The Broncos have underachieved in pass rush, with their front-3 still seeking a sack.

Did I mention their entire secondary is north of 30 years old?

I’m predicting a good bit of scoring on both sides of the ball. An exciting game is in store, to say the least.

Do you agree? Do you disagree? Let us know …..

We’ll gladly take your calls at (410) 481-1570, starting at 2pm. You can also email the show at rex@wnst.net

Today’s guests will include insiders from Denver, as well as national voices calling the game. And, we’ll spend a few minutes with the NFL Network’s, Brian Baldinger, as well as WNST NFL correspondent, Chris Pika.

It’s an afternoon of fun. It’s the Ravens vs. Broncos. It’s the Friday Football Frenzy …..

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They could’ve made a movie about this story …..

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They could’ve made a movie about this story …..

Posted on 07 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Later today, I will be devoting a substantial portion of the AFTERNOON DRIVE to discussing the upcoming matchup between the Ravens and Broncos. Pitting the NFL’s top-rated passing offense against its top-rated passing defense should produce an exciting game on Sunday.

However, we’ll take a slight detour during the 3 o’clock hour, as I chat with Hollywood producer, Mark Ciardi. Our conversation coincides with Mark’s latest release Secretariat, which debuts in theatres tomorrow. The movie, starring Diane Lane and John Malcovich, centers on the life story of Penny Chenery, an inexperienced stables heiress who would eventually rise to prominence as owner of horse racing’s greatest competitor.

While I will certainly enjoy talking about the movie’s debut, I’m really looking forward to learning more about Mark Ciardi, himself. In full disclosure, I must take this opportunity to thank Glenn Clark for booking the segment. While the story and movie are a compelling topic, Glenn had no idea that Mark and I share a unique tie.

One of my very best friends is also a friend of Mark Ciardi. My friend and Mark played baseball, together, at the University of Maryland. Both gentleman went on to play professionally, as well. However, they’ve fallen out of touch over recent years. Today, I’ll have a special opportunity to reminisce, with Mark, about his baseball career, modeling and his eventual transition into producing.

His college teammates called him “Chief.” He probably hasn’t heard that nickname in years …..

In addition, we’ll examine the prospect of producing a true-life sports story into a Hollywood blockbuster. Mark has produced numerous successful box office hits, like Invincible, The Rookie and Miracle. A producer is tasked with finding the right story or screen play, financing it and hiring the director, along with a portion of the cast.

Is Mark working on another Vince Papali-type project? Was Dennis Quaid his first choice to portray Jim Morris? Did making Miracle bring about the same emotional reaction we felt when witnessing the actual event? We’ll find out today.

In fact, I’m devoting a portion of my morning to brainstorming some real-life sports stories for Mark’s consideration. Hey, this is my shot. Maybe, I can become part of the production staff. Yep ….. I could easily live in SoCal – especially when considering the weather we’re likely to endure over the next six months.

As for my ideas, I’ve thought of a few storylines. I’m sharing them, below. Feel free to email your own suggestions. Here’s my ideas …..

Jay Gibbons

I can imagine the initial impression developed when you see Jay Gibbons heading my list. He’s not inspirational. He’s not a great talent. He hasn’t overcome odds of life’s making. Fair enough …..

However, Jay may very well be the most compelling figure from Major League Baseball’s steroid era. In the sense of a complete story, he’s pretty much it. He was a marginal big leaguer, who used steroids and became substantially more productive. He was awarded a multi-million dollar contract based on tainted achievements.

Jay Gibbons was caught, he admitted his guilt and eventually his deflated play resulted in a departure from the game. While so many other ex-ballplayers have met a similar fate, Jay Gibbons didn’t let go. He continued to work at his craft and bounced around with some independent organizations. He also wrote letters to each Major League Baseball owner – asking for their forgiveness and another chance.

In those letters, Jay promised to donate his salary to charity if he ever returned to the big leagues. The Los Angeles Dodgers came calling last off-season. They gave him a shot and he performed quite well with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, in Albuquerque. Jay Gibbons was promoted to Los Angeles and joined the Dodgers, in August.

He played decently, hitting .280 with 5 homers over the final 37 games of the season. What does the future hold? We shall see. But, he has chosen not to donate his salary to charity. Could this be the factor that deters any movie consideration. It surely won’t look good.

