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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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NFL Championship Weekend Picks and Analysis

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NFL Championship Weekend Picks and Analysis

Posted on 17 January 2014 by Nick Dorsey


The divisional round of the NFL playoffs did not quite live up to the hype that Wild Card weekend provided for the fans. The match ups were great, but there weren’t any 28 point second half comebacks or any type of upsets. It is all good because the next round provides fans with the best possible championship games that anyone could have asked for. The NFL has had parity across the league this season, but the match ups for the upcoming championship weekend were predicted amongst many of the critics in the preseason. Before getting into the games predictions and analysis, I want to look back at what stood out in last weekend’s games.

There were common themes amongst the two number one seeds I noticed in both their games. The Seahawks and Broncos both got out to hot starts in their match ups and looked as if they were going to blow the other team out by half time. Great teams know how to put other teams away when they have an opportunity to do so, better known as a kill. We see the great Quarterbacks “kill”, if the opposing team is ineffective or making mistakes consistently, those great quarterbacks make them pay for those miscues and “kill” the other teams chances at a possible comeback. If you look at both these number one seeds, neither team could “kill” off the opposing team and put them out of the game. Drew Brees and his offense were not effective at moving the ball at all until the late fourth quarter. Once the rain slowed down and came to a halt, Brees was able to throw it around and began to put points up. Seattle had a 16-point lead, but was unable to continue to add to that lead for quite some time. They did not put away New Orleans, so when Brees led a scoring drive, all of the sudden a game that felt like it was one sided, was now a close game once again. Marshawn Lynch did later score a touchdown to increase the lead, but New Orleans did have a chance at the end of the game to make something happen to potentially tie the game.

Denver’s game was almost identical to Seattle’s. Denver had a 17-0 lead heading into the third quarter. San Diego was trying to run the ball throughout the contest, but they were ineffective for three quarters. The defense made key stops to keep the Chargers still in the game. Once they opened up the playbook and let Phillip Rivers throw the ball, their offense began to move the chains and score points. Denver scored another touchdown to extend their lead, but ultimately the Chargers almost had a shot at tying it. The defense forced a 3rd and 17 for Manning, but he made the conversion that ended the game. As stated above, a game that virtually felt like a blowout was still close when the Chargers scored a touchdown. Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos did not get the “kill” in the first half or third quarter, it took a 3rd and 17 conversion to get it.

Indianapolis almost seemed like the favorite heading into Foxboro after their 28-point comeback victory against the Chiefs. I mentioned in my last predictions post that this matchup was the easiest for me to pick and had New England by 13. Instead it was a 21-point rout by the Patriots, but one that no one could have ever predicted. They put up 43 points without Tom Brady throwing a touchdown pass. If you would have told me the score of the game before it started and said Brady would not have thrown a touchdown pass, Indianapolis would appear as the team that would have scored 43 points. That was not the case as the Patriots running game was tremendous, especially Blount. Along with the defense that was causing turnovers, Jamie Collins stood out the most. This is a different side of New England we have not seen in a long time, scary if your trying to game plan against them now.

The best match up of the weekend was a solid game across the board. Two great defenses against two of the better up and coming young quarterbacks. Everyone was more interested to see how Cam Newton would play in his playoff debut and I thought he did well. His last interception was a bad throw, but other than that he was good against a great 49ers defense. He had about 270 yards through the air and above 50 on the ground. I liked the way he was using his legs to get some yards at a time versus that defense, making third downs more manageable. What I did not like was the conservative feel to the play calling. Similar with the Chargers, I felt like the Panthers tried to run the ball too much at one point when it was not effective. Carolina has been great on offense this season because of their great balance, but after a while in the playoffs, you have to turn your best playmaker loose. I just felt that they never let Cam turn loose and let him make the big plays that we are accustomed to seeing. Its not like he did not have success early, his throw to Steve Smith for the first touchdown is as good a throw as your going to see. Also, the quarterback sneak on the goal line is a head scratcher. I like that call usually, but not against the 49ers linebackers. Move Cam around to the outside or run the Gator package and let Cam jump over the pile if anything. It is very clear the Carolina needs more weapons on the outside because Steve Smith isn’t getting any younger and Ted Ginn Jr. just does not quite cut it as a second option on the outside. Other than that, Carolina is a great young team and this wont be their last trip to the post season. Now with all that review done, onto the championship round predictions.


