Tag Archive | "pro bowl"

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Colts Hall of Fame TE John Mackey Passes Away at 69

Posted on 07 July 2011 by WNST Staff

NFL Players Association (NFLPA) Executive Director DeMaurice Smith confirmed Thursday morning via Twitter that former Baltimore Colts TE John Mackey had passed away overnight. Mackey was 69.

Mackey was selected in the 2nd round of the 1963 NFL Draft by the Colts out of Syracuse. He remained in Charm City until 1972, when he finished his career playing one season with the San Diego Chargers.

During his time in Baltimore, Mackey was a five time Pro Bowl selection (1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968) and three time All-Pro (1966, 1967, 1968).

He was a member of the Colts team that defeated the Dallas Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V. In the game, he was involved in one of the more memorable plays in Super Bowl history, catching a twice deflected Johnny Unitas pass and scampering 75 yards for the Colts’ only TD of the game.

The Queens, NY native finished his career with 331 catches for 5,236 yards and 38 TD’s. He added 17 postseason catches for 296 yards and 2 TD’s. His career was sadly cut short due to leg and knee injuries.

Mackey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992, becoming just the 2nd pure tight end to be elected (Mike Ditka). In 2010, the NFL Network listed Mackey 42nd on their list of the Top 100 players in league history, the highest ranking of a Tight End on the list.

In the later years of his life, Mackey endured a very public battle with dementia. In a 2007 interview with the Baltimore Sun, wife Sylvia Mackey (who was taking care of Mackey in the later years of his life) said Mackey asked her “Who’s that wearing my number?” when watching Marvin Harrison of the Indianapolis Colts on television. (Harrison wore #88 in Indy, the same number Mackey wore in Baltimore.)

In response to his health battles, the league and NFLPA  created the “88 Plan”, providing retired players with up to $88,000 per year for medical and custodial care resulting from dementia, including Alzheimer’s. Mackey served as NFLPA President from 1969-1973, he was succeeded by former Colts teammate Bill Curry.

As more details are available regarding Mackey’s passing, we will make them available via AM1570 WNST and WNST.net. Also stay tuned to AM1570 Thursday, as we will chat with folks who knew Mackey well.

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28 Jan 2001:   Quarterback Trent Dilfer of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  The Ravens won the game 34-7. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT

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The reality of Trent Dilfer’s career …..

Posted on 01 November 2010 by Rex Snider

Well, we’re coming down the homestretch of a week without Ravens football. With the team returning to practice today, my life is starting to feel normal, again.

Meanwhile, Baltimore’s football lovers have been pacifying their cravings by speculating about the impending future, as well as walking down memory lane.

Today, I will address the latter.

After all, we kinda look into the past in our everlasting effort to predict the future, right?

Last weekend, the Baltimore Ravens organization honored the 2000 Super Bowl Champions. Along with a pretty touching halftime ceremony, fans were treated to an array of tributes on the jumbotron and some pretty cool commemorative t-shirts.

** WNST.net provided a plethora of interviews with members of that memorable squad, to include Rod Woodson, Peter Boulware, Priest Holmes, Matt Stover, Michael McCrary, Jamal Lewis, Jamie Sharper, Brandon Stokley, Duane Starks and numerous others. You can find each interview, in its entirety, in the Buy A Toyota.com Audio Vault (RIGHT HERE)

In addition to the publicly recognized festivities, the Ravens also hosted a party for the former players, last Saturday evening. Obviously, I was not at the event and cannot responsibility speculate on the happenings of the affair. However, numerous accounts of an altercation between Trent Dilfer and Ozzie Newsome have spread throughout the local and national sports media landscape.

Trent Dilfer has addressed the encounter, and he termed it “nothing confrontational or juicy.” However, the story’s source suggested “Trent was pissed” regarding his departure from the team. You can find the article outlining the incident (HERE).

Once again, I was not at the party and I have no firsthand knowledge of anything regarding the event. Thus, I will not devote any further insight into it.

That said, I am going to devote some energy to chronicling the career of Trent Dilfer, which includes his brief time with the Ravens. It’s a career many quarterbacks would love to fulfill; he’s got a Super Bowl ring and a Pro Bowl appearance to his credit. These are pretty special distinctions.

