I had handled it much better than I ever did in the past.
Unlike the last three seasons, I wasn’t on hand to see the Baltimore Ravens’ season come to an end last Sunday in the AFC Championship Game. Instead of making the trip to Foxborough, I stayed in studio at 1550 Hart Rd. in Towson for “The Nasty Purple Pregame Show” and “The Nasty Purple Postgame Show.” I watched the game only with my producer Ryan Chell and I IMMEDIATELY hit the airwaves after Billy Cundiff’s kick sailed wide-not allowing me much time to stew over the dramatic end.
After fighting with a caller who labeled quarterback Joe Flacco as “a bum” following the crushing loss to the New England Patriots, I genuinely felt as though I had moved on. It only took about 30 minutes. No eight hour drive home with other miserable Ravens fans for me, just a 25 minute drive home to Monkton where playing with my dog quickly made me feel better about a tough loss.
On Sunday afternoon the WNST crew (Drew Forrester, Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones and myself) touched down in Indianapolis for week-long coverage of Super Bowl XLVI festivities at Radio Row. We do it every year, no matter when/where the Ravens’ season comes to a close. Immediately upon landing at Indianapolis International Airport, we were greeted by vendors selling Eli Manning and Tom Brady t-shirts. Everywhere we turned in Indy for the first 12 hours was remarkably similar.
New York Giants stuff here. New England Patriots stuff there. Live NFL Network video of Bill Belichick getting off the plane. Quotes filling up my GMail inbox from Tom Brady and Jerod Mayo as transcribed by the National Football League staff here on site. A replay of Super Bowl XLII following Australian Open coverage on ESPN2.
It all hit me like a ton of bricks. This was SO close to being the Ravens. Perhaps a Cundiff kick, perhaps a Lee Evans catch, perhaps a John Harbaugh timeout, perhaps Joe Flacco not throwing an interception to Brandon Spikes.
We could have gotten off the plane in Indy and been greeted by Ray Lewis t-shirts instead of seeing Alex Flanagan try to get Lewis to change his mind about retirement on the sideline during NBC’s coverage of the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. We could have been covering the first media gathering of the week for the AFC champs instead of sitting in the hot tub at the J.W. Marriott or celebrating Forrester’s birthday at Buca di Beppo. (Both of these things were nice…but we’d rather not be there.)
It wasn’t as painful to arrive for Super Bowl coverage the last couple of years as there was really no argument that the Ravens may have been the best team in the AFC. Two years ago they were clobbered by the Colts here at LucasOil Stadium. Last year there was the feeling they let one go against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field, but at least the loss didn’t come with a Super Bowl trip on the line.
This time there was a REAL feeling that we should be spending Media Day tomorrow chatting up Terrell Suggs instead of trying to track down Matt Birk for five minutes later in the week when he comes to promote the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
It wasn’t the only wound re-opened however.
As you can read about in Monday’s Indianapolis Star, there’s already a bit of a “friendly” back and forth going on between us and some of the folks in “The Friendly Heart of the Midwest.” While most of our comments have been made in jest, there is no doubt that seeing horseshoes everywhere I look and staring at a sign for the “Jim Irsay Collection” at the Indiana State Museum across the street have left a bad taste in my mouth.
The team my father fell in love with is now the reason why a city hundreds of miles from Charm City is experiencing a financial boon. The likes of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore and Art Donovan left sweat and blood on the field at Memorial Stadium, the value of which has allowed governor Mitch Daniels to make millions of dollars-which will in no way benefit the city of Baltimore.
We don’t REALLY want the Colts back in Baltimore as I joked with the Indy Star reporter. We want an entire civic injustice reversed. We know it’s impossible.
The wounds are fully re-opened here. We’ll make it through (covering a Super Bowl in Indianapolis is STILL better than having to cover the Baltimore Orioles), but there will be a number of times this week where I’ll look over and say “damn.”
As a sports talk radio host, my life is basically dependent on getting sports figures to talk. As you’ve seen this football season, it’s been particularly beneficial (at least in terms of viral recognition) when folks like Ralph Friedgen or Joe Flacco have answered my questions in colorful ways.
At the beginning of every week, WNST Executive Producer Ryan Chell and I run through a list of folks we can reach out to for that particular week in hopes of having them appear on my radio show-or any of the other shows here at AM1570 WNST.net.
