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Former Ravens exec Bailey joins new USFL

Posted on 16 May 2012 by WNST Staff

San Diego, Calif. (May 16, 2012) — The United States Football League (USFL) announced today that Jeff Garcia, a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback during his 12-year NFL career, has been named to the USFL’s board of advisors.

Garcia will serve on the player development branch of the USFL’s advisory board. The Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. resident joins Pro Football Hall of Famer Fred Biletnikoff and former NFL and San Diego Chargers executive Jim Steeg – Chairman of the USFL board of advisors – along with former Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens executive vice president James Bailey and sports consultant/coach Terrell Jones on the board.

“We are thrilled to have Jeff involved and to be able to tap into his knowledge and experience in the professional football world as we look forward to re-launching the USFL in 2013,” USFL President and Chief Executive Officer Jaime Cuadra said. “Jeff’s extensive background and networks with professional football players will undoubtedly help carry out the USFL’s mission of helping our players live successfully and responsibly as positive citizens on and off the field.”

The USFL is planning to field eight teams for its inaugural 14-game season in 2013, kicking off in March and concluding with a championship game in June. The league has targeted a number of U.S. cities for franchises.

The USFL’s board of advisors will be responsible for guiding and advising USFL management on various areas of operations and, eventually, focus on identifying candidates and selecting the league’s commissioner.

Garcia began his NFL stint with the San Francisco 49ers in 1999 and went on to play with the Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Oakland Raiders and Houston Texans. He led the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders to the 1998 Grey Cup championship and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player, providing his springboard to the NFL.

Garcia, retired from football, is the owner of Beyond Wealth Sports, a company representing professional athletes on and off the field. It is focused on mentoring athletes and helping them prepare for the transition from sports to secondary careers. Garcia’s business practice is directly in line with the USFL’s long-term goals for its players.

The USFL is designed to allow players not drafted by the NFL, or those that have been released by NFL teams, an opportunity to play professional football under the same rules as the NFL. In order to maintain financial responsibility and sustainability, the USFL will structure itself under a single-entity business model. All player and coach contracts will be owned by the USFL, and each team owner will be a member operator of the league.  

The USFL intends to create a working relationship with the NFL by allowing access to its players and personnel. This relationship will be one of respect and collaboration, but the USFL will operate independently with a focus on developing its players and creating the best fan experience possible.

The USFL will also endeavor to prepare players for life after playing football by providing mentorship and counsel to expand the athletes’ awareness of opportunities inside and, especially, outside of football.  Additionally, the USFL wishes to enhance the fan experience by providing greater access to its players and employing technology to enhance the viewing experience for its fans.

Biletnikoff was a six-time All-Pro wide receiver who totaled 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns during his 14-year NFL career with the Raiders. He began his professional coaching career in the original USFL, coaching with the Oakland Invaders and the Arizona Wranglers.

Steeg is a 35-year veteran as an NFL executive and the former COO of the San Diego Chargers. Prior to joining the Chargers, Steeg was instrumental in the growth of the NFL’s Super Bowl, having worked for the NFL for 26 years, where he was Senior Vice President of Special Events.

Bailey was responsible for the management of all business, financial and legal operations in his 21-year tenure with the Cleveland Browns/Baltimore Ravens franchise. He facilitated and oversaw the relocation of the franchise to Baltimore.

Jones, CEO and founder of TJones Group, LLC, has been involved in professional sports as a coach and consultant for more than 16 years. He has worked with the NFL, Major League Baseball and the National Hockey League. Jones has successfully negotiated endorsement deals for his clients as well as sponsorship deals with major corporations, and will consult with the USFL on its business operations.

About The United States Football League

The United States Football League, LLC, a Delaware LLC, is a professional spring outdoor football league owned by EndZone Sports Management and is headquartered in San Diego, Calif. Jaime Cuadra is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the USFL. The USFL’s vision is provide a high-level competitive environment to help develop players for the National Football League, while preparing its players for succeeding as professionals and in life on and off of the field during and after their football careers. While the USFL initially operated from 1983-87, the new USFL plans to debut in the spring of 2013 by fielding eight teams nationwide to play a 14-game season, including a four-team playoff tournament, and providing fans with an exciting and innovative brand of football. The USFL plans to adopt all playing rules of the National Football League. For more information on the USFL’s 2013 launch, please visit the USFL online at www.theusfl.net and via social media on Facebook (www.facebook.com/TheUSFL) and on Twitter (@TheUSFL).

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Jonathan Ogden to enter College Football Hall of Fame

Posted on 15 May 2012 by WNST Staff

NFF Announces 2012 Football Bowl Subdivision
College Football Hall of Fame Class

14 Players and Three Coaches to Enter College Football’s Ultimate Shrine

NEW YORK, May 15, 2012 - From the national ballot of 76 candidates and a pool of hundreds of eligible nominees, Archie Manning, chairman of The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame, announced today the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision Class, which includes the names of 14 First Team All-America players and three legendary coaches.

2012 COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS

PLAYERS

  • CHARLES ALEXANDER - TB, LSU (1975-78)
  • OTIS ARMSTRONG - HB, Purdue (1970-72)
  • STEVE BARTKOWSKI - QB, California (1972-74)
  • HAL BEDSOLE - SE, Southern California (1961-63)
  • DAVE CASPER - TE, Notre Dame (1971-73)
  • TY DETMER - QB, BYU (1988-91)
  • TOMMY KRAMER - QB, Rice (1973-76)
  • ART MONK - WR, Syracuse (1976-79)
  • GREG MYERS - DB, Colorado State (1992-95)
  • JONATHAN OGDEN - OT, UCLA (1992-95)
  • GABE RIVERA - DT, Texas Tech (1979-82)
  • MARK SIMONEAU - LB, Kansas State (1996-99)
  • SCOTT THOMAS - S, Air Force (1982-85)
  • JOHN WOOTEN* - OG, Colorado (1956-58)

* Selection from the FBS Veterans Committee

COACHES

  • PHILLIP FULMER - 152-52-0 (74.5%); Tennessee (1992-08)
  • JIMMY JOHNSON - 81-34-3 (70.0%); Oklahoma State (1979-83) and Miami (Fla.) (1984-88)
  • R.C. SLOCUM - 123-47-2 (72.1%); Texas A&M (1989-02)

“We are extremely proud to announce the 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Class,” said Manning, a 1989 College Football Hall of Famer from Ole Miss. “Each year the selection process becomes increasingly more difficult, but Gene Corrigan and the Honors Court do an amazing job of selecting a diverse group of the most amazing players and coaches in our sport’s rich history. This class is certainly no exception, and we look forward to honoring them and celebrating their achievements throughout the year ahead.”

The 2012 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Class will be inducted at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on December 4, 2012, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. They will be honored guests at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 2, 2013 and officially enshrined in the summer of 2013.

Today’s announcement was made from The NASDAQ OMX MarketSite in Times Square, which has hosted the event for the past four consecutive years. XOS Digital produced the NFF web streams for the second consecutive year, and the Orange Bowl and the law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP participated as the supporting sponsors of the announcement.