New England 33 Denver 31

Brady vs. Manning, what else could you ask for in the AFC championship? The two greatest quarterbacks of this era and one of the best quarterback rivalries ever, this championship will live up to the hype. Unfortunately for Denver, they will not live up to the hype. We saw what impact the loss of Chris Harris was last round; you know Tom Brady is well aware of that. The main reason why the Patriots will move on and Denver won’t, Bill Belichick will outcoach John Fox. Belichick is one of the greatest coaches of all time and he is a genius. He is going to come out with a game plan that will be the difference. Imagine how difficult it is for Fox to game plan against the Patriots, a week after they ran the ball that effectively. Tom Brady does not have the weapons offensively that Manning has, but he will make it work against the Broncos defense. I see New England running the ball effectively early, but turning Brady loose early on as well. If Brady can have the run game working his way, their play action passing game will deteriorate the Denver D. As for Manning and his offense, I see them scoring early and often too. It will have to come down to what defense is opportunistic and forces the key turnovers. I see the Patriots defense doing so, similar to what they did last week against the Colts. If Denver does get a lead early, it wont matter because if they don’t “kill” off Brady, he will come back to hurt you. Bottom line for this game, never count against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.


San Francisco 23 Seattle 17

The most fresh and best rivalry in the NFL owns the NFC championship game. San Fran comes in after two straight road wins and Seattle comes in after a home win vs. the Saints. Seattle has gotten the hype all of the preseason and during the regular season, as they should. They have a great defense led by the cocky secondary group known as the Legion of Boom. The Seahawks also have the toughest home crowd in the NFL, where they hardly lose. They have blown out the 49ers two straight seasons at home, but the third time is a charm. San Francisco is the most experience team out of the two and they were in the Super Bowl last season. They will get back by taking down the Super Bowl favorite Seahawks. Seattle comes into this game with all the pressure on them, which benefits San Fran. I have made it known throughout the regular season that when it all came down to this game, the 49ers would be victorious. They have the best personnel to match up against Seattle’s defense. Their secondary is tough, but Boldin, Crabtree and Davis are the perfect set of weapons to have facing them. The offensive line and Kaepernick’s legs will buy him time to throw to these weapons with the Seattle pass rush coming at him. As for Seattle’s offense, they are reliant on Marshawn Lynch to carry the load. The 49ers defense is yet to allow an individual one hundred yard rusher all season, that spells trouble for the Seahawks. If they are unable to run the ball, this forces them to be one-dimensional with Russell Wilson. That is not his game because he likes to utilize the play action to get him moving outside the pocket. Carlos Rogers looks to be back in the49ers secondary, which is great for that unit.

Percy Harvin as of Thursday has not been cleared to play. Throughout the regular season, the biggest point I tried to stress was who the bigger difference maker would be for their team when this match up came about. Percy Harvin and Michael Crabtree were injured throughout the majority of the regular season, but both were set to return at the tail end. There was a whole lot of buzz in the offseason when the Seahawks traded for Harvin, but I was not sold on it as much as every other expert in the country was. He has never shown he can stay consistently healthy and on the field. Crabtree’s impact on the other hand, is huge. That is Kaepernick’s number one target and we have seen that since he has made his return from a pre season Achilles injury. Crabtree will be the biggest difference maker in this game and one of the main reasons why San Francisco upsets Seattle at home to move on to the Super Bowl for a second straight season.

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Who I Like Sunday and Why

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Who I Like Sunday and Why

Posted on 13 January 2014 by Dwayne Showalter

Championship weekend is upon us and for the first time since 2011, and only third time since 2008, the Baltimore Ravens are not involved.  That sounds pretty good to say actually.  To be in it three times in five years would have been kind of bitter had Josh Bynes not tackled Tedd Ginn around midfield to end the 49ers comeback last February and give the Ravens their second Lombardi Trophy.

It certainly would have been nice to watch them participate again in the playoffs this season, but let’s face it, it frays nerves, causes gray hair and (in may case) makes it fall out.  Let some of these other cities get their hopes dashed, dreams crushed and see parade plans canceled.

Think about the playoffs already.  Cincinnati, for all the good mojo they created during the regular season, lost at home…again…in the first round.  Nice job Bengals.  Do us all a favor and go back to your holes.  Please don’t win the division again.  It embarrasses the AFC North.

