Tag Archive | "New Orleans Saints"

Mutiny On The Bounty-Gate

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Mutiny On The Bounty-Gate

Posted on 06 November 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

If  you think that you’re having a tough 2012, look no further than to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for some perspective. Goodell’s 2012 has been terrible, and from the looks of things 2013 isn’t set to begin much better for the embattled commish.

After dealing with a labor lockout, and officials lockout, a rash of concussion related lawsuits and an over the top level of professional disdain from nearly every player with whom Goodell has had to deal, the commissioner is still entrenched in the midst of the controversy that won’t go away as the league continues to try and find their way through bounty gate.

 

While the suspended players’ plights are still tied up in the appeals process, thereby continuing to add life to this story we are bombarded with reminders of one of the league’s uglier scandals; a scandal that most would have imagined would be well in the league’s rear view by now. There’s still no real assurance that anyone, aside from Saints former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, current assistant (and interim head coach) Joe Vitt, and GM Mickey Loomis will ever actually be punished for their roles in the scandal.

 

One would have to imagine that there’s a very real possibility that at some point soon if notorious whistle blower Anthony Hargrove doesn’t find employment in the NFL he’ll be looking to raise his complaint to defamation and attempt to prove a conspiracy that has blackballed from the league as a result of his role in the investigation. And now, as a result of a voided contract by the commissioner’s office, it appears that Saints head coach Sean Payton might come out of his “punishment” in better shape than ever.

 

Like Peyton Manning last year, Sean Payton’s absence in 2012 is serving as little more than an illustration of just how important he was to the Saints organization, and a reinforcement of his value. Now like Manning too, Payton will find himself a free agent at the end of his suspension, able to sell his services to the highest bidder. Unlike Manning, there are no health issues related to Payton that might have teams reluctant to take a chance on signing him.

 

So now, as punishment for standing by their man, the Saints will be likely forced to pay a king’s ransom just to match the efforts of other clubs anxious to attract the hottest commodity in coaching once the bidding process can officially begin.

 

It hardly seems fair that the Saints and their fans have been punished for the wayward culture that Payton and his minions presided over while Payton himself will likely come out on the other side of things better than ever. It’s tough to imagine this was the commissioner’s ‘intent, but it continues to be his mess.

 

 

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MSB Trend Report: Who’s Storming the Court and Who’s Courting the Storm?

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MSB Trend Report: Who’s Storming the Court and Who’s Courting the Storm?

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s the MobTown Sports Beat, Tuesday Trend Report. It’s our appraisal of who’s balling and who’s falling in the world of “sports futures”.

 

 

Five on the Rise – Here’s who’s balling

 

 

Deron Williams

 

As everyone focuses on Dwight Howard and where his fortunes may lead him after this season (or at the trade deadline) the Nets are just quietly hoping that they’ll be able to retain Deron Williams, and use the allure of his services to land Howard too. Williams however seems intent on testing the waters of free agency, and may feel compelled to return home to Dallas and join the Mavericks or to land wherever he sees the best chance at winning and being happy. On the way there, Williams is showcasing all of the reasons why he should be the hottest commodity headed to free agency at season’s end.

 

After helping to jumpstart Lin-Sanity in its early stages, Williams responded to the hype in his second chance against the Lin led Knicks with 38 points and 6 assists. Since then Williams has handed out 8, 12, 8 and 7 assists in his last 4 games respectively, the last accompanying an incredibly efficient 57 points against the Charlotte Bobcats.

 

Williams is clearly peaking at just the right time.

 

 

Peyton Manning

 

As the Colts brace for the most anticlimactic $28 million decision in history, it seems that the Manning camp is at least giving them something to think about. Over the last day or so, allegedly unauthorized video of Manning throwing at Duke University has mysteriously surfaced, showing the QB’s arm and skills in a good light. It’s inconceivable that the latest “news” has done anything to sway the Colts’ decision, nor should it, but it’s at least an indication that Manning is on a better course than some have suggested to this point.