2012 FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION
COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME CLASS NOTES

PLAYERS:

  • 11 consensus First Team All-Americans (Alexander – 2x, Armstrong, Bartkowski, Bedsole, Casper, Detmer – 2x, Kramer, Myers, Rivera, Simoneau, Thomas)
  • ONE unanimous First Team All-American (Ogden)
  • THREE multi-year First Team All-Americans (Alexander – 2x, Detmer – 2x, Myers – 2x)
  • TWO members of national championship teams (Bedsole, Casper)
  • ONE Heisman Trophy winner (Detmer)
  • THREE winners of college football major awards (Detmer – Maxwell, O’Brien; Myers – Thorpe; Ogden – Outland)
  • FIVE conference player of the year honorees (Alexander, Armstrong, Detmer, Kramer, Simoneau)
  • FIVE members of conference championship teams (Bedsole, Detmer, Myers, Ogden, Thomas)
  • TWO NFF National Scholar-Athletes (Casper, Myers)
  • TEN offensive players (Alexander, Armstrong, Bartkowski, Bedsole, Casper, Detmer, Kramer, Monk, Ogden, Wooten)
  • FOUR defensive players (Myers, Rivera, Simoneau, Thomas)
  • SEVEN first-round NFL draft selections (Alexander, Armstrong, Bartkowski – 1st overall, Kramer, Monk, Ogden, Rivera)
  • FIVE decades represented: 1950s (1) – Wooten; 1960s (1) – Bedsole; 1970s (6) – Alexander, Armstrong, Bartkowski, Casper, Kramer, Monk; 1980s (2) – Rivera, Thomas; 1990s (4) – Detmer, Myers, Ogden, Simoneau

COACHES:

  • TWO national championships (Fulmer, Johnson)
  • SIX conference championships (Fulmer – 2, Slocum – 4)
  • 33 bowl berths (Fulmer – 15, Johnson – 7, Slocum – 11)
  • 28 Top 25 finishes (Fulmer – 13, Johnson – 5, Slocum – 10)
  • 45 First Team All-Americans coached (Fulmer – 19, Johnson – 12, Slocum – 14)
  • SEVEN major award winners coached (Fulmer – John Henderson, Peyton Manning, Michael Munoz; Johnson – Bennie Blades, Russell Maryland, Vinny Testaverde; Slocum – Dat Nguyen)
  • FOUR NFF National Scholar-Athletes coached (Fulmer: Peyton Manning and Michael Munoz. Johnson: Doug Freeman. Slocum: Lance Pavlas)

CRITERIA
1. First and foremost, a player must have received First Team All-America recognition by a selector organization that is recognized by the NCAA and utilized to comprise their consensus All-America teams.

2. A player becomes eligible for consideration by the Foundation’s Honors Courts ten years after his final year of intercollegiate football played.

3. While each nominee’s football achievements in college are of prime consideration, his post football record as a citizen is also weighed. He must have proven himself worthy as a citizen, carrying the ideals of football forward into his relations with his community and fellow man. Consideration may also be given for academic honors and whether or not the candidate earned a college degree.

4. Players must have played their last year of intercollegiate football within the last 50 years*. For example, to be eligible for the 2012 ballot, the player must have played his last year in 1962 or thereafter. In addition, players who are playing professionally and coaches who are coaching on the professional level are not eligible until after they retire.

5. A coach becomes eligible three years after retirement or immediately following retirement provided he is at least 70 years of age. Active coaches become eligible at 75 years of age. He must have been a head coach for a minimum of 10 years and coached at least 100 games with a .600 winning percentage*.

* Players that do not comply with the 50-year rule may still be eligible for consideration by the Football Bowl Subdivision and Divisional Honors Review Committees, which examine unique cases. 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME FACTS

  • Including the 2012 FBS class, only 914 players and 197 coaches, have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame from the nearly 4.86 million who have played or coached the game over the past 143 years. In other words, only two one-hundredths of one percent (.0002) of the individuals who have played the game have been deemed worthy of this distinction.
  • Founded in 1947, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame inducted its first class of inductees in 1951. The first class included 32 players and 19 coaches, including Illinois’ Red Grange, Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Carlisle’s Jim Thorpe.
  • 288 schools are represented with at least one College Football Hall of Famer.
  • Induction for this class of Hall of Famers will take place December 4, 2012 at the 55th NFF Annual Awards Dinner in New York City’s historic Waldorf=Astoria.

CHARLES ALEXANDER
Louisiana State University
Tailback, 1975-78

One of the truly great runners of his era, Charles Alexander dominated the Southeastern Conference in the late 1970′s. He becomes the eighth Tiger to enter the College Football Hall of Fame and third running back in the last five years, following Billy Cannon in 2008 and Jerry Stovall in 2010.

Nicknamed “Alexander the Great”, he left Baton Rouge as the most accomplished rusher in SEC history, holding the league’s career records for rushing attempts, yards and touchdowns. He became the first back in SEC history to break the 4,000-yard barrier and record 40 rushing touchdowns. Alexander earned consensus All-America honors and was named team MVP in 1977 by setting school and league records with 311 attempts for 1,686 yards and 17 touchdowns. His carries and yards marks remain single-season records at LSU. Alexander followed that up by again receiving consensus All-America accolades in 1978 by rushing 281 times for 1,172 yards and 14 touchdowns. His stellar efforts as a junior and senior helped lead the Tigers to back-to-back bowl games, rushing for a combined 330 yards in the 1977 Sun Bowl and the 1978 Liberty Bowl.

The Missouri City, Texas, native was chosen in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He amassed 2,645 rushing yards and 1,130 receiving yards during seven seasons in Cincinnati, helping the Bengals reach Super Bowl XVI.

A former member of the Tiger Athletic Foundation Board of Directors, Alexander worked with the Louisiana State Youth Opportunities Unlimited. He also regularly volunteered with the United Way in Cincinnati, Ohio, as a member of the Bengals. He was named to the LSU Modern Day Team of the Century and is also a member of the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the 75th Anniversary All-Sun Bowl Team and the Houston Area All-1970′s Team.

OTIS ARMSTRONG
Purdue University
Halfback, 1970-72

One of the top runners of his era, Otis Armstrong left school owning Big Ten MVP honors, First Team All-Conference accolades and the league’s all-time rushing record. He becomes the sixth Boilermaker to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

The eighth-place finisher in 1972 Heisman Trophy voting and a consensus All-American, Armstrong’s 3,315 career rushing yards set school and conference records and placed him sixth in NCAA history at career’s end. Armstrong’s senior campaign in 1972 remains the best in Purdue history. He earned the Swede Nelson Award for great sportsmanship and team MVP honors by rushing 243 times for 1,361 yards, accumulating 1,868 all-purpose yards (all of which set single-season school records at the time). Armstrong led the Big Ten in rushing that season, and his 276-yard effort versus Indiana remains a school best. His 670 career carries remain a school record.

A first round selection by the Denver Broncos in the 1973 NFL Draft, Armstrong played eight seasons with Denver. He led the NFL in rushing in 1974, earning First Team All-Pro honors and appearing in his first of two Pro Bowls. The Englewood, Colo., native helped the Broncos appear in Super Bowl XII. Armstrong is an active church member, and he frequently helps young children stay out of trouble by teaching football skills. He was inducted into the Purdue Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997.

STEVE BARTKOWSKI
University of California
Quarterback, 1972-74

Another legend in a long line of prolific Pac-12 passers, Steve Bartkowski becomes the 16th California Golden Bear to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bartkowski earned consensus All-America honors by leading the nation in passing with 2,580 yards in 1974. The gunslinger also set school single-season records during his senior campaign by attempting 325 passes and accumulating 2,387 yards of total offense. He was universally named the best quarterback in the West following his senior year after being named team MVP, First Team All-Pac-10, an All-Coast Team selection and the NorCal Player of the Year. His four 300-yard passing games set a school record and still rank among the top five in Golden Bears history.

The first pick of the 1975 NFL Draft, Bartkowski played 11 seasons with the Atlanta Falcons and one year with the Los Angeles Rams. He was named the 1975 NFL Rookie of the Year, appeared in two Pro Bowls and compiled 24,124 career passing yards.

In addition to his football exploits, Bartkowski was an All-American first baseman for the Golden Bears baseball team in 1973. He became a member of the California Sports Hall of Fame in 1990. Bartkowski also hosted the outdoors shows Backroad Adventures with Steve Bartkowski on TNN and Suzuki’s Great Outdoors with Steve Bartkowski on ESPN. The Atlanta native serves on the board of directors for multiple organizations and is a member of the Christian Sportsmen Fellowship.

HAL BEDSOLE
University of Southern California
Split End, 1961-63

Ahead of his time as a long, big-play threat, Hal Bedsole helped College Football Hall of Fame coach John McKay and USC win the 1962 national championship. He becomes the 30th Trojan to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Bedsole set school single-season receiving records during his consensus All-America 1962 campaign, corralling 33 passes for 827 yards and 11 touchdowns. He became the first player in USC history to top 200 receiving yards in a single game on Oct. 20, 1962 in a win over California. He capped the record-setting year with a huge game in the 1963 Rose Bowl, leading top-ranked USC over No. 2 Wisconsin with two touchdown passes in a 42-37 Trojans victory. The two-time All-Pac-8 honoree led the Men of Troy in scoring in 1961 and 1962 and set a school record by averaging 20.94 yards per reception for his career. He caught 82 passes for 1,717 yards with 20 touchdowns during his years on campus.