As Ryan and I were chatting Monday, I mentioned to him that I knew New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski a little bit. I had covered his brother (Cleveland Browns TE Dan Gronkowski) for awhile when he played for the University of Maryland and had stayed in touch a bit since then. I also spent time chatting with Rob at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in 2010 and we exchanged phone numbers as I had reason to believe he was a legitimate target for General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the Baltimore Ravens in the upcoming NFL Draft.
(Of course, that was well before we found out the monster tight end had failed a physical with the team leading up to the Draft.)
Ryan reached out to Gronkowski Tuesday morning and got a call back from him just after “The Reality Check” hit the airwaves Tuesday afternoon. When Ryan asked him if he would be available to chat with me later in the show, the former University of Arizona star politely declined (he did offer to chat again after the season was over) and deferred to the Pats’ media availability this week.
While I was disappointed, I fully understood. To keep peeling back the curtain, I never allow myself to get too angry when a sports figure doesn’t end up on the air with us. I always tell our staff “they don’t owe us anything” and look forward to the next opportunity to chat.
Baltimore Ravens DL Arthur Jones took us up on the opportunity to chat Tuesday on the show. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get him to divulge information on what kind of pass rush the Ravens would offer in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
I tell this long-winded story because it ties into some other comments made this week that have lit up Charm City.
Ravens S Ed Reed appeared Monday on SiriusXM’s NFL Radio. You’ve read many of the quotes elsewhere on the internet, including…
“Joe was kind of rattled a little bit by that defense. They had a lot of guys in the box on him and they were giving it to him. I think a couple of times he needed to get rid of the ball. It just didn’t look like he had a hold on the offense.”
“He can’t play like that. One specific play that sticks out to me was when Ray Rice came out and got pushed out of the backfield and (Flacco) still threw him the ball and he had Torrey Smith on the outside. I can say that sitting on the sideline or sitting in the stands. You don’t know what someone else is seeing.”
Top Coaches and Players from AFC and NFC Selected in Nationwide Media Balloting as Winners of NFL 101 Awards for 2011 Season
Four Pro Bowl Selections and Two Outstanding Coaches to be Honored at Kansas City’s 42nd Annual Salute to Professional Football
KANSAS CITY, MO (January 17, 2012) – Two quarterbacks who direct the league’s most high-powered offenses will join two of the most formidable defensive players and two coaches who guided their teams to playoff appearances as the 2011 winners of the annual NFL 101 Awards – the nation’s premier awards event dedicated exclusively to professional football.
The 2011 season award winners will be presented with trophies at the 42nd Annual NFL 101 Awards gala in Kansas City Saturday, March 3, 2012, at the Westin Crown Center. The prestigious black-tie awards event was founded in 1969 and has evolved into what many sports insiders consider the finest awards event of its kind. This year’s event is presented by Perfect Output and ECCO Select.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has been selected as the NFC Offensive Player of the Year after engineering one of the greatest offensive seasons ever recorded in the NFL. A first-time 101 Award winner, Rodgers established the best single-season passer rating in NFL history at 122.5. He passed for 4,643 yards with a 68.3 completion percentage and an incredible 45-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Rodgers led the Packers to an NFL-best 15-1 record and the NFC North Division title. For the second consecutive year and third time in his career, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been selected as the AFC Offensive Player of the Year. Brady led the Patriots to a 13-3 record and the AFC East Division title. He led the conference in passing attempts (611), completions (401), completion percentage (65.6), yards (5,235), touchdowns (39) and passer rating (105.6).
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has been named the NFC Coach of the Year in just his first year as an NFL head coach. Harbaugh guided the 49ers to a 13-3 record and the NFC West Division title after inheriting a team that finished 6-10 the previous year. Harbaugh, who was the AFC Offensive Player of the Year in 1995 as quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, becomes the first person ever to win 101 awards as both a player and coach. Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak is the AFC Coach of the Year. Overcoming season-long adversity including the loss of his top two quarterbacks to injuries, Kubiak led his team to a 10-6 regular season record, the AFC South Division championship and the first playoff appearance in Texans franchise history.
Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen has been selected the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Allen finished the regular season with a league-leading 22 sacks – one-half sack shy of the NFL single-season sack mark. He is 20th on the NFL’s all-time career sack list. The former Kansas City Chiefs player was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his eight seasons. Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs is the AFC Defensive Player of the Year. Suggs recorded an AFC-best 14 sacks and forced a team-high seven fumbles. He holds the franchise record for sacks with 81.5. He was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fifth time in nine seasons.