28 Jan 2001:   Quarterback Trent Dilfer of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  The Ravens won the game 34-7. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr/ALLSPORT

I’m also fully aware of Trent’s reputation with Baltimore’s football fans. He’s a beloved guy, who garners a great deal of sympathy and storied support from a large sect of Ravens loyalists. You love the guy and your affection is easy to understand.

He was the quarterback of the only team to win a Super Bowl for this city, in nearly 40 years ….

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Greatest Ravens by jersey number (21-40)

Posted on 26 August 2010 by Luke Jones

With Sports Illustrated releasing its list of all-time best NFL players by jersey number this week, I decided to look back at the 15-year history of the Baltimore Ravens to construct a list of the greatest players for Nos. 1-99.

Numbers 1 through 20 included greats such as Matt Stover and Ed Reed as well as lackluster selections such as David Tyree and Wally Richardson.

Part two (21-40) provides a few interesting debates with a few more selections of attrition.

21 Chris McAlister (1999-2008)

The paradoxical cornerback’s exit under the new regime of John Harbaugh was unfortunate, but there was no questioning McAlister’s talent when his mind was focused on football. The three-time Pro Bowl selection (2003-04, 2006) is the best cornerback in franchise history.

McAlister will eventually be a part of the Ring of Honor, where he will become the second honoree to wear No. 21, but the only deserving one. Earnest Byner had a good NFL career in Cleveland (with the exception of “The Fumble”) and Washington, but he being the first member of the Ravens Ring of Honor is solely a product of Art Modell’s affection for the running back.

22 Duane Starks (1998-2001)

McAlister’s counterpart receives the nod in a close race with cornerback Samari Rolle. Starks lacked consistency in his four-year career with the Ravens, but his play reached new heights during the team’s postseason run that ended with the Lombardi Trophy in Tampa. Starks intercepted two passes in the AFC Championship and returned a Kerry Collins attempt the other way 49 yards for a touchdown in the Super Bowl (check out the 0:46 mark below).

23 Willis McGahee (2007-present)

McGahee’s career in Baltimore has declined after a 1,200-yard season in 2007, but the veteran runner easily tops the list of players to wear the number, which includes Moe Williams, Jamaine Winborne, Earnest Hunter, and Dameon Hunter.

Though no longer a premier back, McGahee can take consolation in a certain moment in Oakland last season.

24 Domonique Foxworth (2009-present)

Despite playing only one season with the Ravens so far (and missing his second with a torn ACL), Foxworth’s performance in 2009 trumps the likes of Corey Fuller, Donny Brady, Alvin Porter, and 2006 third-round bust David Pittman.

25 Chris Carr (2009-present)

Despite a number of players wearing the number, Chris Carr wins out over inadequate cornerbacks such as DeRon Jenkins, Evan Oglesby, and Clarence Love.

26 Rod Woodson (1998-2001)

The veteran transitioned from cornerback to safety and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl during his four-year stay in Baltimore. Dawan Landry deserves a mention and Priest Holmes wore the number his rookie season, but Woodson is the unanimous choice here.

27 Ray Rice (2008-present)

Safety Stevon Moore was one of the few competent members of the Baltimore defense in the early years, but Rice’s breakout 2009 campaign makes him a slam-dunk choice for No. 27. Entering his third season, Rice hopes he can make the number as synonymous with Ravens football as No. 52 and 75.

28 Gary Baxter (2001-04)

McAlister wore the number his rookie season and Tom Zbikowski is making a name for himself, but Baxter was a solid member of the Baltimore secondary before ditching the Ravens for Cleveland, where his career was essentially ruined by patella tendon tears in both knees in 2006.

29 Chester Taylor (2002-05)

Taylor was a dependable backup in 2004 and 2005 when Jamal Lewis’ body began breaking down. His performance eventually earned him a nice payday in Minnesota before the Vikings drafted Adrian Peterson. Two players deserving posthumous recognition are safety Eric Turner and fullback Chuck Evans. Terry Allen also wore the number in the running back-starved season of 2001.

30 Obafemi Ayanbadejo (1999-2001)

With Eugene Daniel and Jamel White his only real competition, the man with probably the coolest name in the history of the franchise earns the honor despite spending the latter half of the Super Bowl season on Injured Reserve.

