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Blog & Tackle: A look at Ravens-Steelers PR game notes

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Chris Pika

Every game of the NFL Divisional Playoff Weekend is a regular-season rematch as both of the AFC games are between division opponents — the first time since 2000 that two games feature teams playing for a third time in a season.

The nastiest matchup of the weekend is the first on the docket: Baltimore at Pittsburgh. The teams have waged wars in the AFC North over the years, and 2010 was no exception. Each team scored 27 points total in the two games, and the games are as physical as any in the NFL over the previous decade.

The Ravens continued to have playoff success on the road as they beat Kansas City last Sunday 30-7 in New Arrowhead. It was the third straight season with at least one playoff victory for Baltimore, the only club in the NFL to do so over the period. QB Joe Flacco joined Bernie Kosar (1985-87) and Dan Marino (1983-85) to start a playoff game in each of their first three seasons in the league. The Ravens will try to advance to the AFC title game for the first time since the 2008 season.

Pittsburgh survived the loss of QB Ben Roethlisberger to a four-game suspension to get to a 3-1 start which included a home loss to the Ravens. The Steelers won six of their last seven games, including a road win at Baltimore for the division title. Roethlisberger Has thrown a personal-best 158 straight passes without an INT, the longest for the Steelers since QB Kordell Stewart had a streak of 159 consecutive pass attempts without an interception in 2001.

The teams split the regular season meetings, with the Ravens winning in Pittsburgh 17-14 in October, and the Steelers winning in Baltimore 13-10 in December.

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

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

Posted on 28 June 2010 by Rex Snider

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

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

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

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

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

Today, I’m not so sure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, it’s accurate.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They know what they need to know.

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

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

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

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

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Blog & Tackle: How I see Ravens-Steelers 2

Posted on 27 December 2009 by Chris Pika

Deep down, everyone knew that the playoff road for the 2009 Ravens would have to go through Heinz Field in Week 16. That week is here, even if the order is different than most had it. Instead of the Ravens and Steelers playing for the AFC North title, it’s survival time for Pittsburgh, and a chance for Baltimore to close the door on its most-bitter rival while taking a big step toward the playoffs.

Ravens-Steelers Purple Haze Live Chat

The Ravens won the first meeting in overtime in a game that many thought would be a Baltimore blowout with the absence of QB Ben Roethlisberger. Dennis Dixon managed to get the Steelers to overtime, but an interception and subsquent field goal gave the Ravens a huge victory at home.

This time, Roethlisberger and the man who criticized him for not playing in the first meeting, Hines Ward, will play in this one. But Pittsburgh will be without safety Troy Polamalu once again. Pittsburgh is 3-0 with him in the lineup, but 4-7 without.

To get the cliches out of the way early, the game will be a physical, brutal affair once again. These two clubs play hard against each other, and revel in leaving the winner bruised and bloodied from the fight. The loser drags their wounded back to the locker room and wonder if they’ll have enough bodies for the next game.

Since the emphasis for both clubs is not allow the other to score, how do the Ravens and Steelers dent the scoreboard? Let’s break it down, thusly.

RAVENS OFFENSE: This point is obvious to football observers, but scoring first is paramount. The team that gets the lead can dicate their playbook to the opponent. Fall behind, and because of the defenses, you might take more chances than usual. Baltimore is 7-1 when scoring first in 2009, 1-5 when the opposition does.

To those who don’t like the Ravens to throw as much as they have this year, you might want to avert your eyes. The Steelers secondary is vulnerable, and there will be opportunities for big plays. But Baltimore has to set it up. Run the ball with Ray Rice, Le’Ron McClain and Willis McGahee, and make Pittsburgh stack the line. Once that happens, then QB Joe Flacco can look for the receivers downfield, or just a mid-length pass to TE Todd Heap to move the chains.

Baltimore has run the ninth-most short pass plays (less than 15 yards) to the right with 171. The Ravens’ average gain on those passes, 6.8 yards, is second in the league. That’s where Rice and Heap live. Baltimore is also seventh in both plays (37) and average gain (13.8 yards) on passes 15 yards or more to deep left.

The big key here is to keep Flacco upright at all costs. Baltimore might get help if James Harrison misses the game with an biceps injury. A strong run game keeps the rushers at home and buys the Ravens’ QB needed time when he goes to the air. Pittsburgh has to protect its struggling secondary, and one way is to rush the passer consistently. Flacco needs to make the right decisions when the pocket collapses.