 

 

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The Ledge

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The Ledge

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

When great expectations and poor performances collide, fans, coaches and even players find themselves at the ledge. That uneasy place where the temperature is always rising and the sky is always falling. Here’s a look at who’s on the ledge this week:

 

 

The Saints

 

The Saints are on the ledge over what is quickly coming to be known as “Bounty-Gate”, alleging that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and his players and subordinates coordinated a program that rewarded game changing defensive plays of both the legal and illegal variety. Not only is it a circumvention of salary cap rules, more importantly it’s a reward for the type of violence that the NFL has been punishing its players especially hard for over the last few years. The league will be heavily scrutinized over how they choose to punish this, and the ramifications could likely affect Williams current job with the Rams, his former team in Washington and of course the Saints. Punishment is likely to be harsh and swift on this one. Until then, Williams, the Saints, the Redskins, Sean Payton and many others will wait at the ledge.

 

 

UCLA and Ben Howland

 

Last week’s Sports Illustrated expose of Howland’s hands off approach and the out of control program that resulted won’t be the only reason he’ll likely be gone at season’s end, but it will surely be the easiest. Just a few short seasons ago Howland and UCLA had the Final Four looking like their birthright and Howland himself looked ready to challenge John Calipari as the master of the “one and done” player. Now on the brink of their second straight season out of the tourney looking in, Howland is likely counting down his final days and final paychecks and Reeves Nelson, the villain of the SI Story, looks ready to challenge Chris Washburn in the annals of college hoops stars behaving badly.

 

 

Mavs Fans

 

They may not be there for long, but by now Mavs fans have surely realized what the rest of us have been seeing all along this season. That is that the Mavs are making a less than genuine, borderline fraudulent effort at defending their title. Now that the euphoria of last year’s championship has had some time to wear off and Lamar Odom’s welcome has had time to wear out, it’s time to concede that in allowing Tyson Chandler, Caron Butler, JJ Barea, DeShawn Stevenson and others to walk and replacing them with Odom, Vince Carter, Delonte West and Yi amongst others, this season was over before it started in Dallas.

 

Maybe the gamble will pay off in Dallas and they’ll land Deron Williams and/or Dwight Howard in free agency. This year though, the Mavs are making the least genuine effort at a title defense that the NBA has possibly ever seen.

 

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Whatever the max punishment is for the Saints — double it

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Whatever the max punishment is for the Saints — double it

Posted on 03 March 2012 by Drew Forrester

I realize opinions are like – well, you know what…everyone has one.

But if your opinion is that the New Orleans Saints shouldn’t be punished or penalized for their “Bounty System” then something’s terribly wrong with the way you look at things.

The NFL should throw the book at the Saints, whatever “the book” is.  In fact, whatever the maximum penalty turns out to be, I say double it.

You simply can’t have players in the league creating a bonus structure for injuring other players.  There’s more to it than that, but it really is that easy to preside over if you’re the NFL and the task at hand is determining the gravity of the situation and the penalty for pulling it off for a couple of seasons.

It’s simply unacceptable.

Please don’t make excuses for the Saints…or anyone else in the league who has been guilty of this conduct.

Don’t make excuses for them by saying, “Football is a physical game”.  Or “We like to see those hard hits every Sunday”.  Or “The money doesn’t really change anything, they’re trying to punish each other on every play anyway.”

None of those words pave the way for putting a system in place where players are rewarded for helping to remove an opposing player from the game.

It’s essentially a locker room “prop bet”.  ”Maybe we can’t bet on the outcome of today’s game, but we can put some money up for the first guy to take out the opposing quarterback.”

It’s not gambling, but it’s close enough that the league most certainly could lump it in there with wagering.

And let’s not even mention what happens when the Federal Government gets wind of this and decides to make a big deal about the taxes that weren’t paid on that “income” laying around in the locker room.

But, there’s one element of this that no one has yet talked about that makes rewarding players for injuring other players a reprehensible act.

If they’re doing it in the NFL, it won’t be long before they’re doing it in college.  And if they’re doing it in the NFL and college, it won’t be long before it filters down to the high school level.

