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On Eve of Brother Jon’s Biggest Fight, Ravens’ Jones Contemplating Own MMA Future

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On Eve of Brother Jon’s Biggest Fight, Ravens’ Jones Contemplating Own MMA Future

Posted on 19 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

Jon “Bones” Jones is one of the brightest stars in the history of Mixed Martial Arts.

Just three years into his career as a professional fighter, Jones has posted a 12-1 record. His only loss (to Matt Hammill in December 2009) came via disqualification due to illegal elbow strikes.

Jones will compete in the biggest fight of his young career Saturday night, when he challenges Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) light heavyweight title holder Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the main event of UFC 128 in Newark, New Jersey.

At just 23 years old, Jones has used a flashy style and an ability to catch opponents off guard to endear himself to MMA fans all over the world. He comes into his first title fight just weeks after an impressive submission victory of then undefeated Ryan Bader at UFC 126 in Las Vegas.

jonjones

Fans of the Baltimore Ravens may find themselves with a particular rooting interest in Jones Saturday night, as he is the younger brother of DT Arthur Jones, the team’s 2010 5th round pick out of Syracuse in the NFL Draft.

As his younger brother prepares for the biggest fight of his young career, the elder Jones has spent time working alongside him and famed MMA trainer Greg Jackson in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Between participation in a high profile camp, an amateur wrestling background, the fluid nature of the current National Football League lockout and the decision of Ravens teammate Tom Zbikowski to step into a boxing ring earlier this month, Jones has many reasons to consider a step into the MMA world himself.

“I’m really leaning towards taking a fight” the elder Jones told Thyrl Nelson and myself in an interview Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST. “But we’ll see. Right now I’m doing it for cardio and getting my hands right. Getting my muscles flowing so I can be in the best shape I can come this year whenever I get called back to the farm to work.”

Jones’ situation is not exactly like Zbikowski’s. Zbikowski had 90 amateur fights and a professional victory already on his resume as a boxer before he was even selected by the Ravens out of Notre Dame in 2008. During his first three seasons in the National Football League, Zbikowski has established himself as a steady role player both behind future Hall of Fame S Ed Reed on the defensive side of the football and as a steady contributor to the team’s Special Teams unit. Zbikowski even made six defensive starts in 2010 while Reed began the season on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Jones made just two game appearances as a rookie in 2010. If and when the NFL finally begins the 2011 season, he will still be looking for his first career tackle. While he was an accomplished amateur wrestler at Union-Endicott High School in New York, he has never participated in a sanctioned MMA contest.

artjones

And while Zbikowski has stated multiple times that boxing was his first love, Jones is very aware that his most important work is done on football fields.

“The NFL pays well, better then MMA does as of right now. Your mind wanders from time to time but you just have to remember, ‘what’s my real job?’”

The elder Jones may be aware that football should be his priority, but his superstar brother said his interest in MMA has been evident as the two train together in New Mexico.

“He’s helped my training out so much” Jon said in an interview with Nelson Tuesday on AM1570 WNST. “I’m wrestling on a level that I was wrestling in at high school, and we’re getting into those scrambles that we used to. Just being around him, he’s a competitive guy and pushing me to a whole new level. I’m grateful to have him here for my training.”

While Zbikowski’s transition to boxing was particularly natural during the offseason, other NFL players have moved into arenas that have to be considered even more foreign than Jones’. Cincinnati Bengals WR Chad Johnson is scheduled to participate in a tryout for MLS team Sporting Kansas City next week, while New York Jets (and former Ravens) LB Bart Scott has been involved with Total Nonstop Action (TNA) wrestling.

Certainly a move into the Mixed Martial Arts arena by Jones would be met with greater respect and appreciation.

Jones’ playing weight (313 pounds) is nearly 50 pounds heavier than Mixed Martial Arts’ heavyweight cap (265). As Jones would not want to cut so much weight ahead of football season, he would have to find a promotion that would allow him to fight at the 265 pound+ “Super Heavyweight” level.

Should such an opportunity present itself, Jones is well aware of why he could have a significant MMA future.

“I was a strong wrestler in high school, I was a two time state champion. Once you wrestle, you don’t forget the moves. I was big in freestlye and grecko, I think I shocked the guys to be so big and move as fast as I do. I’m just having fun right now, the sport is growing, and it’s growing more and more on me. At first I thought it was barbaric, two grown men locked in a cage fighting, beating each other up. But it’s more like art, it’s about technique and more than just punching someone.”

Unlike Zbikowski (who is a restricted free agent yet to sign his tender offer), the road would be a bit more difficult for Jones to step into a ring. Jon Jones told Nelson his older brother would have to receive clearance from the league to take a fight. Given the nature of the relationship between the league and the NFLPA right now, there is no certainty that such clearance would be given.

But if it were, the younger Jones believes his older brother could make a significant impact in the world of combat sports.

“I could see Art competing within a year and a half of training. He throws me around like a rag doll, and I’m in the UFC. If Arthur were to dedicate more time to mixed martial arts, I could see him competing at the highest level within a year and a half’s time.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fXx0Rg37pk[/youtube]
Jones at WNST’s June 2010 “Ravens Rookie Show”

-G

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If Zbikowski Helps Ravens Beat Steelers, I Won’t Fight His Desire To

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

I think I’ve changed my mind about this about a hundred times since I first heard the news.

Baltimore Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski will step into a boxing ring at the MGM Grand Saturday night in Las Vegas to face a largely unknown opponent named Richard Bryant. The fight will be part of the undercard for the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga showdown, which will air on Showtime Pay-Per-View. It will be Zbikowski’s second professional fight, but first since a 2006 knockout of Robert Bell at Madison Square Garden in New York.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-8BYolVPVw[/youtube]

When I first heard the news, I immediately thought to myself, “There’s no way this is okay.”

I understood the concept. With National Football League Owners and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) locked in a battle over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), it appeared as though the league was quickly headed towards a lockout, which would allow players to do just about anything they wanted to away from football. New York Jets LB Bart Scott has been seen on Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling. Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards (a free agent who many fans would like to see consider Charm City) has also decided to box in the offseason.

But I couldn’t help but wonder if Zbikowski’s decision was a good one. I couldn’t help but wonder if as a professional football player, Zbikowski might not be better off simply preparing for football. Whether or not the NFL was going to experience a work stoppage, there are few of that don’t believe in our hearts there will be a NFL season in 2011, and the Ravens will have an opportunity to claim a second Vince Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis in 2012.

On “The Afternoon Drive” last week on AM1570 WNST, Drew Forrester and I discussed our thoughts on Zbikowski fighting. I said then I felt as though if I were a teammate of Zbikowski’s, I would probably want to get on the phone with him and say “I understand you’re a boxer. I understand you want to do this. But we want to win the Super Bowl this year. Why don’t you just get together with me in Arizona and let’s work on getting ready for the season.”

