Tag Archive | "john"

Thirty years after Mayflower crime, I’ve pardoned Irsay and moved on from the hate

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Thirty years after Mayflower crime, I’ve pardoned Irsay and moved on from the hate

Posted on 28 March 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published on March 28, 2011, I think this is appropriate for where my life stands with #JennStrong & #BmorePositive mojo. nja)

Twenty-seven years ago today I awoke to see my father crying in my kitchen in Dundalk. It was one of two times that I ever saw him cry. The Baltimore Colts’ infamous ride of the Mayflowers out west on I-70 just two months after I started interning at The News American defined the end of my childhood at 15 and the beginning of my lifelong education about money and the real world of sports for the remainder of my sports fan and business life as a journalist.

It’s been a tumultuous quarter of a century plus a year for my feelings of anger, anguish, desperation, loss and bad vibes about the Colts leaving Baltimore on March 28, 1984. My Pop died in 1992 and never got to see the Ravens come back to town to avenge the loss of the horseshoe. I never got to go to one more football game with my father. And over the years, it’s really been a civic badge of honor to hate on all things Irsay and Indianapolis.

Nestor and Mini Bob

I’ve been to Indianapolis more times than I can count since 1996 – always for a football game or the annual March combine. There’s never been a time that it hasn’t taken me 15 minutes on the ground there to get ill seeing the horseshoes and “Go Colts” kind of marketing that is ubiquitous in Indy from the minute you land at the airport. It drives my wife batty — my almost irrational instant anger, ranting and self-inflicted torture when I’m in Indianapolis. I’ve always figured that I’d proudly be like the old dudes in Brooklyn, still pining away about the Dodgers 50 years later.

Here’s an example:

It’s taken me years of internal therapy and self soothing to calm myself when I see the game day experience there in Indy as those Midwestern hillbillies parade around in my father’s stolen laundry. In many ways, our “friend” Merton From Indianapolis (and no, none of us has any idea who he is or where the whole gimmick started – honest to God!) sort of exemplifies the entire experience of dealing with their fans when you travel to the “friendly heartland.”

My loathing of all things Irsay and Indianapolis is a bit legendary – there are plenty of pictures of me carrying Bob Irsay’s head on a stick through the streets of Indy — and my rants and raves throughout the 1990s are all very “on the record” and still accurate. What happened to this community at the hands of Bob Irsay and how I saw it affect my father and the psyche of the citizenry here will never been forgotten. The degrading and demoralizing “begging” to get back into the league that fell on Herb Belgrad. Paul Tagliabue’s “build a museum” expansion declaration in Chicago. All of it…I’ll remember those feelings and emotions for the rest of my life. Most Baltimoreans older than me — and I was born in 1968 – still can’t begin to imagine a world without the Colts of that generation. If you’re from Baltimore, sports is etched into your DNA.

(And if you doubt those feelings, imagine how you’d feel if the Ravens packed up and left tomorrow morning and never played another game here? For you young’ins that’s essentially what happened here in 1984…)

But after long and careful consideration – and as today’s 26th anniversary of the dastardly

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For Ravens fans, a season to forget but a finish that must be remembered

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For Ravens fans, a season to forget but a finish that must be remembered

Posted on 30 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s never easy trying to repeat as a sports champion. Ask anyone who has ever won.

For the 2013 Baltimore Ravens it became clear quite early in training camp that last season was a long, long time ago. This year’s version of the defending champions spent 16 mostly-long weeks, like Barry Manilow, trying to get that feeling again. And as the clock ticked down on the final, gruesome minutes in Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t hard to get inside the brain of general manager Ozzie Newsome because his thoughts probably mirrored ours.

This team just wasn’t very good.

For the 18th consecutive year I walked through the Ravens locker room at the end of a season and this time surveyed the carnage of lost hopes and dreams. There were two times — in Tampa and New Orleans — when I still was wondering about the future even as delicious as the present was at that precious moment in time. Every year I look around that room of mostly battered men and wonder how many will be on the field in Owings Mills when they take the field in late July. This time I had more questions and more confusion because of how under-performing so many players were at so many positions across the roster.

At heart, the Ravens lacked “great” players. All over the place.

Owner Steve Bisciotti will take the podium at some point in the next 10 days and discuss his thoughts on trying to repeat and what he gleaned from an 8-8 finish and four months of woeful offensive theater.

When the years pass and any fan looks back on 2013 and sees that somehow the kicker was voted the team’s MVP, well…that just about says it all. No offense to kickers anywhere, but when Justin Tucker is your team’s MVP – and really, there wasn’t much argument regarding his choice — you probably don’t deserve to make the playoffs.