How about the Chiefs?  After two straight losing seasons, they were back in the playoffs (last losing at home to Baltimore in January ’11) and feeling spry after finishing 11-5.  Then they choked a huge lead to a second year quarterback.  Stew on that KC.  And you can probably apply the same to Eagles fans.  The only differences?  Lost a small lead, at home, were 10-6 and were coming off of two non-winning seasons – they finished 8-8 two seasons ago.

The Packers weaseled in at 8-7-1.  They had Aaron Rogers back at quarterback and all was looking up in Green Bay.  That is until Phil Dawson connected on a short field goal to dash hopes, crush dreams and cancel parade plans.

This past weekend the big four muscled up.  The 49ers showed the fans in Carolina what championship football was all about.  Seattle throttled the Saints for three-and-a-half quarters before allowing them a chance to tie it late.  I have my reasons to dislike Drew Brees (lets just say its fantasy related) but for the record, I usually root against dome teams.  What a shame for the Crescent City.  In San Diego, they don’t really make Super Bowl plans, at least not since the game itself stopped making regular appearances there.  As for the Chargers, Phillip Rivers was never a favorite when at NC State.  His gyrations Sunday didn’t do anything to erase those feelings.  As for Indy, no sympathy here.  Domed team, our colors and logo.  They may have their day again, and soon, but not this year.

So here we go into the final four, NFL style.  I can’t root for Seattle.  I find the whole “12th man” thing kind of a joke.  I thought that was Texas A&M’s deal anyway.  The fans look like idiots and the weather always is rotten.  Not even cold or snow rotten.  Just 40 degrees and crappy rotten.  Their home record may be a by-product of it being such a dreary looking place.  Denver and New England is a toss up to me.  I kind of lean toward New England because Brady seems to do it without stars around him and was never the chosen one, being drafted in the sixth round out of Michigan.  Manning was the first overall pick in 1998 by the Colts.  I also like the fact the Manning has the same amount of rings as Joe Flacco!

But mostly, they are at home.  And if there is one thing I enjoy watching it’s a stadium full of disgruntled fans emptying out late in the 4th quarter like the Pats forced in Pittsburgh a few years back.  The Ravens had a habit of  doing that over the years too.  Tennessee and Oakland in 2000.  Miami in ’01.  Miami and Tennessee again in ’08.  New England in ’09 and 2012.  Kansas City in 2010.  And Oh yeah, Denver too last year (caution one F-bomb but one of my favorite clips of all-time!).  Unfortunately, we have witnessed this here in Baltimore a few times.  I saw Oakland in 1977.  And Tennessee and Indy in ’03 and ’06 respectively.  It stinks.  But if it’s not my team, it’s kind of funny.

In the end, I think I will pull for San Francisco the most.  With them and either AFC team, a Super Bowl that features two teams the Ravens beat to win Super Bowl XLVII would be pretty neat to watch.  Go Niners.



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Rice says Broncos earned victory in Denver

Posted on 06 September 2013 by WNSTV

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Flacco describes mechanics of Mile High Miracle TD pass to Jacoby Jones

Posted on 12 January 2013 by WNSTV

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Ray Lewis says he’s never been affected by altitude in Denver

Posted on 10 January 2013 by WNSTV

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Blame the Mayans? The purple sky is falling in Baltimore…

Posted on 17 December 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Many in the Baltimore Ravens fan base had a community online celebration last Monday morning when offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was fired by head coach John Harbaugh via owner Steve Bisciotti.

“That’ll fix it,” some of the unsophisticated eyes said. “Clearly, Cam was holding Joe Flacco and the offense back.”

It felt like scapegoating then and it feels even less satisfying after yesterday’s 34-17 loss to the Denver Broncos in a game where the final score wasn’t indicative of the lopsided nature of the day.

Fifteen days ago the Ravens were 9-2 after the “Hey diddle, diddle” miracle in San Diego. This morning, they’re 9-5 and the beneficiary of a playoff berth by virtue of backing in via the overtime loss of the Pittsburgh Steelers last night in Dallas.

It was hardly a time for celebration.

Hard times have come to the land of pleasant living and I don’t mean the tax rate hike.

Where to begin to assess the train wreck loss to Peyton Manning and the Broncos?

Harbaugh called it a “team loss” and he’s right about that. No sense in moving any particular names above the fold.

Quarterback Joe Flacco will shoulder the lion’s share of the blame, as it should be for the quarterback who is playing for a contract amidst what can only be deemed as chaos right now. The offensive line is in tatters, consistently getting beaten on failed run plays and often enough in the passing game to make it difficult for No. 5 to make plays. He hasn’t helped himself with poor judgment and errant throws.