In fact, when Washington Redskins OL and former Raven Casey Rabach joined Forrester and I last Thursday on the show, I posed the question to him. “If one of your teammates were to (choose to box, fight Mixed Martial Arts, etc during the lockout), would you make that phone call to say ‘just bear in mind everything that’s going into this decision you’re making.’”

Rabach’s answer seemed perfectly logical to me.

“I’d be the first one on the phone I think to call that player and say ‘hey, remember where your bread is buttered’” said Rabach. “Just be careful, be smart. Definitely those are things that would kind of scare a guy (like) myself, if I hear a player doing that. It just doesn’t seem like anything great will come out of that.”

On Friday’s show, we received a call from Mike Paskoff-one of our regulars on “The Morning Reaction” and someone I worked with briefly during my time at CBS Radio. He reminded me that when it comes to the decisions of other players, teammates tend to be very supportive. Whether the situation is a holdout, an off-field issue or a locker room dispute, players often tend to respond with a simple “that’s his business.”

While Paskoff was right, Rabach’s comments justified the uneasiness I felt about Zbikowski’s decision.

Is this REALLY a good idea?

There was a detour on the road to an inevitable lockout last Friday, as the owners and NFLPA agreed to extend discussion another week. Zbikowski participated in a conference call coordinated by Top Rank Boxing (who is promoting Saturday’s card) to tell reporters he would be participating in the fight with or without a work stoppage in the NFL. As an Unrestricted Free Agent, Zbikowski couldn’t be stopped contractually.

When asked about the support of his teammates, Zbikowski pointed out that a number of teammates including DT Haloti Ngata intended to head to Vegas to support him in his fight.

This Ravens analyst and lifelong Baltimore sports fan remained skeptical.

On Monday, I joined Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST to chat with Zbikowski about his decision, and to get direct word from the safety about my own concerns.

Thinking back on Rabach’s comments, I asked Zbikowski if any teammates had reached out to him to question his decision.

“I haven’t gotten that yet” the former Notre Dame standout told us. “I think people know better than that, because I’m just that hard headed. If you tell me not to do something I’m going to do the opposite, if you tell me not to do it I’m not going to do it, so you’re better off letting it run its course (and) let me do my thing.”

While not overwhelmingly convincing, I understood the concept. I’m 27 years old myself, and I still tend to have the mentality of a 16 year boy when it comes to authority.

“Whatever you want me to do; I’m probably not going to do it-just to make you uncomfortable.”

I’m pretty hard-headed myself. Somewhere right the great Tom Clark (my father) is chuckling.

But Zbikowski followed up those comments with others that were more thought provoking.

“To be honest with you, all these football players are doing MMA, boxing things anyways in the offseason. The days of lifting, trying to get bigger were in high school and college, nobody cares how much you bench on the football field, player wise, nobody cares how much you bench or squat, it means nothing. It’s how athletic you are, it’s how you perform. It’s all those things.”

Zbikowski was completely on target with such thoughts. A number of NFL players have sought out Mixed Martial Arts training in the offseason. In fact, many of those players have done so under the guidance of FOX NFL Insider Jay Glazer. Ravens DT Kelly Gregg was scheduled to work with Glazer during the 2010 offseason, but backed out at the last minute. Incorporating fighting into months of preparation for football isn’t unique to Zbikowski. The only unique aspect is that Zbikowski would actually step into a professional ring against a combatant who desired to cause him physical harm.

It’s unique…and potentially much more dangerous.

Zbikowski had said in his conference call that he had hoped to fight multiple fights during the spring and summer. I asked him Monday if he would still do so even if the league avoided a work stoppage.

“I’m going to see how this goes” responded Zbikowski. “If it’s another 50 second one (like his 50 second knockout of Bell at MSG), I don’t know If I can keep up the six, seven weeks of training because anybody who’s ever done boxing knows what kind of shape you have to be in and what kind of training it takes. That was one of the toughest things. I sparred almost 100 rounds for 50 seconds last time and that’s bittersweet, because you can’t complain about your pro debut at Madison square garden being a 50 second knockout. We’ll see how it goes because I’m not really one who’s good with making plans. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants and see what’s what.”

While it’s certainly understandable that Zbikowski wouldn’t want to prepare for weeks for less than a minute of fighting, it’s also reasonable to think that without a lockout Zbikowski’s only focus should be helping the Ravens win the AFC North.

With that in mind, the front office of the Baltimore Ravens (particularly Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh) should have every right to ask Zbikowski to keep his focus on football if there is no work stoppage-even if he believes he will eventually become a full time boxer.

And if they do?

“I don’t know about this one because it’s already fight time, you know I would have a tough time saying no to it” responded Zbikowski. “I would just say ‘You guys have (Pro Bowl safety) Ed Reed, you don’t need me! Eight picks and he’s not even playing in six games! You don’t need me!”

It’s funny, but it’s not exactly reassuring. Zbikowski did go on to offer another thought that would reassure me a bit more.

“There’s not going to be anybody in better shape come Training Camp. I’ll guarantee you that.”

I’m still a bit uneasy. Zbikowski told me he’s well aware of the worst case scenario. There’s absolutely a chance (although I’d think the chances are slim) that he could step into the ring Saturday night and take the wrong shot to the head.

If that happens, the second guessing of his decision to fight will be the least of Zbikowski’s concerns.

But as Forrester has said on multiple occasions this offseason, there’s only one thing that should matter right now for the Baltimore Ravens.

Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Zbikowski joked about how boxing could prepare him for the task.

“I’ll bring back a belt. When we play them, I’m going to stand at midfield. If they’ve got somebody they want to throw at me again like they did back when we had the home game, I’m gonna take somebody’s head off. Or you can just send me in (and) let me blitz. Haloti got a little piece of (Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) on accident, imagine what would happen if I do it on purpose. I’ll take an ejection; I’ll take an ejection for the team.”

He gets the point. If he’s on the field and contributing if/when the Ravens face the Steelers this fall, I don’t care what he does in the offseason.

Of course, I’ll be pulling for him to never leave his feet Saturday night.

If you missed Monday’s interview with Zbikowski, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

-G

(Headline photo courtesy of USA Today)

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Ravens LB Sergio Kindle on rehab: “It’s not a good feeling sitting on the sidelines watching your teammates play the game you love”

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Ravens LB Sergio Kindle on rehab: “It’s not a good feeling sitting on the sidelines watching your teammates play the game you love”

Posted on 23 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Despite the threat of labors talks holding up the 2011 NFL season, various players around the NFL have taken their few weeks off and the ones not involved in the decision-making process when it comes to labor negotiation are now back at work preparing for next season should it occur on time.

