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Giving Thanks to Baltimore coaches everywhere

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Giving Thanks to Baltimore coaches everywhere

Posted on 26 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Well, we made it to yet another Thanksgiving. It’s another late Thursday in November, another Calvert Hall-Loyola game, another dose of Detroit for lunch and Dallas for dinner. We’re all a year older and hopefully a year wiser. It’s football, turkey and “giving thanks” for whatever good graces we all have in our lives.

So, being the sports guy that I am, I thought I’d write a Thanksgiving tribute to all of the coaches in my life. At 41 and being the nutty up-all-night sports web media entrepreneur that I am, the real gift of all of my years of doing Baltimore sports media has been the wisdom that I’ve unwittingly acquired along the way from coaches, managers and leaders of men in the business that I’ve fallen in love with – sports and community.

Of course, when you’re 15 years old and taking the No. 23 MTA bus downtown to Skipjacks games and writing about them for The News American next to John Steadman, you don’t realize until much later the impact these people have had on your life. So, today, I’ll give them thanks.

I truly have a lot to be thankful for – a great family, wife, son, a 90-year old Mom who brings great humor to my life, and many awesome partners, co-workers, friends, business associates and athletes, jocks and Facebook friends.

This whole “Thanksgiving blog” idea was borne out of a phone call I received about six weeks ago. It was from the 847 area code and I didn’t recognize the number. (This is where I should insert that I HATE phone calls. I’m a texter. I’m an emailer. I’ll even IM on occasion. Ask anyone in my life, I’m a communicator. But in 2009 – after spending 35 years of my life with my ear glued to a phone to do virtually every piece of my communication — I now find phone calls to be intrusive and disruptive and generally annoying.)

That said, I always seem to answer the damned thing.

“Hello,” I bellowed.

“Nestor…it’s Gene Ubriaco here. How ya been, kid?”

These are the little “gifts” that come out of the blue. I met Gene Ubriaco 25 years ago this month, when at the age of 16 I was put on the Skipjacks beat. My boss, Tom Gibbons, pulled me into his little office on Pratt and South Streets and basically said, “You’re the only one around here who actually wants to go down there and write about them so you’re our guy.”

Gibbons, who came from Boston and loved hockey, also had no budget at a dying newspaper (sound familiar?) and paid me $3.33 per hour to go to games. So, I made about $13 a game, parked for free, got free hot dogs and soda and the good fortune to sit on the roof of the then-Baltimore Civic Center’s rooftop veranda with the rats, roaches and a myriad of really cool old dudes who loved hockey and told me a zillion awesome stories. And sometimes, Barton Mitchell would even bring corned beef sandwiches from Attman’s as a “thank you” to the media.

Jimmy Jackson covered the team for The Sun. George Taylor covered the team for The Evening Sun. They were both well into their 60s. Pete Kerzel was my first media friend and we’d talk about pro wrestling and Jimmy Buffett. I was 16. Those evenings with Jackson and Taylor are my greatest memories of being a sportswriter. They’d eat Fiddle Faddle, yell at the officials, laugh and talk hockey.

After the games, we’d head down Baltimore’s slowest elevator to the locker room to chat with Skipjacks coach Gene Ubriaco. “Ubie,” as everyone would call him, was almost 50 then – a middling to bottom of the roster NHL hockey player but mostly a minor-leaguer who had made a post-career life as a coach and went on to lead the early Mario Lemieux-era Pittsburgh Penguins into a few playoff berths before being jettisoned. He also coached the Italian Olympic hockey team in Albertville, France in 1992 and has been in Chicago for the last 15 years running the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.

Ubie, who will turn 72 the day after Christmas, was kind of like an uncle to me, teaching me the game of hockey and giving me insights into the psychology of a hockey player. He knew because he had been that kid from “The Sault” (that’s Sault. St. Marie, Ontario, eh?) who was trying to catch on in the NHL. Ubie played just three season in “The Show” – all in different locales like Pittsburgh, Chicago and Oakland (yep, he was a Seal!)