The receiving corps continues to be depleted with the disappearance of Ed Dickson and a concussion suffered by Torrey Smith yesterday.

But the Flacco Pick Six interception to Broncos’ DB Chris Harris at the goal line in the waning seconds of the first half on Sunday will  forever be Ravens’ fans remembrance of an afternoon they’d sooner love to forget.

It was the worst pass of Flacco’s career and soon left him 100 yards away, winded, flailing, gassed and beaten by his own poor judgment. “I made a mistake,” he said. “There’s no other way to put it.”

Not only is Flacco’s stock teetering based on his dismal overall performance over the past month but the whole organization is dancing on the brink of the playoffs and extinction seemingly all at once.

And we’re only halfway through the “Manning Holiday Tour” as Eli Manning comes to Baltimore this week as the only guy getting more abuse than Flacco. The defending world champs were thoroughly trounced

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Flacco: “I made a mistake…there’s no other way to put it”

Posted on 16 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Ed Reed: “I’m embarrassed”

Posted on 16 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Breaking news to Baltimore about glories of modern-day Indy & Jim Irsay isn’t easy

Posted on 09 February 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

As many of you might remember, my dear friend and mentor John Steadman would often channel Babe Ruth and write wacky letters to Baltimore sports fans from The Bambino in heaven.

So, on the eve of what would’ve been my father’s 93rd birthday, I’m writing an open letter to Steadman – and my Pop (and maybe even to Charlie Eckman) – to tell them what my eyes have seen in the years since their deaths in regard to the legacy of the Indianapolis Colts. I now realize in many ways I only really saw the Baltimore Colts and their glory through their eyes because other than three years of Bert Jones from 1975-77 when I was a kid, the Colts of Robert Irsay weren’t worth having in Baltimore.

The Baltimore Colts packed up the Mayflower vans on March 28, 1984. Twenty-eight years later and about that many trips to Indy over the years have taught me many life lessons about greed, loss, regret, hatred, football, forgiveness, civic responsibility and pride.

I spent nine days in Indianapolis last week and I’ll be back there again in 14 days for the NFL Combine. I’ll probably be going to Indianapolis for the rest of my life – or as long as they have the Colts – and I’m finally gaining some appreciation, clarity and personal growth for my adventures in the “friendly heart of The Midwest.”

Dear John & Pop:

I know you’re going to have a hard time believing this – and you might even think old Nasty Nestor has gone soft – but I have a very hard, long-term and deep-seated admission I’m going to make and you’re probably going to be very disappointed with me.

After all of these years, I have to admit that I like Indianapolis.

And I like Jim Irsay.

And I even like the Mayor of Indy, Greg Ballard, who I introduced to Chuck Pagano on our WNST set last week in Indy.

And I have to make the tough, honest admission that the Indianapolis Colts have become one helluva success story for the NFL and for their community in Indiana.

I know you might not have liked my “pardon” of all things Irsay and Colts and Indianapolis almost two years ago now, and you’re probably flipping over in your respective graves as you read this but the people of Baltimore almost found out last week what Indiana and “Hoosier Hospitality” is all about.

It’s a shame, really, because the people of Baltimore would’ve been there to see firsthand just how far Indianapolis has come in 28 years if Ravens’ WR Lee Evans would’ve just held onto a sure-touchdown pass from this scrappy kid named Joe Flacco up in New England in the AFC Championship Game. Half of the Charm City would’ve been packing up the family for Indiana like Jed Clampett going to Beverly Hills if the Ravens would’ve pulled out that win over the Patriots.

And that trip might’ve once-and-for-all “healed the war” between Indy and Baltimore. And it might’ve gotten us what we really want — pictures like THIS taken off the walls of local taverns like Kilroy’s because they are as disrespectful as a Confederate flag is to some men in their symbolism:

(And if you’re reading in Indy: Stop selling the Johnny Unitas jerseys in the Circle Center Mall downtown. And stop pushing Raymond Berry’s sorry ass onto the national platform as your own because he’s foolish enough to play along with the charade.

This stuff STILL bothers all of us in Baltimore! A lot…

Do that, and perhaps, all will be totally forgiven.)

But as much as it is hard for anyone from Baltimore to admit it — but time and facts have proven it all true — you have to give Jim Irsay some immense and serious credit. He inherited one of the most screwed up situations this side of Peter Angelos and his boys when he woke up as a 28-year old general manager in India-No-Place 

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