The Ravens have four games with 400-plus yards of total offense in 2009, including the three top outputs in club history.

RAVENS DEFENSE: The same problem on defense haunts the Ravens as well. Can the Ravens get after Roethlisberger enough to force turnovers and keep Santonio Holmes and Ward from getting open deep against the Ravens’ second-string corners?

Roethlisberger is hard to bring down, and harder still to corral when he gets out of the pocket. Baltimore needs to bring enough pressure from the edges to make Roethlisberger go through his receiver progression without benefit of rolling to the outside.

When the Steelers pass, they look deep middle, where they’ve tried 40 plays (second in the NFL) or deep right (35 plays; 10th in NFL). Pittsburgh has thrown just over 100 times more than they have run this season. Besides Ward and Holmes, TE Heath Miller has almost 700 yards and five TDs. Six players have 20 or more catches.

The run game is no slouch as Rashard Mendenhall needs 22 yards for 1,000 on the season. Mendenhall has six of the nine rush TDs for the Steelers. Willie Parker has settled into the backup role with almost 300 yards and no TDs.

The Steelers like to run to the right with 79 attempts each up the middle and to right guard, and 63 times to right tackle. Compare that to 31 plays each to left guard, left tackle, and 33 plays to left end.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A big question for the Ravens in the wake of losing Lardarius Webb for the season is: With Carr taking a bigger role in the secondary, will the Ravens let Carr return kickoffs and punts. Ed Reed (if he is able to go) will not return punts, so reports have Jalen Parmele returning kicks and Carr returning punts.

Not to be overstated, the turf at Heinz Field gets in bad shape in December with the amount of games played on it and the recent snowstorm. Field goals, especially from long distance, will be dicey. That will force both teams to make offensive decisions knowing that 3s will not be automatic at any point.

NFL.com Ravens-Steelers Video Preview

PREDICTION: The Steelers will try (like every other opponent) to take out Rice. Flacco will have to throw the ball effectively under pressure to find seams in the Pittsburgh secondary. Both teams’ key defensive performer (Reed and Polamalu) will not play in the game. This will be the usual knock-down, drag-out game as the defensive lines try to help their respective secondaries in coverage. Baltimore gets an early score and will spend the rest of the day holding off the Steelers’ desperate charge. I wouldn’t be suprised to see this game (like the first) go to overtime. Ravens 20, Steelers 17.

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Lookalikes! Steelers Xmas Villains Edition

Posted on 23 December 2009 by Derek Arnold

The last time the Ravens and Steelers met, it was Thanksgiving-time. The purple feasted on the Steelers’ backups in true Thanksgiving fashion.

The Nest, in the spirit of the season, gave thanks for all the reasons we’re glad we aren’t Steelers fans.

This time around, its another Holiday, and another meeting with the Black-and-Yeller. What better time to use our weekly Lookalikes! to dive into the many ways in which the members of the Pittsburgh Football organization (past and present) hate Christmas, Santa Claus, the Salvation Army, Rudolph, and YOU?

Everyone’s favorite 24-hour marathon Christmas Movie, “A Christmas Story” featured antagonist bully Scott Farkus. I’m pretty sure that, at some point in his life, Farkus changed his name to “Rocky Boiman,” before learning to play football and signing with the Squealers.

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Steelers’ owner/chairman (and United States Ambassador to Ireland) Dan Rooney is disgusted by the poor, puts orphanages out of business with his partner Marley, and will be visited by 3 ghosts on Christmas Eve. Or at least, he looks like (Jim Carrey’s) Ebinezer Scrooge, the guy I actually just described.

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Former Pittsburgh Head Coach Bill Cowher, now that he has taken a break from coaching, has taken up magic. His stage name is “Professor Hinkle,” and if any snowmen come to life on the power of magic hats that belong to him, he will show no mercy to the snowman nor the children who love to watch him laugh and play, in his quest to gain back his hat.

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Hines Ward is known for two things: Cheap shots, and smiles. You know who else likes to smile a lot? That’s right, guys that plan on stealing every Christmas present in ENTIRE TOWNS!

Hines Grinch

What Lookalikes! (or any Steeler-hating piece for that matter) would be complete without old faithful, Jeff Reed. We’ve been over the laundry list of stupid looking poses, dumb hairstyles, and drunken hijinks of Reed before, but until now, never realized that he was the “Heat Miser” in the Childrens’ classic, “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”

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Now, since it’s Christmas and all, I’ll give a gift to any Steeler-fan vermin that happen to stumble upon this post.