Ubriaco would always take extra time to not just “give me quotes” – as every newspaper reporter needed – he would actually try to instruct me as to what he was thinking and why, so I learned more about the game. He was truly an educator, a teacher. He also had a little trouble hearing and pinched cheeks like the old Italian uncle.

Two decades later when I was sitting in NFL film rooms with Marvin Lewis or Jim Schwartz or Rex Ryan, I suppose that “learning” experience and openness that Ubriaco shared with me in 1984 was still being passed down to me by good men simply because I asked and had an interest in trying to get the story right.

Today, I celebrate Thanksgiving by thanking them here.

So, Ubriaco called me out of the blue six weeks ago, he’s back in Baltimore with his son for this holiday and on Black Friday we’re going to lunch together. We’re going to talk about old times, hockey and life. He recommended that we go to Gary Rissling’s place, Silver Spring Mining Company, and so it is. Rissling was on that first Skipjacks team I covered in 1984 and we work together to bring Caps fans to his restaurants and he still travels the world spreading the gospel of hockey.

Maybe you remember “My Dinner With Andre.” Well, this is my lunch with Geno. I’m sure I’ll have some great wnsTV footage.

But this reunion with Ubriaco has gotten me thinking about coaches and what an unbelievable source of knowledge they’ve been for me over the years in so many ways. Especially after my father died in 1992, they’ve all filled some sort of interesting role in my life as friends, teachers, advisors, sounding boards and confidants. And, obviously, Brian Billick is a partner in my business now at WNST.net. He’s shown the ultimate confidence in me and I’m thankful for his friendship and wisdom.

Ask my wife or anyone close to me and they’ll tell you that coaches are my favorite people in the world.

I’m really “thankful” for all that they’ve done for me.

At 41, I’ve now become a very reluctant coach of sorts. Sometimes, I’ve had to replace players, fire them, make moves for the betterment of the team at WNST. And it’s never easy and never comes without great strategy and use of knowledge and information that I’ve been taught by coaches.

But it’s no different than any of the other coaches who’ve had to deal with the media, cut players, fire assistants, deal with ownership, fans, the “crowd” and still manage to have families and passions outside of the games that they try so desperately to win.

Ubie was the first of many, many good men I’ve met and befriended along the way. Quite frankly, he taught me the ropes of being a sportswriter – all the stuff they’d never teach you in college.

One day I’ll write a whole book with a chapter about these guys and funny stories. (Some of them I could write a whole book about, but I don’t think I’m old enough to do that just yet.)

But I want to point some of them out by name, because it’s been one helluva run of good people over these 25 years and Ubie is special because he was the first person who took the time to care and try to help me not only understand the game but to be a better person.

For that, I’m thankful!

In hockey, Bryan Murray and Terry Murray (I covered the story the day the younger brother replaced his fired older brother…weird day at the Capital Centre!), Doug MacLean, Barry Trotz, Walt Kyle and Moe Mantha were all superstars in continuing a hockey tradition of fellowship.

I still see Trotz all the time in Nashville and one of Doug MacLean’s interns is our weekend Section 410 anchor Eric Aaronson. In particular, Terry Murray and I always had a special relationship because I had to track him down after games on the road in places like Fredericton and Binghamton to get quotes after listening to the games on the radio. He thought I was nutty/obsessed with getting the story and he was right. He always called me his “favorite reporter” in some sort of tongue-in-cheek way.

I also covered Eliott Uzelac’s macho boys of Navy football and Jim Lynam’s NBA Bullets. Lynam was a helluva good guy and loved to talk basketball. He was a junkie.

When I started doing radio in 1992 and the Orioles moved to Camden Yards, I inherited the first skipper that I really didn’t like, Johnny Oates. Unlike all of the other “friendly” skippers I’d had the good fortune to chat with after games in hockey, Oates was introverted, militaristic and hated any real questions.

Think about it. As a sports reporter, when you ask a “question” to a coach or player you’re essentially doubting, second-guessing or asking for some sort of justification for a decision or action. By its very nature, I suppose it’s weird or confrontational for anyone who is paranoid to be asked “why” they did or didn’t do something.