Drafted by the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs in 1964, Bedsole played three seasons in Minnesota. Inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001, Bedsole retired after a long career as a radio broadcast sales manager.

DAVE CASPER
University of Notre Dame
Tight End, 1971-73

Cited by College Football Hall of Fame coach Ara Parseghian as perhaps the greatest athlete he ever coached, Dave Casper earned All-America honors on the field and in the classroom. He becomes Notre Dame’s 44th player to be selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Serving as Notre Dame’s co-captain and offensive MVP during his senior season of 1973, Casper led the Fighting Irish to a national championship while earning consensus All-America honors. He was also named an NFF National Scholar-Athlete, a CoSIDA Academic All-American, and an NCAA postgraduate scholarship winner. Casper was a proficient tight end, catching three passes for 75 yards in No. 5 Notre Dame’s 24-23 win over No. 1 Alabama in the 1973 Sugar Bowl. A versatile asset, he also saw action at split end, as an offensive tackle and along the defensive line during his career.

Taken in the second round of the 1974 NFL Draft, he played 11 seasons for the Oakland Raiders, Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings. The Alamo, Calif., resident was named a First Team All-Pro performer five times, appeared in four Pro Bowls and was chosen to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

A long-time member of the NFF Chicago Metro Chapter, Casper sat on the Ronald McDonald House’s board of directors beginning in 1986. He founded the Dave Casper Celebrity Golf Tournament in 1985 to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Casper also supports the Big Brother/Big Sister Organization and Rotary International. He received the GTE Academic Hall of Fame for Outstanding Career Achievement and Contributions to the Community award in 1993, and he was one of six people to receive an NCAA Silver Anniversary Award for living a life of distinction in 1999.

TY DETMER
Brigham Young University
Quarterback, 1988-91

With a Heisman Trophy, a Maxwell Award, two Davey O’Brien Awards and 59 NCAA records, Ty Detmer left BYU as one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in college football history. His accomplishments led him to become a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, and the sixth Cougar to enter the sport’s ultimate shrine.

Twice named a consensus All-American, Detmer won national player of the year awards from organizations such as UPI, CBS, Scripps Howard and the U.S. Sports Academy. His 15,031 career passing yards and 121 touchdowns were NCAA bests at the time, and the gunslinger still holds nine NCAA records. A three-time First Team All-WAC performer, Detmer led College Football Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards’ teams to three conference championships, four bowl games, three AP top 25 finishes, a 28-21 win over top-ranked and defending national champion Miami on Sept. 8, 1990 and a 37-13-2 overall record. The NCAA Today’s Top VI Award recipient still holds 10 school records, including the season and career marks for total offense, passing yards and 400-yard games.

A ninth round selection of the 1992 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers, Detmer played 14 seasons with the Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons.

The founder of the Ty Detmer Charitable Foundation, he regularly holds the Ty Detmer Youth Football League in Grants, N.M. He remains involved in the Davey O’Brien Foundation and the Children’s Miracle Network, and he makes yearly appearances at numerous fundraising events for youth organizations. A 2000 inductee of the BYU Athletics Hall of Fame, Detmer is currently the head coach at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas.

TOMMY KRAMER
Rice University
Quarterback, 1973-76

One of only two quarterbacks in college football history to earn consensus All-America honors for a sub-.500 team since 1970, Tommy Kramer proved his worth by finishing fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 1976. Kramer becomes the sixth Owl to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

A consensus All-American in 1976, Kramer led the nation with 3,317 passing yards and 3,272 yards of total offense. Both marks ranked second in NCAA single-season history at the time. The 1976 Southwest Conference Player of the Year became the first player in league history to top 3,000 yards of total offense in a single season while also recording four of the top eight passing performances in SWC history. The San Antonio native held every career and single-season school record for passing and total offense for more than 30 years, and he led the Owls in passing all four years on campus.

Chosen by the Minnesota Vikings in the first round of the 1977 NFL Draft, Kramer compiled nearly 25,000 career passing and 159 touchdowns yards during 14 NFL seasons. He was named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year and earned his only Pro Bowl berth during the 1986 campaign.

Kramer was chosen to the Rice Athletics Hall of Fame and also the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 2009. He earned the nickname “Two-Minute Tommy” for executing multiple late-game comebacks. A Kiwanis Club member, Kramer is still active with the Rice football program, returning to campus annually for the Huddle Up football reunion and serving as the Owls’ honorary captain on numerous occasions.

ART MONK
Syracuse University
Wide Receiver, 1976-79

The winner of the Lambert Trophy as the top college football player in the Eastern U.S. in both his freshman and senior seasons, Art Monk became the mark of consistency during his remarkable career with the Orange, earning First Team All-America honors in 1979. Monk is the ninth Syracuse player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

As a senior in 1979, Monk hauled in 40 receptions for 716 yards (17.9 yards per reception) with three touchdowns. He set a school record in 1977 for most receptions and receiving yards by a sophomore, catching 41 passes for 590 yards and four scores. With 1,644 career receiving yards in 35 games, Monk set a school record with a 47-receiving yards per game average. He also recorded the greatest game by a receiver in Syracuse history on Nov. 5, 1977 against Navy, catching 14 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns. A versatile playmaker who entered college as a running back, he posted 31 kickoff returns for 675 yards and 44 punt returns for 430 yards. Monk ranks sixth in school history with 3,899 career all-purpose yards. The last player to lead Syracuse in receiving for three consecutive seasons, Monk led Syracuse to its first bowl victory in 13 years with a 31-7 win over McNeese State in the 1979 Independence Bowl.

Chosen in the first round of the 1980 NFL Draft, Monk played for the Washington Redskins from 1980-93 and the New York Jets in 1994. He set an all-time single-season receiving mark in 1984 by catching 106 passes. Monk broke Steve Largent’s all-time career receiving record with 819 career receptions, and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.

An active member of the NFF Central New York Chapter, Monk sits on the board of trustees at Syracuse. The co-founder of the Good Samaritan Foundation, he has worked with the Leukemia Society, Project Harvest and I Have a Dream.

GREG MYERS
Colorado State University
Defensive Back, 1992-95

The personification of “student-athlete” and the winner of the 1995 Thorpe Award, Greg Myers claimed as many decorations off the field as he did for his stellar on-field performance. Myers becomes the second Ram to enter the College Football Hall of Fame, following 1981 inductee Thurman McGraw.

The first player in WAC history to earn All-WAC honors four times, Myers holds the league record with seven all-conference selections, four as a defensive back and three as a return specialist. A two-time First Team All-American, Myers led the NCAA with 555 punt return yards and three punt return touchdowns. He also set the WAC record with 1,332 career punt return yards, and he posted Colorado State records with three punt return scores and a 15.9-yard average. As a defensive back, he totaled 295 tackles and 15 interceptions. Myers helped guide the Rams to back-to-back WAC titles and Holiday Bowl berths.

A 1995 NFF National Scholar-Athlete, he was also named the Honda Scholar-Athlete of the Year that fall. Myers was named a two-time Academic All-American and a four-time Academic All-WAC honoree. The 1996 Nye Trophy recipient as CSU’s most outstanding male athlete in academics, he was named to the NCAA Today’s Top VIII. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences in 1996 and a M.D. from the University of Colorado in 2006.

A fifth round pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, Myers played five seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and Dallas Cowboys. A 2001 Colorado State University Sports Hall of Fame inductee and a 2012 Colorado Sports Hall of Fame member, Myers has sponsored the Greg Myers Scholarship Golf Tournament to raise money for student-athletes. He has worked with Shriners Hospitals; made numerous appearances at inner-city schools; and participated in Doug Pelfrey’s Kicks for Kids. He is a member of the Groupsmart Community Outreach Program.