The Ravens aren’t exempt from showing up in Christmas movies. Why, just the other day, I was watching “The Muppet Christmas Carol,” and, lo and behold, Joe Flacco!

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Happy Holidays to all, and GO RAVENS!

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4th Day Of Christmas ....

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4th Day Of Christmas ….

Posted on 21 December 2009 by Rex Snider

Damn the snow !!!!

Damn the Chicago Bears Travel Secretary !!!!

Damn these lists of holiday gifts !!!!

I’m going broke, and my blogs are suffering. At this rate, my “12 Days Of Christmas” are gonna take about 3 weeks. I’m running behind schedule – but I’m dedicated to catch up. So, stay tuned – OFTEN.

Today, I’m handing out the special gift of HUMILITY.

That’s right, some folks need a sweet dose (or sour ….) of it, and I’m ensuring they receive a fair portion, as a Christmas gift.
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JOHN HARBAUGH
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I’ll admit it, I’ve been pretty hard on the Ravens Head Coach, throughout this 2009 season. I’m not being personally disparaging, I just think we’ve finally observed some consistencies (and inconsistencies) that suggest he has some work to do – on his coaching game …..

If he’s being honest with himself – and his players, I would think Coach Harbaugh has some serious soul searching on the front burner of his Monday evening. While he won’t publicly admit it, Harbaugh has a problem with Chris McAlister. Everyone suspects it.

I get the whole concept of exiling players, and sticking them on the equivalent of the “Island Of Misfit Toys.” Respect and honor are key with many coaches. And, Chris McAlister probably did a few things we’ll never know.

But, John Harbaugh might very well find himself at a humbling intersection, as we sit just 4 days from Christmas, and 6 days from a trip to Heinz Field. Who’s covering Santonio Holmes? How about Hines Ward? Umm, Mike Wallace? Did you consider Heath Miller?

Maybe, we should try this guy …..

I can’t fathom the thought of going forward with the in-house corps of cornerbacks. I know John Harbaugh is dedicated to the TEAM concept and “Playing Like A Raven.” Well, Coach, that goes for YOU, too.

There is a locker room full of guys who’ve busted their asses, since late July. What do they deserve? Lets start with giving them the best chance to win – even if it means sitting down with Chris McAlister and seeing if a short-term marriage is in the best interest of both halves.

Call Sean Payton …..

Ask him why he signed McAlister. Ask him why he cut him? Ask him if McAlister’s short tenure affected the team negatively.

Better yet, just look at the current RAVENS and ask yourself, “what do they deserve?”

Coach Harbaugh is being wished some humility – and a sobering vision, for Christmas.
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CHRIS McALISTER
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Yeah, dude, you’re not blameless in this standoff. In fact, I’m imagining you’re probably 95% at fault.

It’s quite easy for me to toss criticism at John Harbaugh – he’s expected to be the “bigger man” and lead by a professional decorum and example. And, he’s pretty much done that.

He hasn’t thrown you under the bus, publicly, one time. While it’s pretty obvious you guys haven’t exchanged Christmas cards, he’s been respectful of your image and public character, as far as the media and fans are concerned.

I would be interested in knowing if Chris McAlister has done anything to resurrect a sliver of his broken relationship with the Ravens Head Coach. He has the ties – he can get to him.

Where is Chris McAlister?

You should be appearing at any and every public service event. It’s CHRISTMAS ….. go find a cameraman, and hand out a turkey !!!!

Or a toy !!!!

Or some money !!!!

It’s all about perception, and it’s also about being humble. You did this. You caused the divorce. I’ve beat up John Harbaugh, because he hasn’t reconvened with your conflicted butt. You wanna play football?

What steps have you taken to mend the fence?

Chris McAlister needs the gift of humility, especially as he confronts a life that probably needs some straightening – beyond the football field.
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REX SNIDER

Well, I don’t think this has ever happened. Have I ever included myself, as a “sub-topic” of a blog?

I don’t think so.

But, I’m not immune to discerning treatment – especially as it regards a legitimate shortcoming. How do they say it ….. “if the shoe fits?”

I’ll be quite honest, and say I’m really disappointed in myself. While I appreciate this forum and virtual freedom to write (and say) about things desired, I also expect a responsibility from myself.

Yes, I expect more from ME.