Dale Earnhardt

I would imagine an authentic Earnhardt movie will never happen anytime soon. After a hastily packaged ESPN effort, starring Barry Pepper, and a few years of jamming the NASCAR legend’s likeness down our throats, I think it’s safe to say the American viewing audience has experienced enough Earnhardt remembrances for years to come.

That’s the way our society works, right? An iconic legend dies, unexpectedly, and the crush of anything and everything related to them simply swamps our collective culture. It happened with Elvis Presley. It happened with John Lennon. It happened with Princess Diana. It happened with Michael Jackson.

And, it happened with Dale Earnhardt.

In the days following his death, Earnhardt’s image was plastered on the covers of Time, People and Sports Illustrated, along with every tabloid and newspaper across the nation. It was the top news story for several days and ESPN ranked it the #1 sports event of the last 25 years.

But, lost in all the hoopla of a violent crash and death stands the real story of Dale Earnhardt. He was beyond an aggressive and fearsome competitor. Earnhardt was an entrepreneur; living the American dream the HARD WAY. He was a 9th grade dropout, who revolutionized the marketing strategies of NASCAR. He sold himself on t-shirts, toy cars and caps. Throw in jackets, posters and coffee mugs, too.

Dale Earnhardt embraced the “Man In Black” image.

Yet, he was also a privately generous dude. Many accounts of his charitable vices have circulated since his death. Those stories would’nt dare be leaked during his life. Dale Earnhardt owned a racing organization valued at more than $100 million. His endorsements and merchandising efforts also raked in hundreds of millions.

But, he lived his life simply. Cowboy boots, a pickup truck, horses and cows on a farm. That was him. Yeah, he had his jets and fancy boats. Everyone has splurging pleasures, I suppose.

That ESPN movie was not a fair or vivid view of Dale Earnhardt. Unfortunately, it’s probably the only account the public will ever see.

Josh Gibson

We’ve seen The Natural and A League Of Their Own, why not make a movie based on the life of the “Black Babe Ruth”?

That’s how many baseball historians remember the life and career of Josh Gibson. Like many phenomenal black ballplayers, Josh Gibson was forbidden from playing in the big leagues, because of the color of his skin. His exclusion will be Major League Baseball’s loss, forever.

While there are few documents certifying Gibson’s statistics, many witnesses watched him and several accounts were written, at the time. Major League Baseball has officially cited his lifetime homerun total at “near 800″, along with a .359 batting average. Undocumented references have him hitting the only fair ball out of Yankee Stadium.

What more could Hollywood want?

I would like to see a serious, credible movie based on the authentic history of the Negro Leagues. Of course, there would be a degree of sadness and dismay, especially at reenactments of racially provoked hatred and discrimination. But, it’s a history that should be told.

I hope to see the life of Josh Gibson and heritage of the Negro Leagues on the big screen someday.

Ric Flair

Yes, I know Mickey Rourke starred in a movie loosely based on a wrestling character, a couple years ago. But, I’m talking about a REAL LIFE story from cradle to wherever he ends up when the movie’s script is written.

Can you think of a more interesting life of choreographed hype than Ric Flair? For the record, the story would begin by following the childhood of Richard Morgan Fliehr, in a suburban Minnesota community.

Ric Flair’s life really does envelope the career and character of the prototypical professional wrestler, albeit from a more successful side. Unlike many others, he didn’t die young or end up crippled before his 50th birthday. Flair is no longer wrestling, but he stays in character and has made quite a living marketing his “Nature Boy” image.

He counts several celebrities among his close friends, and he’s managed to engage millions of people while flip-flopping from HEEL to BABYFACE more times than a chameleon. With the extravagant, glittery robes, white-blond hair and his trademark “woooooo”, Flair is recognized wherever he goes.

And, that’s what really separates him from other senior citizen-aged performers who usually just blend into the fabric of their resulted economy.

Forget the feuds with Hulk Hogan, Sting and Nick Bockwinkel. In fact, everything in the squared circle is well known, at this point.

I would be more interested in seeing the real life of Flair, beyond the ring. Failed marriages, absentee parenting, blown finances, regained finances, renewed relationships. I would imagine it’s a high-charged version of VH1’s “Behind The Music.”

