Tag Archive | "ozzie"

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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

Posted on 30 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

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

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

This team just wasn’t very good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True, that.

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

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

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

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

Comments (3)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Ozzie Newsome reflects on impact of Art Modell in his life

Posted on 06 September 2012 by WNSTV

Comments (0)

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

Tags: , , , , ,

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

Posted on 24 February 2012 by WNST Staff

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens Draft Needs

Posted on 26 February 2011 by Michael Schwartz

The Ravens are getting old in many positions on offense and defense. The linebackers are young on one side but old on the other. Terrell Suggs is young and so is the inside linebacker they put next to Ray, but they don’t have a person who is playing next to Ray from week to week. Sometimes it is Jameel McClain and other times it’s Ellerbe. These two guys have been fighting for the job for a year or so and neither has secured it. Obviously, Ray Lewis is old and is going to have to retire sometime. This hurts me to say, because I can’t imagine a Ravens defense without Ray Lewis. I can’t imagine him not coming out of the tunnel on gameday and doing his dance to pump up his team and the crowd. Jarrett Johnson is also getting old and he has been an underrated outside linebacker since coming into the league. The Ravens attempted to address his position last year by drafting Sergio Kindle, but he fell down two flights of stairs and now has a head injury. He wants to come back, but doctors are not so sure. He would have also been a good pass rusher which the Ravens need. The Ravens can get a good linebacker in later rounds; it doesn’t have to be their first rounder. The linebackers will still be playing for a couple of years, but it is something that Ozzie and company must be thinking about.

The wide receivers on the Ravens are pretty old as a group. Boldin, Housh, and Mason all have 600 or more receptions in their career, but Housh and Mason are past their prime. Mason still runs great routes but doesn’t have the same explosiveness he had when he played on the Titans. Housh is not the best role model for the young players that the Ravens have. He gets called for stupid penalties, same with Mason, and he is a possession receiver. Boldin is a physical receiver but isn’t a deep ball threat, he is still in his prime and is someone who will be a Raven in years to come. The Ravens picked up Donte Stallworth in free agency after being suspended for one year. During training camp, he was the deep ball threat that the Ravens had been waiting for. However, when he went in, it was usually a reverse or a fake reverse to him. He wasn’t used as the deep ball threat that he was thought to be. The Ravens drafted David Reed and he was also supposed to have explosiveness. He was rarely used, and has been in some legal trouble as of late. There are many good receivers in this draft such as, Torrey Smith. He attended the University of Maryland, but he is an undersized receiver. He reminds me of Mark Clayton who never panned out as the Ravens planned.

The defensive line has a premier player in Haloti Ngata. He is an all pro and a tremendous player, he is very versatile and can plug up the hole with his sheer size. Cory Redding had injuries for parts of the year, and Terrance Cody is out of shape. He is young but he is overweight and needs to get into shape, because if he doesn’t then the Ravens should get a new nose tackle. The defensive line has had trouble getting to the quarterback for the last couple of years. They had 27 sacks in the 2010-2011 season and were led by outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. Suggs had 11 sacks and played his best games against a hated rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens tried to get good pass rushers in the draft, Paul Kruger and Kindle were supposed to be good at rushing the quarterback. Kindle is injured and Kruger is no longer a Raven. In the draft there are many young pass rushers, however, Ozzie doesn’t mind trading his first round pick for more picks.

The Ravens secondary is supposed to be their weakest spot, but they are not as bad as fans and analyst’s think. Ed Reed is old but the Ravens have players who have showed they could play safety such as, Zibikowski. He filled in for Reed for the first six games and did a great job, but he is not the playmaker that Ed Reed is. Reed is one of the best playmakers in the NFL and he is contemplating retirement. I don’t think Reed will leave for a year or two but if he does the Ravens have a replacement. The Ravens corners are young; they will get better with years to come. Webb has shown improvement since coming into the league two years ago. Washington is a good corner with great speed. He needs to develop the other aspects of an elite cornerback. Foxworth is the oldest corner but he is the best the Ravens have. He missed all of the 2010-2011 season, but will play next year, if there is a season. The Ravens secondary could use an upgrade at corner, but it is not going to come out of the draft. They can get somebody in free agency, because there are very good corners in the market.