For the past few weeks, I’ve seized numerous opportunities to pry on the personal life of Tiger and Elin Woods. While, I absolutely believe I haven’t been disparaging, I have walked into a couple’s “no go” zones.

I do think Tiger’s life is an open book. He’s a celebrity – and pitchman for commercial products. Thus, he’s accountable for a very public image. If he fails to uphold that image, he’ll be held to task.

But, his personal situation is not funny. It’s embarrassing and it’s sad. There are numerous victims in this situation – who can be further hurt by those with media credentials.

While I don’t think my past remarks infringe on Tiger’s family – a man’s family is none of my business. I’ll concentrate on being the best dad and husband, possible. And, leave Tiger and others to managing their own.

This is my humble wish for ME.
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The People Around Chris Henry

Chris Henry’s funeral is set for tomorrow. Many members of the NFL’s collective family are expected to travel to Gretna, Louisiana, to pay their final respects to the veteran wide receiver.

I’m certain we’ll see and hear and collection of poignant and touching remembrances. As with most funerals, I’m sure dry eyes will be hard to find. This is the way people grieve and it’s purely natural.

However, in the coming weeks and months, someone – ANYONE with a connection to the National Football League and Chris Henry must step forward and speak in sobering fashion about the often troubled young man. It’s the only way to truly learn from his brief, but interrupted life.

Will it be Chad Ochocinco? If he wants earn some credibilty beyond being pro football’s traveling circus, he should speak out. Tell the truth, Chad. Chris Henry made an awful lot of poor decisions – his latest discretion was life costing.

How about you, Roger Goodell? God knows you deal with poor behavior, front and center. If you speak honestly, it wouldn’t cheapen Chris Henry’s image or memory. If your goal is being productive, why not do it?

I think Roger Goodell has an obligation to talk about the game’s realities and risks. By all indications, Chris Henry was a very dysfunctional young man. The Bengals were managing his finances – like a parent oversees a kid’s allowance. Does this bother you, Mister Commissioner?

Perhaps, Marvin Lewis could address the conflicted and combustable topic known as “The Life & Times Of Chris Henry.” I realize Coach Lewis has a locker room to consider and his message would rely upon respecting the teacher/student principle.

Regardless, someone needs to be honest about Chris Henry and how he really lived his life. As with most deaths, surviving collegaues and friends are slathering Henry’s memory with compliments and testimonials …..

“He really turned his life around”

“He was on the right path”

“He hadn’t been in trouble in over a year”

Wow !!!! Is that the modern-day median line for good character? If people don’t get arrested, are they considered successful? I got a 14 year old daughter and I’m gonna expect much, much more from her.

Chris Henry hasn’t been in handcuffs for a substantial amount of time. I’m glad about that. But, he undoubtedly still had issues. He died after falling from a speeding pickup truck – during a domestic incident with his fiance’.

It’s December – it was 46 degrees, in Charlotte, on the afternoon Chris Henry died. And, he was shirtless in the back of a pickup truck. Yet, so many people want to convince us he was a changed man.

Consider this …..

If I handed you piece of paper, at the start of the 2009 NFL season – and asked you to write the names of the 5 players most likely to DIE within the next year, would Chris Henry be on that list? You’re damned right.

In a spur of the moment situation, Chris Henry made another poor decision. It was his worst decision, EVER. He is gone – and 3 children no longer have a dad.

It’s time for someone who really wants to change the image of the NFL to swallow some pride, humble up, and be honest about Chris Henry and the culture of many of the game’s players. That’s my wish for them.
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Rex Ryan

Admit it, seeing Rex Ryan’s swagger melt with each frustrating Jets loss is kinda comforting, right?

Where are the game balls for all those SUPER-JET fans, now?

Is Rex still leaving confidence-driven phone messages for season ticket holders? Or, is he making Mark Sanchez call the same people and apologize for wasting their hard earned money?

Back in September, Rex Ryan was being pimped around the Big Apple. He was the common fan’s hero. Yet, a short 3 months later, he’s being questioned and criticized by the same group of Gang-Green supporters.

From “toasted to roasted” …..

I think Rex Ryan is going to be very successful, in New York. But, he really needs a few spoonfuls of humility. The story should never, ever be about him. He’s the Head Coach, not the Head Star.

Rex needs to lighten up – he’s giving me a bad name …..

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I still trust in Ozzie, but that trust is waning a little bit

Posted on 30 July 2009 by Marco Romanell

 For years every time Ozzie Newsome has made a decision that some fans questioned;Ozzie supporters uttered the statement “ in Ozzie we trust”. I can not knock Ozzie Newsome’s track record, but his lack of ability or desire to bring in a big time wide receiver has my trust waning just a little bit.