No doubt, it would be interesting.

Well, that’s my ideas. I will be certain to run them past Mark Ciardi, this afternoon. Have a GREAT Thursday …..

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Ravens catching a break in New England ???

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Ravens catching a break in New England ???

Posted on 06 October 2010 by Rex Snider

Yes, I’m quite aware of the Baltimore Ravens schedule of regular season matchups, and this week features a visit from the Denver Broncos. It’s the second home game of the year and John Harbaugh’s squad is reasonably favored by 7 solid points.

I don’t look ahead ….. and I’m certainly not looking beyond Josh McDaniels’ very capable passing attack.

Heck, I would take Denver and the touchdown, if I gambled on football. That said, I still think the Ravens will win the game.

But, beyond this week, a very interesting matchup looms. Just one week from today, the Ravens and every individual who covers, follows and supports the team will be focusing on the New England Patriots.

While I know many observers are relying on last season’s playoff beatdown of Tom Brady as a means for justification in counting on a WIN in the upcoming trip to Foxboro, a proportionate number of us are little more cautious.

Regardless of what happened just 9 short months ago, things can and will change …..

Tom Brady is one of those ELITE quarterbacks we like discussing, when proposing the future aspirations of Joe Flacco. Brady possesses a methodical technique to spreading the ball around, while picking upon vulnerabilities of a defense.

Back in January, Brady’s options were far less numbered than usual. His new tight end options, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, were still in college. Newly acquired running back, Danny Woodhead, was part of Rex Ryan’s depth chart, in New York. And, Randy Moss was hobbled by injury – as the game against the Ravens clearly demonstrated.

Oh yeah, and this guy was done for the season.

I’m not suggesting Wes Welker would’ve turned the table in that loss to the Ravens. John Harbaugh had his team prepared to play and they simply beat New England in every facet of the game.

However, in just 11 short days, the scene could appear differently ….. MUCH DIFFERENTLY.

And, it could end up benefiting the Ravens.

Last night, rumors regarding Randy Moss started circulating. Specifically, the information indicated Moss might be returning to the Minnesota Vikings, via trade.

This morning, the rumors are becoming more concrete and several sources (including the WORLD WIDE LEADER) are confirming a trade will be completed today. Of course, it hinges on Moss getting a contract extension – and more money.

Such a deal makes sense on many levels.

The Vikings desperately need to find a capable set of hands for the landing end of Brett Favre’s passes. And, a deep threat would be icing on the cake. Oh yeah, and Moss obviously knows the Vikings organization.

Perhaps, some mitigating reasons are at play, as well …..

I think many of us can envision a scenario where Favre packs up his Minny-circus for good, especially if the team is languishing below the .500 mark when November rolls around. And, given the underachieving play of the highly touted Green Bay Packers, the Vikings brass might sense an opportunity opening up.

Indeed, I can reasonably foresee a trade of Moss being beneficial for both organizations, especially if the Patriots yield some young defensive depth in return. Although, it would be a textbook Patriots move in simply collecting high draft picks in return.

Of all the reasons contemplated for predicting a trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings, the most daunting is undoubtedly tied to this mad scientist …..

The entire football world knows Randy Moss is unhappy with his contract situation. It’s the same unprofessional load of crap that resulted in his ugly divorce from the Vikings, following the 2004 season.

Moss became a distraction for the Vikings. He undermined the mission of the team and his coach, Mike Tice.

The same situation appears to be blossoming, in New England. He’s getting louder and louder about his contractual bitterness. He didn’t catch a single pass in Monday’s victory against Miami, and he reportedly had “words” with Bill Belichick, yesterday.

That’s a bad move ….. unless, of course, the intent was to expedite a deal.

Regardless of how anyone feels about the New England Patriots, I think everyone with a CLUE realizes who really runs, controls and commands that organization. Bill Belichick is without a shadow of doubt, the H.M.F.I.C. of that team.

Nobody challenges his authority. And, if someone commits such an act, they’ll receive a departure ticket out of Logan Airport pretty quickly. Just ask Deion Branch or Adalius Thomas.

As I write this blog, many syndicated voices are flushing the collective 2010 competitive chances of the Patriots directly down the toilet …..

I’m not buying that bill of goods.