I think that Ozzie is going to end up trading our first round pick and get a second and something else. He will probably draft a wide receiver with good explosiveness and hands. In later rounds he may look into a corner, but he will look for a player that can take over when Lewis is gone. Ozzie is one of the best people in the league at scouting players for the draft. The Ravens usually have good drafts, and that should continue this year.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Confessions of a lifetime of hatred for Pittsburgh from a real Baltimore sports fan

Posted on 12 January 2011 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a big, emotional week of football in Baltimore and the reason it’s so significant is because of our civic desire to have another purple parade at the Inner Harbor and the sheer nausea we all feel in the pits of our bellies about the fact that at 8 p.m. on Saturday night this could be the worse loss of our lives all over again.

Just like all of our January losses to the likes of Indianapolis and Pittsburgh and Cleveland and New York.

Or, it can potentially extinguish the 40 years of domination from the city of Pittsburgh, but specifically the Steelers and their arrogant, obnoxious fan base here in the region.

This is an epic throwdown between two cities that don’t like each other but a rivalry that is so embarrassingly lopsided that it makes the Roadrunner look like a winner.

I’m up to my eyeballs in rattlesnakes throwing parties, organizing bus trips and running WNST.net – 12 hours of radio, the daily newspaper, text service plus all of our social media endeavors on Facebook and Twitter that truly is Baltimore’s best and most comprehensive sports coverage in the world. And for those of you who know me, you know what a massive time commitment it is being a washed up sports talk show host and new media entrepreneur of the station that no one listens to but the website and social media that everyone in Baltimore seems to visit and read.

This whole “Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore” thing takes on such a personal, vitriolic part of my inner soul that it’s almost best that I not focus on it too much and keep my head down and wait for the game at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday to release that part of my energy.

But some jackasses from the “out of town media club” (which encompasses the greater part of the whole local scene outside of WNST.net) have written, said and defended their typically insensitive and uneducated remarks just to remind us how out of touch and clueless they really are about what this community is about and WHY the Ravens are important in the first place.

Nothing in the local sports community divides like Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh. The Colts thing, while far from dormant, is now a distant second place. And the “I Hate Washington Club” is shrinking because the Redskins and Nationals are weak and irrelevant and the Capitals are the fastest growing brand in Baltimore and I have statistics to prove it.

And the out-of-town media geniuses all talk about expertise, ethics and journalism while all taking a chunk of your Orioles/MASN money to hush up criticism of an oozing, open sports cancer in Baltimore while waving purple pompoms in January like they really care about the Ravens and like they invented Festivus.

To anyone with half a brain from Baltimore, it’s insulting.

I attended a Smart CEO event last Thursday night where I was summarily subjected to a pair of morning show faux sports imposters from Boston and New York standing in front of a room full of mostly Baltimore upper-crust businessmen and patronizing them

Comments Off

Not Auto-Matt-ic: Paging Stover…Matt Stover!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Not Auto-Matt-ic: Paging Stover…Matt Stover!

Posted on 31 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Just in case you’re wondering, the Ravens have NOT contacted Matt Stover about their kicking needs for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 13. Not yet, anyway.

But, of course, there are more than just a few people around the Charm City who think that might not be a bad idea.

And the team is led by head coach John Harbaugh, who spent his entire existence in the world of special teams and kickers and punters. This has to perturb Harbaugh more than most coaches.

The kicking game and life in the NFL is a strange one. Here is this macho game played by the biggest, fastest and toughest guys in our culture and along comes a little kicker with it all on the line to win the game on his foot and the 40 yards between the line of scrimmage and goal posts.

It’s not a cruel joke or coincidence as much as it’s weekly reality in the NFL.