Sergio Kindle

And for a guy like Ravens linebacker Sergio Kindle, who missed the entire 2010 season with a head injury suffered at the start of Ravens training camp due to a fall in a friends’ Texas home-missing another season just isn’t an option for him.

Kindle has made a lot of mistakes so far off the field in both his collegiate and pro-football careers-most of them attributed to alcohol.

He has been stopped several times for driving while intoxicated-most recently the day after Christmas of last year.

This was after being arrested for a similar incident in 2007 while enrolled at the University of Texas. He along with a teammate were suspended for three games that season by coach Mack Brown and forced to perform community service.

In 2009, he drove his car into an apartment building and left the scene. The incident was attributed to him texting while driving.

But Kindle-a former five-star prospect and All-American linebacker for Texas-had all the potential in the world coming into the 2010 NFL Draft, prompting the Ravens to put aside his transgressions as they choose him as their first-draft pick with the 43rd selection.

But because of his accident in Texas in July, he hasn’t seen the football field since and doubts have even become to rise about his ability to play the game again.

Ever.

But, the Ravens needed to sign him to retain his rights, forcing Baltimore to sign him to the one-year, league-minimum, pro-rated salary of one year, 320,000.

He was placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List, which barred him from participating in football activities.

Kindle appeared to the media several times through the season and could be seen working out at the facility on occasion . At times, he appeared slow and looked as if the head injury sustained by Kindle would be too dire for him to return to his normal state of being-let alone sack a quarterback at break-neck speed.

But Kindle joined “The Mobtown Sports Beat” this week and told Thyrl Nelson that he feels better every day and that he is currently working out at the Michael Johnson Performance Center-ran by the former Olympic sprinter-in Texas at trying to get as best he can in football shape.

“At the end of the day the final decision is up to the doctors who are going to clear me,” Kindle told Nelson. “Everything is looking towards that now.”

Kindle said being on the sidelines this year just being forced to watch football instead of participating in it has maybe been the hardest punishment or piece of adversity he has had to face.

“Being a team player is a good thing,” Kindle said,” but I’ll tell you what…it’s not a good feeling sitting on the sidelines watching your teammates play the game you love as much as they do.”

Kindle witnessed his teammates-guys like Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs-fight it out this season against teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he feels like he could have made an impact if he was suited up and out on the field of play for the Ravens.

“It’s my job to help Suggs out,” Kindle said. “That’s what I plan to do, so continue to look forward for some good things from me.”

And while he has taken on the role of head cheerleader, his teammates have thrown just as much support back at him when it comes to his recovery.

“I’d have to give that to all my teammates and coaches. They’ve been supportive. Nothing but one-hundred percent behind me on everything and you know those guys are pulling for me to be back this year.”

But everyone knows it won’t be their decision. It will be on the doctors to sign off for Kindle to restart football activities, on the player personnel department to resign him, and ultimately on Kindle himself to guarantee he won’t be as much of a headache to the Ravens as much as his incidents have given him physically.

“You don’t realize how much you love football until it’s taken away from you,” Kindle replied. “That’s the learning point right there. I definitely learned from it and I’m going to continue learning from it and grow from it on a daily basis.”

WNST is wishing Kindle all the best when it comes to his recovery and we hope to see him in a Ravens uniform come the start of the 2011 season! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Despite recent coaching departures-including most recently Don Brown-Terps football coach Edsall pleased with first Signing Day

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Despite recent coaching departures-including most recently Don Brown-Terps football coach Edsall pleased with first Signing Day

Posted on 08 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Last week, high school Signing Day for the most part was pushed under the rug because of all the hype leading up to Super Bowl XLV.

But one person hard at work in the few short weeks he has been at the helm of the Terps has been new football coach Randy Edsall.

Edsall’s recruiting class was also pushed under the rug due to the fact that the “experts” didn’t give the first-year Terps coach much credit for what he brought to College Park.

Edsall-hired as the new football coach of Maryland in the coming days before coaches were allowed to hit the recruiting trail back in January-had a shorter time to work with than most coaches implementing his own recruiting plan following the firing of  Ralph Friedgen.

Edsall joined Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to discuss his results from last week’s Signing Day, and with the National Letters of Intent still finding his way to his desk as of Monday, he is pleased with the results and likes the way the team will be shaping up for the 2011 season.

And despite the recent departures of some of Friedgen’s former assistants-guys like James Franklin(who left to become the head football coach at Vanderbilt)-and defensive coordinator Don Brown-who just this past week announced that he will take the same position at Edsall’s old stomping grounds at UConn-the recruits still saw College Park as the place to be.

“It’s been a situation where we were able to maintain most of the guys who were committed here previous to my arrival,” Edsall told Nelson. “And we were able to get three or four guys where we had spots that needed to get done.”

Ralph Friedgen in his decade-long run at Maryland was always good at recruiting the best of athletes to become Terps-guys like Vernon Davis, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Shawne Merriman, and Torrey Smith-and Edsall said that his first recruiting class at Maryland hasn’t missed that beat either.

“You know, being able to maintain the speed and athleticism that we had on the defensive side and I thought we got three quality receivers so overall I was pleased with the work and the final tally of these twenty-one recruits.”

The recruit that has jumped off the charts-or at least highlights the receivers Edsall signed-is Parkwood High School (North Carolina) wide receiver Marcus Leak, the 44th ranked wide receiver prospect in the country.

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

Leak is along the same lines of a Torrey Smith, and has shown on the prep level to have adequate speed and impressive size and bulk.

He is also expected to be a force in the return game when he suits up for Edsall on the field.

Receivers coach Lee Hull was one of a handful Friedgen assistants to remain on Edsall’s staff, and Hull will no doubt have an impact on the grooming of Leak to help him hit the field quicker and perform better when he does hit Byrd Stadium.

Another prospect catching attention and praise from Edsall and others is Hoschtown, Georgia native Tyler Cierski, a protypical fullback at 6’1, 240 pounds.

Tyler Cierski

Cierski was rated as the #2 fullback in the nation according to ESPN.com, and his signing could be attention to the fact that Edsall is going to commit his teams to running the football effectively and not relying entirely on the shoulders of his ACC Rookie of the Year QB Danny O’Brien.

Cierski could eventually be blocking for the recruit who signed late as of Monday- #26th ranked running back Justus Pickett out Ardrey Kell High School in North Carolina.

Justus Pickett

Pickett had several other schools on his list, including West Virginia, Arkansas, Duke, Wake Forest, and Ball State.

The 5’10, 166-pound running back is said to have 4.3-4.6 speed and has drawn some comparisons to Mountaineers running back Noel Devine.

On the defensive side of the ball, defensive coordinator Don Brown was expected to remain with Edsall and run that side of the ball, but he recently announced that he was taking his services up to UConn to run new coach Paul Pasqualoni’s defense.

