Tag Archive | "fans"

Tags: , , , , ,

An Open Letter to Ed Reed

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Mark Suchy

Dear Ed,

I wanted to write and wish you well this week.  Not this Saturday, but today, and yesterday, and every day since the terrible moment you heard the news about your brother.  I want to extend my sympathies to you and your entire family.  I want you to know that you are not alone, that many people can understand and sympathize and wish you comfort and love and healing through this passage of your life.  You should understand that at times like this, you are viewed as a man, a son, and a brother, more than as the wonderful and talented football player you have always been.

For all the blessings and joy we can count in our lives, tragedy and its consequences is unavoidable.  Nobody is immune to it.  There is no singular trait we possess to escape it.  The sorrow and shock of sudden loss has touched everyone.  Whether it’s natural disaster, an auto accident, a heart attack or some other form, there is simply no way to prepare for it.  All that can be done is to accept it as part of our journey through life.  Of course there are the unanswered questions, the anguish, the lingering doubts as to what could have been done differently to change the course of fate, but as you’ll discover, these will fade over time.  And over time, your head and your heart will be filled with the joyful memories of the one you loved.

I know all about brothers, Ed.  I have two of them myself, in addition to three wonderful sons.  Don’t ask me anything about daughters, though, as I have none, or any sisters.  Strange how life can work that way in some families, isn’t it?  So I’m deeply familiar with the bonds that brothers build and carry through life.  It’s unique and special and something I am always thankful for every day.  And even though we may be spread apart in years and in miles, each of them is only a phone call away.  Whether it’s happy news to be shared or personal problems to unload, they always take the time to listen, to counsel, to understand and to respond, just as I do for them.  We are each unique in our talents and abilities, and as we’ve grown, I know we’ve come to appreciate those differences more and more.  I take great pride in their accomplishments, just as I’m certain Brian did in yours.  It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to turn to someone and say, “Yeah, that’s my brother.”  Just as it’s wonderful to watch my sons grow and prosper and begin to develop their own personalities and differences.  I even find myself smiling at their quarrels and rumbles ( well, most of the time, at least, until there’s blood drawn! ).  I know you can relate.

As I wrote earlier, we all know the pain of loss, Ed.  Perhaps it’s not a brother, but another relative or dear friend.  For me, it was my father dying last February of a sudden heart attack during the first blizzard of that crazy week.  He was my family’s leader and my greatest influence, especially when it came to my love of sports, and Baltimore’s teams.  I have no doubt that I care as much as I do about your success, and your team’s, because of him. 

Emotion is the most powerful force in life.  It can lift us up, drag us down, make us great or belittle us, depending on the circumstances.  It is up to each of us to determine how to best handle it, given the time and the place.  For a while after my father died, I was certain he was controlling events that, rationally speaking, could not be controlled.  The Saints victory over the despised Colts in last year’s Super Bowl was, I was utterly convinced, his doing.  Until Korie Lucious sank that heartbreaking three-pointer to end his beloved Maryland Terrapins’ basketball season.  Then I realized how I was allowing my emotions to control my day-to-day living without him.  As painful as that lost basketball game was to me, it was a much needed wake-up call to get back to the business of living my life the best I could every day, especially for those who needed that the most from me. 

Much has already been written and said about this weekend’s playoff game in Pittsburgh.  I’m not writing to shed any further light on what it means to everyone involved on both sides of this great rivalry.  And honestly, you know about it better than any of us, having not only lived it, but played it all these years now.  Take your emotions and channel them in the best way you see fit, Ed.  Lean on your brothers in that locker room for support and understanding and comfort.  Be your best, give your best, and never forget that regardless of the outcome, you are admired and supported by many of your fans as much more than a football player.  I’m sorry that it takes a tragedy such as this to understand that, but I felt you should know.

Before I close, there are two more thoughts I wanted to share with you:  First, I gave my younger brother a black #20 jersey for Christmas this year, which thrilled him immensely, as you are his favorite Raven, and as he didn’t own a Ravens jersey.  He’ll be watching and wearing it on Saturday in Boulder, Colorado, and you’ll probably be able to hear his cheers from there.  Second, my father passed away on February 6th last year.  I just checked my calendar, and it appears there’s a football game scheduled for that exact date this year.  In Dallas.  It sure would be cool to see his favorite team ( and mine, and my sons’ ) playing in it.