31 Jamal Lewis (2000-2006)

With a bruising style unlike any other, Lewis was an unstoppable force in 2003, rushing for 2,066 yards and a then-record 295 against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2. In his prime, Lewis was the type of runner defensive players were afraid to tackle. He is the franchise’s all-time leading rusher.

32 Sam Gash (2000-02)

The veteran fullback led the way for Lewis in his rookie season and is the most deserving of a group of backs that includes Musa Smith and Errict Rhett. Gash was the epitome of an “old-school” fullback.

33 Le’Ron McClain (2007-present)

Some will argue Priest Holmes as a deserving choice for this number—the first back to have a 1,000-yard season in team history in 1998—but McClain’s two Pro Bowl selections and improbable 2008 season in which he rushed for 902 yards earn him the honor.


McClain’s running style reminds you a little bit of Bam Morris, another back to wear the number in 1996 and 1997. Unlike the troubled Morris, however, McClain has managed to keep his nose clean, literally and figuratively.

34 Ovie Mughelli (2003-06)

Though he was a late bloomer in Baltimore, Mughelli grabs the brass ring with his only real competition being Jay Graham and current return man Jalen Parmele. The latter still has an opportunity to stake a claim in the future, but Graham’s injury-riddled career fell off a cliff after rushing for an amazing 154 yards in his first career start in 1997.

35 Corey Ivy (2006-08, 2009)

Despite his small stature at 5-foot-9, Ivy was a steady nickelback with the ability to blitz effectively. His standout moment with the Ravens came during a dominant 27-0 win over the Steelers in 2006 in which the defensive back grabbed an interception, sacked Ben Roethlisberger, and forced a fumble. Ivy edges Robert Bailey, the nickel during the 2000 season, and fullback Carwell Gardner (1996).

36 Jim Leonhard (2008)

B.J. Sams was a good return specialist for four seasons with the Ravens, but Leonhard personified the Ravens’ underdog season in 2008 in which they advanced to the AFC Championship game with a rookie head coach and quarterback.

The undersized safety’s play was a major asset in place of the injured Dawan Landry and earned him a nice contract with Rex Ryan and the New York Jets the following season.

37 Bennie Thompson (1996-1999)

Deion Sanders earned the most attention with his two-year stint in Baltimore, but Thompson was a special teams standout during the infancy of the franchise. Thompson played the game with the crazed demeanor needed to launch oneself into the wedge of the opposition’s return team. Thompson earned a trip to the Pro Bowl in 1998 for his special teams prowess.

38 James Trapp (1999-2002)

Despite being an ordained minister, Trapp is remembered most for being ejected from a game in 2002 after stomping on the head of Steelers receiver Plaxico Burress, a move many in Baltimore didn’t mind a bit. Trapp was a quality backup in the Ravens secondary for four seasons and edged out the likes of Antonio Langham, Mike Anderson, and Raymond Walls.

39 Alan Ricard (2000-05)

After much painful debate, I decided against Daren Stone, the culprit of one of the dumbest penalties in franchise history, as the all-time No. 39.

Ricard was the lead blocker and a Pro Bowl alternate in Jamal Lewis’ record-breaking 2003 season and was a great fullback for several seasons.

40 Cory Ross (2006-07)

Though he wore the number for just one season (switching to No. 34 in 2007), Ross filled in for injured return specialist B.J. Sams during the latter portion of the 2006 season, which was enough to earn the distinction for a very insignificant number in team history.

Cory Ross

The deceased Kenyon Cotton and current bubble defensive back K.J. Gerard are the only other competitors in an underwhelming group of No. 40s.

Next up: For numbers 41 though 60, we’ll find who grabbed the honors for No. 46 and 48 (Impressive if you have names off the top of your head), and I’ll end the suspense surrounding the pick for No. 52. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with Lay Rewis.

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I Can Save The Pro Bowl .....

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I Can Save The Pro Bowl …..

Posted on 29 January 2010 by Rex Snider

Question – Name the pro sports league that owns the distinction of hosting the most SIGNIFICANT and INSIGNIFICANT athletic events of the year ….. just a week apart?

Answer – That’s right, it’s the National Football League – proud owners of the Super Bowl and Pro Bowl games …..