I went to a pair of high school playoff basketball games this past week.  I had to laugh out loud at the pre-game introductions of both teams (all four, if you count the two games).  Long gone are the days where they announce the player, his number and what year of school he’s in.  No, no, no.  Now, every starter has his own unique “intro welcome”, where a non-starter stands out on the floor and welcomes the starter when he’s announced by doing a fist-bump, two hand slaps, a quick body-search (as if the police were “frisking” him) and then a big chest bump.  All of that is done in a well-rehearsed routine.  And every player has a different one of those.

Do you know where those kids picked that up from?

College.

I wonder where the college kids learned it?

You can guarantee yourself this:  If the NFL is handing out money for big hits or “cart-offs”, it won’t be long before high schoolers are doing something similar, even if they don’t have money at their disposal.  Teen-agers are extremely creative.  They’ll figure out something to put on the table.  Weed, perhaps?  Or “beer money”, the equivalent of one dollar per-kid in the locker room.

How about this concept:  Maybe an enterprising coach comes along – say a coach who also doubles as a gym, math or science teacher – and starts handing out A’s if the other team’s star player doesn’t finish the game.

If you think high school coaches and players are above shenanigans like that, you’re living in a cave.

It looks like the NFL has the Saints dead-to-rights on this one.  I can’t imagine there’s a “chain of custody” excuse in the offing that will somehow make this out to be less of an offense than it is.

Financially rewarding a player for injuring another player is just about the worst thing you can do in all of sports.

These are fathers of children, husbands of women and good, upstanding members of their community.  Having to spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair because someone wanted to scoop up $1,500 after a helmet to helmet hit is unthinkable, yet it’s exactly the kind of result that’s possible when players are intent on injuring someone else.

It’s unacceptable.

Let’s hope the NFL does the right thing and throws the book AND the kitchen sink at the Saints.

And let’s all hope and pray that this sort of barbaric behavior doesn’t somehow trickle down to the high school level, where kids and coaches are already losing sight of the real purpose of athletics.

 

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NFL Playoff Positional Power Rankings

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NFL Playoff Positional Power Rankings

Posted on 05 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Here’s a look at my positional power rankings for the players and teams that are left in the playoffs. This year’s stats accounted for a lot but at the end of the day it’s my opinion on who I’d suit up today for the best chance at winning.

Quarterbacks

 

1 – Aaron Rodgers (GB)

2 – Drew Brees (NO)

3 – Tom Brady (NE)

4 – Eli Manning (NYG)

5 – Matthew Stafford (DET)

6 – Matt Ryan (ATL)

 

* I gave 6 here since the first 3 were fairly obvious (if not their respective places in that top 3)

 

 

Running Backs

 

1 – Ray Rice (BAL)

2 – Arian Foster (HOU)

3 – Michael Turner (ATL)

4 – Frank Gore (SF)

5 – Darren Sproles (NO)

 

 

Wide Receivers

 

1 – Calvin Johnson (DET)

2 – Andre Johnson (HOU)

3 – AJ Green (CIN)

4 – Victor Cruz (NYG)

5 – Wes Welker (NE)

6 – Roddy White (ATL)

7 – Greg Jennings (GB)

8 – Jordy Nelson (GB)

9 – Mike Wallace (PIT)

10 – Hakeem Nicks (NYG)

 

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Washington Redskins v Baltimore Ravens

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Don’t Believe the AFC North Hype…Yet

Posted on 03 January 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

 

Of all of the changes that the NFL has brought forth in the last couple of seasons, one that went without a great deal of notice has certainly had a profound impact so far. The line that teams have walked all too often in recent seasons after wrapping up playoff fortunes with games still remaining on their schedule has been too much of a story lately, but this year not so much. Whether a direct result of the decision to put divisional match-ups in the season’s final weeks or not it made for one of the most exciting final weeks of any NFL season in recent memory. Add “Goodell’s Grand Finale” to the once celebrated “Pete’s Parity” and you have the excitement that was week 17 of this NFL season.