Best of luck to you and all your brothers in achieving your dreams, Ed.

May God Bless You and Your Family,

Your Friend and Fan,

Mark C. Suchy

Comments Off

Tags: , , ,

Are you headed to Kansas City? We have two great Saturday parties for you!

Posted on 03 January 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

Are you going to Kansas City? We have two great purple pep rallies set for Saturday!

As always, WNST.net has scouted the local terrain and we’ve put together two fabulous Miller Lite Purple Pep Rallies in Kansas City on Saturday. We’ll consider it a “day-night doubleheader” for all of the traveling fans of the Ravens who want to convene and have some Baltimore-style fun.

You can buy tickets for the events in Kansas City HERE!!!

Here are the details:

Saturday 810 Zone Sports Bar Meet And Greet (11 a.m. ‘til 3 p.m.)

We’ll gather at Kansas City’s No. 1 sports bar, The 810Zone, at Country Club Plaza for some pre-game food, cocktails, spirit in a great, friendly Midwestern environment. The folks at the 810 are owned by local radio station WHB-AM, who we consider our best radio friends in America.

We’ll have a great buffet all afternoon and all of the games in the game room are included in the purchase price.

MENU includes:
Nacho Bar
Cordon Bleu “Purple Balls”
Wings done different ways
Baked Ziti
Pot Stickers
Queso and chips
Veggie and fruit tray
Spinach Dip

Many Miller Lite & cocktail specials as well

ADMISSION: $15 in advance, $20 at door

………ALSO…….

Saturday Night “We hate Indy AND New York” viewing party at Monaco (6:30 ‘til 10)

We hope it looks something like this:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA0xYf3IeQk[/youtube]

For the folks arriving later into town this is a great way to spend the Saturday night in Kansas City with the football game on the big screen (starts at 7 p.m. CST) and dance tunes and great BBQ, beer and fun in one of the local area’s cool district known as Martini Corner Entertainment District with several other great establishments within walking distance for when the party ends at 10-ish.

Directions .. . . . http://www.martinicorner.com/directions/
Monaco Party Pictures . . . . . http://martinicorner.squarespace.com/gallery/
Martini Corner (homepage) . . . . . http://www.martinicorner.com/
Facebook page . . . . http://www.facebook.com/martini.corner

Saturday Night Dinner Menu:
K.C. BBQ Buffet
Pulled pork
Beef brisket sandwiches
Baked beans
Potato salad
Cole slaw
Fries
And all the trimmings

MANY Miller Lite and cocktail specials
Great House DJ
A No. 52 Danceoff like this:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0DHtvRLOz0[/youtube]

ADMISSION: $15 in advance, $20 at door

IF YOU ARE COMING TO BOTH PARTIES:

ADVANCE ADMISSION: $25

You can buy tickets to either or both of our Kansas City events HERE!!!!

Simply Print your Pay Pal receipt and have it with you in Kansas City.

We’ll have your name under the credit card you ordered your tickets and we can’t wait to see you!

Comments Off

Tags: , , ,

The biggest story in Charlotte wasn’t on the field — it was in the stands!

Posted on 24 November 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s been an interesting couple of days of meltdowns, chill outs and re-energizing the batteries for me since the wild weekend in Charlotte when our Baltimore fans essentially went down there and took over the entire city. After a 48-hour marathon of parties, beer drinking, tailgates, football and bus rides my plan on Monday was to do as little as Andy MacPhail for a day and I can honestly say I failed.

Even when I wasn’t trying, I STILL got more done than the Orioles did on Monday and Tuesday.

But seeing the “old media” coverage of the magnificence of the events in Carolina was almost laughable given how many miles I put on the tread seeing Baltimoreans of all walks of life come to life in Charlotte on Saturday and Sunday. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I’ll show you what I’m seeing and when I see it.

This is what I saw Saturday night:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RA0xYf3IeQk[/youtube]

It really occurred to me as I perused the field from the 20-yard line and saw thick swaths of purple throughout the teal building and everywhere in concourses and stands that Sunday was a transcendent day for Baltimore fans and sports.

It was a “jump the shark” kind of day for the Baltimore Ravens as a franchise of relevance – moving from being a team with a small local fan base to becoming one that is becoming far more of a “national” brand when the franchise is picking up hardcore fans from other cities who descend upon road games as well and mix and mingle with Baltimore residents.