A national media committee, comprised of 101 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the NFL, selected the winners in each award category in a nationwide vote at the conclusion of the regular season.
In addition to these award winners, the Committee of 101 also selects the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football, which was created in 2007 to honor the life and legacy of the founder of the Kansas City Chiefs and given in recognition of visionary leadership that has helped the NFL become the preeminent pro sports league in America. This year’s Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football award winner will be announced in February.
The awards show hosts for the evening will be NFL Network sportscaster Paul Burmeister and CBS football analyst Rich Gannon, a former NFL Most Valuable Player and two-time 101 Award winner.
Event proceeds this year will be directed to the Truman Medical Center Charitable Foundation through the Chiefs Children’s Fund, a 501(c)3 foundation that distributes funds to various children’s charities throughout the Kansas City area. TMC joined the Chiefs as the official Community Health Partner in September 2010. The Chiefs and TMC are working together to provide wellness education and promote healthier living for the people of Kansas City. Both TMC and the Chiefs play a vital role in the Kansas City community and this partnership capitalizes on two well-established brands for the common goal of improving the health status of the community in general, and of the citizens in the urban core particularly.
Navy’s Tuani Selected To Play In The East-West Shrine Game
ANNAPOLIS, Md.—Navy senior defensive end Jabaree Tuani has been selected to the 87th annual East-West Shrine All-Star Game, which will take place Saturday, January 21 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The game will be televised by the NFL Network starting at 4:00 PM.
As the longest running and most respected all-star football game, the East-West Shrine Game has been part of the sports landscape since 1925. Some of the former greats that have played in the game include Navy’s own Roger Staubach, Tom Brady, John Elway, Brett Favre, Dick Butkus, Gayle Sayers and Walter Payton. 45 players that played in the game last year were drafted and 62 former players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Currently 243 players on active NFL rosters played in the East-West Shrine Game. Of the 100 players that played in last year’s game, 52 were on active NFL rosters and 18 more were on the practice squad.
Tuani will be the 24th Navy player to play in the game and his selection marks the third-consecutive year that a Navy player has been chosen. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs played in last year’s game, while linebacker Ross Pospisil was selected two years ago.
Tuani is considered one of the best defensive linemen to ever play at Navy. He recorded a team-best 13 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in 2011. His 44-career tackles for a loss are the second most in school history and just one off the school record, while his 16 career sacks are tied for third on the list.
The ESPY Awards are an annual event put on by ESPN that you’ve never watched from start to finish despite the fact that the “Worldwide Leader in Sports” promotes them for about 6 months.
And since you likely won’t be watching next July, I’ll prevent the suspense. Jerome Simpson’s TD catch for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Arizona Cardinals Saturday wins SOMETHING.
As our own Brian Billick said on FOX, “you don’t get style points in the NFL but that oughtta be worth eight.”
Oh, and don’t look now but Cincy is playing great football just before they welcome the Ravens to Paul Brown Stadium next Sunday with the fate of the AFC North hanging in the balance. I don’t want to talk about that right now though. Perhaps never.
As someone who roots for a baseball team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997, I know a thing or two about what it must have felt like for fans in the Music City to watch their team clinch a Wild Card spot in the final moments of their win over the San Diego Chargers Saturday night…
The Bolts were finally eliminated from the playoffs, which you would assume will lead to Norv Turner’s firing. They may or may not have already interviewed Bill Cowher for Turner’s job, and Jon Gruden may or may not be next.
In the meantime, if you’re going to lose at least do it with amazing hair like SD DE Antonio Garay…
It was the final win of a record-setting career for the Broncos quarterback, it was just really unfortunate it happened in this venue instead of in a BCS bowl, as America would have enjoyed watching them play a team that actually gave a s**t…
The win came as rumors swirled that Penn State was interested in hiring BSU coach Chris Petersen. In a related story, I am interested in being hired by Saturday Night Live.
Petersen obviously is not interested in replacing Joe Paterno in State College. And if you were living as large as this dude is, why would you take ANY job?
In the Carolina Panthers’ win over the Bucs Saturday, Newton broke National Football League records for rookie passing yards (Peyton Manning) and quarterback rushing touchdowns (Steve Grogan). He did it in pretty spectacular fashion…
Things couldn’t be worse for the Bucs. Head coach Raheem Morris apparently “sent home” DE Brian Price after getting a 15 yard personal foul call and the team’s freefall continued on toward what looks more and more likely to be Morris’ ultimate firing.