Oates, in particular, took every “What were you thinking in the 7th inning question?” as a personal assault. Almost 20 years later, just watching Dave Trembley do these things on live television after a loss is a throwback to the worst days of Oates. I literally cringe some nights.

But through it all, Oates appreciated that I knew the game and would take time to explain things on nights when the team won. But after a loss, he wasn’t warm and fuzzy. In the end, he came around during the 1993 season and apologized for being so evasive and snappy. This was right around the time that he found a spiritual change in his life and mellowed.

In September 1993 he chased me through the old Cleveland Stadium locker room – still the nastiest, dirtiest visiting locker room I’ve ever entered in any facility, major or minor league – while soaking wet and draped in a towel and called me into his office and we had a 30 minute chat about our roles and jobs and we made a peace pact and professional courtesy that lasted until his tragic death.

Oates was a good man. And in the end, he taught me a lot about baseball and about the people in baseball. It’s a conservative game. And it’s an awful business. There are a lot of tortured souls in the game of baseball, no matter how much money is involved.

In the days when I had a press pass (before Peter Angelos came and wrecked sports in our city during the summers since the mid 1990’s), baseball was great for educators about the game: Phil Regan, Greg Biagini, Chuck Cottier, Elrod Hendricks, Sam Perlozzo, Leo Mazzone, Davey Lopes, Tom Treblehorn, Bruce Bochy and Sparky Anderson were all awesome resources and always happy to answer any question that started with “Why?”

Cottier in particular would always put his arm around me and say: “Anything you ever wonder about in the game you just come to me and I’ll help you…”

I’m thankful for the Chuck Cottiers of baseball. There weren’t a lot of them, but they are appreciated.

I’ve also encountered some other great educators in other sports – Kenny Cooper, Pete Caringi, Dave MacWilliams, Kevin Healy, Bobby MacAvan, Tim Wittman, Mike Stankovic and others within the soccer world. And the basketball guys like Dino Gaudio, Mike Jaskulski, Terry Truax, Jimmy Patsos and Tom Sullivan have always had an open-door policy to asking questions about strategy and the nuances of the game on the hardwood.

Even with a sport like lacrosse, which has never been in my blood, when guys like Tony Seaman and Paul Cantabene do my radio show or see me out around town, they’ve always been enthusiastic about teaching me their game and comparing it to other sports so I could better understand the technical aspects.

But it’s been in my adulthood and with the emergence of the Ravens in Baltimore that my “coaching up” has taken on graduate-level courses.

Marvin Lewis was the first coach I met when the Ravens came in 1996. He’s taught me more about football than anyone over the years. Every Friday, we’d watch film and do a Q&A about the strategy of the game and the decisions that are made on the field on Sundays. Usually, Jim Schwartz was in the room in those early years and later did eight years worth of Fridays on my radio show and station, checking in with his Baltimore roots. Kirk Ferentz and Pat Hill were also phenomenally generous with their time and knowledge during the days of the flying ‘B.’

Then came Brian Billick and a myriad of super people like Jack Del Rio, Mike Smith, Mike Nolan, Mike Pettine, Rex Ryan, Jim Fassel, Rick Neuheisel and Matt Cavanaugh who always had a seat in their office for a few minutes of transparency in their ideologies and strategies to turn me from novice fan into someone who really understands the game.

And scouts like Phil Savage, Eric DeCosta, George Kokinis and Joe Hortiz are coaches of a whole different kind and have always been educational and accountable.

Again, one day, I’ll write a whole book on these guys above – the education is always ongoing with football and the NFL.

But for today, I just want to say “THANKS, COACH!” I’ll never be able to repay them for their time, energy or candor about all aspects of their job.

My Pop was the ultimate coach – he taught me to listen to coaches.

And as much as I know I’m still not the world’s greatest listener…

Boss

I must’ve done something right along the way because I’ve certainly heard the greater message.