Displaced Baltimore fans make up a nice percentage of the users to WNST.net and our Baltimore sports web community. Through the magic of the internet I can even see where my visitors come from and it’s all over the map when you consider that over the last 15 years there have been many Baltimoreans who have had to leave town

Comments Off

Tags: , , ,

Ravens insitutute kid friendly autograph policy in Westminster

Posted on 13 July 2010 by WNST Staff

The Ravens will institute a new autograph policy at training camp, which begins at McDaniel College on July 27, the first day practices are open to the public.

(Rookies and selected veterans report to “Ravens Training Camp, Connected by Verizon” on Monday, July 26, and this group practices twice each on July 27 and 28. Veterans report on July 28, and the first full-team practices open to the public will take place on July 30. There is an “Administrative Day” on July 29 that is not open to the public or media.)

Players will sign autographs for children only after all morning practices. Autographs will not be available following afternoon practices.

Safety is the key factor for the change. “We have considered changing the way we do autograph signings for a few years,” team president Dick Cass said. “Our crowds for the morning practices have become so large that we’ve had safety situations with people pushing each other to try and get closer to the players. Often times, children would be put in difficult positions with the rush for autographs, especially from our most popular players.”

Many NFL teams select a few players each day to sign a limited number of autographs in a designated area. “We want to keep the spontaneity and closeness we have with our fans who come to training camp,” Cass added. “The connectivity we have with our fans at camp is important to us and a Ravens’ tradition. We know that every person who comes to camp and wants an autograph cannot get one because of the players’ schedules. Under our new system, more children will have the opportunity, and that’s important to us.”

Children ages 6 through 15 will be allowed on the field after each morning practice. Children must wear a Ravens-issued wristband to enter the autograph area. There will be a tent adjacent to the fields where wristbands will be issued. Children can bring one item to be autographed, and adults will not be allowed to enter the autograph area.

Please note that two-thirds of the team has a post-practice football activity after every morning session. One-third of the team is required to lift weights. Another third is required to attend “Back School,” which is a core workout usually done outside. The other third is available to sign autographs. Team schedules are subject to change, and not every child is guaranteed an autograph.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Maybe now Cleveland will leave Art Modell alone?

Posted on 09 July 2010 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m not an expert about much but Cleveland is something I know a lot about. As much as I like to have some fun with our cousins to the Midwest – it’s been a healthy rivalry ever since Art Modell stepped foot into Parking Lot D in Nov. 1995 – today a little piece of me is angry for them.

It’s true – anger is to Cleveland what fake breasts and sunshine are to California. People in Cleveland are perennially angry. They hate the Browns. They hate Art Modell. They hate losing. They hate whoever is the quarterback of the Browns. They hate that they haven’t won a championship.

They hate me.

And this morning, for the first time since Modell brought us the Ravens, they have a right to be burning 23 jerseys and “M-F-ing” Lebron James into perpetuity.

Sure, “King James” had the freedom to play wherever he wanted to play. Sure, Miami has prettier girls (although I always had a good time in Cleveland, wink, wink) and more sunshine and Chris Bosh and Dewayne Wade and Pat Riley.

But Cleveland held something intrinsic and legitimate that Lebron James sold away in one sentence last night, something that can’t be bought with a check from South Florida (even if it’s just with the tax money saved and put back into his deep, Ocean Drive pockets).

It’s called authenticity.

Lebron had it the way Cal Ripken had it and Tony Gwynn had it. The way Derek Jeter, despite being an outsider, will always have it in New York and Kobe Bryant will have it in Los Angeles, just like Magic Johnson before him.

But even more so, Lebron James was “one of them.” He was an Akron kid who never left home and created a basketball craze in Cleveland that you’d have to see to believe. There’s a whole city of commerce and bars and jerseys and enthusiasm in a forever depressed and decaying community.

It gave people in Cleveland the most precious commodity that sports provides and one this is sorely lacking in Baltimore regarding baseball: hope.

In my private times with Art Modell, it’s the one thing he always talked about that was essential for any fan of a sport or a franchise. If you have hope, you have something that gets people interested.

I don’t need to tell you that Cleveland has been the armpit of America for years and hope is a wonderful thing for depressed communities.