The Ravens run through their own division unblemished is cause for celebration, and with 3 teams qualified for this year’s playoffs the AFC North is being hailed as the league’s best division. The Bengals are young and dangerous, and now stocked with picks courtesy of the Carson Palmer trade, the Browns are tough and physical and also stocked with picks courtesy of the Julio Jones trade and perhaps in better position than any team to trade into the first overall pick if the Colts should choose to shop it. And the Ravens and Steelers are simply the Ravens and Steelers. But before we proclaim the AFC North the class of the NFL, we should at least acknowledge that parity is more relative from division to division than league wide, and that the AFC North may simply be the most accomplished division in football because they had the easiest trek though the 2011 season.

 

You never can quite tell how teams will be from season to season in the NFL, but sometimes you can. While every year brings a fresh example of a team with no expectations suddenly becoming a force on the back of a few “minor” tweaks to the coaching staff, roster or approach, we should also acknowledge that those examples aren’t as plentiful as the attention that they get would suggest, and that more often than not we have a pretty good idea going into the season who’ll be good and who’ll struggle.

 

If you were picking a schedule for the Ravens or any AFC North team to have success in 2011, and charged with using the NFL formula of matching up against 1 whole division in the AFC and 1 in the NFC you probably would have picked the AFC South and the NFC West. Surely you would have picked the NFC West as maybe one or two teams in that less than mediocre division could have been expected to be competitive (as the 49ers became this year’s surprise team) but expecting the entire division to have a resurgence would have been unfathomable, as the division has been floundering for years now without improvement.

 

The AFC South would have looked almost equally ripe for the picking even before Peyton Manning was announced to be out for the season, and despite the Texans best attempts at representing the division respectably, injuries ultimately took their toll on them too.

 

Add the bottom dwelling Cleveland Brown to the mix and the formula was just right for the successes of the Ravens, Steelers and Bengals. The Browns are scrappy and can’t be totally dismissed, but they did play their divisional schedule to the tune of 0-6 this season, serving up 2 wins each of cushion for the division’s other 3 teams.

 

In 2010 the NFC South had 3 double digit win teams. The Falcons won 13 games, the Saints won 11 and both made the playoffs and the Buccaneers picked up 10 wins and narrowly missed the playoffs while looking promising. They did so while matching up against the terrible NFC West, and an AFC North with 2 bottom dwellers in Cincinnati and Cleveland that offered up “easy” chances at racking up wins. The NFC South also had the floundering Panthers in 2010 who served up 6 wins to the rest of the division in struggling through a miserable campaign themselves.

 

This year the NFC South still looks relatively strong although slightly less promising beyond the top two as they were charged with matching up with an NFC North that was better than last year’s NFC West draw but also took advantage of this year’s weaker AFC South.

 

In 2008 the AFC East and NFC East both looked equally promising as both took advantage of similar scheduling “opportunities”.

 

Next year the AFC North will be afforded the opportunity to feast of the AFC West if they’re able to take advantage, and if the NFC is in the disarray that it appears to be in all of a sudden there too may lie an opportunity. While I won’t yet acknowledge the AFC North as football’s best division, the likelihood of them getting 3 teams into the playoffs again next season (especially if the Browns serve up another 6 wins) might look pretty good again. What they do once they’re there will determine which division is best.

 

 

 

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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NFL Week 8 Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 28 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.

 

All lines taken from sportsbook.com.

 

Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 7: 2-3 (-130 pts)    season: 13-12 (-20 pts) 

 

Saints -14 @ Rams 

 

Lions -3 @ Broncos

 

Steelers +3 vs. Patriots

 

Browns +9 @ 49ers

 

Chiefs +4 vs. Chargers

 

 

Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 7: 2-2-1 (-10 pts)    season: 10-12-1 (-160 pts)

 

Panthers -3.5 vs. Vikings

 

Dolphins +9.5 @ Giants

 

Bills -6 vs. Redskins

 

Bengals -3 @ Seahawks

 

Cowboys +3.5  @ Eagles

 

 

Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 7: 1-2(-24 pts)    season 9-10-2 (-40 pts)

 

Titans -9 vs. Colts

 

Jaguars +9.5 @ Texans

 

Ravens -12.5 vs. Cardinals

  

Last week Total: 5-7-1  (-164 pts)     Season Total: 32-34-3 (-220 pts)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

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Week 7: Locks, Lumps & Luck (or Lack Thereof)

Posted on 20 October 2011 by Thyrl Nelson

This is not an inducement to gamble, in fact it should serve as quite the opposite. It is my attempt at picking all of the games (before injury reports are official) each week. The picks are broken into 3 categories, 5 picks that I love, 5 that I like and the rest.