Brown said the move was based on being closer to his family in the New England area, and the former UMass head coach will be going home apparently.

That leaves Edsall with a hole in his coaching lineup at defensive coordinator, but whoever picks up the headset there will have some toys to play with in the coming years.

Quinton Jefferson

Three-star defensive end recruit Quinton Jefferson (Woodland Hills, Pittsburgh)-who had received offers from Iowa, Cincinnati, WVU, Pittsburgh, and Wisconsin-could either be that dominant pass rusher in the next few years for the Terps on the line or if Edsall remains confident in the 3-4 as his defense, Jefferson might be the next Shawne Merriman.

Cole Farrand-a three-star linebacker/tight end out of Sparta, NJ/Pope John-could see himself at either position for Edsall in the coming years.

ESPN has him ranked as the #25th ranked OLB in the prep nation.

You can also add to the mix at the linebacking corps Maryland’s own Alex Twine-out of Quince Orchard High School.

Twine may make an immediate impact on special teams and has already has impressed the coaching staff with his sure tackling ability.

The wild card in the defensive recruits Edsall mentioned may be defensive tackle Keith Bowers out of Dwyer High School in Palm Springs, Florida.

Bowers already weighs in at 6’1, 250 pounds, and he could be that force in the middle for Edsall’s defense.

But while that remains to be seen-as well as the rest of this recruiting class-just as it is in the transition from college to the NFL, some of these guys may not pan out.

“You never know how someone will turn out until you’re four or five years down the road,” Edsall noted. “I just worry about what we do as an evaluation as coaches.”

Maryland’s recruiting class was rated ninth out of the 12 ACC schools, with only Virginia Tech, Wake Forest, and N.C. State trailing the Terps according to ESPN.com.

Edall however doesn’t believe in all that rankings and star-systems when it comes to recruiting college athletes. He just wants guys who he knows can play the game of football and do it well enough to his standards.

“I don’t put any credence in the star system,” he said. “What we’re looking for is how they’re going to fit into the schemes we play and do they fit in academically…socially…with their work ethic, and character wise. Those are the decisions we have to make…all those other things are just there to make money for fans to buy into.”

But what Edsall does know that these 21 guys are committed to the University of Maryland 100%, and they’ve already taken that first step in proving so by signing their letters of intent and getting to work.

“It’s so refreshing,” Edsall said,” because you’re teaching these kids about commitment and what commitment means.”

WNST has you covered talking Baltimore sports!

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New Maryland coach Randy Edsall: “What we’re doing is we’re not building a team. We’re building a program”

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New Maryland coach Randy Edsall: “What we’re doing is we’re not building a team. We’re building a program”

Posted on 13 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Randy Edsall had a plan in place when he came to the University of Conneticut being named the head football coach of the Huskies in 1998.

He helped build a struggling, 1-AA program with no fan or school support under it from the ground up to a Big East contender that made four straight bowl appearances, including this year’s BCS Fiesta Bowl.

Randy Edsall

The University of Maryland recently hired Edsall-a two-time Big East co-champ and 2010 Big East Coach of the Year- to work that same magic on their program, and he joined Thyrl Nelson of the “Mobtown Sports Beat” Wednesday to introduce not only himself to the Terps faithful but to also indiciate his plans for the Maryland football program.

“It’s all about the plan we have in place,” Edsall said. “We just stuck to it and did what we felt was necessary.”

Edsall was hired by AD Kevin Anderson and Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh to re-energize a displaced Terps fanbase and get the program back to national prominence, and he sees a similar approach on how to fix this situation placed in his hands based on what he did in the Big East with UConn.

“Just like coming here, I have a plan in place on what I want to accomplish, and how we’re going to go about doing that,” Edsall said. “What we’re going to do is build around teammwork.”

Edsall took the job on Janurary 2nd, 2011 to replace Maryland alum Ralph Friedgen as the next football coach of the Maryland Terrapins following Friedgen’s dismissal before the school’s 51-20 victory over ECU in the Military Bowl.

He was hired at that date to get he and his staff in place ready for recruiting and to prepare for the 2011 college football season. So far, his job has been as hectic as can be, and he has fit right into the grind of making the Terps important again the same way he made UConn football relevant for the first time.

“It’s been very hectic,” Edsall told Nelson. “There’s not enough hours in the day, but you just prioritize yourself on the things you need to do…and right now, it’s the recruiting and the finalization of the coaching staff.”

The biggest news so far with the coaching staff has been Edsall retaining Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown and today reports indicated that LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton will be leaving the Tigers to become Edsall’s OC.

“We want to be aggressive in everything we do,” Edsall commented. “We especially want to be aggressive on defense and I’ve retained Don Brown and so the defense is really going to be the same. And offensively what we want to do is attack the field vertically and horizontally.”

Edsall in his twelve years coaching at the UConn compiled a 74-70 overall record, and that might have Terps fans scratching their heads. Why hire a coach with that record as opposed to Mike Leach, who was 84-43 in ten seasons at Texas Tech?

Edsall may have fit more into what the school’s administration was looking for when it came to getting a program known more for its other athletic teams on everybody’s radar.

“It was a vision that I had to have,” Edsall replied, “because of the fact that no one had a Division-1 mentality when it came to the University of Connecticut.”

Edsall’s Huskies were the first squad to make the successful transition from FCS to FBS. And while they struggled at first going 15-30 over his first four seasons on the UConn sideline, since 2003 his teams have 59-40 and appeared in five bowl games.

“Then in each year, you keep ramping it up. What we did was build a porgram that would stand the test of time and I think that’s important in anything that you do.”

Maryland AD Kevin Anderson said many times in various statements and press conferences that they wanted a guy who was enthusiastic about the job and fully committed to the University of Maryland.

And Anderson said that while Leach may have the better football resume, Edsall showed more passion in his interview than Mike Leach, and you can trace that devotion all the way back to Edsall’s childhood.

“I’m originally 70 miles from here above the border in Pennslyvania off Interstate 83,” Edsall said, a native of Glen Rock. “I came to my first football game here and went to camp here and really this is home to me.”

And the other thing that may have won the job for Edsall?

He says he’s here to stay as long as Maryland will have him, unlike Leach who was widely expected to just use Maryland as a stepping stone to another school in a bigger football conference.

“At my 52 years, I want this to be my last stop of the train,” Edsall said.

But the critics out there will say that UConn was supposed to be his last stop on the train as well. Edsall explained to Nelson that he understands why the Huskies faithful may dissaprove of his decision to leave and how he did it, but he said that he did his best to wish those in Connecticut for giving him his break and standing behind what he was trying to do.

“You know anytime you leave someplace, it might not be the best timing or what transpires,” Edsall said. “You do what you think is best, and there really wasn’t an opportunity for me to address the whole team.”