Honesty. Integrity. Kindness. Charity. Friendship. Honor. Strategy. Accountability. Passion. Respect. Diligence. Creativity. Team first. These are the things that all of these sports coaches preach on a daily basis to their players. I’d like to think that a lot of this has sunk in over the years.

So, on this Thanksgiving, I just want to take time to thank all of the people who’ve taught me the most about life.

To the coaches of Baltimore over the past 25 years who’ve been cool and kind and helpful – with a special bow to Gene Ubriaco — on this special Thursday in November, I say: Happy Thanksgiving!

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A VIEW FROM AN OPPOSING FAN

Posted on 04 October 2009 by Bryan Powell

Let me state for the record I am a New England Patriot fan. I am from Annapolis and I was 7 when the Colts left so I had to look elsewhere for a team to cheer on. Unfortunately that meant the Redskins who have become the NFL’s version of the O’s. Dan Snyder and Peter Angelos have a lot in common.  However when I found out Bill Belichick and I attended the same high school,  I immediate;y started following him when he was in Cleveland and that has continued in New England. I do respect the Ravens and what they have built. This being said here are my thoughts on today’s game.

The officiating was bad but they were only doing what they were told to do by the league. If you want to be angry at the league for protecting the quarterbacks that is fine but the refs are only enforcing those rules. The Suggs and Ngata calls were bad so was the unnecessary roughness call on the Patriots but Flacco’s INT in the red zone bailed them out. One question I have though is why does Baltimore/Washington area think referees in every sport are against them. Whether it is baseball, college basketball, college football, or the NFL, fans in this area think the refs are out to get them. I am including  Redskin fans in this also.

Back to the game, after the Patriots stopped the Ravens on third and fourth down they tried to give the Ravens the game. They only took 1:30 off the clock and the punt went into the end zone meaning no run back and the ball on the 20. The Ravens were a dropped pass away from making the Pats pay dearly for that.

I think these two teams will meet again on a snowy January day. I am hoping it is in New England because M&T isn’t a fun place to visit.

Good luck the rest of the way until they meet the Pats again.

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (9/25/09)

Posted on 25 September 2009 by Jack McManus

9:47-

Andy Behrens from Yahoo! Sports comes on the show to offer his weekly fantasy football advice. He advises Drew to stay away from most Titans as they play the Jets who have not allowed an offensive touchdown. He tells me to go with Jay Cutler over Trent Edwards, Ryan Grant over Darren Sproles, and Roy Williams over Donald Driver. Finally, he tells Glenn to start Leon Washington over Knowshon Moreno and Mike Bell, and Eddie Royal or Torry Holt above Steve Breaston.

9:05-

Jeremy Bloom, who will be on the broadcast team for the Maryland-Rutgers game is now up. He calls Da’Rel Scott one of the best backs in the ACC. He goes on to state that he thinks Maryland has a great chance to pick up a much-needed victory tomorrow. He explains that the Terps need to improve their discipline in order to turn the season around. Bloom moves on to talk about how he had success in both skiing and football. Bloom next describes the The Jeremy Bloom Wish of a Lifetime Foundation. The program aims to grant wishes for low-income senior citizens. For more information on this cause click here.

8:31-

Andre Knott is the next guest. He is a sideline reporter for the Cleveland Browns. Knott admits that the Browns may be taking many bad losses this season with their current talent level. Knott states that it appears as though Jamal Lewis will not play this Sunday. Instead Jerome Harrison and James Davis will take the majority of the carries. Neither back is as big and strong as Lewis. Knott explains that not all of the Cleveland players have bought into Eric Mangini’s coach philosophy. He moves on to talk about how many fans in Cleveland still have bitter feelings towards the Ravens, despite the fact that the city has another team.