I would encourage anyone looking for a little extra interest in Sunday’s game to try the MobTown $15.70 prop card. It’s free it’s easy and cash and bragging rights are on the line.

 

All lines taken from sportsbook.com.

 

Loves (100 pts for a win and -110 for a loss)

week 4: 4-1 (290 pts)    season: 11-9 (110 pts) 

 

Chargers -2 @ Jets 

 

Texans +3 @ Titans

 

Steelers -3.5 @ Cardinals

 

Packers -9 @. Vikings

 

Ravens -7.5 @ Jaguars

 

 

Likes (50 pts for a win and -55 for a loss)

week 4: 3-2 (40 pts)    season: 8-10 (-150 pts)

 

Redskins +2.5 @ Panthers

 

Browns -3 vs. Seahawks

 

Broncos +1.5 @ Dolphins

 

Raiders -4.5 vs. Chiefs

 

Saints -14 vs. Colts

 

 

Feeling Lucky? (20 pts for a win and -22 for a loss)

Week 4: 1-1-1 (-2 pts)    season 8-8-2 (-16 pts)

 

Buccaneers +1 vs. Bears (in London)

 

Lions -3.5 vs. Falcons

 

Cowboys -12.5 vs. Rams

  

Last week Total: 8-4-1 (328 pts)     Season Total: 27-27-2 (-56 pts)

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Ravens FA CB Fabian Washington before signing w/ Saints: “I won’t be coming back”

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Ravens FA CB Fabian Washington before signing w/ Saints: “I won’t be coming back”

Posted on 01 August 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ravens free agent corner back Fabian Washington signed a one-year deal Sunday with the New Orleans Saints, and while he was fielding calls for nearly a week regarding his free agent status and desire to play, he knew one thing for sure.

He wasn’t returning to the Ravens.

Fabian Washington

“Yes, definitely. I won’t be coming back,” Washington told Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” Friday.

That being said, he definitely was tired of waiting to get picked up after the long NFL-lockout which stalled free agency.

“I’m very anxious to get back to football,” Washington said. “I haven’t been off this long since high school. I’m definitely ready to get back to work.”

Washington-who spent the last three seasons with Baltimore after coming over in a draft-day trade with the Raiders in 2008-had been getting calls from several teams in the NFL looking for both corner back depth and guys with starter experience.

But sadly, he knew after losing his starting job to Josh Wilson in 2010, his time in Baltimore was done.

After starting 12 games his first year in Baltimore in 2008 and the first ten games of the 2009 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury versus Indianapolis, Washington struggled at the beginning of 2010 and lost his starting spot after getting torched in the Ravens’ 37-34 OT win.

Washington was often criticized for dropping sure interceptions, his poor tackling, and his slow recovery speed if he got beat.

But, Washington said that he’s used his struggles last year as motivation to get back to playing at a high level.

“You better grow…you can’t go backwards man,” he said. “I try to take all of the positives from everything. I sat back and looked at some things I was doing wrong. I feel like through this off-season I’ve corrected that. I’m 100 percent health-wise, and I feel great. I feel like I’m ready to play ball man, wherever it may be.”

On top of his struggles, it felt even worse to end his Ravens career losing yet again to the one team he learned to envy in the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs once more.

“You never want to lose in the playoffs, and you never want to lose to the Steelers,” Fabian said. “Every loss I’ve been in the playoffs has felt the same, but you don’t want to lose to the Steelers. You don’t want to hear their mouths all off-season.”

Washington’s potential upside, youth and skills-especially his speed-have kept the former 1st-round pick out of Nebraska not only still in the league but still a commodity to an NFL squad.

“I’ve been getting some calls,” Washington said. “Some teams are showing interest. In my position though, there are a couple big guys who need to sign first.”