Edsall said everything happened so fast after Oklahoma’s victory over his team in the Fiesta Bowl, and everything was a blur to him.

“I didn’t know anything when we were in Arizona. I didn’t find out until Sunday night. I wasn’t offered anything until Sunday night. Only half the team left on the charter, while the other half dispersed from Phoenix on their own going home, so there was never going to be a time where you could do it”

“I thought I did the best thing I thought I could do, so I got on a conference call, and got them on there to try and explain to them my feelings, and explain why I took the job. That was the only way I could do it. I don’t apologize for it because I did what I felt was the best thing for the circumstances that took place…and when certain things happen you do what you think you can do best, and that’s what I tried to do.”

And right now, Edsall is really looking forward to getting to know his new group of young men that he’s going to work with to rebuild the football program at College Park.

“This is an eager group,” Edsall said. “The young men I’ve already talked to are ready to go, and like I said once we get recruiting finished, I look forward to really spending as much time as NCAA rules allow us to with our team.”

And Edsall sees even more out of the Maryland fan base being just as hungry to watch them play. And he guarantees that the plan he has in place is going to bring College Park not just a good team, but a program that will stand for the many decades he hopes to be tracking the sidelines for the Terps.

“As long as you lay that foundation and you nurture that foundation, you can build it and it’s got to be strong as it goes up. What we’re doing is we’re not building a team . We’re building a program. A team is year-to-year. A program goes in decades. It goes a lot longer, and that’s really what you want to do.”

WNST has all your Terps news covered! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman-in town for coat drive-hopes his career and Maryland can be turned back on

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Shawne “Lights Out” Merriman-in town for coat drive-hopes his career and Maryland can be turned back on

Posted on 06 January 2011 by Ryan Chell

Shawne Merriman

Former Maryland linebacker Shawne Meriman was present Tuesday night’s Terps basketball game, a 95-40 victory over Colgate, for his annual coat drive, but before that time he also spent a few minutes with Thyrl Nelson of “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to reflect on his alma mater’s recent coaching change with the firing of Ralph Friedgen and the hiring of former UConn coach Randy Edsall.

“You know, I’m excited because it’s a step in the right direction,” Merriman said. “I went to a couple of good bowl games when I was in school and there is a lot of talent in the Maryland-D.C area. It’s really important that we embrace a coach who can keep that talent here. So hopefully, we made a step in the right direction.”

Shawne Merriman spent three seasons in College Park as hybrid defensive-end/linebacker in Ralph Friedgen’s defense. The Upper Marlboro native out of Frederick Douglas High School made an immediate impact with the Terps his freshman year in 2003, when he thrived as a situational pass rusher, earning five sacks-third best on the team.

His biggest year and what put Merriman on the map was his performance on the field in 2004, when he became a full-time starter for Maryland, earning 85 tackles and 8.5 sacks. That, along with his exceptional physical skills and his reputation as a “gym rat” earned him the 12th pick in the 2005 Draft by the San Diego Chargers.

Ultimately, he said that the University of Maryland was a big part of his success in eventually getting to the NFL, and while some may disagree with the departure of his former coach in Friedgen, Merriman said the true spirit of Maryland football will live on in Coach Edsall.

“Just from the teams I played with, there are seven or eight guys who are starting defense or offense on some team right now,” Merriman said. “It’s a bunch of talent that comes out of the school. It’s about time we got recognized for it, so as long as we keep the Terps pride, all will be good.”

Merriman’s success at the college level immediately picked right off at the NFL level for the Chargers, as Merriman earned the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award in 2005 with ten sacks to his credit.

His next year became his ultimate performance of his playing ability, as he sacked the opposing quarterback 17 times while missing four games. He missed out on the Defensive Player of the Year Award to the Dolphins’ Jason Taylor and was behind Broncos CB Champ Bailey, but he did earned his first-ever Pro Bowl selection on top of being named an All-Pro for the only time in his career.

But it was in that same year in 2006 that Merriman tested positive for steroids, which ultimately led to a rule or principle known solely as “The Merriman Rule” where a player found to have used steroids during a season is not eligible for postseason awards or Pro Bowl status.

Those four games he missed that year? A suspension handed down by the NFL Office.

In 2007, he fought through numerous double-teams to register his third straight 10+ sack season, but that is where the Merriman-once known as “Lights Out“-began to flicker off.

He began to suffer greatly from injuries to his shoulder, knees, and feet and he missed significant time due to the injuries.

Over the last three seasons from 2008-2010, he has appeared in only 17 total games while registering only four total sacks.

And off the field trouble began to crop up yet again for Merriman, as a domestic abuse charge against his reality star friend, Tila Tequila, caught Merriman in another negative light.

It was all those things adding up: the steroid allegations, the lack of production on the field, not being ON the field, and the unwanted media attention that convinced the Chargers to wash their hands of him earlier this season, placing him on waivers.

At the time, talks of Merriman to the Ravens came swirling up. The Ravens at the time were in the need of help in the pass rushing department and many Ravens fans wanted to bring Merriman to home.

Too bad Buffalo swooped in, signing him to a two-year deal.

And while he didn’t suit up in a single game for the Bills, he does love the new start he is getting the AFC East with the Bills, and hopes that he can re-start the “Lights Out” routine with Buffalo by changing the lightbulb, so to speak.

“I’m happy with the team that claimed me, and I’m happy to be with the Buffalo Bills and go out there and do what I need to do and get us back to being a hell of a team like I know we can.”

Continue to follow WNST for the best sports coverage in town! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Wednesday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 03 November 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Wednesday!

It’s a Happy Wednesday for me because it’s time to name “The Greatest Song(s) of All Time This Week.”

As I posted on Facebook last night, the retro version of TGSOATTW is the song “Wounded” by Third Eye Blind. There will never be a day when the song won’t mean the world to me…

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

As far as the NEW version goes, I also showed my hand on Facebook last night. (A reminder that you can be my friend on Facebook by searching “Glenn Clark” and adding the goofy guy in the pink shirt who is dancing at a wedding.)

When we look back on 2010 in the future, there is no doubt in my mind that we will remember it as “The Year of Cee-Lo Green.” For as great as “F*** You” is, there’s something even more amazing about “Old Fashioned”…

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

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Drew Forrester says future of horse racing in jeopardy as David Cordish wins Anne Arundel County slots vote

Well…now we know.

I’m completely torn on this entire situation.

On one side, I ABSOLUTELY think David Cordish will create a world-class facility. I think it will be outstanding both on the interior and the exterior; and I think it will attract money from both inside the Old Line State and from elsewhere. His track record makes me believe he’s going to do a hell of a job.

On the opposite side, I also think the vote is an unquestioned blow to the state of horse racing in Maryland-at least for the short term. Immediate slots revenue at Laurel might not have been the BEST solution for the future of the sport in the state, but it was probably the best option right now.