And yet somehow this pesky group from Baltimore made it all the way into the second half of Week 17 with a chance to play into 2014. They weren’t 4-12 and playing out the string. The season wasn’t over in October. And given the heroics and determination we’ve witnessed over the past six seasons since John Harbaugh arrived, when the game was 17-17 in Cincinnati yesterday it wasn’t hard to envision a 9-7 finish and some unlikely hero finding some way to create a play that extended the season into the New Year.

But, alas, the Ravens probably got what they deserved – an early trip to the golf course with the rest of the 19 other teams who stumbled and bumbled through the fall.

“We’re an 8-8 team,” Flacco said from the podium at Paul Brown Stadium. “We didn’t deserve to go to the playoffs.”

True, that.

I see the mindless posts from football fans who drink too much in the first half of games each week. The unseemly criticism of Flacco and his salary and his play – much of which is predicated on blocking, scheme and route-running from others — is almost comical for anyone who really watches football and understands the value of a world-class quarterback and a well-oiled offensive machine. Flacco’s “eliteness” has become a running civic conversation. The parade, the Super Bowl MVP performance, the five straight years of exciting football in January seems to be vanquished into the gutter of people’s minds in Baltimore anytime the Ravens lose.

It’s really unbelievable to me how unappreciated Flacco is by the mental midgets in the Ravens fan base who clearly don’t remember the 15 guys who played quarterback before him from 1996 through 2007.

There’s even a case to be made that the season ended two weeks ago when Flacco limped off the field in Detroit. Without Joe Flacco, there’s very little doubt that the season would’ve ended before it began especially given the lack of talent and results across the roster.

It was clearly Flacco’s worst season in the NFL but it’s also very clear that virtually every component of the team around him underachieved and

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A YEAR LATER: What really happened with Cam Cameron firing?

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A YEAR LATER: What really happened with Cam Cameron firing?

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

On December 10, 2012, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Eight weeks later, Joe Flacco led a winning offense to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. What really happened? What caused that fateful decision?

Do you want to know everything?

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 7 here on all things Joe Flacco and why the Baltimore Ravens fell in love with him:

 

15. Dancing on The Edge of Chaos?

“People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”
John Harbaugh (December 10, 2012)

 

THE SHORT RIDE HOME FROM Fed Ex Field after an excruciating loss was particularly disturbing for John Harbaugh. On the bus he started thinking about where the Baltimore Ravens would be in the coming weeks if things remained the same and this team continued to perform inconsistently. He’d been thinking about the end of this season since the end of last season. Harbaugh was a big picture guy with all of his assistant coaches. It’s the NFL – Not For Long. Change is inevitable.

But when exactly is the right time to make a glacial movement in philosophy? When, exactly, do you decide to decide to make a change in personnel? And how do you know if it’s the right decision?

“I was on the bus back from the Redskins game, and I just did it,” Harbaugh said. “I just decided this is what we needed to do.”

Twelve hours later, head coach John Harbaugh brought his longtime friend, former boss and current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron into his office in Owings Mills and fired him. Later in the afternoon, Harbaugh did his usual Monday press conference.

“We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell,” he began. “It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

In trying to piece together the story of how it had gotten to this point, this desperate place where Harbaugh felt he had no other option but to fire Cameron on the bus ride home from Fed Ex Field in Week 14 of the season, you have to go back to the biggest of big picture philosophies in Owings Mills.

“What gives us the best chance to win the Super Bowl?”

Much like when Bisciotti fired Billick nearly five years earlier, or when Billick fired his pal and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during a bye week in 2006, this was as much about the team as it was any one or two issues, disagreements, or personal relationships.

The truth? It was hard to find anyone in the building who truly trusted, fully understood or had an ideal two-way communication with Cam Cameron. Relationships change. People change. But sometimes philosophies remain stagnant and grow stale.

Since Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pre-dates Harbaugh, it begins with a vision even larger

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Purple Reign 2 excerpt here: How to find a franchise quarterback

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Purple Reign 2 excerpt here: How to find a franchise quarterback

Posted on 25 April 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

Ever wonder why the Baltimore Ravens fell in love with Joe Flacco in the first place? Here are all of the answers!

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 6 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco:

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6: HOW TO FIND A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK

 

 

“You can always look at how the guys play. You just look at the tape. But at the combine you find out what kind of people they are. What’s important to them? How important is football to them? How important is their family to them? If we get those two things right, we’ll be right most of the time.”
-- John Harbaugh (March 2008)

 

 

AN NFL SCOUT’S LIFE EXISTS with perpetual hope. Every time he shows up on a campus to watch a kid run, or gets on a plane to fly to a college town to see a game in the fall, or fires up his iPad to watch film, he wants to believe he’s about to find the next player who will help his team win the Super Bowl.