He was of course referring to ex-Oakland teammate CB Nnamdi Asomugha, the top free agent on the market, who signed a deal with Philadelphia on Friday.

“The dude is a beast,” Washington said-who played with Asomugha from 2005-2007. “He is unreal out there. Teams rarely throw at him. That’s one thing-playing on the other side of him-you better be ready for a whole heap of balls to be thrown at you.”

“You just need to expect that, because no team is going to throw at him. I think the stat was he was thrown at 50 times all year- total. That’s unheard of. You’ve just got to prepare yourself and have your mind right to have a lot of opportunities to get an interception. It’s a coordinator’s dream to have a corner like that.”

He, Chris Carr, and Asomugha-all former Raiders CBs-spent much of the week watching where each of them were projected to go.

“Everybody’s waiting to see where Nnamdi is gonna play,” Washington said last week,  “then the dominoes will start falling at the cornerback position. But me man… I’m just sitting back relaxing.”

And sure enough, as soon as Asomugha signed Friday with Philadelphia and Carr re-signed on Saturday with Baltimore, Washington signed on the final day of the weekend with the Saints.

But despite the fact that he’s now in the Big Easy playing for the 2009 Super Bowl champs, he still holds a high place in his heart for the time he spent in Baltimore the last three years.

“I would definitely say it was a roller coaster,” he said,  “but I enjoyed every minute of it in Baltimore. “It was fun man…a lot of winning. Where I was coming from, I wasn’t used to that.”

“It’s a great place, and I encourage anybody that gets the chance to play there…play there  because you’re gonna win. I have nothing but good things to say about Baltimore.”

WNST thanks Fabian Washington for joining us, and we want to wish him all the best for his time in Baltimore! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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Former NFL All-Pro CB Ashley Ambrose on coaching Jimmy Smith: “I wish I had the ability of this kid”

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Former NFL All-Pro CB Ashley Ambrose on coaching Jimmy Smith: “I wish I had the ability of this kid”

Posted on 01 May 2011 by Ryan Chell

Ashley Ambrose

Ashley Ambrose was a 13-year veteran corner back playing for four different NFL franchises including the likes of the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints, Cincinnati Bengals, and the Atlanta Falcons.

The 1996 All-Pro recorded 42 interceptions in his dozen-year NFL career, and during his playing days was often tasked with covering the opposing team’s best receiver.

And since retiring in 2005, the 40-year old former CB has found his mark in the coaching ranks, and as of recently found his way to the University of Colorado coaching their defensive backs.

It was that move-and his eventual association with Ravens first round pick CB Jimmy Smith-that forced the former NFL veteran to do a different kind of defending.

Jimmy Smith

Doing his best to cover the character concerns of his pupil in Smith-who’s off-the-field incidents while in Boulder include marijuana use, arrests for possession and underage drinking, assault, and impregnating several women-eventually became a common practice for Ambrose the past two off-seasons as NFL teams probed him for inside information about Jimmy Smith the man as well as the corner.

Ambrose-who recently took over the defensive backs’ coach at the University of California-joined Rex Snider of “The Afternoon Drive” Friday afternoon after the Ravens selected Jimmy Smith with the 27th pick in the first round of Thursday’s NFL Draft, and he had nothing but good things to say about his former player and the situation he was ending up in Baltimore.

“I know there was a need for you guys,” Ambrose told Snider, “and I knew if Jimmy was going to fall down there that the Ravens were a possibility. I’ll tell you what…I’m happy for him. It’s a great place for him to be.”

Ambrose was probably Smith’s biggest fan Thursday night, and it began to worry him when the Ravens allowed the Chiefs to move ahead of them to make a selection because he was afraid that Smith’s rap sheet of character issues would force him to drop out of the first round and hurt his confidence.

“I read about it,” Ambrose said. “I didn’t know what was going on at first. I was nervous at first cause Jimmy’s a great kid. A lot of people go off what happened his freshman year and stuff like that.”

But he was glad to ultimately see the Ravens take the leap of faith on Smith and he assured the Baltimore coaching staff through Snider that they know they won’t regret the decision because of the man Smith has become recently.

“I said to myself that if they get a chance to see who Jimmy is as a person, they really would know what kind of kid he is being so mature now.”