After he made the game-winning kick in Tennessee last January, the Ravens jettisoned Matt Stover for three reasons, really:

1. He wasn’t their best bet on kickoffs, which forced them to carry an extra man on the roster
2. He cost them a lot of money (more than $1 million per year) as opposed to a rookie who’d earn 40% of that
3. He wasn’t getting any younger and his distances seemed to get shorter each year, even if he was considered “automatic” inside of 45 yards

Now, with just this lame preseason finale in Atlanta awaiting on Thursday, the Ravens appear to have two young kickers but no one that they can truly trust with big games on the line.

Both Graham Gano and Steve Hauschka have managed to both do something that Stover never did in 14 years in a purple helmet: they’ve manged to make us actually think about the kicking game.

Stover was so automatic, so universally forgotten about that his presence was a bit of a security blanket. Like Ray Lewis has been at middle linebacker. Like Jon Ogden was for many years at the left tackle spot.

Think about all of the kicks Stover made over the years. How many of them do you really remember?

Sure he missed a few biggies – one in the AFC Championship Game in Oakland back in 2001 as I recall. His most memorable miss is almost certainly the 0-13 Miami 2007 “gimme” that contributed to Brian Billick’s ouster as head coach.

But he just came in, made the kick, praised Jesus and ran back to the bench.

Well, over the last three preseason games, not only have we witnessed the competition drama of these two nice young men trying to fill the shoes of a “once a generation” kicker, but we’ve had the “hold our breath” drama over whether the three points is actually going up on the scoreboard on something most Ravens fans have viewed as “Auto-Matt-ic”.

Neither one of them is stepping up even remotely to the level of confidence we had with Matt Stover.

So, will the Ravens call Matt Stover?

Probably not. (For all of the same reasons they had eight months ago.)

Will the Ravens regret not calling Matt Stover?

Only time will tell.

But Stover is available, in shape and waiting by the phone. (For the record, I hear he’s enjoying his first August off in 24 years…)

And if I know that much, you can bet that Ozzie Newsome can’t be too far away.

You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone…

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Harbaugh refutes ESPN report regarding Ozzie’s interest in Vick

Posted on 13 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

On a bizarre night for breaking news in Baltimore — with Michael Phelps getting into an accident at Calvert & Biddle and Michael Vick abruptly signing in Philly — the wildest story came an hour after the Eagles fans went into deep shock and disgust when ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Ravens were very much in the hunt for Vick’s services.

ESPN reported that Ozzie Newsome wanted Vick and had a lack of agreement with owner Steve Bisciotti and head coach John Harbaugh.

It didn’t take me five minutes after the game to find one “off the record” official who called it “bulls**t” and John Harbaugh then told me he was happy to go on the record as saying “that’s completely false, completely untrue.”

Who knows what those conversations sounded like in Westminster last week but both of my sources were very perplexed and almost angry about the report.

Either way, we can collectively breath a sigh of relief that Vick isn’t heading here.

For the folks in Philadelphia the second guessing and the drama has only begun.

Comments Off

Hey Baltimore: Where is the fight in you on this Art Modell issue?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hey Baltimore: Where is the fight in you on this Art Modell issue?

Posted on 12 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I am a little embarrassed to be from Baltimore these days. And it has nothing to do with the 30,000 Red Sox fans who invaded the Inner Harbor two weeks ago.

Look, no one loves the city or the sports teams or the “culture” of Baltimore more than me and I dare you to find someone who has displayed more civic pride over the last 25 years in the sports circle here than me and/or WNST.net.

But, honestly, I don’t know what that’s worth these days.

Every Facebook user and tweeter I can find within earshot all share the same opinion: DAMN, I’m glad it’s football season!

Hear, hear…

Yet the man who brought the team here, Art Modell, continues to be coldly left out of the Hall of Fame and no one here seems to be interested in picking up the torch and taking the slight a little more “seriously” or “personally” as a civic cause.

As a community, we were the city that fought desperately and embarrassingly through the loss of the Colts and the frequent use of our metropolis and tax payers by the NFL machine as a $20 hooker for more than a dozen years. The sham of the Paul Tagliabue era still stings. I remember the “museum” comments. I remember the Sundays without a team. I remember the disgusting expansion process. I remember the Saints-Dolphins game on 33rd Street. I remember the Charlotte and Jacksonville coronation.