The issue now is all about what the Maryland Jockey Club and MI Developments do moving forward. They’ve stated that this will mark the end of live racing at Laurel Park, with Pimlico instead hosting 40 days of live racing in the Spring.

While that might be a necessary move, it clearly isn’t the best option for the sport. The MJC (and MID) will have to go back to the drawing board and consider other options. Is it time to shift focus to a new track? Is it time to explore options for slots in Baltimore? Is it time to think about how the facilities could be better used?

I do not believe this has to be the final nail in the coffin for the sport in the state. But I DO believe it has the potential to be if the folks involved aren’t willing to immediately change course.

It’s going to be an interesting stretch over the next few months.

2. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says John Harbaugh, Ozzie Newsome would be interested in Shawne Merriman if he clears waivers

Here we go…

I’ll say this much. If I was the GM of the Ravens, I’d pass on “Lights Out.” I think risking a roster spot in season on a guy whose career has been marked in recent years by injuries and ineffectiveness is a questionable judgment at best.

But I’m not saying that because I believe the team doesn’t have pass rush problems.

The team has MAJOR pass rush problems-there’s absolutely no question about that. I’m worried that there might not be an in season fix for the Ravens.

But I DON’T think the answer should include taking a risk on a player who is surrounded by more question marks than the book “Are You My Mother?”

Now-could Shawne Merriman end up in Charm City? Maybe. There’s almost no chance any NFL team claims him off waivers, so he’ll be available. If he passes a physical and is humble enough to understand that he isn’t the Pro Bowl player he was at the beginning of his career-maybe he’s a fit.

It certainly doesn’t smell like it though.

3. Carroll County Times’ Aaron Wilson says Ravens not interested in Randy Moss

We knew this-but now we don’t even bother having to mention it anymore.

The Ravens aren’t interested in Randy Moss…even if they should be. To me, this is one of those “right player, wrong time” situations.

Randy Moss would be the PERFECT compliment to Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Donte’ Stallworth (I’ve never thought TJ Houshmandzadeh was a logical fit myself); but it’s not something that can be forced.

If the Ravens had an offseason to meet with Moss and discuss his role and what their expectations were for him-they might be in a place where they could feel more comfortable in adding him to the mix. But adding a player like that in the middle of the season is dangerous.

But then again…

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

4. National Football Post has Ravens 4th in power rankings

Which seems about right, considering Sarah Longbottom was ranked 3rd. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

longbottom

5. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark lists Haloti Ngata amongst NFL MVP candidates

And a few things before we move on from the Ravens…

-A reminder that we will be out at 1 Winning Drive in Owings Mills today, as the Ravens return to the practice field. John Harbaugh, Joe Flacco and others are scheduled to meet with the media following practice-you’ll hear from them throughout the day on AM1570 WNST and at WNST.net.

-Did you miss Greg Gumbel with Drew Forrester Wednesday on “The Morning Reaction” on AM1570 WNST? He’ll be at M&T Bank Stadium Sunday to call Ravens-Dolphins for CBS. Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net today to check it out! Some other things you can hear in the Audio Vault today include…

  • Lomas Brown (ESPN)-who went around the NFL with Drew Wednesday
  • Craig Calcaterra (“HardballTalk”-NBCSports.com)-who wrapped up the MLB season with Drew Wednesday
  • KC Keeler (Delaware Football Coach)-who previewed the Blue Hens’ visit from Towson Saturday and talked Joe Flacco with Drew Wednesday
  • Reed Harris (WEC GM)-who discussed the UFC/WEC merger and the future of both companies with Thyrl Nelson and John Rallo Tuesday on “The MMA Report”
  • Kirk Hinrich (Washington Wizards Guard)-who discussed the start of NBA season in DC with Thyrl Tuesday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat”
  • Steve Johnson (Bowie Baysox Pitcher)-who talked about his former San Francisco Giants teammates winning the World Series with Rex Snider Tuesday on “The Afternoon Drive”
  • Nate Davis (USA Today)-who went around the NFL with Rex Tuesday
  • Jamey Eisenberg (CBSSports.com)-who talked Fantasy Football with Rex Tuesday

It’s all in the Audio Vault. See what I did there? I planned your day for you again. This is getting a bit ridiculous.

6. The AP says Orioles declined option on reliever Mark Hendrickson, give him $200,000 buyout

So long Mark, we’ll always have the memories…

Like….ummm….

In all honesty, Hendrickson was serviceable at times, and was downright EFFECTIVE for stretches against left handed hitters.

I don’t think anyone is crying for the guy when he walks away with $200,000 either. What a nice life that must be…

7. The Sun’s Dan Connolly says Juan Samuel apparently coming back to Birds

I will admit that I’m surprised. I’m not stunned, but I’m surprised. I thought Juan Samuel made a statement about what he was going to do moving forward when Buck Showalter was hired-so I didn’t expect him to end up back in Orange and Black.

Of course, Samuel likely thought there was a chance he could end up filling one of the managerial vacancies around Major League Baseball. Clearly this news means that he’s not in the picture for the Pittsburgh Pirates job, and the Milwaukee Brewers decided to go elsewhere when they hired Ron Roenicke yesterday.

As it appears that he’s coming back, hopefully he’ll be able to make a contribution. Sadly, I don’t think that contribution will be 30 home runs.

8. MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli says corner infield power bat, shortstop, starting pitching biggest areas of need for O’s

Like Dan Aykroyd said to Chris Farley in Tommy Boy, “Great kid, you’ve identified it, the next step is washing it off.”

Andy MacPhail knows what the team needs-now he just needs to go get it.

No problem, right?

Can I add one more name to the Orioles’ shopping list this offseason? I’d like for them to add Jorgie Porter. (Thanks Guyism!)

jorgieporter

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Maryland preparing for either Jacory Harris, Stephen Morris to be under center for Miami Saturday

This is a MAJOR question mark.

Against some teams, the dropoff from starter to backup wouldn’t be the most significant situation facing an opponent.

But if the Terps don’t have to face Harris when they play the Hurricanes Saturday, it is UNBELIEVABLY significant.

It doesn’t mean they’ll win. But it DOES mean they’ll have a chance, which I wouldn’t think they’d have if Harris played.

10. The Diamondback’s Conor Walsh says Terrapins women picked up double double from Alyssa Thomas en route to exhibition blowout over Gallaudet

The inappropriate joke of the day would be something along the lines of “Well-at least the Bison players didn’t have to hear any trash talk from the Terrapins at Comcast Center while they were losing…”

I wouldn’t say that though, because I’m not inappropriate.

Exhibit A: It would be inappropriate of me to NOT pass along this picture of Sofija Milosevic. (Thanks Totally Crap!)

sofija


And finally, I leave you with this.