Coming into the off-season many fans believe that the Ravens were just one big time play-maker away from being a perennial Super Bowl contender for many years. Many fans were clamoring for the Ravens to address the wide receiver position via the draft or free agency and many “experts” predicted them to draft a receiver in the first round. Seven rounds and two days later the Ravens only drafted one pass catcher, Devon Drew a tight end, leaving many fans puzzled but other still uttering “ in Ozzie we trust”.

In his tenure with the Ravens Ozzie Newsome only drafted two receivers in the first round in Travis “ hands of stone” Taylor and Mark Clayton. Taylor is with a doubt a bust; however the verdict is still out on Clayton. I wanted the Ravens to bring in Hakeem Nicks but ultimately supported Ozzie in his decision. I even went as far as giving the Ravens draft a “B” grade.

I assumed that the Ravens were happy with their receiving corps which at that time consisted of Mason, Clayton, Williams and Smith. Two months later, Mason is taken out of that equation, leaving Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams as the team’s top two receivers; not exactly a tandem that strikes fear in opposing secondaries. While it is likely the Mason returns, the Ravens have replaced him by singing Drew Bennett( who then retired), Biren Ealy( 1 career catch) and Jayson Foster who stands at 5’8” and has no career NFL receptions. While these two are likely to end up on the practice squad, one injury to a player on the roster will lead to them getting called up. Are these the “weapons” Joe Flacco should have around him? I think not.

Now before I get criticized by potential readers, I want to make it known that I do understand football. I know you can win without play- makers and I know that Ravens have been successful with a run oriented offense. All that being said, I think the organization would have won at least one other Super Bowl had they brought in some offensive play-makers. Having a top 5 defense every year is fine, but having an offense that ranks in the bottom 10 of the league, makes it that much harder to win. The Ravens defense will still be good, but let’s face it, they are aging. It is time for the identity of this franchise to start moving towards the offensive side of the ball and that needs to start.

Last season, the Ravens and Steelers were virtual mirror images of each other, with both teams possessing talented, hard hitting defenses. Ultimately, the difference why the Steelers beat the Ravens three times was the ability of Santonio Holmes and Hines Ward to get open for Ben Roethlisberger, particularly when he was scrambling. Holmes then went on to win MVP of the Super Bowl showing how important he really was to his team.

Every time the name of a receiver like Randy Moss, Anquan Boldin or Brandon Marshall gets mentioned, people are quick to dismiss them by asking “ how many rings do they have?” Everyone who is an Ozzie supporter is quick to say that one player does not make the difference in winning a Super Bowl and I agree to an extent. However, the Giants and Steelers would not have won the last two Super Bowl’s without Plaxico Burress and Santonio Holmes.

One of the criticisms of bringing in a receiver like Marshall, Boldin or Buress is that they come with a lot of baggage. The Ravens are one of the class organizations in all of professional sports and do not like to deal with players that have a lot of “character” issues. I totally understand and support the stance of the front office on this subject, but outside of three receivers I just mentioned there are no other options out there. Biren Ealy, Jayson Foster and Kelly Washington may be better “character” guys but are they going to draw double teams and get open for Joe Flacco? I think not.

I am aware of the pros and cons of bringing in a talented but volatile receiver, but at this point I think it is worth a shot for the Ravens. The Ravens were five minutes from the Super Bowl last year but,Joe Flacco lacked the weapons to get the team over the hump. Even when Flacco got great protection in the AFC Championship game- which was often- aerial shots showed the receivers in ability to get open against what is at best a mediocre Steelers secondary. Add a Brandon Marshall, Plaxico Burress or Anquan Boldin and the pass game is not only helped but so is the run game because the Steelers have to fear the pass.

Football is a team sport, and I get that. Every one could spout off as many stats as they want and list as many teams as they want that have won a Super Bowl without a big time play maker ,but it won’t change my opinion. I hear people saying the offense will be fine and that Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams will step up, but what happens if they don’t?

Suddenly, you have a franchise quarterback with an aging tight end and two mediocre receivers to throw to. Having a great line and three good running backs is all well and good but if you can’t get teams to respect the pass then they will eat up your running game. Normally I give Ozzie Newsome the benefit of the doubt give his track record, but in this case he dropped the ball.