This is where I should tell you that I really love Cleveland. I’ve gone there religiously for almost 20 years and despite having some of the worst sports fan in country (only contested by Philadelphia, in real terms) I pull for Cleveland to at least not be a doormat.

Cleveland and Baltimore are a lot alike. And it wouldn’t take you a few hours there chatting with the people to see it and feel it.

In my humble opinion, “Cleveland rocks!” (Just don’t tell anybody I said that…)

Cleveland was spurned last night. And they’re angry. And they’re burning jerseys. And they should. Hell, it’s what I’d be doing if I gave my soul to Lebron James and the Cavaliers over the last five years.

For the same reasons we collectively booed Mark Teixeira last Opening Day at Camden Yards, the people of Cleveland will forever hold a special place in their hearts for the anger and outrage of what Lebron James has chosen to do.

Like any other self-interested mega-star who is treated like a “King,” Lebron James eschewed any civic responsibility and chose to abandon his community.

Tsk, tsk…

Most of you know, I used to be a pretty huge NBA fan. The last 10 years I’ve chosen to ignore it and it’s been a fine decade for me. I think the players come off as a bunch of collective douche bags, the games are awful to watch and I have zero interest in the personalities or the standings.

But, this isn’t about Lebron James or basketball or the NBA. This is about doing the right thing. The thing that’s bigger than you. The thing that REALLY makes you “special.”

Lebron James chose selfish. And any 25-year old is allowed that privilege.

But Cal Ripken didn’t run off to the Dodgers. And Tony Gwynn didn’t run off to the Mets.

And they will forever reap the rewards of their “sacrifice.”

Lebron James, the man, will forever be remembered for an absurd evening of a July “Lebronathon” on ESPN where he took every negative stereotype consistent with “Rod Tidwell-ish” behavior and displayed it on worldwide TV and chose THE WRONG PLACE!

There was no Jerry Maguire, no happy landing for this imbecile. Wait’ll that first Christmas Day when the Miami Heat come to Cleveland to play a lunch time game. Just wait…

There will be a price to pay for the rest of eternity for Lebron James, even if he wins seven rings and surpasses Michael Jordan — and only time will tell how that script will be written.

But last night was memorable – for all of the wrong reasons. The NBA jumped the shark for a lot of people last night with that display.

I know I’ll always cheer against him. The Miami Heat are interesting to me because they’ll be my least favorite team in my least favorite sport.

The ultimate price for Lebron James will be that he can never go home again.

Somewhere in Northern Baltimore County Art Modell has felt the weight lifted from him.

Lebron James will be the guy they burn in effigy in Cleveland for the next 20 years.

Maybe Lebron should give Art a call for some advice.

Last night, Cleveland – the city that hates — was given a fresh, new gaping wound that will probably never be healed unless the next Lebron James is on some playground in Parma Heights right now.

Comments Off

Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/3/09)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (12/3/09)

Posted on 03 December 2009 by Jack McManus

9:43-

Drew describes his confrontation with Steve Melewski last night. The two talked about Drew’s previous “Cheap Shot” at Melewski. Melewski told Drew to not come back when the Orioles are good again.

9:25-

A caller brings up the possibility of Tiger’s wife going to jail, if the truth involves her assaulting Tiger. This causes Drew to talk about the double standard involving domestic violence. When a man beats his wife it is a disgrace, while when a woman beats her husband it is often considered funny. The same caller also discusses the issue of rowdy fans. Drew reminds him that the athletic department must not offend the students while telling them to simmer down a bit.

9:07-

Gary Van Sickle from Sports Illustrated is the next guest. He is also on to talk about the Tiger controversy. He thinks everything will become even more interesting when more women come out about past affairs. He states that we have crossed the line from news to gossip. He next talks about The Golf Book which was written by the editors of Sports Illustrated. Van Sickle made contributions to the book. He calls it a perfect gift for Golf fans this holiday season. It will contain multiple never before seen photos. On the topic of what is next for Tiger, Van Sickle believes that in reality Tiger can still do whatever he pleases.

golf

8:50-

Phil Mushnick of the New York Post is now on with Drew to talk about his article about Tiger Woods. Mushnick’s point is that Woods has been given special privileges since the start of his career. He believes that nothing will change regarding Tiger’s golf game or the treatment his fellow golfers give him.

tiger

8:43-

Old Man Mattison calls in to talk about his defense. Drew asks him if he is proud of how well his defense is doing. Old Man Mattison explains that he HAS been told that his group has been playing well. He also lets everyone know that Bart Starr has never seen the “dipsy doodle” before.