I kinda feel bad for them. Perhaps I should offer some of my mom (the great Karen Clark)’s holiday stuffed shells…
Matt Barkley returning to Southern California is confusing because we know he would have been a potential Top 5 pick in the NFL Draft, but we also know what could be ahead. Heisman Trophy, Pac 12 & BCS Championship hopes and bevies of hot chicks.
I mean, the guy can play Jason Mraz on the guitar. He must be dodging panties every day he walks around Los Angeles. Tough life there…
With the Pats trailing the Miami Dolphins 17-0 at halftime Saturday, Facebook and Twitter were alive in Charm City with hopes of the Ravens still having a shot at the #1 seed in the AFC.
I however looked at my executive producer Ryan Chell and said “when Tom Brady decides to start playing I think they’ll be fine.”
They were. The Pats charged back from the halftime deficit to beat the Fins and are now a win away from clinching the #1 seed in the AFC. Apparently none of that is enough for owner Robert Kraft to get a high five…
Also, this looks like a good holiday film/way to make sure you don’t struggle in the red zone…
Of note for Miami, Reggie Bush remarkably ran for 100+ yards AGAIN in the defeat and we learned this weekend his mom does not want him to get back together with Kim Kardashian. That’s fine, I think Catalina Otalvaro would be a better catch anyway…
The good news (for NFC teams) is that it would take a miracle for them to get in, even after their win over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field Sunday. They’re two games out of both Wild Card spots with just two games to go.
Bears WR Johnny Knox suffered a horrific injury in the loss that I’ll only post again because I know he’s okay…
Marshawn Lynch ran for two TD’s. Could’ve used a second TD last week when I was still alive in my fantasy football playoffs, but that’s okay pal. You probably didn’t know.
When the University of Maryland was sentenced accepted to Boise a few years ago they played in something known as the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl. Other than Da’Rel Scott absolutely going off in a win over Colin Kaepernick and Nevada, it was rather lame.
And while “Famous Idaho Potato Bowl” might sound a bit goofier than “Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl”, only one bowl game includes chives in the logo…
12 tackles and then both an interception and a forced fumble in the 4th quarter for the LB as the Indianapolis Colts FINALLY got in the win column against the Tennessee Titans. But the highlight of the day belonged to RB Donald Brown for THIS TD run…
Dan Orlovsky is absolutely NOT a good quarterback, but I have no reason to think he isn’t a good guy. I guess for that reason I’m happy he didn’t have go winless again. Of course his success was part of the reason Randy Edsall was able to get to College Park so maybe I should immediately take that back.
Romeo Crennel may have clinched the permanent KC job as Tamba Hali crushed Aaron Rodgers to help the Chiefs hand the Packers their first loss in A YEAR. It was enough to make the Chiefs get all Gatorade bath-ey…
…the Packers looked vulnerable, but they also played with a VERY banged up O-Line. Unlike here in Charm City, perhaps this team could actually lose a loss before making a playoff run.
I’m not even referring to the news that OC Gary Crowton had been “reassigned” within the athletic department. I’m taking about the fact that Kenny Tate and others were given an extra year of eligibility.
Speaking of the Terps, I saw something amazing Saturday. You knew we’d get to the Tim Tebow sketch on Saturday Night Live eventually, but I’m going to go to it here. Mostly because I noticed that former Terp Lance Ball had his name in the background. How freaking awesome is that?
Which is nice, because I’m not certain Bowles is going to be on any short lists to get gigs in the future. That being said, his Miami Dolphins beat the Buffalo Bills Sunday so he’ll always have that going for him.
Reggie Bush ran for over 200 yards in the Phins’ win, but was penalized for doing what ANYONE ELSE WOULD HAVE DONE after scoring a TD when it was snowing…
200 yards for Reggie Bush. Do we live in some sort of alternate universe???
Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco’s appearance on “Monday Night Live” with teammate Brendon Ayanbadejo, Glenn Clark, Nestor Aparicio and Luke Jones has been of great interest around the country. The interview has appeared at ESPN, NFL Network, NFL.com, SI, NBC Sports, CBS Sports, Comcast SportsNet and countless other places around the internet and other forms of multi-media.
Heck, even a certain FM sports talk station in Charm City referenced the interview on-air and online, although they wouldn’t mention where it came from.
The opinions of Flacco’s comments have varied from analyst to analyst, fan to fan and even from WNST contributor to WNST contributor.