JONATHAN OGDEN
University of California – Los Angeles
Offensive Tackle, 1992-95

A unanimous All-American and the winner of the Outland Trophy in 1995, Jonathan Ogden was a cornerstone left tackle all four years he spent as a Bruin. He becomes the 11th UCLA player to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Ogden won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10′s top offensive lineman, the UPI Lineman of the Year award and shared the Henry “Red” Sanders Award as the Bruins’ most valuable player as a senior in 1995. The four-year starter allowed just one sack as a senior.

Ogden experienced success early during his years in Westwood, earning the John Boncheff, Jr. Memorial Award as UCLA’s top freshman and a Freshman All-America nod from The Sporting News. Playing for College Football Hall of Fame coach Terry Donahue, he also helped the Bruins win the Pac-10 title in 1993. Ogden’s No. 79 jersey is one of eight to be retired by UCLA. A two-sport athlete, he earned two top-five finishes in shot-put at the NCAA Indoor Championships and also placed fourth in shot-put at the 1995 NCAA Outdoor Championships.

The fourth overall pick in the 1996 NFL Draft, Ogden played 12 seasons for the Baltimore Ravens. He started 176-of-177 games; earned First Team All-Pro honors four times; and appeared in 11 Pro Bowls. Ogden helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV.

He founded the Jonathan Ogden Foundation, which aims to assist inner-city students through athletics, and the foundation supported the NFF’s Play It Smart program at Patterson HS in Baltimore for many years. The Henderson, Nev., resident also established the Ogden Club, which hires tutors to work with Baltimore City high schools, and in turn enlists high school athletes to tutor at local elementary schools. Ogden stages the Jonathan Ogden Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament, benefitting youths in Las Vegas and Baltimore.

GABE RIVERA
Texas Tech University
Defensive Tackle, 1979-82

The most accomplished defensive lineman in Texas Tech history, Gabe Rivera was a consensus All-American as a senior in 1982. He becomes the fourth Red Raider to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Carrying the nickname “Señor Sack”, Rivera averaged 80 tackles per season from his defensive tackle spot. He compiled 62 solo tackles, 43 assists, 10 TFL, five sacks, 25 quarterback pressures and eight pass breakups during his All-America campaign in 1982. He was named an Honorable Mention All-American in 1980 and 1981, and earned First Team All-Southwest Conference honors in 1982 and Second Team All-SWC accolades in 1981.

Chosen with the 21st overall pick in the 1983 NFL Draft, Rivera played six games for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rivera had his career cut short when he was left a paraplegic by injuries suffered in a car accident midway through his rookie season.

Rivera was inducted into the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame in 2005. He is also a member of the Texas Tech Hall of Honor. He has volunteered as a tutor with Inner City Development in San Antonio, and he has worked with Gridiron Heroes, a nonprofit that aids high school football players that have suffered spinal cord injuries.

MARK SIMONEAU
Kansas State University
Linebacker, 1996-99

A two-time All-American, Mark Simoneau stands as possibly the greatest defender in Kansas State history. He becomes the second Wildcat to enter the game’s ultimate shrine following Gary Spani a decade earlier.

A three-time team captain, Simoneau holds a school record with 251 career unassisted tackles, ranks third in school history with 400 total tackles, 52 TFL and eight forced fumbles. The 1999 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year also notched 15.5 sacks and seven fumble recoveries. A 1999 Butkus Award runner-up and a three-time First Team All-Big 12 selection, he led Kansas State to one of the greatest stretches in school history. With Simoneau on the roster, the Wildcats earned a 42-7 record, a 28-4 record in Big 12 play, a claim to two Big 12 North titles, three AP top 10 finishes, the first No. 1 ranking in school history, and wins in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl and the 1999 Holiday Bowl.

Drafted in the third round of the 2000 NFL Draft, Simoneau played 11 seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. He recorded 370 total tackles in 124 career NFL games.

Simoneau has participated in service events with local children’s hospitals, retirement homes and the United Way of New Orleans. Simoneau’s high school was the center piece of the book Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape.

SCOTT THOMAS
United States Air Force Academy
Safety, 1982-85

A driving force in one of the most successful four-year runs in the history of Air Force football, Scott Thomas earned consensus All-America honors his senior year in 1985. He becomes the third Falcon player to enter the College Football Hall of Fame.

Playing for 2011 Hall of Fame coach Fisher DeBerry, Thomas notched 221 career tackles with four TFL, 10 interceptions, 22 pass breakups while averaging 28.8 yards per kickoff return. He returned a punt, kickoff and interception for a touchdown during his 1985 All-America campaign. A two-time All-WAC honoree, Thomas led the Falcons to the first conference title in program history with a 12-1 record and No. 5 final ranking in 1985. He also guided Air Force to a 38-12 overall record, four consecutive bowl wins, four wins over Notre Dame, the first top 10 finish in academy history and three Commander-in-Chief’s Trophies with a 7-1 record against storied rivals Army and Navy.

Thomas also was a four-year letterman for the Air Force basketball team, and he logged more than 4,100 hours of military flight time. He gained national attention during the first Gulf War after his plane went down over enemy territory in 1991. Thomas currently serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserves while working as a commercial pilot.

A regular keynote speaker for nonprofit organizations, he volunteers with Young Life youth ministries and as a little league coach. He is also a Kiwanis Club member. Thomas served as the guest picker during ESPN’s College GameDay visit for the Army game on Nov. 7, 2009. Thomas is a 2011 United States Air Force Academy Athletic Hall of Fame inductee.

JOHN WOOTEN
University of Colorado
Offensive Guard, 1956-58

Described as a “quick, agile tackle who provided bone-crunching lead blocks” by Colorado historian Fred Casotti, John Wooten blazed a path for others to follow, becoming one of the first African-Americans to earn All-America honors as a lineman. The 1958 All-American will join five other Buffalo players as College Football Hall of Fame inductees.

Wooten paved the way for one of the most powerful rushing attacks in college football, driving the Buffaloes to rank 12th nationally in 1956 with 252.1 yards per game, first in 1957 with 322.4 yards per outing and fifth in 1958 with 249.5 yards per game. In 1957, Colorado finished second in the country with 415.2 yards of total offense per game, and running back Bob Stransky ranked second nationally with 1,097 rushing yards. The 1957 All-Big 7 performer also saw action on the defensive line where he recorded half a dozen fumble recoveries. Wooten aided Colorado to a 20-9-2 overall record with a 27-21 victory over Clemson in the 1957 Orange Bowl.

Chosen in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft, Wooten played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins, appearing in 136 games. A two-time All-Pro, he participated in two Pro Bowls. He is a 2010 inductee to the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor.

After retiring from football, Wooten had a long administrative career with the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens before retiring in 1998. He was named to Colorado’s All-Century Team in 1989, the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. Wooten serves as the chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance Foundation, which works to promote diversity in NFL coaching, front office and scouting staffs.

PHILLIP FULMER
University of Tennessee
Head Coach, 152-52-0 (74.5%)

Tennessee’s head coach from 1992-2008, Phillip Fulmer led the Volunteers to the school’s sixth national championship in 1998. Under Fulmer’s leadership, Tennessee finished in the AP top 25 in 13-of-17 seasons and appeared in 15 bowl games.

The 1998 National Coach of the Year achieved 137 wins in his first 15 campaigns, tying for the fourth-most in a 15-year span in college football history. Fulmer owned two SEC championships, a piece of seven SEC East Division titles, an impressive 5-0 record when playing the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, an 88-19 home record and nine 10-win seasons. He trails only College Football Hall of Fame coach Gen. Robert Neyland on Tennessee’s all-time wins list. Fulmer’s teams appeared in two BCS games, winning the first national title in the system’s history with a victory over Florida State in the 1999 Fiesta Bowl.

Fulmer coached two William V. Campbell Trophy winners in Peyton Manning and Michael Munoz. Nineteen players earned First Team All-America honors under Fulmer, and 70 Volunteers were named First Team All-SEC during his tenure. He also coached nine 1,000-yard rushers and six 1,000-yard receivers.

A co-captain of the 1971 Volunteers football team, Fulmer is the national spokesperson for the Jason Foundation, an educational organization aimed at preventing teenage suicide. A member of the board of directors for Alzheimer’s Tennessee, Inc., he is active with Boys and Girls Club, Team Focus, and Child and Family Services. The 2003 American Football Coaches Association president, Fulmer is the co-chair for the Ride for Prostate Cancer event and the vice-chair for Boy Scouts of America. He contributed $1 million to the University of Tennessee to be split evenly between athletics and academics. Fulmer was inducted to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame in 2008.