In just nine days, the NFL is rolling out the red carpet and pagentry for the annual unveiling of its crowned jewel. The Super Bowl and it’s week-long events is a celebration likened to the coronation of a King or Queen. It’s more than a big deal …..

Yet, this Sunday – in the same stadium, Roger Goodell and his colleagues will do their best to dab some makeup and lipstick on the “ugly step sister” ….. or better yet, they’re opening the doors to the party nobody wants to attend.

And, it’s featuring a few guys nobody wants to see – because many REAL STARS backed out.

To be honest, this is an inherent problem for the NFL. Although, I’ve gotta dole out some credit; they’re trying to address the situation and improve the overall lure of the Pro Bowl for everyone involved. The league has made tangible changes.

And, the primary hurdle has been cleared by moving the game from a location that’s not exactly “convenient” to reach …..

Unless you had alot of disposable income, a week’s vacation and nothing better to do ….. OR you lived in Hawaii, the Pro Bowl just wasn’t in the offing in past years, right? Well, the NFL has corrected that problem.

As the football world knows, the game is being played at the site of the Super Bowl, in Miami, just a couple weeks earlier.

Problem solved, right? WRONG. Tickets are selling for as little as 20 bucks on the street, players are still backing out and subsequently, fans just don’t seem to care. It’s also worth mentioning that rules are still tightened and blitzing is not allowed. That matters – if you love the game of football.

I think it’s logical to say the NFL corrected the largest factor contributing to the disconnect between fans and the Pro Bowl. It’s being played on the mainland !!!!

But, the next biggest problem still exists. This guy isn’t attending …..

This guy’s bosses are BITCHINGLY complaining about him attending …..

This guy isn’t attending …..

This guy’s bosses are also complaining about him attending …..

You get the picture(s), right? It’s gonna be virtually impossible to attract fans and relevant attention to a showcase event, without the showcase quarterbacks participating in one way or another. God bless Vince Young, but football fans aren’t universally interested in dedicating a day to watching him play.

Let me be very clear about this ….. I have no qualms with ANY of the above guys pulling out of the Pro Bowl’s on-field commitments. Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have a BIGGER on-field obligation. Tom Brady is beaten and bruised. And, Brett Favre can barely run.

Their bodies have been punished for the last four months. But, are any of them exempt from attending the league’s GIVE BACK weekend? I suppose that’s debatable.

After all, the Pro Bowl is not really billed as being “For The Fans & About The Fans” which contradicts the missions of MLB, NBA and NHL endeavors. To be blunt, I’m not really certain about the appeal or desired result of the game.

However, if the NFL is intent on making it successful, they’ve gotta find an incentive for players to attend (even if they’re not playing), while actually displaying some enthusiasm and devotion to the people who support the game.

An initial consideration will likely regard MONEY. It always does. But, that won’t work – the amounts are likely not significant enough to gain the attention of the biggest stars. They’ve already got plenty of money. So, they’re off doing what they wanna do …..

A few dollars and a free trip to South Florida (a week earlier than desired) will not inspire these guys to make the journey – if they gotta practice and play football. Sure, some of them will pitch a product on radio row – NEXT WEEK – while working the room at a party or two. But, they’re not breaking a sweat.

Trust me, if the NFL really wants to salvage the Pro Bowl and make it a well publicized, worthwhile occasion, they need to read this blog.

Are you ready? Here goes …..

Upon determining the Super Bowl’s host city, the league needs to award the Pro Bowl to the nearest, neighboring NFL locale. For example, this year’s Pro Bowl would’ve been hosted by Tampa. I’ll agree, the folks in Tampa are accustomed to putting on the ritz for Super Bowl festivities, but they won’t reject the Pro Bowl – and they’re already hosting a HUGE PARTY, this weekend.

Have you heard of Gasparilla? It’s a “Pirate Themed Spring Break – for Adults.” In fact, it’s very much like Mardi Gras. It’s an awesome time – TRUST ME !!!!



The fine people of Tampa are already having the BIGGEST PARTY, in Florida, this weekend. The Pro Bowl would’ve been a natural and fun fit for the town. The Gasparilla event is on Saturday and the Pro Bowl could’ve been on Sunday.

Just take a look at where the next three Super Bowls are being played – and where the prospective Pro Bowls could be played …..