Ambrose joined the Colorado program in 2008, with Smith having been a Buffalo since redshirting in 2006.

From the moment the two met, the two were inseparable and Ambrose brought with him a mentor-like approach when it came to guiding Smith down the right path and helping him become not only a better corner, but a better man.

“I really am confident in that. I was more of a mentor and a big brother to Jimmy as well as his coach,” Ambrose said. “While he was there, he did everything he was supposed to do. He was always on time. Jimmy was just really young when a whole lot of stuff happened.”

Ambrose didn’t want to make excuses, but he said a lot of young kids get themselves in similar trouble that Smith did and don’t get caught or the attention thrown their way.

“You get any kid going to high school to college, get them in a different environment, and things happen,” Ambrose replied. “Jimmy just happened to be one of those kids that messed around and got caught a few times, whatever it was. Some people go through it and never get caught, but it just so happens that he was a freshman, he got caught with it, and it was always over his head. But he’s not that kind of a guy.”

How fitting that Smith’s last known deviant act caught on the record was in 2007-the year before Ambrose joined the Colorado staff.

“I’m so proud of him. He grew up, and you’re talking about a kid who graduated from college,” Ambrose said. “Most kids like that..they’re not graduating from school. This kid was so focused about his academics that he got a degree, and I’m proud of him….and I don’t see him getting in any trouble.”

The only trouble Ambrose sees? The opposing receivers in the AFC North who have to go up against Smith.

“I wish I had the ability of this kid, and the sky’s the limit for him.”

“This kid is going to be awesome. I’ve been around the NFL for quite some time, and just being around the guy, there is no one with his size. Usually guys like that don’t have any hips, but Jimmy has very good hips. He can run, and he can be physical. It is rare to see that.”

Ambrose compared him to a similar corner in today’s game in Jets CB Antonio Cromartie-but hopefully without the off-the-field concerns as the New York defender.

And Smith’s other beneficial trait? He is eager to get better and takes learning seriously.

“I was amazed to see the things he can do just trying to teach him techniques. He is very coachable, he is willing to learn, and that’s the thing that makes him such an elite athlete because he’s ready to learn and he’s willing to do what you ask of him.”

Ambrose knows he’ll fit right in with player-coaches like Ray Lewis and Ed Reed-who hails from the same hometown as Ambrose-and he knows that those two in particular will guide Smith down the right path toward being an excellent football player and human being.

He knows so because he was forced to do the same thing several years ago.

“That’s what players do,” Ambrose said. “Ed Reed is from my hometown, and I know a lot of his family. Ed Reed is a great character person. Ed Reed is going to be the person to be there to help Jimmy out with anything. He’ll put him under his wing, and guide him in the right direction.”

“Now it is up to Jimmy to do the right things, but I think it’s perfect for Jimmy because he gets to be with a Hall-of-Fame type guy that’s doing it and leading by example on and off the football field. I think it’s a great thing, and he’s going into a great situation.”

But for now, Ambrose said Smith should take advantage of a fresh start as a Raven and be solely focused on adjusting to the speed of the NFL because for the former Mississippi Valley State star in Ambrose, that was the toughest thing to get adapted to coming out of college.

“It’s always a challenge,” he said. “Having now coached at the collegiate level, I kind of talk to these kids about it…telling them about the transition and those sorts of things.”

“You’re going to be in meetings all the time, and everyone’s going to be great players. You can’t take a week off and things like that. The thing for me when I first came out I thought I was so good at my level of college football that I could just bring it right to the NFL, and that opened up for me real fast.”

But he knows Jimmy’s ready for that change, and when he does, he should ultimately be able to kill two birds with one stone as he knows succeeding on the football field will push some of his past character-concerns under the rug.

“It’s a great fan-base, and what’s going to happen is he’s going to win a lot of fans over cause he’s going to play some good football.”

WNST thanks Ashley Ambrose for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and welcomes Jimmy Smith to Baltimore! Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault for the chat with Ambrose as well as tune into WNST Monday as we talk with Torrey Smith for the first time since being drafted by the Ravens! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

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