8:10-

Steve Tasker, CBS Sports Broadcaster, makes an appearance on the show. He will call the Ravens-Browns match-up on Sunday. He states that the Browns do not stack up to the Ravens on either side of the ball. He explains how many NFL teams see the Ravens as a measuring stick for success. Therefore, if the Browns compete with the Ravens, some will be satisfied. He goes on to say that the change of scenery for Kelley Washington has greatly helped him find his way to contributing on the field. He also believes that Ray Lewis could be the best inside linebacker ever. Tasker talks about the Patriot’s early season struggles. He thinks the team will still be strong, but will have to fight to win many of their games. The one 0-2 team that Tasker thinks is not as bad as they look is the Jacksonville Jaguars. He describes how the blame should be placed on the players, and not the head coach.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay5oyEEzJ5M[/youtube]

7:35-

This morning Glenn and Drew participate in the picks and comment segment. Each set of picks is posted below.

Glenn:

Ravens over Browns 28-13

Titans over Jets

Giants over Bucs

Texans over Jags

Vikings over 49ers

Pats over Falcons

Lions over Redskins

Packers over Rams

Bears over Seahawks

Bills over Saints

Chargers over Dolphins

Steelers over Bengals

Raiders over Broncos

Cardinals over Colts

Cowboys over Panthers

Drew:

Ravens over Browns 34-10

Titans over Jets 23-17

Giants over Bucs 31-15

Texans over Jags 37-7

Minnesota over 49ers 24-20

Patriots over Falcons 27-24

Lions over Redskins 20-17

Packers over Rams 24-19

Bears over Seahawks 23-20

Saints over Bills 34-24

Chargers over Dolphins 33-17

Bengals over Steelers 20-17

Raiders over Broncos 17-14

Colts over Cardinals 31-27

Cowboys over Panthers 34-24

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Comcast Morning Show Live Blog (9/23/09)

Posted on 23 September 2009 by Jack McManus

9:32-

Victor Rojas from MLB Network is now on to talk some baseball. The first topic is the American League playoff picture. Rojas calls the Texas Rangers a team of overachievers. He explains that his provides hope for the future of the team. He moves on to the Boston Red Sox pitching situation. The group’s inconsistency could be a problem in the postseason. On the National League side, Rojas states that the Phillies are the front-runners. Rojas next talks about the AL Cy Young competition. He agrees with Drew that Zach Greinke will win the award, particularly after his performance last night. In the NL, Rojas thinks the award will be given to either Adam Wainwright or Chris Carpenter, teammates on the St. Louis Cardinals.   

9:19-

Now, Fergus calls in. Fergus will be playing at the Baltimore Country Club in the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship. Fergus talks about the use of the long putter in golf. He argues that for many this is the most effective way to putt. He goes on to talk about the quality of the course at the Baltimore Country Club. He also mentions how thankful he is for the opportunity to play on the senior tour and prolong he career.    

9:14-

Keith Fergus, a professional golfer appears next is not reachable, and will therefore not be on the show.

8:36-

Newsday columnist, Bob Glauber is the next guest. He starts off by stating that a Giants-Jets Super Bowl in extremely unlikely. He goes on to talk about the impressive performance thus far of Eli Manning. He believes that the Giants are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. He also thinks that the NFC has more quality teams than the AFC this year. The topic next moves to Rex Ryan. Glauber explains the positive impact that Ryan has made on the media, players, and fans. The players have totally bought into Ryan’s system. He moves on to Mark Sanchez. He states that Sanchez has had not had a difficult time adjusting to being in the largest media market in the country. He next talks about how just because a team is currently 0-2, judgements should not immediately passed. Drew and Glauber agree that Drew Brees could very well be the best quarterback in the league. However, Glauber states that he would not trade Joe Flacco straight-up for any other QB in the league, while yesterday Drew named a number of players better equipped to win now.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4q0LXFJpD30[/youtube]

8:25-

Glenn is up with a Ravens report. He talks about the roster moves the team made yesterday. The team traded LB Prescott Burgess to the Patriots for a 7th round draft choice. In a corresponding move, the team signed TE Tony Curtis. He will provide insurance for the thin TE group and also contribute on special teams. Also, the Browns confirmed that Brady Quinn will the starting quarterback against the Ravens this week.