I’ve watched, too many times, as ELITE quarterbacks have introduced talented wideouts as overnight rockstars. Do you really think Austin Collie would be a top performer in Tennessee, Cleveland or Seattle? Would Marques Colston be a premier threat in Arizona, Carolina or Buffalo?

The key to the New England Patriots remains the same as it has for the last decade …..

Tom Brady has ushered a far lesser talented receiving corps into a Super Bowl and won it. Just look at the 2004 edition of that team. (RIGHT HERE)

Without Randy Moss, it’s fair to say the New England Patriots cache’ of receivers is every bit as talented as the Indianapolis Colts’ crew. Is anyone counting them out?

This situation is simply reflective of what happens when a guy disrupts the environment of Bill Belichick’s team. Nothing more, nothing less …..

While I still respect the Patriots as a contender for the AFC crown, I’m pretty upbeat about the Ravens chances in next week’s trip to New England. And, if Randy Moss is no longer there, I’m even more optimistic about the Ravens chances.

While the Ravens are only 4 games into the regular season schedule, they’ve luckily avoided any ELITE quarterback/deep threat combinations. Indeed, the trip to New England serves as a formidable test for Greg Mattison’s secondary unit. With the reported, impending departure of Randy Moss, the gameplan will undoubtedly be a little simpler, right?

I’m certain the Moss situation is a distant consideration for John Harbaugh’s staff. That’s right, they’re squarely focused on Kyle Orton and the Denver Broncos. The Ravens will not be looking beyond this Sunday’s game.

But, when next Monday arrives, they might be really happy to see Randy Moss playing on Monday Night Football ….. for the Vikings.

And, wouldn’t you know it, that game is against the Patriots’ divisional rival; Rex Ryan and the New York Jets. Indeed, that’s CLASSIC Belichick.

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5 Questions From Ravens / Steelers Part 1

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5 Questions From Ravens / Steelers Part 1

Posted on 04 October 2010 by Thyrl Nelson

1. Did Sunday’s win really prove anything?


Sure the Ravens picked up their first win in Pittsburgh since Harbaugh and Flacco have come to town, and in fairness, their first since Steve McNair was at the helm. Not only that, but in so doing, they also managed to climb from 3rd place in the AFC North to 1st in one fell swoop. Joe Flacco picked up the first of hopefully many signature wins, and the Ravens took advantage of the last opportunity to make the Steelers realize some pain from life without the services of their franchise QB. With all of that said though, how much is a win in the final seconds of a game plagued by missed field goals against a divisional rival with their 4th string QB really worth? How many teams even have a 4th string QB? In the end, you’ll take the win and the confidence that goes with it, but it’s fair to say that as they welcome back Ben Roethlisberger this week, with a 3-1 record to show for his absence, the Steelers too have to be pretty happy with where they’re at after 4 games. None of Sunday’s game will mean a thing when these two teams square off again in week 13, or maybe even for a third time at an as yet undetermined location, with possibly everything on the line.


2. Can the Ravens keep winning games despite losing the turnover battle?


A 3-1 start to the season is impressive in the NFL no matter how you dissect it, but 3-1 against the types of defenses that the Ravens have seen in the first 4 weeks of the season, mostly on the road is borderline miraculous. Still, it has to be both concerning and encouraging that the Ravens have done what they’ve done despite being a -7 in giveaway / takeaway ratio this season. They lost the turnover battle 3-1 in a narrow win over the Jets in week 1, lost it 4-0 in a loss to the Bengals in week 2, and saw no turnovers for either side in a week 3 win against the Browns. On Sunday, the Ravens again managed a win despite losing the turnover battle 2-1. In the NFL, that just doesn’t happen, so although their inability to force turnovers so far this year has to be concerning, it has to be equally encouraging that they’ve managed to win games anyway. TAgain, that just doesn’t happen in the NFL.


Who would have thought that this team would be 4 games into any season without winning the turnover battle in a single 1 of them? Beyond that, who thinks that trend can possibly continue; either way? Can they keep winning games where they lose the turnover battle? Can they possibly keep losing the turnover battle consistently? Could a big market correction be due once Ed Reed returns? We’ll soon see I suppose.