Indianapolis/Cincinnati (hey, they picked Indy – they’re stuck with Cincy)
New Orleans/Houston

Having the resounding support of the host municipality would be key and it would really be the only occasion for some cities, like Cincinnati, to ever host such a meaningful event. It could and would work from the local perspectives.

But, how do you get this guy (and his goat) to show up?

I’ll admit, a bunch of girls running around – scantilly clad in pirate outfits won’t do it. In fact, the Tampa situation is just a convenient one year deal. But, there is a group of people; a FAN BASE that would really put the players in an obligatory, selfless situation.

If the NFL wanted a full stadium and successful Pro Bowl event on their hands, they need to make their ALL STAR game about GIVING BACK to the people who are most deserving of such an event. And, they could coordinate it through one organization …..

That’s right, regardless of the host city, fill the Pro Bowl Stadium with America’s REAL HEROES. Distribute the tickets to enlisted personnel representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. Don’t sell the tickets – give them away. And, just require an accompanying Military ID at the gate.

Think about it ….. how much money is the NFL making on the Pro Bowl gate? It’s a drop in the proverbial bucket for them. And, the potential TV audience will not be tuned in for this Sunday’s game.

However, if the NFL truly GAVE BACK and made the event about these folks, the TV audience could skyrocket …..

I recognize the NFL has been instrumental in USO causes. In fact, John Harbaugh and a group of head coaches visited the troops, in Iraq, last year. And, if you attend a Ravens game, our military brethren are always recognized and remembered.

But, making the Pro Bowl “THEIR” event, on U.S. mainland soil would be a gigantic public relations win for the NFL – and citizens would care about the energy surrounding the game. It’s not about competition or providing better on-field production. It’s about hosting a game with a greater, selfless purpose.

My suggested format would not render Tom Brady healthy and willing to play in the game. But, I’d bet he wouldn’t blow it off. Neither would Brett Favre. Doing so, would be incredibly damaging to their public images.

They would show up and interact with FANS during pre-game festivities. They would take part in some facet of the game. They would have a REAL REASON to be there. In fact, the reasons OFF-FIELD are just as important as ON-FIELD …..

Oh, I’m sure one of the players would “dip his toe in the water” when considering the prospect of blowing off the game and resulting celebration. But, I’d sense their agent or PR guy would say, “Tom (Brett), you can’t dig this hole ….. you’ll never climb out of it.”

The NFL’s players would do the right thing.

Heck, maybe guys like Bill Polian would finally SHUT THEIR MOUTHS. The Colts President has been crying and complaining about his Pro Bowl players being obligated to travel to Miami, a little early, because they might “spend too much time on their feet.” Are you serious, Bill?

Have you considered how much time this kid spends on his feet?

Give me a break.

If the Pro Bowl becomes a celebration of the people who truly deserve a game to call their own, it would become a grand success – REGARDLESS OF WHO IS ON THE FIELD.

Give back, guys. It’s really that simple …..

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Matt Birk is laying down charity roots in Baltimore as well as Minneapolis

Posted on 06 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I spent the early part of last night with Ravens center Matt Birk at Mother’s Grille in Federal Hill where he kicked off his local charity initiative, the HIKE Foundation, with a dinner and cocktail reception.

Birk was extremely active (think, like Cal Ripken kinda active) in the Twin Cities while playing for more than a decade for the Vikings. A well-publicized Harvard alum, Birk has been a finalist for NFL Man of The Year and routinely won awards and accolades for his public service in Minnesota.

His work in Baltimore is just beginning and we had a little fun shooting this video about what HIKE stands for and why there’s a pizza with his name on it at Mother’s.

Here’s the 411 in his words:

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Where does Ray Lewis rank among the greatest players of the decade?

Posted on 26 June 2009 by Luke Jones

Leave it to “The Worldwide Leader in Sports” to jump the gun on an otherwise interesting promotion for the network this week.

We’re still over two months away from the start of the 2009 season—the last season of the decade—but ESPN.com has decided it’s time to hand out its NFL all-decade honors.  I guess we don’t need to bother playing this season.

The Ravens were well represented with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed being named to the all-decade defense while the first draft pick in franchise history, Jonathan Ogden, was the lone Raven on the all-decade offense.  Fullback Lorenzo Neal was also named to the team, but his one season in Baltimore hardly constitutes him as an all-decade representative for the Ravens.