I remember the desperation and the loss of hope like it was last night.

What these writers and disgruntled Cleveland Browns fans with an axe to grind — one that really isn’t based in true damage — are essentially saying is this: “We should all be embarrassed that the Baltimore Ravens even exist!”

And I find that unacceptable and an issue worth “fighting” for. And Art Modell’s Hall of Fame candidacy – or what’s left of it because it’s pretty clear he’s been blackballed and if there were any doubts before the reaction to Rod Woodson’s words there are none after the local reaction in Canton Saturday night – should be a MAJOR, MAJOR civic cause here.

The guy who brought the team here in the September of his life because Cleveland never took care of him deserves better treatment from all of the PSL owners and the people here in Baltimore who think the Ravens are pretty cool and pretty special.

I wonder if we can find 50,000 people who are willing to fight for Modell. Or even 50…

Steve Bisciotti once said to me: “You’re a cause guy!”

Well, yes I am, and I’ve started a Facebook page for Art Modell’s Hall of Fame candidacy. Feel free to join it and spread the word…

Here’s the direct address: http://www.facebook.com/search/?q=art+modell&init=quick#/group.php?gid=60824460336&ref=search&sid=1740947610.1010947778..1

It’ll be interesting to see how many people think that Cleveland and the NFL machine spitting on Modell is essentially spitting on Baltimore.

These Browns Backers are people with very short memories for facts and very long memories for acrimony and anger and bile.

As I said to the Cleveland blogger who wrote a typically-negative “Art doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame” piece after Woodson’s mention of Modell in his induction speech: the residual damage a decade later is ZERO! As a matter of fact, it’s been a GAIN not a loss.

It’s like being mad at your ex-wife after you’ve remarried and found a better life. They’ve gotten a better stadium, their name, their colors and their records. They got an ownership family with the Lerners that they allegedly were going to like more than the Modells. Other than a few 5-11 seasons 13 years ago, they’ve missed NOTHING and restored everything!

But again, we’re talking about Clevelanders. In general, my experience with their hospitality and intellect has been less than impressive.

And I’ve got a LOT of experience with Cleveland. I’ve been going to Cleveland for 25 years. I was in Cleveland Stadium on the 1986 day that John Elway drove 98 yards to send them home from the Super Bowl.

I’ve probably seen 75 sporting events in Cleveland over the years along with various concerts, events, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Flats – I’ve done it all.

And their fans stink!

The boo their team every single year that I’m there — win or lose. They hate virtually everything. And, let’s be honest, they haven’t won anything in my lifetime and their hometown hero, LeBron James, is about to drop all things Ohio like a habit and run to New York to try to win a championship elsewhere. (Imagine Cal Ripken pulling that in 1992?)

It’s kind of sad. It sucks to be a sports fan from Cleveland. Ask Drew Carey…

And the people in Cleveland have plenty to be angry about – including the crappy weather, economy and the current state of their football team – but to continue this petty grudge against Modell is almost silly and continues to further ingrain their shortcomings.

And for Tony Grossi or Peter King or anyone else in their camp to make a paper-thin argument that a man who owned the team for nearly 40 years and helped manage the league through prosperity that no other league in the history of the planet has ever seen is just downright small and petty. And to put Al Davis or Lamar Hunt or Ralph Wilson on a higher pedestal than Modell is a testament to the vindictive nature of this group of voters and their agenda.

The merger. The TV deals. Monday Night Football. A .600 winning percentage over the course of his ownership. Free agency. Revenue sharing. The salary cap. The rules. Modell voted in every meeting and was a leader in many areas, including moving his NFL team to the “AFL” after the merger and convincing the Colts and Steelers to come with him.

Oh, and there’s that little accomplishment that NEVER gets mentioned – the restoration and growth of Baltimore football in the shape of the Ravens, which this city is obsessed with 365 days a year. Oh, yeah, and the Super Bowl win as well…

Modell “rebirthed” the NFL in Baltimore and over the past 14 years I dare you find a more successful franchise at recruiting the community and feeding the fire with positive energy and great people in the organization from Ozzie Newsome straight on down.