Fans can continue to look at things through purple colored glasses and cheer when Joe Flacco hits Biren Ealy with a long pass in training camp but this does not mean that things will be alright.

I still trust in Ozzie, but that trust is waning. I will have no problem eating crow if Clayton, Williams, Washington,Smith, Ealy and Foster prove me wrong, but I don’t think they will. When the Ravens take the field against the Patriots on October 4th and Randy Moss is having a monster game, just remember we could have brought in a receiver of his ability but chose not to.

So when you say “ man I wish we had a guy like that” just remember the events of this off-season and the team’s inability to bring in a play-maker.

Do you still trust in Ozzie? If you do, you are more optimistic then me; I just hope you have the last laugh.

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Wednesday Morning’s Crab Cakes and Light Beer

Posted on 18 February 2009 by Chris Bonetti

The Swinging Bunt

Really Pittsburgh?  If Bud Selig wants to rewrite the Major League Baseball record book by taking out players guilty of using performance enhancing drugs.  Maybe the NFL and Roger Goodell should consider doing the same.  This morning Sports by Brooks has a story asking the question, “Did Steelers Blood Dope Before the Super Bowl?” WR Hines Ward and S Troy Polamalu, public enemy’s #1 and #2 in Baltimore, received a controversial treatment knows as Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy.  We all know the 70’s Stillers were the fathers of the sports ‘Steroid Era.’ Hmmm… sounds sketchy to this CMS Staffer.

Maryland’s Mt. Rushmore of Sports.  SportsCenter is currently holding a competition of which individual United State has the best ‘Mt. Rushmore of Sports.’  They are going to announce a series of finalists and then the fans will have the final say, which gets this “prestigious” honor.  Where will Maryland factor into the discussion?  The Old Line State put up quite the fearsome foursome, Cal, Brooks, Johnny U, and Michael Phelps.  You have to wonder, do you think George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, or Abe Lincoln were ever involved in a ‘Bong-Gate?’

Surprise, Surprise.  This morning it is being widely reported that Tracy McGrady of the Houston Rockets will have season ending micro fracture surgery on his left knee.  Since being an underrated budding star in Toronto with Vince Carter, he was supposed to revolutionize the NBA with Grant Hill in post-Shaq-Orlando, and be involved in the next ‘Big 3′ to make a title run with Yao and Artest in Houston.  It might be really safe to say, McGrady might be the most overrated, way over-hyped “super-star” in the entire post-Jordan era.  Anyone who has played with that amount of talent over a decade should without a doubt be able to get to a conference semi-final, but as you’ll remember, the amount of playoff rounds T-Mac has ever won is 0.  Bob Haynie, esteemed host of the Bob Haynie Show, had Houston-Boston in his NBA Finals… sorry Bob, not this year.

Scanning the Blogosphere

Pro Football Talk has a few words on Terrell Suggs potentially being ‘tagged.’

The Schmuck Stops Here has a thought on “Guthrie and the WBC.”

MLB Trade Rumors comments on Brian Roberts and the O’s possibly narrowing the gap on a long-term deal.

Ravens Insider asks is “Rolle next on the chopping block?”

Fanhouse:  “Broncos cut Dre Bly,” could he be a potential FA signing for the Ravens?

Medium Well wonders if is “Maryland among ESPN’s Mt. Rushmore finalists?” The Old Line State has a pretty nice fearsome foursome with Cal, Brooks, Phelps, and Unitas.  I wonder if anyone on the real Mt. Rushmore

Face off confirms that “Hagelin’s still the one at Loyola,” and ponders who is “UMBC’s next diamond in the rough.”

Recruiting Report looks at the life of ex-Terp basketball recruit Eteyen Edet.

Deadspin has a great human interest story, “Not all high school kids are punks”… Drew addressed the story this morning on the CMS.

CMS Video of the Day

With the NFL Draft approaching quickly potential draftees all over the country are trying to show GM’s all over the league that they should be selected.  San Jose State 6’4 287lb Jarron Gilbert did something amazing while getting out of the pool after a workout… absolutely unreal for someone that size to be able to do that, put him on my team’s D-Line!

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Blog & Tackle: Halfway home in AFC title game

Posted on 18 January 2009 by Chris Pika

1. Interesting start on the Ravens’ first possession — three Joe Flacco passes, no runs. Maybe the coaching staff figured Pittsburgh would play the run early, and tried to hit them for a long completion.