The Ravens were also ranked the fifth-best team of the decade.

ESPN closed out the week by revealing their top 25 players of the decade on Friday, and this is the list with which Ravens fans are sure to take issue.  Lewis, the only player to win the NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice this decade, ranks only ninth, behind defensive ends Jason Taylor (fifth) and Michael Strahan (eighth).

With all due respect to Taylor and Strahan, easily the two best defensive ends since 2000, neither player was as dominating throughout the decade as Lewis.

He’s easily the best defensive player of the last 10 years, and the accolades support it.  Lewis has seven Pro Bowl appearances in the decade compared to six for Taylor and four for Strahan.  With Lewis leading the way, the Ravens have ranked no lower than sixth in total defense every year of the decade except 2002—the year of the team’s salary cap purge when Lewis missed 11 games with a shoulder injury.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning clearly belong at the top of the list, but Lewis should be in the top three or four instead of barely cracking the top 10.

Ogden and Reed finished 11th and 12th respectively.

As for my picks of the decade, you’ll have to wait until after 2009, the appropriate time to name an all-decade team.  I’m sure ESPN will manage to do a revised list then too.

Here’s a little something to emphasize my point about Lewis and to keep you salivating for the start of training camp.

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Marshall Law: Acquiring Brandon Marshall is the right move for the Ravens

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Marco Romanell

Reports out of Denver are  saying that disgruntled Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall is following in the footsteps of former quarterback Jay Cutler and seeking a trade from the Broncos.

Mike Florio, of Profootballtalk.com reported today on the Comcast Morning Show that the Ravens are interested in acquiring the play making wide out.

The Ravens have a history of not dealing with players who have off the field problems which is precisely what Marshall is. In both 2007 and 2008 Marshall was arrested for domestic battery while in March of this season he was involved in a domestic dispute with his fiancee and was again arrested.

Despite all of his off the field issues Marshall is an absolute beast at the Wide Out position and would provide the Ravens with the big play threat their offense so desperately needs.

Last year in 15 games, Marshall recorded 104 catches for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns leading to his first Pro Bowl selection. In 2007, Marshall has two less catches and 60 more yards but most importantly led the NFL in YAC(Yards after catch/contact) with 510 yards. The YAC yards and his ability to run over potential tacklers is what makes Marshall and intriguing option for the Ravens.

Derrick Mason, who has been the Ravens best receiver since his arrival in Baltimore, is considered  to be a possession receiver who lacks the ability to stretch the field. Brandon Marshall would be a perfect complement to Mason and would give the Ravens one of the most formidable receiving combos in the NFL.

One thing prohibiting the Ravens from bringing in Marshall(similar to the Anquan Boldin situation), is the probability that the Broncos will request at least a first round draft pick in return for Marshall and then Marshall will want a new contract at season’s end. The Ravens still must negotiate with Terrell Suggs, and will have to pay Albert Haynesworth like money, in what could be an uncapped year after this  year, to keep Haloti Ngata a Raven.

Teams can maneuver around the cap in many ways, so if the Ravens really want Marshall, I think they can find a way to sign him and remain under the cap. The main issue is Ozzie Newsome’s reluctance to trade draft picks in order to acquire a player.

I think Marshall- who is four years younger then Boldin- is worth a first round draft pick and more and the Ravens should seriously consider acquiring him.

With the losses and aging on defense, the Ravens defense will be good, but not the “elite” defense of past teams, which is why they need to shift their focus to the offensive side of the ball. Upgrading the offense can compensate for whatever stuggles the defense may have. Marshall would make the Ravens a legitimate offensive power and would take a lot of pressure off the defense to hold to teams to less than 17 points to win.

Obviously there are pros and cons to bringing in a player like Marshall, but I am under the mindset that Joe Flacco needs weapons and the identity of this franchise should shift to the offensive side of the ball. The salary cap can be maneuvered around by back loading contracts or giving bigger signing bonuses so I am not overly concerned with that issue.

Marshall is a cancer off the field but I believe the Ravens organization and locker room is strong enough to keep him in check and prohibit him from being a problem.

Hopefully when the Ravens take the field at M&T Bank Stadium on September 13th to battle the Chiefs, Brandon Marshall is lined up in a Ravens uniform opposite of Derrick Mason.