This is the end of a real live Canadian Football League game. Honestly. I don’t understand any more than you do (Thanks Deadspin!)…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5BFaykcxGg[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Jamie Sharper: If we had a guy like Flacco…it would have been a nice little run”

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Jamie Sharper: If we had a guy like Flacco…it would have been a nice little run”

Posted on 22 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

Jamie Sharper

Former Ravens linebacker Jamie Sharper will be one of 35 Ravens coming back to Baltimore Sunday to commemorate the ten-year anniversary of the franchise’s 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, and catching up with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Thursday, he had some thoughts on not only his team ten years ago, but he was able to diagnose John Harbaugh’s 2010 team as well.

He liked what he saw ten years ago from Brian Billick’s team, and he likes the look of the 2010 Ravens as well.

“I’ve definitely seen them,” Sharper said. “I saw them last year, watching them on TV. I caught them up in New York for the Jets game, and it’s a good defense. They keep the big defensive lineman in there with Ngata and those guys, trying to keep Ray free as much as possible.”

“I think the only thing they don’t have is those shut-down corners, but they make up for it in that scheme.”

Sharper was of course a pivotal part of the Ravens record-setting defense back in 2000-2001 which allowed a record-low 165 points, and formed one of the best linebacker trios in NFL history combining himself, former first-round pick and sack master Peter Boulware, and the eventual Hall of Famer Ray Lewis.

Sharper was a second-round pick by the Ravens

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

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Thursday Morning’s Crabs and Beer

Posted on 21 October 2010 by Glenn Clark

Happy Thursday!

It’s a Happy Thursday for me because I just bought my tickets to the 12:30pm 25th anniversary screening of “Back to the Future” Saturday in White Marsh.

AWE.SOME.

To celebrate the occasion, here’s “Johnny B. Goode” from Marty McFly & The Starlighters. Playing all your 80′s movie hits, right here on WNST.net…

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEeF9r_8JMA[/youtube]

Let’s see what everyone has to say…

1. WNST.net’s Glenn Clark says Ravens split on new NFL head-hunting policy

It’s an interesting dynamic.

Defensive players (like Terrell Suggs) noted that they supported the concept of protecting players, but that they couldn’t afford to alter the way they played the game.

Offensive players (like Willis McGahee) were clearly much more supportive of the idea. Willis joked that he wished Steelers safety Ryan Clark had been given a heavier punishment for his hit in the 2009 AFC Championship Game.

But players on both sides were together in the having only a small level of awkward, uncomfortable support for the strengthening of punishment towards guilty parties.

The real issue is that while players WANT to be protected, they don’t want it to come at a potential monetary cost.

This issue isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s going to be continuously debated until the offseason and the negotiation of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Players don’t want to give ANYTHING up. As Ray Lewis pointed out yesterday, they need to “fight it”, even if they might agree with the theory at heart.

And if you think players are divided on the issue now, wait until the first player is suspended for this type of hit. If it’s Dannell Ellerbe, or Haruki Nakamura, or any of those players-it will be an even bigger issue at 1 Winning Drive.

2. The AP’s David Ginsburg says S Ed Reed returned to practice field in Owings Mills Wednesday

And that is CLEARLY a welcome sight to Ravens fans, there’s just no question about that.

That being said, there really is no guarantee that Ed will be on the field this Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. My gut says he will-but my gut also says that it could be a more responsible decision for John Harbaugh and company to hold him out and buy themselves two weeks for Ed’s health (and the health of LB Brendon Ayanbadejo-who also returned to practice yesterday) and to make roster decisions.

The one thing that NO ONE can argue with is the fact that the Baltimore Ravens improved yesterday with the return of Ed Reed.

3. BaltimoreRavens.com’s Mike Duffy says Tom Zbikowski, Todd Heap missed practice Wednesday

Harbaugh said Zbikowski “has a chance” to play Sunday-he seemed MUCH more upbeat about the likelihood of Heap getting on the field.

If Zbikowski CAN’T play, I don’t think I’d be alone in suggesting that the Ravens consider going with veteran NFL safety Adam Archuleta…..’s wife Jennifer Walcott. (Thanks The Smoking Jacket!)

walcott

4. National Football Post’s Aaron Wilson says Willis McGahee not upset over benching, ‘happy’ he wasn’t traded

Willis maintained that he wasn’t punished. That’s fine. My guess is that the truth is somewhere close to that, but maybe not EXACTLY that.

In the meantime, Willis also made a point that by not going through as much wear and tear behind Ray Rice as he did earlier in his career, he’s adding years to his career. That’s a great attitude to have-I hope he really believes it.

And like I said, I would have been more than willing to trade Willis McGahee. To Dallas. For Cliff Lee.

Short of that, the Ravens ABSOLUTELY did the right thing in holding on to their veteran back.

5. The Sun’s Jamison Hensley says Buffalo Bills DL Dwan Edwards clarified perceived negative comments about Charm City

A few things before we move on from the Ravens…

-We’ll be back out at 1 Winning Drive today, so make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@WNST), tuned into AM1570 WNST and checking WNST.net for updates. We’re expected to hear from coordinators Cam Cameron, Greg Mattison and Jerry Rosburg.

-Did you miss Ravens punter Sam Koch with Drew Forrester on “The Morning Reaction” Thursday on AM1570 WNST? Make sure you head over to the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net today to check it out. Other things you can hear in the Audio Vault include…

  • Harry Swayne (Ravens Director of Player Development)-who shared his Super Bowl XXXV memories with Drew Thursday before Sunday’s reunion
  • Ed Hottle (Mustangs Football Coach)-who joined Drew Thursday for the Stevenson Coaches’ Report
  • Steve Beuerlein (CBS Color Analyst)-who previewed Ravens/Bills with Drew Thursday
  • Our Morning Reaction “Cheap Shots from the Bleachers”-as I took a shot at the UFL and Drew took a shot at Jen Royle
  • Tons of audio from 1 Winning Drive Wednesday-including Harbaugh, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Reed, McGahee, Suggs, Ayanbadejo, Josh Wilson, Haloti Ngata and Derrick Mason
  • Patrick Johnson (Former Ravens WR)-who joined Rex Snider Wednesday on “The Afternoon Drive” to discuss SBXXXV memories
  • Kevin Lempa (Maryland Safeties Coach)-who joined Thyrl Nelson Wednesday for “The Terrapins Coaches Report” to preview Saturday’s game against Boston College
  • Duane Starks (Former Ravens CB)-who joined Thyrl Thursday on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” to talk Super Bowl memories
  • Edwin Mulitalo (Former Ravens OL)-who also talked SB memories with Rex Thursday

It’s all in the Audio Vault. I’ve planned your day again. Just say “thank you.”