JIMMY JOHNSON
Oklahoma State University, University of Miami
Head Coach, 81-34-3 (70.0%)

The Oklahoma State head coach from 1979-83 and Miami head coach from 1984-88, Jimmy Johnson continuously led his teams to victory, earning numerous coaching honors along the way and the national title with the Hurricanes in 1987, capped by a 20-14 victory over Oklahoma in the 1988 Orange Bowl.

Johnson began his head coaching career in Stillwater, Okla., leading the Cowboys to a 29-25-3 mark. He won Big 8 Coach of the Year honors his first year after taking Oklahoma State to a 7-4 record. Under Johnson, the Cowboys won the 1981 Independence Bowl and the 1983 Bluebonnet Bowl. He coached 15 First Team All-Big 8 performers during his five seasons with the Pokes.

At Miami, Johnson enjoyed a 52-9 mark in five seasons with five New Year’s Day bowl appearances. During his final four seasons in Miami, he posted a remarkable 44-4 record, including four top 10 finishes and two national title appearances. He earned two National Coach of the Year distinctions while coaching 12 First Team All-Americans. Johnson’s star pupils included future College Football Hall of Famers Bennie Blades and Russell Maryland as well as the school’s first Heisman Trophy winner in Vinny Testaverde. Johnson’s tenure was the genesis of an NCAA-record 58 home-game winning streak, which lasted from 1985-94.

A member of Arkansas’ 1964 national championship team, Johnson became the only person to win a college national championship as a player and coach and lead a team to a Super Bowl victory when he guided the Dallas Cowboys to victories in back-to-back Super Bowl victories following the 1992 and 1993 seasons. In the NFL, he held the Cowboys head coaching job from 1989-93 and with the Miami Dolphins from 1996-99.

A member of the University of Arkansas, University of Miami, State of Texas and State of Florida Sports Halls of Fame, Johnson supports charities such as The Children’s Health Fund, Malaria No More, City of Hope, and St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Johnson, who works as an NFL analyst on FOX, has donated his time visiting troops overseas and hosting a fundraiser for the Gridiron Greats Foundation, which raises money for former NFL players in need of medical assistance.

R.C. SLOCUM
Texas A&M University
Head Coach, 123-47-2 (72.1%)

The head coach at Texas A&M from 1989-2002, R.C. Slocum is the winningest coach in Texas A&M and Southwest Conference history. A four-time national coach of the year honoree, Slocum’s Aggies experienced reigns of dominance over the SWC, including a 22-game league winning streak, a 28-0-1 conference record from 1991-94, and three SWC titles. He also led the Texas A&M to one of the school’s landmark victories on Dec. 5, 1998, with a 36-33 double-overtime upset of Kansas State, which gave the Aggies their only Big 12 championship and only win over a No. 1-ranked team.

Slocum led the Aggies to 11 bowl games in 14 seasons, five New Year’s Day bowl appearances and 10 AP top 25 finishes. He retired as college football’s sixth-winningest active coach. Under Slocum’s leadership, 14 players earned First Team All-America status. Linebacker Dat Nguyen submitted one of the finest seasons in school history in 1998, winning the Bednarik and Lombardi awards.

Slocum, a standout receiver and defensive lineman for at McNeese State, holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from his alma mater, and he was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 2001. He currently works as a special assistant to President R. Bowen Loftin at Texas A&M.

A Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Texas A&M University Athletics Hall of Fame member, Slocum served as the chairman of the Children’s Miracle Network in Central Texas as well as the Cattle Baron’s Association, which raises scholarship money for young people in ranching. He is active with Fellowship of Christian Athletes and the Scotty’s House home for abused children. A former AFCA Board of Trustees member, he served as grand marshal at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Parade. 

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Former Raven, Baltimore Native Foxworth Voted NFLPA President

Posted on 25 March 2012 by WNST Staff

FOXWORTH ELECTED NFLPA PRESIDENT, SMITH RE-ELECTED EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Hasselbeck, Light, Moore, Watson join NFLPA Executive Committee during annual meeting

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. (March 25, 2011) – Domonique Foxworth was nominated and elected without opposition as President of the NFL Players Association today at the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives Meeting. DeMaurice Smith was reaffirmed unanimously as Executive Director by the board on March 22.

“One of the most important things I learned from Kevin is about responsibility,” Foxworth, a free agent cornerback, said to the board following his election. “Players like to say, ‘The NFLPA is our organization.’ There is a wealth of experience and talent in this room, and I will reach out to each and every one of you about your interests and passions. If we work as hard as we did during the lockout now in peacetime, we will be the strongest organization in the world.”

Foxworth’s unanimous election to the post follows four years of service on the executive committee. In 2007, he was elected by the Broncos as a Player Representative and was named the Broncos’ Walter Payton Man of the Year. In 2008, he ran and was elected as the youngest Vice President of the NFLPA Executive Committee.

Newly elected to serve on the Executive Committee are Matt Hasselbeck (Tennessee Titans), Matt Light (New England Patriots), Brandon Moore (New York Jets) and Ben Watson (Cleveland Browns).

They join current Executive Committee members Charlie Batch (Pittsburgh Steelers), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Brian Dawkins (Denver Broncos), Scott Fujita (Cleveland Browns), Jeff Saturday (Green Bay Packers) and Brian Waters (New England Patriots) who were re-elected by unanimous affirmation. There are also two chairs for former players on the NFLPA Executive Committee, currently held by Cornelius Bennett and Jim McFarland.

With the 2012 election, Kevin Mawae, Sean Morey, Tony Richardson and Mike Vrabel cycle off the NFLPA Executive Committee.

“We don’t take on roles of leadership in order to pad our stats, build our resumes, or strengthen our positions,” Mawae said as he retired from the post of NFLPA President, a spot he held for four years. “We become leaders so that we can serve others who themselves don’t yet have the wherewithal, the knowledge, or the experience to lead. We don’t coerce, manipulate, or force. We simply serve.”

“It’s been a blessing,” Richardson said. “The biggest thing I’m proud of is taking advantage of every opportunity we were offered, from education to development to benefits, because if I didn’t do it, how could I tell the young guys they should be doing it? Every decision we made was for the betterment of our organization. My only agenda, ever, has been to serve the players.”

“We get a chance to play an amazing game and compete on the highest level, and I feel fortunate to have stood shoulder to shoulder with some of the greatest men in this game,” Morey said. “I appreciate our leadership letting me talk, trusting me, helping me understand the negotiation process and keeping me disciplined and focused.”

Hasselbeck, a Boston College graduate, has been playing in the NFL since 1998 and owns nearly every single-season and career record for quarterbacks with the Seattle Seahawks. The three-time Pro Bowler was first elected to the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives in 2008. Off the field, Hasselbeck is involved with numerous charitable efforts, including raising funds and awareness to help provide clean water to those in need.

Light was first elected as a Player Representative in 2008 and has served continuously since. A graduate of Purdue University, his career in the NFL has consisted of four Pro Bowl selections and three Super Bowl championships. A member of the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team, he established the Light Foundation which provides youth with unique outdoor experiences to help them become stronger individuals and better members of their communities.

Moore is an offensive lineman with the New York Jets and graduate of the University of Illinois. He has served as on the NFLPA Board of Player Representatives since 2007 and was a recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award in 2011. The Pro Bowl selection created the Moore Family Foundation to provide disadvantaged youth with positive holiday experiences, school supplies and other important needs.

Watson, a tight end for the Cleveland Browns, was first elected as a Player Representative in 2010. The graduate of the University of Georgia was a first round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft. A Super Bowl Champion with the New England Patriots, Watson created a foundation to support charities that provide educational and enrichment opportunities. He is also a spokesperson for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and volunteers for organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

The 2012 NFLPA Board of Player Representatives Meeting continues through March 26.

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Your Monday Reality Check-I Got A Nice Reminder Sunday

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Your Monday Reality Check-I Got A Nice Reminder Sunday

Posted on 19 March 2012 by Glenn Clark

It’s been a tough start to National Football League free agency for Baltimore Ravens fans.