8:40-

Nestor calls in to talk with Drew. He continues on the topic of college fans. He explains that the schools must do more to not allow intoxicated students into sporting events.

8:32-

Another caller who was at the Towson game last night talks with Drew. He discusses the behavior of fans at the game. He explains that he has not seen something like that at the Towson Center before. He also talks about the prospects of Towson’s season.

8:27-

A caller chimes in on Drew’s earlier cheap shot. He wants to put more blame on the high members of the athletic department.

8:13-

Brian Billick now makes his weekly appearance. He will at the Detroit-Cincinnati game this weekend. He starts off by talking about the New Orleans Saints. Instead of talking about the high-powered offense, he focus on the defense, that he calls very physical. Brian now moves on to the job openings that will inevitably open around the NFL. He does not believe that as many coaches will lose their jobs as last season.

billick

7:54-

Drew is now taking his “Cheap Shot from the Bleachers.” He talks about the unacceptable behavior of fans at college basketball games. He also places blame on the administration for not addressing the issue either. He explains that fans are sometimes uncontrollable. He asks what is wrong with people who make the games a bad experience for everyone else in attendance.

fans

7:40-

John Feinstein joins Drew this morning. He talks about this weekend’s BB&T Classic Basketball Tournament. He is a major contributor for the event that raises for the Children’s Charities Foundation. Feinstein also discusses other newsworthy events in sports, including the Tiger Woods situation.

Comments Off

WNST announces major roadtrip San Diego party for Saturday

Tags: , ,

WNST announces major roadtrip San Diego party for Saturday

Posted on 17 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

People have been emailing from all over the country asking where our party will be in San Diego on Saturday. (Yes, WNST.net has users from the purple kingdom outside of the 695 ring!)

After much negotiation, we’ve decided on ONE central place in Gaslamp District to gather and it will be Tilted Kilt in the San Diego East Village (Downtown right next to Petco Park). VERY easy to find!

THIS IS A FREE PARTY!!!!!

The party starts at 9AM Saturday morning for a special purple brunch to start the day of college football, West Coast-style with morning action from the East Coast…continuing into the night with the UFC Fights in the bar later that evening (7 p.m. start). The bar is open until 2 a.m.!

This is a sample of wait staff at the Tilted Kilt, which is an Irish-themed, Hooters-style sports bar that Glenn Clark says is “fabulous.” I’ll take Glenn’s word for it.

Tilted Kilt

Address:
310 10th Ave.
San Diego, CA, 92101
(619) 814-KILT

website: http://tiltedkilt.com/california/san_diego/index.html

Here is the lineup of specials for the day:

Beers are $4, Bloody Marys with a fix it yourself bar, $5.50 20oz Miller Lite and Coors Light drafts, bucket of 5 domestic beers for $17.00, $4.00 Miller Lite and Coors Light bottles, Raven juice shots $4.00 and Raven cakes $4.99 (Blueberry pancakes).

If you click the website I think you’ll see that we’ve elected a winning location and a great partner in the heart of all of the action to act as the Purple Headquarters all day on Saturday for a before-game purple takeover.

Here’s some evidence of our last two soirees in Nashville and Pittsburgh:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hq5TTVO62PY&feature=PlayList&p=46386568793ED5DF&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmFkwqWtvP4[/youtube]

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , ,

Sadly, Orioles force cancellation of “See The Birds”

Posted on 08 September 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

UPDATED 10:43 p.m.: After we had already elected to cancel the “See The Birds” event next week, WNST just received an official “cease and desist” letter from some attorney at MLB telling us that we’re not allowed to help the Orioles fill a few thousand of their 40,000 empty seats next Tuesday at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

So much for gratitude or fan friendliness. I guess they don’t want to see real Orioles fans in their upper deck.

Well, they are who we thought they were. Their shady business practices are on full display this morning.

Sadly, the WNST effort to bring 1,000 people to the Orioles-Rays game for next Tuesday night has been thwarted by the team, who refused to sell our group their heavily advertised $1 tickets (which, as we pointed out last Friday, don’t really exist).