It’s the eternal quest for any NFL scout – find the next Pro Bowl player who can become a Hall of Famer. Or, at the very least, find a player who can help you win every year for the next decade.

By the time Baltimore Ravens area scouts Andy Weidl and Joe Douglas got in their cars and made the one hour drive north up Interstate 95 from Owings Mills to Newark, Delaware on November 10, 2007, Joe Flacco wasn’t a secret to the college scouting world. And he certainly was no stranger to Douglas, who joined the team in 2000 and is known to all in the Ravens organization as “Big Joe D,” whose job it was to scout the Northeast for the team from 2003 through 2008. Douglas was made famous during the Ravens’ summer of 2001 filming of “Hard Knocks” on HBO as “The Turk,” the lowly scout who has the duty of summoning players from the locker room to the office of the head coach where “Coach wants to see you, bring your playbook” means you’ll be leaving the campus and chasing your NFL dream elsewhere.

Incidentally, UrbanDictionary.com defines “turk” as “someone who is extremely brave.” Joe Douglas spent six months talking Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz into drafting a Division 1-AA quarterback from Delaware in the first round of the NFL draft.

Douglas, by any measurement, is as brave as Joe Flacco is fearless.

By 2007, Douglas had moved up the ranks of the scouting system and was making that fateful Saturday a “quarterback doubleheader” – a rare chance to see two teams in one day, both with targets who could be the next quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. The afternoon game in Newark featured the Delaware Blue Hens hosting the Richmond Spiders in a Division I-AA matchup. The nightcap on the docket was Boston College visiting the Maryland Terps in College Park and Douglas would be joined by longtime Ravens scouts Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz, whom he’d meet at the I-95 Park and Ride near Catonsville so they could travel together to Byrd Stadium. Their target that evening was visiting Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan, who many thought would be the first quarterback – if not the first player – taken in the April 2008 draft.

Incidentally, Douglas was rooting hard for Richmond that afternoon and not out of disdain for Flacco or Delaware. Douglas was the starting left tackle for the Spiders from 1995-1998 and had been through many battles with the Blue Hens on the field. He was also quite familiar with many of the coaches and players in this contest. Even when he didn’t attend Richmond games – and it was rare to see his alma mater in person because NFL scouts don’t scout a lot of I-AA football games unless there’s a specific prospect they want to evaluate – his father would give him weekly Spiders reports from stands.

It was Douglas’ dad, Joel Douglas, who first told Big Joe D about Joe Flacco a year earlier after seeing the 2006 matchup in Richmond.

“He went to the game with my uncle and he called me up and said, ‘I don’t know who that Delaware quarterback was, but Richmond couldn’t stop him,’” Douglas said of a day when Flacco, then a junior who was making his seventh start for the Blue Hens, went 31-of-45 for 305 yards and a pair of TD passes in a come-from-behind 28-24 win over the Spiders. “Honestly, I was more mad that Richmond blew the lead than I was concerned about who Delaware’s junior quarterback was that day.”

The NFL scouting calendar begins in May after the draft. DeCosta and Hortiz enlist the entire organization to target potential candidates to scout for the following year. By August, the scouts plan their entire schedule for the fall, trying to chunk as many practices, games, campus visits and interviews as possible into the schedule while also trying to see the Ravens play some games at home and away. As an NFL scout, this is the most important time of the year because it’s a grueling workload, traveling as much as six days per week in search of a handful of picks you’ll make next April. Choosing a wise schedule lends itself to more rest and better scouting when you’re not driving six hours every day between visits. The schedule has to flow and be manageable so every possible combination is considered around games, campuses, distance, dates and, most importantly, legitimate prospects.

In the summer of 2007, Ravens scout Mark Azevedo, who was assigned Delaware during spring ball, recommended that Douglas see a tall, lanky kid who played quarterback at Delaware.

“Mark said, ‘Delaware has a kid with an arm. Put them on your schedule,’” Douglas said. “I had to look up his name because it rang a bell from the previous year when Delaware beat my Spiders.”

Even with McNair coming off a big 2006 season, anyone with football intelligence knew that the Ravens would probably be in the market for a quarterback in 2008 just based on his age and the fact that no one on Newsome’s staff – or Billick’s coaches for that matter – believed that incumbents Kyle Boller or Troy Smith were the answer. So, Douglas believed that seeing quarterbacks was a major priority that summer and fall in the hopes of finding the right player the following spring.

It was a full time job, this searching-for-a-Super Bowl-MVP-quarterback work.

IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU’RE READING, YOU CAN BUY Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story HERE:

Continue to the next page to keep reading excerpt from Chapter 6…

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My New Orleans march & Baltimore parade Super Bowl scrapbook of Ravens memories

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My New Orleans march & Baltimore parade Super Bowl scrapbook of Ravens memories

Posted on 10 February 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

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Dear John: Why is now the right time to fire Cam Cameron?