So here is the transcription of some of Flacco’s more interesting answers from Monday’s show at Hightopps Backstage Grille in Timonium. You can hear the segment in question here.
(Thanks to our friends at SportsRadioInterviews.com…)
On fans reacting and sometimes overacting to wins and losses:
“Yeah it’s pretty hilarious. I mean everyone reacts week to week and I mean most people really have no idea what really went on in the game and how everybody played and what was supposed to be happening. I can look at an NFL game and say ‘hey this is what I thought should have happened’ but I can be way off base because I don’t know what they game planned for the week and things like that. It’s funny to see all these things. I mean look at Tim Tebow. I like Tim, but you have a tendency to want to, I don’t want to see Tim do bad, but look what happens after he wins a football game. If you watched Sportscenter today it was Tim Tebow then something else, Tim Tebow then something else, and Tim Tebow then something else. When we beat the Steelers were we on TV? No. I couldn’t even find a Baltimore Ravens highlight. I think that’s kinda the way it is around Baltimore. We don’t always get our respect but you gotta deal with it and go out there every week and just win football games.”
On the idea that there are hurdles that he needs to get past to gain peoples respect:
“It’s pretty funny. It really means nothing at the end of the day. We beat the Steelers. Just because Ben wasn’t playing doesn’t mean anything. All those games are just as important. To be honest with you, in the regular season since I’ve been here we’re .500 against those guys and if you were to ask people they would probably say we have just one win against them. It’s funny to hear that kind of thing. It just kinda goes with the territory. You just have to continue to take it, deal with it, and not really worry about it. As far as winning the big one we’ve won a lot of big games around here. The other thing is quarterbacks are not the only guy on the team to win football games. When we do win football games I don’t seem to think that a lot of people say ‘hey Joe Flacco won that football game.’ When we lose the football game that might be the case but obviously that’s not all reality. As a quarterback it’s your job to go in there and realize that and be the guy that goes out there and plays the same way every week and puts your team in position to win football games. That’s what I’ve been doing I think and that’s why we’re 10-3.”
Whether or not he pays attention to other QB’s around the league and what they are doing:
“I don’t necessarily pay attention and every week look at that and see that. I guess every now and then you do and just see kinda what they’re doing but I don’t watch the TV shows a lot. Like I said every now and then you see it and you hear it. You just do. You can’t help yourself a little bit.”
Whether or not he heard the criticism before the season started about him being the reason the Ravens didn’t have a better season:
“Last year we were a 12-4 football team. I mean we didn’t win the division because Pittsburgh had a tiebreaker and we won a playoff game. Yeah it’s not what everybody wants to hear and we didn’t win the Super Bowl but it was a pretty good year by our football team and I had a pretty good football season myself. You go home and all you want to do is not be criticized and it does seem like that. And hey my standpoint is I just think we’re disrespected as an organization when it comes to the media. We’re not a very big market, the bottom line is we don’t need a lot of help because we have a great fan-base every week and we win football games. We’re not a losing football team that needs to be out there in the media and be talked up like we are all-world. We are. We go out there and play and win football games. People usually look for a reason to put us down and where does that go to? It goes to the quarterback because we have a good defense. Teams want to see us run the ball and they want to see our defense win games. When we don’t do that and don’t win a football game where does the blame fall? Onto the quarterback. What are you gonna do? You’re the quarterback. You’re one of 32 guys that has the position that you have and it’s really not even that much because not everybody plays every week. Hey that’s why most of these guys, including myself get paid the way we do because we’re the guys that have to deal with it at the end of the day. When we don’t win they’re going to put it on us and that’s the bottom line.”
Whether or not he feels like his role in the offense has continued to evolve:
“The biggest thing for me is just the fact that when you come in as a rookie you don’t know a lot of guys, you’re a little bit uncomfortable, and you’re put in the starting spot and you’re just trying to play well. As you’re around a team, as you’re around guys you become more and more comfortable in your own skin and you become more and more comfortable to voice your opinion. Now we have a lot of young guys on the team so you have to do that. Before we were a pretty veteran offense and a pretty veteran team and a lot of those guys have developed those skills ten plus years in the NFL. It’s not my job to come in here and tell them to change something or something like that but it is my job to kinda get these young guys up to speed and mold them into the kind of player that I want them to be and they want to be. I think I’m able to be more comfortable in my own skin and voice my opinion a little bit more.”