8:00-

An Orioles fan calls in to talk about the bullpen’s recent problems and the organization’s handling of Michael Aubery. Another caller brings up how Gary Thorne discussed the attendance problems in Toronto for the Orioles game last night. He points out how Thorne would never bring up the Orioles similarly small attendance.

7:49-

Donald Hill-Eley, head coach of the Morgan State football team is next up. He starts off by explaining how the new-found success of the sports teams at Morgan have greatly improved the morale around campus. He next talks about his quarterback Carlton Jackson. He explains that Jackson’s decision-making skills have greatly improved this year. However, Hill-Eley states that the running game must improve in order to have more offensive success. Finally, he describes the importance of the game this weekend against Towson and its importance to the local sports scene.

7:34-

Towson’sfootball head coach, Rob Ambrose calls in to talk on the show. He discusses how he became very animated towards the officiating crew on Saturday. He says he later had a conversation with the head referee. He goes on to talk about how the Tigers have multiple players that can play different positions. Next he talks about the “buzz” in the stadium during the game. He felt that all the fans were very excited and truly believed the team could win the game. This is important to the success of the team, because Rob admits that the road to having a strong team may be rocky.

6:30-

Mike Gathagan, a spokesman from the Maryland Jockey Club makes and appearance on the show. He talks about the upcoming Jim McKay Maryland Million day at Laurel Park. He also describes the Two Rings for OJ event held on OJ Brigance’s 40th Birthday. For more information on giving to this charitable cause, click here.

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Now that’s a double-header

Posted on 15 September 2009 by Eric Aaronson

I just got home from our WNST Neighborhood Tour Night which concluded “Dundalk Week” at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood on Holabird Avenue. Thank you to all of those that came out for the cold Coors Lights and two great Monday Night Football games! We at WNST appreciate your support of our Neighborhood Tour, Dundalk, and Jummy’s Famous Seafood.

It was a great night filled with plenty of good times and great games (including the Men’s U.S. Open Finals), however it may take several weeks for me to forget the images from our wing eating contest. Congratulations to our winner Don who was able to muster enough stomach capacity following the Bills loss, one which supposedly cost him plenty. However he stayed focused enough to eat 15 wings in record time! In fact it was obvious to all those in attendance that Don’s performance was Hall of Fame compared to that of T.O., who was unspectacular to say the least in his Buffalo Bills debut. In fact, Don didn’t hesitate to finish off the remaining wings left over from the rest of the participants. Great job Don! Look for the video from the wing eating contest on wnst.net to see for yourself.

For those of you that weren’t able to make it out to Donna’s Tavern on Thursday or Jimmy’s Famous tonight for the Coors Light WNST Neighborhood Tour Nights, I can’t encourage you enough to mark your calendar for next Monday night, as we’ll be calling Cockeysville home and hanging out at Piv’s Pub on York Rd. There isn’t a better way to watch the game and hang out with your favorite WNST personality then during our 17-week tour. Thanks again to Jimmy’s Famous Seafood for hosting all of the fun tonight and I can’t wait to see the video from the wing eating contest! I hope you enjoy the video as much as I enjoyed seeing it live.

Here’s the evidence:
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIu84CdAj2o&feature=channel_page[/youtube]

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Stevenson to Field Football Team in Fall 2011

Posted on 10 August 2009 by Stevenson Athletics

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Stevenson University has announced that it is adding football to its roster of 19 NCAA Division III varsity sports for men and women. The University will recruit 40 to 50 student athletes for a developmental season to start in fall 2010 and kick off intercollegiate play in fall 2011.

The team will compete against current Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) members Frostburg State, Salisbury, Wesley and Gallaudet, and looks forward to cross-conference play.

“Football is a great fit for Stevenson and reflects our commitment to Division III sports and educating student athletes,” said Paul Cantabene, Associate Director of Athletics in charge of men’s sports. “Current students, alumni and prospective students have all expressed a strong desire in having football here.”

Stevenson has witnessed tremendous growth over the past decade, building a new campus in Owings Mills and increasing its undergraduate population to nearly 2,700 students. The University intends to grow that number to 4,000 and expects that the excitement and interest that football creates will be key to attracting a greater number of students, especially male students.