2. Pittsburgh WR Hines Ward hurt his knee and might be out for the rest of the game. If the Ravens can climb back into the game, they won’t have to worry about doubling Ward downfield on pass coverage. The loss of Ward might hurt the Steelers as much as Tennesee missed Chris Johnson in the second half of the AFC Divisional Playoff.

3. Jim Leonhard continues to have a big impact for the Ravens in the postseason. His 45-yard punt return late in the second quarter energized the Baltimore sideline, and set up Baltimore’s first score. He also had a fumble recovery in Pittsburgh territory.

4. This bears repeating from last week against the Titans. The Ravens have had a hard time making open-field tackles, which showed on a Ward 45-yard reception (27 yards after the catch) and the 65-yard touchdown catch and run by Santonio Holmes (49 yards after catch). When Ben Roethlisberger completes passes under the defensive backs, they have gotten plenty of extra yardage.

5. This game looked like it would be a ground war because of the weather conditions. But both quarterbacks have gone to the air because the turf at Heinz Field is in better condition than last week against the Chargers. The Ravens have run the ball 15 times (42 yards) and thrown it 14 times (32 yards). Pittsburgh has 13 runs (28 yards) and 24 passes (180 yards). Pittsburgh has 208 total yards, while Baltimore has 74.

6. The roughing-the-kicker call on the Ravens’ Edgar Jones late in the first half was brutal. P Mitch Berger landed on Jones, not the other way around. Tough break for Baltimore, but the Ravens caught a break when the Steelers could not spike the ball to get the field-goal unit on the field. The lack of 3 points might come back to haunt the Steelers.

7. Injuries are mounting for the Ravens. What Rex Ryan will do defensively in the second half with moving players around bears watching.

8. Flacco was 3 of 14 passing in the first half for a 9.8 passer rating, while Roethlisberger was 11 of 24 and a 86.8 rating.

9. The Ravens get the ball to start the second half.

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Blog & Tackle: Championship game predictions

Posted on 18 January 2009 by Chris Pika

Here is my quick take on how the two conference title games will play out today.

NFC Championship (Philadelphia at Arizona): Philadelphia has become a better team since RB Brian Westbrook came back from his injury. QB Donovan McNabb has been excellent in the playoffs so far, and the Eagles defense will blitz on any down and distance. Arizona suddenly discovered a run defense it did not have during the regular season, and QB Kurt Warner is one of the best against the blitz. The Cardinals stop Westbrook and force the Eagles into a shootout. Prediction: Arizona 27, Philadelphia 24.

AFC Championship (Baltimore at Pittsburgh): All of the reasons the Ravens won’t win in Pittsburgh (too banged up, too many weeks playing in a row, can’t solve the Steelers’ offense) have all been laid on the table by the national media. Why the Ravens will win today? Because the defense slows down RB Willie Parker and forces QB Ben Roethlisberger out of the pocket and into mistakes when Pittsburgh has the ball. The less you hear Hines Ward’s name called, the better the Ravens’ chances. The Baltimore run game has to get big chunks early to keep the offense out of third-and-long situations. Has Joe Flacco seen enough of what the Steelers did to him in the first two matchups to figure out the coverages? This will be a game very similar to last week against Tennessee, and I see the same score. Prediction: Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 10.

Last week’s record: 3-1. Total for the playoffs: 5-3.

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Handing Out Some GIFTS …..

Posted on 26 December 2008 by Rex Snider

Hey, it’s time for “Snider Claus” to handout gifts to some very deserving souls.  These aren’t just typical gifts, either.  I’m talking about very fitting and meaningful tokens for one’s pleasure.  No ponies or Ipods here ….. just good ‘ole-fashioned stuff ….

Joe Flacco – it’s simple, your gift is ANYTHING YOU WANT !!!!

Scott Boras – a “Get Out Of Hell” Free Card ….. I gotta feeling you’ll need it.

President-Elect Obama – the ability to quit smoking.  Do it for your little girls.

Brian Roberts – a divorce is inevitable.  I hope you play for a contender at some point, in 2009.

Haloti Ngata – you got screwed, bro.  I’m sending you to Belize for a week – it’s prettier than Hawaii.

Sarah Palin – you deserve to be treated nicely – I hope you get your “life” back.

Michael Phelps – I’l give you some anonimity – hometowm kid or not, these “15 minutes” are over. 

Steve Bisciotti – a hope that you’ll reach peace and fellowship with “you know who”.

Britney Spears – a spot for you under my tree ???

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – an end to questions about your dad.