Even for the most realistic fan of the Purple And Black (I’d like to think of myself in that group), it’s impossible to be excited about a six day span that has seen five players (LB Jarret Johnson, DL Cory Redding, G Ben Grubbs, S Tom Zbikowski, S Haruki Nakamura) depart, just one free agent (C Matt Birk) return and no free agents added to the roster.

The realistic Ravens fan knew this could be coming. Between them, the five players share just one Pro Bowl appearance (Grubbs was invited to Hawaii this season as an injury replacement) and all were able to cash in on the open market. The Ravens, having spent significant money during the regular season to extend would-be free agent DT Haloti Ngata decided none were “cornerstone” players and wouldn’t overpay to keep them.

The Ravens are instead working to spend a boatload of money to extend QB Joe Flacco and RB Ray Rice, both players they do believe are “cornerstone” parts of the organization.

The realistic fan also knows the Ravens still have work to do in free agency before the process is finished. It was revealed this week that return specialist (and part time Wide Receiver) Ted Ginn Jr. visited Owings Mills last week. The team could still look to find help along the Offensive Line and at Linebacker as well, and could even add another Safety at some point.

Additionally, the realistic fan is aware that the upcoming NFL Draft is likely to help shape the 2012 season for the defending AFC North champs, with some players (like WR Torrey Smith and DE Pernell McPhee) not likely to fully develop into contributors until after the season has started.

AND the realistic fan knows the 2012 season will also be defined in part by the continued development of young players. Entering the 2011 season, the team’s secondary was considered to be one of the bigger question marks about the roster. Just months later, the CB trio of Lardarius Webb, Cary Williams and Jimmy Smith represents one of the more solid units in football.

Yet even the most realistic Ravens fan still agonizes over the thought “can enough be done to get this team over the hump and into a Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years?”

A reasonable level of concern is understandable at this point. In addition to the pre-existing question marks facing the team (uneven O-Line play, lack of a size receiver, age and injury related decline from defensive playmakers, Special Teams issues), there are additional depth issues created by the first batch of free agent departures.

It’s an uneasy time for Ravens fans.

The majority of Ravens fans have not swayed far from reality in how they’ve viewed Week 1 of the actual NFL offseason. As can be expected, some have gone off the deep end entirely. The reminder I got Sunday could serve as a nice “reality check” itself for fans in both groups. It’s probably something you already know about.

I assume you’ve heard that free agent quarterback Matt Flynn agreed to a three year, $26 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks. As the deal involved only $10 million of guaranteed money, most analysts agreed it was a particularly fair and perhaps very good deal for a team that is trying to improve on a third place finish in the NFC West last season.

I actually think the deal was a great move for the Seahawks. In fact, just days ago during our weekly “Free Advice” segment on “The Reality Check” (weekdays 2-6pm on AM1570 WNST.net for the one of you that doesn’t listen already) I encouraged the Seahawks to pull the trigger on the move. I can only assume my endorsement was the final approval the team needed to get the deal done.

But the facts about Flynn don’t change. The quarterback was believed to have so little pro talent coming out of LSU that he slid to the seventh round of the NFL Draft. While they’ve been impressive, he’s made only two starts with the Green Bay Packers as is still mostly an unknown commodity.

An unknown commodity who has $10 million guaranteed coming his way.

You see, the Seahawks are in a place where they had to make a significant move that could backfire. Matt Flynn might be more Rick Mirer than Matt Hasselbeck in the Emerald City, which could possibly doom Pete Carroll’s tenure.

Yet if the team didn’t pull the trigger, they could face a reality that involves more Tavaris Jackson. That would almost certainly doom Carroll to a sub .500 record until he was dismissed.

The Seahawks had to pull the trigger partly due to desperation. It’s a feeling the Baltimore Ravens have experienced in the past with mixed results. It’s a feeling that Baltimore Ravens fans should enjoy not experiencing this year.

The Ravens haven’t been able to accomplish much during free agency, but they haven’t had to. They’re not a desperate organization seeking a single fix to exit mediocrity. They’re a superior organization merely looking to make a few moves to reach “the next level.”

The Ravens have a quarterback. The Ravens have talented players at other offensive skill positions. The Ravens (still) have one of the best defenses in the league.

Desperation isn’t a word General Manager Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach John Harbaugh and Owner Steve Bisciotti even have to consider. Neither do Ravens fans.

It’s a significantly better place to be. I appreciated the reminder.

Carry on.

-G

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Rice, Suggs In Running For Madden 13 Cover

Posted on 08 March 2012 by WNST Staff

EA SPORTS AND ESPN’S SPORTSNATION KICK OFF MADDEN NFL 13 COVER ATHLETE FAN VOTE

This Year’s Campaign Expands to 64 Players – With Play-In Round Featuring Two Athletes

From Each NFL Team Represented in Head-to-Head Matchups

March 7, 2012 – EA SPORTS™ and ESPN announced today the return of the award-winning Madden NFL Cover Vote campaign, where fans can cast their vote for the next athlete to grace the cover of one of the highest-selling videogame franchises in North America. Last year, nearly 13 million votes were cast through ESPNSportsNation.com and ESPN mobile in both companies’ most successful cross-platform activation. Tenth-seeded Cleveland Browns running back, Peyton Hillis, trucked through the six week competition all the way to the ultimate end zone – the Madden NFL 12 cover.

This year’s competition will incorporate more athletes and more chances to vote as the field has been expanded to 64 NFL players, putting even more control in the hands of the fans. Beginning today through March 21, fans can visit the SportsNation Facebook page to choose among the 64 candidates in a play-in round (each matchup features two players from the same NFL team) to advance to the official 32-player, seeded tournament.  The winners of the play-in round will be unveiled with the official seeded, 32-player bracket on March 21 on ESPN’s “Madden Cover Vote Special” from 5-6p.m. EST.  To ensure their favorite player advances to the next round, fans are encouraged to vote daily and tweet their picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.  Every Wednesday between March 21 and April 25, fans can tune into SportsNation on ESPN2at 5p.m. EST to check out the latest Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote standings.

In addition to the SportsNation Facebook page, fans will be able to vote in the play-in round via the open Web through widgets embedded on blogs, websites and more.  Each widget features an individual match-up for each of the 32 total teams in the league.  For the cover vote from March 21-April 25, all voting must be cast at ESPN.com/MaddenVote.

The star-studded list of candidates participating in the play-in round features past Super Bowl winners, perennial Pro Bowlers and some of the most popular players in the NFL including Drew Brees, Arian Foster and Rob Gronkowski. The full list of matchups featured in the play-in round are:

AFC

Ravens Terrell Suggs vs. Ray Rice Jets Mark Sanchez vs. Darrelle Revis
Steelers Troy Polamalu vs. Ben Roethlisberger Bills Stevie Johnson vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick
Browns Joe Thomas vs. Joe Haden Dolphins Reggie Bush vs. Brandon Marshall
Bengals Andy Dalton vs. AJ Green Patriots Wes Welker vs. Rob Gronkowski
Texans Arian Foster vs. Andre Johnson Chargers Phillip Rivers vs. Antonio Gates
Colts Dwight Freeney vs. Robert Mathis Broncos Tim Tebow vs. Von Miller
Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Blaine Gabbert Chiefs Dwayne Bowe vs. Derrick Johnson
Titans Jake Locker vs. Chris Johnson Raiders Sebastian Janikowski vs. Shane Lechler

NFC

Bears Jay Cutler vs. Matt Forte Rams Chris Long vs. Brandon Lloyd
Lions Calvin Johnson vs. Matt Stafford 49ers Vernon Davis vs. Patrick Willis
Vikings Percy Harvin vs. Jared Allen Seahawks Marshawn Lynch vs. Earl Thomas
Packers Aaron Rodgers vs. Clay Matthews Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald vs. Patrick Peterson
Falcons Matt Ryan vs. Julio Jones Eagles Michael Vick vs. LeSean McCoy
Saints Drew Brees vs. Jimmy Graham Giants Victor Cruz vs. Jason Pierre-Paul
Panthers Cam Newton vs. Steve Smith Cowboys Jason Witten vs. DeMarcus Ware
Buccaneers Josh Freeman vs. LeGarrette Blount Redskins Brian Orakpo vs. Ryan Kerrigan

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote marks the third-consecutive year that EA SPORTS has asked fans to help shape the face of the Madden NFL franchise through a cover athlete voting campaign.  It also marks the second year of its collaboration with ESPN’s SportsNation.