6. CSNBaltimore.com’s Pete Kerzel says Brian Matusz, Matt Wieters, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Adam Jones should be Orioles’ ‘untouchables’

Eh…I guess. Matusz for sure, Wieters probably…I could understand a scenario in which Andy MacPhail parted with the others.

You know who else is “untouchable” in my mind? Szorcsik Viktoria. (Thanks Busted Coverage!)

viktoria

7. The Sun’s Jeff Zrebiec says Birds won’t get shot at Japanese SS Hiroyuki Nakajima

So instead…GO GET REAL PLAYERS!!!

Jeff of course paints the picture that we’re all afraid of anyway…that this means the Birds will probably bring back Cesar Izturis.

They’ll still have the World Series in October next year, right?

8. The AP says Maryland picked 6th in preseason ACC basketball poll

I feel like this is probably the range where I’d have the Terrapins myself.

I don’t get the feeling they’re going to be a BAD team by any stretch of the imagination. They have plenty of returning talent-starting with Jordan Williams. The question for the guys returning is whether one of Cliff Tucker, Sean Mosley or Adrian Bowie can become a consistent scorer. We’ll have to see.

The other question surrounds trying to get contributions from the newcomers. Mike Parker looks like the guy with the most raw talent, but Ashton Pankey and Terrell Stoglin could be quicker to contribute in their roles.

They’re probably middle of the road-somewhere between 4th and 8th.

6th works.

9. D1scourse’s Patrick Stevens says Gary Williams won’t allow Terrapins to use Twitter during hoops season

This is really interesting. I’m not surprised given some of the “questionable” Tweets that have been sent out by student athletes in College Park and elsewhere-but it is still interesting.

Apparently North Carolina has already done the same thing-so we’ll have to see how quickly other NCAA teams will adopt a similar policy. My guess is that it won’t take long.

Not every student athlete uses his Twitter account for another opportunity to be stupid. Unfortunately…some do. Enough that this type of policy has to be considered.

10. Washington Post’s Eric Prisbell says Ralph Friedgen believes Terps have no margin for error with penalties

Speaking of penalties, did Russian spy Anna Chapman ever receive any? After seeing her on the cover of Russia’s Maxim, I feel as though if she hasn’t yet-she shouldn’t in the future…

chapman


And finally, I leave you with this.

Boomer Sooner and I are going to get the chance to hang with Darius Rucker before his show tomorrow night at Pier Six Pavilion. My first question for him? PLEASE PLAY “HOLD MY HAND!!!!”….

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bQ3hLudXKgA[/youtube]

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

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Duane Starks ten years after INT return in Super Bowl XXXV: “the longest 49 yards of running ever”

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Duane Starks ten years after INT return in Super Bowl XXXV: “the longest 49 yards of running ever”

Posted on 20 October 2010 by Ryan Chell

On January 28, 2001, former Ravens corner back Duane Starks remembers clearly a particular play that would not only impact his life, but one of an entire city looking for a team to call “World Champions”.

That date of course was the day that the Baltimore Ravens, fresh off a 12-4 regular season and three playoff wins over the Denver Broncos, Tennessee Titans, and the Oakland Raiders, earned the franchise’s first ever Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XXXV, winning of course by a score of 34-7 over the NFC Champion New York Giants.

It brought the city of Baltimore their first championship since 1983 with the Baltimore Orioles, and its first ever football title since 1970 when the Colts brought home the NFL title in Super Bowl V.

And of course, the play was Starks’ 49-yard interception return in that Super Bowl, one of four touchdowns and interceptions for the Ravens on the night.

This Sunday at halftime versus the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens will honor  30+members of the championship team, including the likes of quarterback Trent Dilfer, safety Rod Woodson, running back Jamal Lewis, and many others.

And while Duane Starks will not be in attendance Sunday, he said he will be their in spirit with his former teammates. He keeps in contact with most of his fellow champions.

“There’s a group of us that stay in touch,” Starks told Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat Wednesday.”I’m always in contact with Lional Dalton, Ray Lewis, Jamie Sharper, and all these guys, even Jermaine Lewis.”

Starks was drafted by the Ravens with the tenth overall pick in the 1998 draft out of Miami, and combined with Raven draft picks in former Hurricanes teammate Ray Lewis, Chris Mcalister, Peter Boulware, Jamie Sharper, Starks became a pivotal and key component to the best defense in NFL history when it came to points allowed in 2000.

And he not only was big in helping the team reach the Super Bowl, his interception of Giants quarterback Kerry Collins may have put the nail in the coffin for the Giants.

In his four years in Baltimore from 1998-2001, Starks grabbed 21 picks and was also a big run-stuffer from the secondary despite only measuring 5-10, 175 pounds.

In that Super Bowl, Collins would throw several interceptions to the likes of Chris Mcalister, Kim Herring, and Jamie Sharper was desperately trying to get his team back in the hunt after falling behind 10-0 with minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Collins took a three-step drop and immediately threw the ball to Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer. Starks, who had also grabbed a pick in the AFC Championship game against Oakland, stepped in front of the slant pass and took it back 49 yards for a the score, making it 17-0 in favor of Baltimore.

Duane Starks

Starks remembers the moment as clear as day.

“I intercept the ball and the first thing I was like, ‘just catch the ball’,” Starks told Thyrl.  “I caught the ball and after that as I’m running, I’m like ‘Please nobody clip. Nobody clip. No penalties. No penalties.’ It would have been sad to have a penalty there because the play happened so fast.”

“That was the longest 49 yards of running ever.”

Starks looked back as he crossed the Giants goal line to see if there were any flags on the play, but none came down.

Starks’ play not only put the Giants deeper in the hole, it also set off a series of plays that will rarely be seen again in Super Bowl history.

Following Starks’ interception return, the Ravens kicked off to the Giants, and Giants KR Ron Dixon returned it 97 yards for a touchdown.

It was a game now. For at least a few more seconds.

The Giants on the opposing kickoff kicked the ball to former Maryland Terp Jermaine Lewis, who matched Dixon’s return with an 84 yard return of his own.

It was the first time in NFL history that each team returned kickoffs in the Super Bowl, and the first time they had been done back-to-back. It also finished a period of three consecutive plays where a touchdown was scored in a span of just 30 seconds.

The Ravens nearly earned the only shutout in Super Bowl history, but they were able to bring Baltimore a world championship and came home to celebrate on the streets of Baltimore.

Starks, who will be unable to attend Sunday’s festivities due to a previous engagement, said he still calls Baltimore home and will remain in contact with the Ravens for the rest of his life.

‘I’m not going to be able to make it to Baltimore, but I’m always visiting Baltimore and going to the office. I hate that I’m going to miss this glorious occasion.”

Miss the interview with Duane? Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for our interview with the former Ravens corner back and all our other interviews with the Super Bowl team! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Ravens Football!

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