3. Where will the Ravens look for running help next week?


With Ray Rice already quite obviously less than 100%, injuries to LeRon McClain and Willis McGahee were just about the last thing Ravens fans wanted to see. For his part, Rice soldiered through Sunday’s game and will likely continue to do so, but saving wear and tear on him has to be a concern, as evidenced by the judicious use of McGahee on Sunday. With McGahee suffering a stinger, and McClain a shoulder injury in Sunday’s action, all would appear to be available next week, but to what degree of effectiveness, is anyone’s guess. Maybe they’ll be able to draw some inspiration from their opponents in Denver, who have seemed to simply plug in any back with success for the better part of a decade and a half now. The Ravens will hopefully only need to do it for a couple of weeks.


4. Do the Ravens have a kicking issue?


Did I hear them say on the broadcast that Billy Cundiff was only 10 for his last 21 from 30 yards or more?  Although he rightfully won the kicking  job out of camp, it’s fair to say that Cundiff has been less than stellar in his last 2 outings, and had the results of the games been different, might be looking at some competition headed his way. Struggles in the open end of Pittsburgh’s stadium are well documented, and Cundiff is in good company struggling there. Even Jeff Reed, who kicks there all the time has missed 4 there already this season. Still, if Cundiff doesn’t give folks a reason to not talk about him pretty soon, his place on this roster could be a lot less comfortable going forward.


5. Did the refs blow it on that last holding call?


For as long as I’ve been watching NFL football, holding in the end zone is a safety. So when Pittsburgh punted from their own end zone inside of two minutes, and holding was called, shouldn’t that have been a safety? Instead they added 10 yards to the spot of the return and the Ravens down 4 proceeded down the field for the winning TD. But if a safety had been called there, the Ravens would have gotten the ball in relatively good field position, down 2 points and needing just a field goal to win. Given the struggles of Billy Cundiff and Jeff Reed on that side of the field, the conservative nature of NFL coaches and armed with the knowledge that the Ravens did score a game winning TD, maybe they were better off with things the way they went, but it was a blown call. Wasn’t it?


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Blog & Tackle: One-liners on the NFL through Week 3

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Blog & Tackle: One-liners on the NFL through Week 3

Posted on 29 September 2010 by Chris Pika

Week 4 is the first week that byes take place in the NFL, so this is a great time to take short stock of each of the clubs through three weeks. And by short, I mean one line on each team — some stats, some observations and some conjecture.

First up, the AFC teams by division. Records are through Week 3:

Anquan Boldin brings in a 27-yard touchdown pass against the Cleveland Browns during the 4th quarter at at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on September 26, 2010. Boldin scored three touchdowns in the Ravens 24-17 victory over the Browns. UPI/Kevin Dietsch Photo via Newscom

AFC East

New York Jets (2-1): Despite crippled Revis Island on defense, brash Jets are only team in AFC East with perfect division record (2-0).

New England Patriots (2-1): QB Tom Brady (8 TD, 109.1 passer rating) is back to form as Patriots have AFC’s highest point total (90) and highest TD total (12) so far.

Miami Dolphins (2-1): Even with deep threat WR Brandon Marshall and RB Ronnie Brown, Dolphins have same amount of TDs (5) as Buffalo, Cincinnati and Baltimore.

Buffalo Bills (0-3): Another lost year for Bills, which have scored fourth-least points (47) in AFC and have given up most points (87) on defense in the conference.

AFC North

Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0): The question for head coach Mike Tomlin is if the Steelers are 4-0 after a win over Baltimore in Week 4, why change QBs to Ben Roethlisberger?

Cincinnati Bengals (2-1): Bengals, despite record, have struggled on offense as QB Carson Palmer (12th rated AFC passer at 71.3) hasn’t found rhythm with T.O.cho Show.

Baltimore Ravens (2-1): Defense, led by MLB Ray Lewis, continues to carry a team expected to score much more in 2010 (44 points; 2nd-lowest in AFC), despite breakout game by WR Anquan Boldin (3 TDs) last week.

Cleveland Browns (0-3): Browns are led by Peyton … not Manning, but RB Hillis (220 yards, 3 TDs) as Browns gave popular AFC Super Bowl pick Ravens much trouble in Week 3.

AFC South

Houston Texans (2-1): Texans got over the hump of beating the Colts, but Houston is not the best team in state of Texas after bad loss to Cowboys.