Madden NFL 13 is developed in Orlando, Florida by EA Tiburon.  For more information about Madden NFL 13, please visit: http://www.ea.com/madden-nfl. To download assets pertaining to the Madden NFL 13 please visit http://maddennfl13.newslinevine.com.

All player participation has been facilitated by National Football League Players Incorporated, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.

EA SPORTS™ is one of the leading sports entertainment brands in the world, with top-selling videogame franchises, award-winning interactive technology, global videogame competitions and breakthrough digital experiences. EA SPORTS delivers experiences that ignite the emotions of sport through industry-leading sports simulation videogames, including Madden NFL football, FIFA Soccer, NHL® hockey, NBA basketball, NCAA® Football, Fight Night boxing, EA SPORTS MMA and Tiger Woods PGA TOUR® golf, and EA SPORTS Active.

For more information about EA SPORTS, including news, video, blogs, forums and game apps, please visit www.easports.com to connect, share and compete.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:EA) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company’s game franchises are offered as both packaged goods products and online services delivered through Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. EA has more than 100 million registered players and operates in 75 countries.

In fiscal 2011, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.6 billion. Headquartered in Redwood City, California, EA is recognized for critically acclaimed, high-quality blockbuster franchises such as The Sims™, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed™, Battlefield™, and Mass Effect™. More information about EA is available at http://info.ea.com.

EA SPORTS, EA SPORTS Active, The Sims and Need for Speed are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. Mass Effect is a trademark of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd.  Battlefield is a trademark of EA Digital Illusions CE AB.  John Madden, NFL, FIFA, NHL, NBA, NCAA, Tiger Woods, and PGA TOUR are trademarks of their respective owners and used with permission.  Twitter is a registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.  All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Officially Licensed Product of National Football League Players Incorporated.

About SportsNation

SportsNation is a live sports television show born from the Internet, fueled by fan interaction and focused on fun.  The show, which has the youngest and most male audience on the ESPN network, features discussions of the day’s hottest sports topics but also smaller stories that generate buzz on the Web but are overlooked by other shows.  Feeding off the theory that if two heads are better than one, 200,000 heads are better than two, SportsNation engages hundreds of thousands of sports fans across the country via ESPN.com’s SportsNation page (http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/).

About ESPN Games and EA

ESPN’s long-standing relationship with EA produces deep brand integrations into console gaming titles such as EA SPORTS NCAA Football 12 and Fight Night Champion.  Additionally, the relationship in 2011 produced the biggest ESPN poll vote ever for the Madden NFL 12 cover vote, logging nearly 13 million votes, the most ESPN votes ever for a joint collaboration.  The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also most recently extended to boxing and golf in 2011.

###

PLAY-IN ROUND VOTING THRU FACEBOOK & OPEN WEB

Thanks for your interest in SportsNation’s Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote.

EA Sports and ESPN’s SportsNation have chosen two players from each NFL team to be included in a social play-in round for the Madden NFL 13 cover.

Starting March 7th on SportsNation’s Facebook page and on voting matchups called ‘sapplets’ or ‘widgets’ embedded across open web (info below), fans will be able to vote on matchups from each NFL team to send one representative into the final bracket of 32 players at ESPN.com/MaddenVote on March 21st.

If you choose to embed one of the 32 individual voting ‘sapplets’, you can use the next page that includes all 32 embed codes for all 32 NFL teams. They post to your site much like a YouTube clip and can increase time spent on your site as well as traffic by generating debate about matchups.

The social Play-in vote launches on Wednesday, March 7th and closes two week later on Wednesday, March 21st. The Facebook tab and voting ‘sapplets’ will be live during those two weeks.

CHEAT SHEET:

WAY TO EMBED:

  • Go to page 2. Find your team.
  • Copy the embed code.
  • Paste the embed code onto your website where you would embed a YouTube clip.
  • The voting platform is ready and interactive on your page!
  • Please Note: do NOT embed on Tumblr and do NOT change the height & width

Canvas

NEW embed Code

49ers Vote

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Chiefs Vote

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Broncos Vote

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Chargers Vote

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Raiders Vote

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Cardinals Vote

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Rams Vote

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Seahawks Vote

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Dolphins Vote

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Jets Vote

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Bills Vote

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Patriots Vote

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Giants Vote

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Redskins Vote

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Eagles Vote

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Cowboys Vote

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Texans Vote

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Colts Vote

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Titans Vote

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Jaguars Vote

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Letters From Sylvia Mackey, Sandra Unitas Address Forgotten Widows

Posted on 06 March 2012 by WNST Staff

Letters Taken From FourthAndGoalUnites.com…

My husband played 18 years in the National Football League – 17 seasons with the Baltimore Colts and one with the San Diego Chargers.

My husband completed 2,830 passes for more than 40,000 yards and 290 touchdowns during his NFL career. He threw at least one touchdown pass in 47 consecutive games – an NFL record that still stands today.

My husband was honored as the league’s Player of the Year three times. He was named All-Pro six times and selected for the Pro Bowl 10 times.

My husband was the quarterback of the 1958 NFL Championship Game – the first “sudden death” playoff game – that launched the nearly 54-year lucrative partnership between the league and television.

My husband suffered numerous injuries during his NFL career, including a broken nose, punctured lung, damaged knees, a shattered knuckle, ligament and ulnar nerve damage to his right arm, and broken ribs. He played through many of those injuries and, years later, when he lost the use of his right hand due to a football injury, the league he loved and the union he supported denied him disability benefits.

My husband worked diligently to protect not only himself and his family, but also his teammates and their families. A team leader on and off the field, my husband was greatly concerned about those who couldn’t afford health insurance following their NFL careers.

My husband chose the pension option that would continue following his death, to ensure that I would be covered. Recently I learned that I – along with more than 300 other widows of retired players who were receiving their pensions and died prior to August 4, 2011 – am excluded from the Legacy Benefit.

My husband – like so many pioneers of the league – helped build the league and the union. While the league has offered assurances that they will rectify the situation, the union has remained silent.

My husband would be appalled.

Sandra Unitas, widow of NFL Hall of Fame QB John Unitas

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Your Monday Reality Check-Ravens Not Surprisingly Doing Right Thing With Rice

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Your Monday Reality Check-Ravens Not Surprisingly Doing Right Thing With Rice

Posted on 27 February 2012 by Glenn Clark

Stop me if you’ve read this one before.

Nestor Aparicio and I spent the last four days at LucasOil Stadium in Indianapolis for the annual National Football League Scouting Combine. Indy has been a bit of a second home for us over the first two months of 2012. I don’t know I could ever express just how awkward that is.

CBSSports.com NFL writer Pete Prisco stopped by our set Friday afternoon to record an interview that would air later on “The Reality Check”. We talked about a number of subjects, one being the status of Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice. Let me make sure I state this. I GREATLY respect Pete Prisco as a writer and football mind. For those who aren’t familiar with him, he’s been with CBS for over a decade covering the league and has covered football even longer than that. The following are quotes from Prisco regarding Rice…

“I wouldn’t pay any running back.”
“I’d franchise him…that’s it.”
“You don’t pay running backs.”
“If you’re building your team around a running back you’ve got problems.”

Prisco rightfully pointed out that the New York Giants won the Super Bowl despite finishing 32nd in the league in rushing. He also rightfully pointed out that the Jacksonville Jaguars won just five games despite being home to the league’s top rusher (Maurice Jones-Drew). They’re relevant points, even if he ignores the fact that the Giants upped their rushing average to 116.5 yards per game in the postseason and that the Ravens had the league’s second leading rusher (Rice) and were a Lee Evans drop away from playing those Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

Of course the NFL is more of a passing league. We’re all aware. It doesn’t mean running backs aren’t still dressing for games and making an impact every now and then.