Matt Weiters – a spot on the Norfolk roster – it’s the right thing to do.

Robert Downey Jr. – the ability to share sobriety with others.  You made it ….. congrats !!!!

Daniel Cabrera – I dunno ….. the ability to figure IT out ???

Kyle Boller – a new home and a fresh start ….. as the backup in New England ???

President Bush – regardless of my personal beliefs, a debt of gratitude for 8 years serving your country.

Andy MacPhail – a hearty pat on the back, for abstaining from this abortion known as the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes.

John Harbaugh – whatever they give the NFL’s “Coach Of The Year.”

Eddie Van Halen – my personal thanks, for coming back to BALTIMORE.

Erik Bedard – forget it ….. you’re no longer our problem.

Mike Mussina – a plaque in Cooperstown.  You’re a Hall Of Famer.

John McCain – a nice long vacation —- thanks for serving, sir.

Peter Angelos – an invitation to join the Sunday Morning Blitz – PLEASE !!!!

Michael Vick – one last shot ….. and some humility.

Jason Statham – first crack at playing Rex Snider in “Sunday Morning Blitz – The Movie”.

Ray Lewis – a final 3 years to your Baltimore legacy.

Tampa Bay Rays – back to back World Series births.  I’m not rooting for the Yankees or Red Sox.

Michael Buble’ – what do you get the world’s best vocalist ???

O.J. Brigance – a personal victory …..

Tiger Woods – you’re bigger than the game.  Here’s to a healthy 2009.

Jason Jubb – some real special Daddy-Time ….. okay, and a bad Fantasy season !!!!

Anika Sorenstam – a happy retirement and a hope to see you modeling – you’re hot.

Hines Ward – a sucker punch, squarely on the side of your chin.

Producer Katie Browne – more ink ???  Or, how about a nerdy boyfriend ???

Terrell Suggs – a big, fat contract.  Don’t forget me ……

Jason Giambi – a spot on the 2009 Orioles ….. I’m deferring to Drew on this one.  It’s short-term.

Jennifer Aniston – a skimpy “I LOVE THE SUNDAY MORNING BLITZ” tube shirt

Tom Brady – a healthy leg ???

Brian Cashman – a ride on the “Karma Train” ….. you’re killing the integrity of this game’s structure.

Hannah Montana – Miley Cyrus, whatever !!!!  ….. please just go away ….. PLEASE !!!!!

Dave Trembley – a “bearable” 2009 season.  Honestly, this is gonna be a tough one.

Ed Reed – where do they put the team’s MVP award ???

American Idol Fans – well, your gift is less than a month away.

Jeff Gordon – a return of the “Magic,” in 2009.

Peyton Manning – a really bad game, in January.

The Pimp Daddies & MARCRA Leagues – I got your freaking presents – LOOK OUT, in 2009 !!!!

And Finally ……

Mark Teixeira – some humility, bro.  For the last few days, the Orioles have suffered an immeasurable “pulling down of their pants,” thanks to you.  They were in a NO WIN situation.  If they bent and did the stupidest thing possible ….. like give a guy who isn’t even among the “TOP 10 PLAYERS” in the game a behemoth contract, they would have been doomed. 

A few years down the road, they would have been financially ruined, because by 2012, the likes of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Matt Wieters will be BETTER than you.  And, the Orioles would have been obligated to reward them, as they approached free agency.  Every talkshow host can beatup Andy MacPhail, but he can’t give nearly $200 million to 4 guys !!!!

If nothing else, YOU – MARK TEIXEIRA, owe the fans of this city some words of kindness.  They longed for you, like giddy girls over teen heartthrobs.  And, you spurned them without a single “thanks ….. I’m flattered.”  The flirtation manufactured by yourself and the “Son of Satan” (aka Scott Boras) did nothing less than widen the divide between the fan base and the Orioles.  I thought you were an Orioles fan?

Here’s a little secret, Mark ….. you can’t take IT with you, bro.  But, hanging and running with a cat like Boras might very well determine which direction you head, when you do go !!!!  A preacher, I’m not.  And, I’ve got my own wrongs to overcome.  But, selfish is SELFISH.  And, greed is GREED.

Here’s your gift, buddy.  It’s a wish your stay in New York is as comforatble as those experienced by Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers and a few others.  You didn’t owe this city an agreement to play here – the team is HORRIBLE.  However, you do owe them some “thanks” ….. they really wanted you.

Is there a more fitting gift …….

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