We will be refunding more than $1,000 collected today to the many who wanted to come to the game with a fun group and donate to Nick Markakis’ Foundation.

I’ll be writing more about this sad turn of events later (or maybe not — I’m a little wrung out with these clowns), but many had been inquiring and trying to rally groups of friends to come down to the ballpark. I think we might’ve been able to top the 2,000 mark if we had the whole week to promote the event and mobilize the fans. We had more than 500 today before lunchtime and we hadn’t even really started getting the Twitter and Facebook thing going.

It’s just sad…but “See The Birds” is over — at the legal urging of Peter G. Angelos and his staff. They don’t want our money. They don’t want our fans. What can I say? I did my best to help them and support these young players.

We are still encouraging people to join us down at The Nest for a beer next Tuesday night but I will not be attending the game.

At least everyone at WNST can say, “We tried!” We really DID TRY and we thought of it as a “no lose” proposition for them and a way for them to reach out to our substantial audience at WNST.net in their 12th consecutive year of losing.

We wanted to come and cheer for their young players. They obviously want us to stay home.

As predicted, they always want to fight and be difficult and be mean-spirited.

As some had predicted, it would end with a MLB “Angelosian” legal missive from the gutless people printing money by the millions at the lowest point in the history of the franchise.

These are the same people who ban legitimate media members with 20 years of sportswriting experience from covering their team.

On a night when they managed five hits and lost in a what-would-be-embarrassing for any other franchise 10-0 defeat at Fenway Park, I’m frankly out of words to convey my disgust.

I’ll just turn my cheek and join the rest of the city in turning my attention toward the Ravens and a very exciting and promising NFL season.

The Orioles don’t want us at the ballpark next Tuesday night and their $1 ticket claim is fraudulent.

We’re going to tell dozens of kids, Little League players and charitable groups that we’re not taking them to the Orioles game next week. Fathers and sons, friends and co-workers once again doing what we’ve been doing for years — staying away from the ballpark.

All we wanted to do was have some fun and do something nice for a local baseball-related charity before the Orioles go into hibernation for the winter. And show some support for these players that the MASN commercials like to portray as “family.”

Once again, the Orioles continue to expose themselves for what they are — not very nice and not very fan-friendly.

And NOT very smart…

I’m going to bed…

Comments Off

Tags: , , , ,

Were you one of the few Orioles fans amidst sea of red this weekend?

Posted on 02 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, it’s all over. The Orioles were once again swept in Baltimore by the Red Sox. Once again, thousands of New Englanders and supporters raided the city and brought millions of dollars of civic kindess on the metropolis while they continued to point out the biggest crime of Peter Angelos’ tenure as the owner of our baseball team.

I ventured to Camden Yards today. Instead of writing about everything I saw and did, I shot a video for you.

If you like my radio show, maybe you’ll like my lengthy set of views, observations and comments while I spent my day watching Jason Berken and Orioles pitchers give up 23 hits and 18 runs.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dNQtAwg-nGI[/youtube]

Comments Off

Tags: , , ,

Bye-bye Kyle Boller: One of Baltimore’s best is gone

Posted on 05 April 2009 by Drew Forrester

He won’t be remembered for his play on the field.  Well, actually, he might be remembered for SOME of it.  Unfortunately, most of the memories won’t be good ones.  Mostly, the bad outweighed the good during his six years in Baltimore.

One of Baltimore’s best is gone.  He wasn’t one of the best players to ever earn a check in the “410″, but he was one of the best men to play here.

The Kyle Boller era is officially over in Charm City after the former #1 pick signed with the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.

He’ll always be regarded as a guy who didn’t live up to the bill of the “franchise quarterback” labels that were stitched to his uniform from day one back in 2003.

He might not have done enough here to justify being a first-round quarterback, but he did more than enough to justify being a first-class human being.

On the field…not that good.

In every other area, though, he was worthy of any accolade you could pin on him.

When the team lost — sometimes, because HE played poorly — he was always front and center following the game, facing the lights, the microphones and the pen and paper.  When the team won — even if, on that rare occasion, when he was responsible for the triumph — he never stood up and said, “Hey, look at me!!  Where are all you haters now?”

In the the last six years, no player on the roster — NO PLAYER, PERIOD — has been more of a stand-up guy than Kyle Boller.