I’m not beating up Pete Prisco here. I’m pointing out an opinion about Rice that has been popular both around Charm City and for many throughout football. There are a number of fans and analysts alike who simply don’t think the Ravens should bother giving their free agent running back a long-term extension. Local writers/bloggers/talk show hosts (including even our own Thyrl Nelson) have pointed out that economically the team would probably be better off just having Rice play under the franchise tag each of the next two seasons.

The numbers would work out to the team having to pay the back between $16-17 million combined in his fifth and sixth NFL seasons, and would not involve any sort of signing bonus. The team will certainly have to hand out much more than that should they extend Rice, even if they come in short of the “Adrian Peterson money” his representation is reportedly interested in.

I promise the next part of this column isn’t meant to be any sort of “I told you so” moment. I’m just glad we can stop discussing that ridiculous thought process anymore.

As I chased Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome out of the media room at LucasOil Stadium Friday afternoon, we had this exact exchange.

“As far as Ray Rice is concerned, it’s definitely the thought process to get an extension done-is it not any thought to franchise him for a year and go from there?” I asked.

He responded “No. We have used the franchise tag only so that we can get a long term deal. We would like for Ray Rice to have a long career in Baltimore. If we have to franchise him, that would be the reason why.”

Nothing wishy-washy there. No posturing at all. That’s about as straight of shooting as a General Manager can possibly offer.

I’m so freaking glad it was Newsome who said it this time so that I don’t have to bother fighting with anyone about it anymore. You DO NOT give the franchise tag to a player if you don’t have interest in keeping him around.

At least…you don’t do that if you’re a competent, well run organization.

(Continue reading on Page 2…)

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Terrell Suggs Named NFL Defensive Player of the Year

Posted on 04 February 2012 by WNST Staff

TERRELL SUGGS NAMED AP DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Baltimore Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs has been named the 2011 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year.

This marks the fourth time in 12 seasons that a Raven has earned the prestigious honor: Suggs (2011), S Ed Reed (2004) and LB Ray Lewis (2003, 2000).

Finishing with a career-high and AFC-best 14 sacks on the year, Suggs also forced an NFL-high seven fumbles, setting a personal best and a franchise single-season record. He added 70 tackles (50 solo), two interceptions and six passes defensed for a Ravens team that made its fourth-straight playoff appearance (12-4 record) and advanced to the AFC Championship game.

“I want to thank the Ravens organization, my teammates, my position coach, Teddy M. [Ted Monachino], all of our defensive coaches, and most importantly, the City of Baltimore,” Suggs stated. “Our fans are the NFL’s best. I’ve always said that I play for our fans, and this honor is a tribute to them. I’m very appreciative of Ravens Nation and their love and support throughout the past nine years.”

En route to his fifth-career Pro Bowl in 2011, Suggs was a key contributor to Baltimore’s stingy defense, which ranked third in the NFL in fewest points permitted (16.6 ppg) for the fourth-straight year. With that mark, Baltimore tied an NFL record for consecutive seasons of being in the Top 3 for points allowed. Overall, the Ravens’ unit ranked third in the league in both yards allowed (288.9 ypg) and sacks (48, tied with NYG).

The Ravens also finished No. 1 in red zone defense (38.1 TD%), opponent QB rating (68.8), fewest offensive touchdowns allowed (21) and fewest touchdown passes permitted (11). Baltimore was second in rush defense (92.6 ypg) and third-down defense (32.1%), with the Ravens also holding nine of their 16 regular season opponents to 17 or fewer points.

“Terrell Suggs had another outstanding year,” Monachino, the Ravens’ linebackers coach, stated. “He showed the rare ability that we all know he has. He was technical, physical, tough and explosive in nearly every phase of his game. People see the sack totals and know he is a special player, but it’s all the other parts of the game that prove, week-in and week-out, what a valuable player he is for our defense and for our team.

“His professional approach, along with his undeniable talent, paid off not only for him personally, but for the Ravens and the City of Baltimore.  Knowing the other finalists and how stiff the competition was makes this award a tremendous honor for him.”

Suggs’ 14 sacks in 2011 ranked third in Ravens history, with only DE Michael McCrary (14.5 in 1998) and OLB Peter Boulware (15 in 2001) producing more in a Ravens’ season.

As the Ravens’ all-time sacks king (82.5), Suggs’ quarterback drops rank seventh among active players since he entered the NFL in 2003. During that span, his 610 yards lost from those sacks stand fourth. Including playoffs, Suggs has racked up 30 sacks over the past two seasons (36 total games), ranking fourth most in the NFL. In Baltimore’s last 20 games (dating back to 2010 playoffs), he has tallied 19 sacks.

Terrell Suggs: 2011 Honors

• Defensive Player of the Year (Associated Press)
• Defensive Player of the Year (Pro Football Weekly)
• AFC Defensive Player of the Year (K.C. NFL 101)
• Pro Bowl (starter) – Fifth Invite
• NFL First-Team All-Pro (Associated Press)
• NFL First-Team All-Pro (Pro Football Weekly)
• Butkus Award (co-winner, DeMarcus Ware)
• AFC Defensive Player of the Month – December/January

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Ravens C Birk Wins Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award

Posted on 04 February 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE RAVENS CENTER MATT BIRK NAMED WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR

MATT BIRK of the Baltimore Ravens was named the 2011 WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR, it was announced today.  The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.

The announcement was made during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special airing nationally on NBC Saturday night.

NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL and JARRETT AND BRITTNEY PAYTON, the late Walter Payton’s children, will honor Birk on-field tomorrow before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVI.

“I am honored and truly humbled to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” said Birk. “This award is not about the recipient, but rather a celebration of the decades-long tradition of NFL players using their unique platform to touch lives and make a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they work and live. Walter Payton left a legacy that went beyond the playing field. He continues to be an inspiration and example of what a complete NFL player should aspire to become. I am grateful to have played for two organizations, the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, which encourage and support their players’ community efforts. I have always considered it a privilege to play in the NFL and serve the communities that support our game.”

Birk, who just completed his in 14th NFL season, is the anchor of the Ravens offensive line and an undisputed leader on and off the field. The perennial Pro Bowl center has started 96 consecutive games, the NFL’s second-longest active streak among centers. In 2011, Birk helped pave the way for Ravens running back Ray Rice to score a franchise-record 15 total touchdowns and rush for a career-high 1,364 yards, also leading the league with 2,068 yards from scrimmage.

A family man and father of six with a passion for emphasizing the importance of education, Birk has focused a great deal of his energy on promoting literacy among the youth around him. The Harvard graduate’s “Ready, Set, Read!” program, an initiative of his H.I.K.E. Foundation (hope, inspiration, knowledge and education), reaches close to 100,000 children in the Baltimore area and motivates students to read at home through an incentive-based system. Birk’s work carries well past the many initiatives and successes of his own foundation. He is committed to bettering himself, his team, his community and the world. Birk has agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord tissue to the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine to help assist in researching the effects of repeated head traumas. Birk is an eight-time Man of the Year (seven with the Vikings, one with the Ravens), and was a finalist for the national award in 2008.

Birk joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award, including 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers.  Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include MADIEU WILLIAMS, then of the Minnesota Vikings (2010), BRIAN WATERS, then of the Kansas City Chiefs (2009), and former Arizona Cardinals quarterback KURT WARNER (2008).

All 32 team nominees for the award receive a $1,000 donation from NFL Charities to the charity of their choice.  The three Man of the Year finalists received an additional $5,000 donation in their name. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, CONNIE PAYTON, Pro Football Hall of Fame members FRANK GIFFORD and ANTHONY MUÑOZ, Giants great and Executive Director of the NFL Alumni Association GEORGE MARTIN, 2010 winner MADIEU WILLIAMS, and Sports Illustrated football writer PETER KING.

The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will receive the Gladiator statue, an original art creation by the noted sculptor, DANIEL SCHWARTZ.  In addition, the player’s favorite charity will receive a $20,000 donation in his name.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Wounds Re-Open With Arrival in Indianapolis

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Your Monday Reality Check-Wounds Re-Open With Arrival in Indianapolis

Posted on 30 January 2012 by Glenn Clark

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.

Perhaps.

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.”

-G

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