Tennessee Titans (2-1): Titans defense has allowed fourth-fewest points in the AFC (42), and the Tennessee offense has RB Chris Johnson (4 TDs), but continuing issues at quarterback.

Indianapolis Colts (2-1): Despite loss to Houston, Colts still have potent passing attack with QB Peyton Manning and are arguably still best club in the AFC.

Jacksonville Jagaurs (1-2): Jaguars have worst scoring differential in AFC (-43), and Jack Del Rio could be the AFC’s first fired coach.

AFC West

Kansas City Chiefs (3-0): Most surprising number for unbeaten Chiefs is that defense has allowed least points in the AFC (38), and in weak AFC West, KC might have enough to win the division.

San Diego Chargers (1-2): Special teams burned for two scores at Seattle, and Chargers QB Philip Rivers (AFC-high 4 INTs) is missing a suddenly resurgent RB LaDainian Tomlinson, now with the Jets.

Denver Broncos (1-2): Broncos getting decent offensive production from QB Kyle Orton, but overall have a minus point differential (-4; 61 PF, 65 PA).

Oakland Raiders (1-2): High-priced K Sebastian Janikowski could have made Raiders a 2-1 team with made kicks at Arizona, but Raiders need more than 3s (4 TDs, tied for lowest in AFC with JAX) to be competitive in up-for-grabs division.

Now for the NFC:

NFC East

Philadelphia Eagles (2-1): The Eagles have gone from a transitional season with QB Kevin Kolb to division title hopes with QB Michael Vick, who might be a legit NFL MVP candidate down the road.

Washington Redskins (1-2): Opening victory over Dallas doesn’t look as good after defense was shredded in last two weeks and Cowboys’ struggles.

New York Giants (1-2): A minus-30 scoring differential (55 PF, 85 PA) is third-worst in NFC, and head coach Tom Coughlin is starting to feel the heat.

Dallas Cowboys (1-2): Cowboys avoided 0-3 start in Week 3 with big win over Houston, and Dallas has the personnel to rebound in a wide-open NFC East race.

NFC North

Chicago Bears (3-0): Most unlikely last remaining 3-0 team in NFC gives head coach Lovie Smith some breathing room as O-line tries to keep QB Jay Cutler upright in Mike Martz offensive system.

Green Bay Packers (2-1): Despite mental miscues in Week 3 loss at Chicago, popular Super Bowl XLV NFC pick has plenty of offensive weapons for QB Aaron Rodgers, but need run game to be re-established after Ryan Grant injury.

Minnesota Vikings (1-2): QB Brett Favre looks very old right now, and Vikings best chance to win is to get away from pass-first mindset to get the ball into Adrian Peterson’s hopefully sure hands more often.

Detroit Lions (0-3): Injury to QB Matthew Stafford put dent into head coach Jim Schwartz’s immediate rebuilding plans, and Lions don’t get a break in Week 4 against Packers.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons (2-1): Falcons posted most-impressive win of Week 3 as they marched out of New Orleans with a OT win, and Atlanta has NFC best-tying +31 point differential.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1): AFter 2-0 start, Bucs ran into Steelers’ buzzsaw in Week 3, and Tampa Bay is staring at possible 2-3 record with games vs. Cincinnati and New Orleans after bye week.

New Orleans Saints (2-1): Saints run defense was exposed in loss to Falcons, and defending Super Bowl champs need fast starts in order to avoid same fate against strong run teams going forward.

Carolina Panthers (0-3): Winless Panthers have least TDs in NFC (3), and head coach John Fox may be running out of rope with owner Jerry Richardson.

NFC West

Seattle Seahawks (2-1): Head coach Pete Carroll sidestepped Southern California mess and he has put Seattle in early position to make headway in weak NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals (2-1): Despite record, Cards have minus-29 point differential (48 PF, 77 PA) and would be 1-2 if Oakland made a field goal or two in Week 3.

St. Louis Rams (1-2): Rookie QB Sam Bradford will have to grow up in a hurry, but the shame is that the Rams can’t play Washington every week.

San Francisco 49ers (0-3): Head coach Mike Singletary used the next-to-last bullet in his gun after firing offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye, and the last one might be used by 49ers ownership at end of the season if disappointments continue.

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