That doesn’t mean the Ravens made a mistake in not keeping him around for 2009.  Not at all.

It was time for the Kyle Boller experiment to run out of funding here in Baltimore.  They have their future QB here and it’s not Kyle.

This is not a “Ravens made a mistake letting Boller go” blog.

This is an ode to a guy who was always willing to man-up, always willing to take the grief, always willing to smile and say, “I’m going to do my best to get better…”

And, more than anything else, he was always willing to face the media in the wake of yet another disappointing performance or loss and say, “Yeah, I could have made that throw…”

I can think of – *ahem* – a few noteworthy stars on the team who were always bouncing around the locker room in their $2,500 suits chasing down the media after a win or a big play — but pulling a David Copperfield disappearing act after a loss or a penalty that hurt the team’s chances.

Kyle Boller never ducked anyone.

In the 2005 season opener, Boller was injured in a home game against the Indianapolis Colts and a large throng of obviously drunk and obviously heartless fans actually CHEERED – loudly – when Boller was on the field writhing in pain.

That, according to one player who was on the team in ’05, hurt Boller more than anything else during his tenure.

“I remember after the game, he was at his locker and I was a couple of seats away getting dressed and he said, ‘Were the fans cheering when I got hurt?  It sounded like they were cheering.’ and I said, “I don’t know, man.”  I looked up at him and he had this weird smile on his face and he said, “They cheered when I got injured out there.  I can’t believe it.”

Boller should know he was playing in the same city that ran off Eddie Murray in the 1980′s because he didn’t dive after enough ground balls.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-round pick with unfulfilled promise or a champion first-baseman who helped deliver a world title to the faithful — when Baltimore turns on you, you’re d-o-n-e.

Forgive and forget doesn’t happen much in Charm City.

In Boller’s case, though, I’ll forgive his mostly-subpar play based mainly on the fact he was thrust into a starting role in 2003 when it’s reasonable to assume he just wasn’t ready for it.  I don’t think he’ll go to St. Louis and become Kurt Warner 2, but I do believe he’ll be invigorated by a new start with a new team and I’m sure, at some point down the road, he’ll win a game or two for the Rams.

And, in Boller’s case, I won’t forget the stand-up qualities he possessed over the last six years.

Last year, when he was injured early in the season and put on IR, it would haver been very easy for Boller to head to California and do the relax-and-rehab thing in the sunny warmth of the west coast.  Given that Joe Flacco was blooming, it was obvious that Kyle’s career as a starter in Baltimore was over.  No need to hang around Charm City and freeze all winter, right?

Wrong.

Boller shuttled back and forth from California to Maryland, attending EVERY home game and participating in numerous charitable and promotional endeavors for the club.  He would often be seen in the locker room after home games, congratulating Joe Flacco and heaping praise on the rookie signal caller.  I don’t recall seeing the “other” draft pick QB doing that with Flacco after a game, if you know what (who) I mean.

In the post-season, Boller traveled with the team to Miami for the playoff game and then paid for his own flight in and out of Nashville for the win over the Titans because he had returned to California earlier in the week to get clearance from the doctors to resume training.  In the Nashville airport on Sunday morning, Boller’s flight to the west coast left from the same general gate-location as the Southwest flight I was taking back to Baltimore.  Fans rushed to him and he spent the better part of 60 minutes chatting, smiling, signing autographs and thanking them for coming to Nashville to watch the team play.

I went over to talk about golf and Caves Valley with him…asked how he was feeling…and briefly previewed the AFC title game (the Ravens still weren’t sure who they were playing).  ”Joe’s playing great,” Kyle said.  ”He’s not going to back down from anyone next week.”

Nothing but praise for the guy who, basically, took his job from him.  For good.

That’s the way it always was with Boller.  He said the right thing.  He took the criticism.  He didn’t blame anyone else.  He didn’t dodge the media or the fans.

He was a stand-up guy.  He was, perhaps, the team’s biggest stand-up guy over the last six years.  In fact, he could teach the Baltimore baseball team a thing or two about the concept of personal integrity.

We won’t miss the ineffective play…but the Ravens will have to work long and hard to find a guy with Boller’s heart.

Forgive and forget?   Nope.

Forgive, yes.

Forget, no.

Comments Off