That would make Ravens fans and Joe Flacco extremely happy and could end with a February trip to Miami.

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Notes from Ravens Rookie Camp

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Luke Jones

The Ravens’ newcomers have a final opportunity this week to get acclimated to the NFL before reporting to McDaniel College for training camp on July 27.

The offseason OTA schedule concludes this week with a rookie camp, allowing coaches to work more closely with the team’s six draft picks and numerous rookie free agents vying for a regular season roster spot. 

“It’s obviously a different atmosphere and tempo because the vets aren’t here,” coach John Harbaugh said.  “It’s a little slow.  We take a little more time between reps.  I don’t want to say it was more teaching, because there is a lot of teaching when the [veterans] are here, too.  But it was a little more fundamentally-oriented, a little simpler with the calls, but they did a good job.”

The rumors circulating about Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Marshall were a hot topic at the training facility in Owings Mills.  The disgruntled receiver wants to be traded, and the receiver position is an area of concern with Derrick Mason (shoulder), Mark Clayton (foot), and Demetrius Williams (ankle) all slowed by injuries this offseason.

Earlier in the offseason, the Ravens explored a trade for Arizona wide receiver Anquan Boldin, but the Cardinals’ reported asking price of a first- and third-round pick and Boldin’s demands for a new contract proved too steep.

Marshall’s contract expires after this season, so a new deal would be needed.  The Pro Bowl receiver has grabbed 206 receptions in the last two seasons.

We’re interested in anybody that can help our team,” Harbaugh said.  “You know [Marshall] plays for the Broncos, and he’s under contract. So he’s not a guy that we’re considering or concerned with right now. We’ll just have to see what happens.”

His off-the-field issues are also a concern, including a pending misdemeanor battery charge.  Marshall has had several run-ins with the law since beginning his NFL career in 2006. 

“[A player’s] background matters,” Harbaugh said.  “We want to bring guys in here that are what we consider ‘Ravens.’ Any player that we bring in here, we’ve got to be convinced that he’s a man of integrity, a high-character guy and that our players can respect him in the locker room. That’s going to be true whether it’s in a draft or free agency or any guys we choose to re-sign. We look at that real hard because we think those are the type of people that you win with, and we’re never going to compromise on that.”

– Veteran tight ends Todd Heap and L.J. Smith have been slowed by injuries during OTAs, leaving plenty of reps for rookie Davon Drew.

The fifth-round pick, who signed a three-year contract last week, will most likely contribute on special teams but has impressed coaches with his route-running ability.  He credits Heap and Smith in helping him adjust to the NFL.

“Definitely when you’re just standing around those guys–veterans that have been doing it–that’s something that makes you want to be just like them,” Drew said.  “I look up to those guys.  Anytime I have a question or something, they help me out and sometimes when I don’t even ask them things, they just come up and give me tips or pointers.  I’m appreciative of the situation I’m in.”

– Former Maryland Terp and rookie receiver Isaiah Williams faces an uphill battle making the regular season roster, but he jumped at the chance to become a Baltimore Raven. 

Despite having discussions with other teams including the Washington Redskins, New York Giants, and San Diego Chargers, the undrafted rookie signed with the Ravens only 20 minutes after the April draft ended. 

“I just felt this was the best place for me,” Williams said.  “It’s close to where I went to school, so it’s something I’m used to and real familiar with.  I love it.”

The 6-3 receiver has good speed but never lived up to lofty expectations at College Park, catching 64 passes for 902 yards and five touchdowns in his Maryland career. 

Williams has been slowed with a hamstring injury this week.

 – Be sure to join WNST tonight at The Barn at 7:00 p.m. to meet many of the Ravens rookies including Michael Oher, Paul Kruger, Lardarius Webb, and others.  It will be a great time getting to know the rookies and enjoying $1.75 Miller Lite.

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Dear Joe Flacco,

Posted on 04 May 2009 by Neal Bortmes

 I am terribly sorry that some clever Ravens fan out there has not taken the time to think of a really great nickname for you, and believe me after taking a team that should have won about five games to the AFC Championship you deserve one.  Maybe it isn’t that they have not taken the time, but rather maybe they are just in awe of your stellar performance.  They could be so flabbergasted that one of the Ravens’ first round quarterbacks might actually be able to play that they lost hold of the enormity of the situation.  Even yours truly had doubts about whether you could get the job done at the NFL level.  However you proved many of us wrong and flashed some brilliant laser throws along with an icy calm demeanor in the pocket. 