“Football is such a popular sport and we really believe it is something that will add vitality to our campus,” said Director of Athletics Brett Adams.

“Football will complement our existing athletic programs well and expenses will be offset by gains in admissions,” added Cantabene.

The institution expects to attract 40-50 students representing strong local and regional high school football talent for its fall 2010 developmental season and at least 40 additional students by fall 2011 for its first varsity season.

“Our geographic location is perfect,” said Tim Campbell, Executive Vice President for Financial Affairs and Chief Financial Officer. “Numerous high school students want to continue to play at the college level and there aren’t enough Division III opportunities.”

In an odd coincidence, Stevenson is bringing football back to the practice facility that was once the home of the Baltimore Colts and later the Ravens. It purchased the Owings Mills facility from Baltimore City and the Ravens in 2006. The University has existing practice fields on its two campuses and plans for new stadium on its Owings Mills campus.

Stevenson University, known for its distinctive career focus, is the third-largest independent university in Maryland with more than 3,400 students pursuing bachelor’s, master’s, and adult accelerated degrees at locations in Stevenson and Owings Mills.

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FINALLY…Baltimore gets a World Soccer match!

Posted on 24 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Over the past decade fans in New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. have been treated to a European “friendly” football matchup and finally Baltimore and M&T Bank Stadium will get ours: Chelsea will face A.C. Milan on July 24 in downtown of the Charm City.

Here’s the press release from the Ravens, who are promoting the event.

BREAKING NEWS:
Chelsea vs. AC Milan to play at M&T Bank Stadium!

On Friday, July 24th at 8:00 p.m, Chelsea, of the English Premier League will take on AC Milan, of Italy’s top division Serie A at M&T Bank Stadium. This match will mark the first soccer event to be played at M&T Bank Stadium.

A sell out crowd is expected and as a PSL Owner, we would like to offer you the first opportunity to purchase tickets for this exciting event before tickets go on sale to the general public. General public sales begin today, Tuesday, March 24th at 12:30 p.m. Special VIP hospitality packages are also available on both an individual basis and for groups of 30. VIP package, club level and lower level midfield purchasers will get access to a private practice session on Thursday, July 23rd from 6-9 p.m

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This time, Navy gets it right (Salute)

Posted on 15 February 2009 by Drew Forrester

Nearly 12 months after the U.S. Army put themselves in the middle of a hot-mess with football player Caleb Campbell, the Naval Academy took steps yesterday to make sure they wouldn’t make the same mistake.

Good for them.

Navy football player Eric Kettani was invited to participate in next week’s NFL Combine, where college players gather to show off their skills, speed and strength.  It’s a prelude to the NFL Draft and a number of players use it to prove they’re ready for the professional game after playing under the radar during their college career.

Kettani was a fullback at Navy and, according to some who follow the NFL, would have been a consideration on draft day in April.

It’s not going to happen for Kettani.  The Naval Academy ruled yesterday that Kettani can not attend the Combine and must serve his 5-year military obligation upon graduation in May.

Campbell was selected in the 7th round by the Detroit Lions last April and that sparked great debate both in the government/military world and the NFL. 

Why should Campbell be treated differently than others who signed up for service in the U.S. Army?  That’s what his Army “teammates” muttered.

Why would the NFL put themselves in the middle of this argument?  That’s what folks who cover the sport whispered.  “The NFL just should create a rule…No graduating players from any of the service academies are eligible to be drafted until they have concluded their service obligation.”  That’s what many said last year.

Campbell did not play for the Lions in 2008 because the Army changed their policy in July and forced him to join his fellow graduates from West Point in their “service obligation” roles.

Kettani will not be the subject of debate this April.

The Naval Academy has done the right thing.  Kettani will be required to fulfill his 5-year obligation, per the agreement entered into when signing on in Annapolis, and our country will probably be much better for it.

The young men and women who attend, learn and graduate from the Naval Academy are among the brightest minds our country has developed.