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Dear John: Why is now the right time to fire Cam Cameron?

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

At some point this morning all hell broke loose in Owings Mills. It’s not often – or I’m not sure it’s ever been done before successfully – that an offensive coordinator of a 9-4 football team that produced 21 points of road offense in the first 21 minutes of a game is fired less than 21 hours later.

But it happened this morning. Tony Dungy got a leak from Jim Caldwell and gave it to Dan Patrick, who then gave it to Mike Florio. And then we learned that Cam Cameron was fired and told his friend Jamie Costello at ABC2.

Word is that there were some rather harsh words exchanged, feelings hurt and that Cameron was shocked by everything about the decision, which wasn’t made solely by John Harbaugh. WNST has also learned that Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was directly involved in the decision as well.

The Baltimore Ravens were 53-24 & 5-4 in playoffs during his tenure as offensive coordinator. He also inherited a rookie QB, RB & first offense without Jon Ogden at left tackle in 2008.

WNST.net monitored it minute to minute on Twitter and we’re all still sorting through everything but what’s obvious – the Baltimore Ravens are struggling in lots of ways right now to win a game and Cam Cameron obviously worked his way through the doghouse of John Harbaugh and was shown the door this morning.

It might never be reported what happened last night in the mind of Harbaugh and/or Bisciotti or how long this change has been brewing – and don’t expect him to be forthcoming in his press conference when questioned about the change – but it’s now done, and veteran offensive mind and QB guru Jim Caldwell will take over a sputtering offense that he’s had almost a calendar year to dissect and learn with Joe Flacco at the helm.

What will really change this Sunday vs. the Denver Broncos?

Who knows?

But Cam Cameron didn’t have false starts. Cam Cameron didn’t put the offense in 1st & 23s, 2nd & 17s and 3rd & 11s. Cam Cameron didn’t miss blocks and assignments. Cam Cameron didn’t throw high and long or short and low to Torrey Smith. Cam Cameron didn’t have separation issues or troubles finding holes in the running attack. Cam Cameron didn’t let Ben Grubbs walk away last offseason.

Cam Cameron calls plays. Now Jim Caldwell will probably call a lot of the same plays.

This Broncos game can now be deemed a “must-win” game given the Ravens’ stated desire to have a first-round bye that was looking so likely eight mornings ago when they were 9-2 and coming off a heady, miraculous win in San Diego.

Perhaps Caldwell was headed to the open market in a few weeks to become an offensive coordinator or even a head coach in the coming weeks? Maybe Cameron and Harbaugh had a falling out? How involved did Steve Bisciotti get last night after an embarrassing loss in D.C.?

Feel free to speculate away because you will anyway…

But however you slice it, it’s a very radical move this morning by John Harbaugh and the Baltimore Ravens organization.

Sometimes these things take root and championships are won.

And sometimes, it’s the first chair off the Titanic..

Harbaugh will be asked a lot of questions. He will wish Cam Cameron well. And in six days the Denver Broncos are coming to town to play a team that clearly hit the panic button this morning.

Harbaugh won’t call it the panic button and would berate me if I asked him that question but I’m not sure that under any circumstance that this is the desired pathway for a Super Bowl team.

His brother Jim Harbaugh endured heavy media and fan heat three weeks ago for changing starting quarterbacks while in first place. Now, in the midst of December with a 9-4 team flailing in many phases of the game and after the defense and special teams floundered in D.C. with the game (and a lead) in the balance, John Harbaugh has guillotined his offensive coordinator with three games left on the 2012 calendar.

I always laugh when the fans scream to fire the coach or bench the QB in the middle of any season.

It looks like John Harbaugh has finally succumbed after hearing the chants of the radicals and fired his O.C. on a Monday morning.

Some of you finally got what you wanted – heads to roll when the team is 9-4.

 

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Was Harbaugh running up score on fake FG for TD by Koch?

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Was Harbaugh running up score on fake FG for TD by Koch?

Posted on 11 November 2012 by WNSTV

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Harbaugh says Ravens need to tackle better

Posted on 14 October 2012 by WNST Staff

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Bernard Pierce apologizes to Glenn for 5 TDs vs. Maryland Terps

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Bernard Pierce apologizes to Glenn for 5 TDs vs. Maryland Terps

Posted on 28 April 2012 by WNSTV

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Ozzie Newsome gives “State of Baltimore Ravens” update at Indy combine

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Ozzie Newsome gives “State of Baltimore Ravens” update at Indy combine

Posted on 24 February 2012 by WNST Staff

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