Your icy calm demeanor, hey maybe that is why people have tried to reuse Joe Montana’s nickname on you.  They think you play like Joe Montana, that has to be the reason, or else they want you to be Joe Montana.  I for one think there is a better quarterback that you could emulate, he wore number 19 and also played in Baltimore. 

Joe Cool, how unoriginal why not just reuse any old nickname for an athlete named Joe.  How about calling you Broadway Joe, or Shoeless Joe, or Gentleman Joe?  What about Mean Joe, or Joltin’ Joe, or Smokin’ Joe?  Dare I say Jellybean, the nickname of Joe Bryant, you know Kobe’s dad?  You see Joe none of these nicknames fit you because they are already taken, that is why we need to give you an original nickname.

I have heard some nicknames passed around such as Super Laser Rocket Arm, but I think Peyton Manning used that one in his 1,oooth commercial.  Of course I also heard probably the worst nickname of all time, Ugly Kid Joe, you know like that erstwhile 90’s rock band.  Geez I know you have that untidy unibrow, but to call you ugly, that seems harsh (you really should get that thing taken care of Joe).  Some people have even tried to use your last name as a play on words of different sorts, but that just won’t do.  Most star athletes that are household names have the nickname preceding their first name (see above) and therefore have name recognition.

So this is what I propose Joe, now hear me out because I think after I explain it you will really dig it.  MoJoe Flacco, yep there it is the best nickname for one Joe Flacco.  By the way that just happened, I know you are in shock by an original nickname but it gets better.  The name works on two different levels.  The first level is a play on the term mojo, because you Joe have that indescribable attribute that makes a great quarterback (at least you displayed it last year, but don’t get ready for Canton just yet you have some more work to do).

Now close your eyes and put on your best Baltimorean accent and say MoJoe Flacco.  That’s right, it sounds like you are saying more Joe, and that is what all Ravens fans want to see, more Joe Flacco.  We haven’t had a Pro Bowl quarterback since the forgettable years of Vinny Testaverde and you are our best hope for another one.  It is amazing how much better it is to watch Ravens games when we move the ball on offense and complete deep passes.  A lot of Ravens used to wait to use the bathroom until the Ravens were on offense, now we are on the edge of our seats hoping to see you work your MoJoe.

Thank you Joe Flacco for everything you have given us so far,

Neal Bortmes

P.S.  This is a repost of my very first post at wnst.net.  I wanted to repost it because I am not sure if people had a chance to read it and now that I made it to the second round I was hoping it would get more views.  This is a really good example of the work that I will do if I am selected to be the King of Baltimore Sports.



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Getting to know Matt Birk

Posted on 04 March 2009 by caseywillett

With center Matt Birk set to conclude his free-agent visit with the Ravens today, here is some information on his career in Minnesota and his charitable work.
A St. Paul, Minnesota native, Birk grew up as a fan of the Vikings. In the 1998 NFL Draft, the Vikings selected Birk out of Harvard in the sixth round (173rd overall selection).
To this point, he has played his entire 11-year career with the Vikings. He was a backup offensive lineman until he got a shot at the center position. He started every game for the Vikings at center from 2000-03. He missed the final four games of the 2004 season due to a sports hernia, and then he missed the entire 2005 season recovering from hip surgery. He has held down the starting center position again after returning to that spot in 2006.
Birk has been selected to six Pro Bowls (2000-01, 2003-04 and 2006-07). He has also been voted All-Pro twice (2000, 2003).
Birk is very active in the community, including running his HIKE Foundation, which provides at-risk Twin Cities children with educational opportunities. He also has been very active with the Gridiron Greats foundation, even donating part of his salary to help take care of retired players in need.
He was a finalist for the 2009 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service.
Here is a United Way video of Birk trying to talk to a kid about lightning.
Not only does Birk play for the hometown team, and help in the community, he also co- owns two restaurants in the area, Matty B’s Supper Club and Matty B’s Urban Bar and Restaurant.
Media reports in Minneapolis say Birk will make a decision on his future by Thursday.

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