They’re best served using that knowledge to help our country in whatever role their education has prepared them for – and I’m quite certain it’s NOT playing football.

Here’s a salute to the Naval Academy.  They did the right thing.

And one, as well, for Eric Kettani.  His service to our country is greatly appreciated.

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Who is Tired of The Kurt Warner Story?

Posted on 02 February 2009 by Bryan Powell

Let me start by saying last night probably sealed Kurt Warner’s place in Canton and he won the NFL Man of The Year award which shows how much he does in the community but I am getting tired of hearing and reading about his story. We all know what he has been through so why do we have to keep hearing about it. Why do we have to keep seeing shots of his wife everytime he did something? Did we see Santonio Holmes’ family after his catch or Big Ben’s family after one of his great plays? No we didn’t. He has used two great sets of offensive weapons and one weak division to get two teams to three Super Bowls with a 1-2 record. I am sure there were other players on the field last night with unique stories of their own but all we heard was about Kurt Warner. I am not saying ignore the story completely but the last few weeks have been unbearable.

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As 2008 comes to an end…the last Random Thoughts from me..

Posted on 24 December 2008 by KZ

1. First like everyone else….I’d like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful Holiday season…It has been a fun year for me getting to know caller and emailers and bloggers and look forward to an even better 2009…whether we agreed or not it was always entertaining.

2. I was bummed for about 12 hours after Teixiera signed with the Yankees. I said all along I thought he really wanted to come home and be an Oriole. I was disappointed in him and the O’s for those 12 hours. Not that his signing would mean a winning team but he would have been another piece to a 3 or 4 year puzzle. Now that he is with the Yankees…so be it…the Yankees, as much as I dislike them, are simply playing by the rules…I wish our ownership group would use the same win at any cost idealology.

Saying all that…I am an Orioles fan…I was born that way…the Orioles will always be my team. I may not go to as many games as I use to, but they are the home team. In 2008 they actually made some solid strides to rebuilding a solid organization. They made some good trades, they played some young players and made some good draft choices. The next 12 years will be better then the last 12…I know that is not saying much, but if they continue to bring in talent to the system, maybe they can be a Marlins or Rays..maybe…time will tell…but in the end how can you fault a team for not overpaying greatly for a guy that didn;’t want to be an Oriole. It’s not an Oriole problem…its a baseball problem.

3. The Ravens…what else can be said…for many it has been a tough year, but at least the Ravens provided a great escape for many, each and every Sunday…no matter how this team ends the 2008 – 2009 season…we know a few things we have not been able to say maybe ever…We have our QB of the present and future, and for that matter our backup QB as well. Our OLINE is not the number 1 priority of the off-season. Our secondary needs another solid player but Fabian Washington has been a find. Whether or not you agreed with the offseason moves of firing the coach or draft day…you can’t argue with the results…cograts to the Ravens and Thank you!

4. The NFL is FUN…but let the players have some of the fun as well…Wes Welker gets finded for making a snow angle after a touchdown….he was having fun…not trying to show up the other team. This is still a game…grown men playing a game like they did when they were kids…take the kids away and you have no game.

5. I will be pulling for Miami this weekend…great story and if they win some justice in the world…Pennington over Farve, in maybe Farve’s last game. I respect Brett Farve but can no longer stand his act…he is a selfish me first guy. no matter what everyone says. I’d love for him to one time when asked about if he is returning next season say this: “its not about me, I am not thinking about it, all we are thinking about as a team is a win this Sunday”. We NEVER hear that from him…retire Brett, I am tired of you and your act!

6. San Diego gets to right the biggest wrong of the NFL season this Sunday…Denver will start Tatum Bell…I like SD.

Some predictions:

Ravens win by 2 TD’s Sunday

Dallas beats Philly to make the playoffs

Miami wins and wins the East…NE goes 11 – 5 and misses the playoffs..sniff sniff…

The Vikes beat the GMEN to win the NFC north

 

Have a nice holiday all…and to all a good night.

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