Art Modell created Baltimore football as we know it.

Doesn’t that count for anything?

Well, it only does if we say it does.

Don’t expect anyone from Cleveland to lead the charge to get Modell into the Hall of Fame.

That has to come from Baltimore. That, quite frankly, has to come from you.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , ,

Ravens should end Vick speculation now: Just officially say “no thanks”

Posted on 11 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Chris Mortensen of ESPN has opined this morning — with speculation, and nothing more — that the Ravens might be a very interested suitor in Michael Vick. Personally, I think it’s hogwash and one source from the organization has already told me it’s not even close to the truth.

There has been no indication at all that the Ravens have their sights on Michael Vick, nor should they in my opinion.

Barring some miracle, mystery rendezvous that Ozzie Newsome has been doing behind the scenes this almost seems outlandish.

Really, what’s the upside here for a team that was four minutes away and one drive from going to the Super Bowl in late January?

This would be a major late training camp summer distraction for a guy who will have the PETA police and any other dog-lover and convict-hater out in full force in a protest of the organization, league and all things Vick in general.

All of this for a guy who had trouble running real offenses in Atlanta and a guy who — on his best day — would be a No. 2 banana in Baltimore behind Joe Flacco and drive the team and the city to distraction?

All of this for a “wild cat” QB-slash-WR on a John Harbaugh team that jettisoned all of the riff raff over the past 18 months since Brian Billick’s firing?

And would Cam Cameron find this attractive? Would Steve Bisciotti?

None of it makes sense.

Ozzie Newsome — like Lucy Ricardo — would have a “lotta ‘splain’ to do.”

Newsome always makes measured, sensible moves. This doesn’t add up but it makes a nice August summer day speculation for Vick’s ultimate destination.

I hope it’s not Baltimore. I believe it’s not Baltimore. And, further more, I’ve been told it won’t be Baltimore.

The Ravens should officially end the speculation before dinner time tonight: just say “no thanks” to Michael Vick once and for all and move on.

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , ,

Derrick Mason’s return to Ravens was never in doubt at WNST

Posted on 01 August 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

In what has not been a surprise to us – if you go back to Monday July 13th’s blog vault you’ll see we can confirm this — Derrick Mason will in fact play for the Ravens this season, ending his temporary “retirement” from the Ravens and the NFL.

Three weeks ago, it took us about 45 minutes after Mason announced his “retirement” via his agent’s sports website, to begin predicting that Mason would play in 2009 but somehow it’s a major “news” story today. This was in no way a huge upset/surprise/shocker for anyone using common sense and their “sniffer” for facts.

The amount of money at stake, Mason’s lack of true leverage (he would’ve had to refund money to the Ravens if he didn’t play) and the fact that he attended virtually every camp in the offseason and is in world-class shape all were clues that we would be seeing Mason in a purple sweater on Sept. 13 when the Kansas City Chiefs come to town.

So, while others may take the credit for “breaking” the story today we’ve felt all along that it would be a major upset if Mason didn’t play in 2009.

Just this morning I told a friend that if it were a horse race I’d pay no more than 2-to-5 — or .40 cents — if he winds up playing. Even a bet that bad would’ve been a lousy one!

I’ve been told Mason has had some personal issues he’s had to resolve this summer, even above and beyond his situation with the tragedy of Steve McNair and his own contract-extension wishes.

In the end, this was a bit of a stare down — albeit with complications — about money and reward and desire.

No one sensible really ever expected that Mason wouldn’t play.

It’ll be good to have No. 85 back in the fold.

Here’s what baltimoreravens.com is reporting:

“Mason came to the team’s training camp hotel in Westminster, Md., to meet with general manager Ozzie Newsome and head coach John Harbaugh.

He also called Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti earlier today to inform him of his decision.

Mason is sending a letter to the NFL stating his intentions.

He will take a physical either later this afternoon or early tomorrow morning.

The Ravens anticipate that Mason will be on the field sometime Sunday, although like all Ravens, he will have to pass a running test.”

Comments Off