Tag Archive | "purple reign"

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Chapter 1: Meet the new boss, not the same as the old boss

Posted on 12 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

Proverbs 29:18 says: ‘Where there is no vision the people perish.’ I guess that’s why I feel like we stuck to the vision and the team grew into it.”

— John Harbaugh (March 2013)

 

IT WASN’T EXACTLY A RESTFUL sleep for Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick on the night of Dec. 30, 2007, but the 27-21 home victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers earlier that evening snapped a dismal nine-game losing streak to end the season on some semblance of a bright note and his agenda for beginning 2008 was clear after a disastrous 5-11 finish in a season that was steeped in promise with a 4-2 start.

Earlier that week, Billick sat for hours with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and General Manager Ozzie Newsome, as he frequently had, reviewing and evaluating the state of the Baltimore Ravens roster and future. After the final game with Pittsburgh, he visited emeritus owner and founder Art Modell in his box at the stadium feeling good about defeating the Ravens’ arch rival and snapping a nine-game losing streak to finish 2007 with a modicum of success and a hint of some future achievement.

The long, exhausting season was over, but while December 31, 2007 wasn’t officially 2008 just yet, Billick’s sleep deprivation had to do more with future planning than a future canning. He had repeatedly been told his job was safe during the agonizing losing streak and the team’s public relations machine moved earlier in the month to announce publicly that Billick wasn’t going to be fired. He was “safe.” Plus, he was only concluding the first of a four-year, $24 million contract he signed after the 2006 Ravens went 13-3, but suffered a tough loss to the Indianapolis Colts during the playoffs.

Yet, on what is always known around the NFL as “Black Monday” for its many coaching staff firings, many sports media outlets were still speculating about the state of Billick’s job security.

At 8:40 a.m., during a 25-minute phone call, he was insistent that his job security was, well, secure. Billick was always candid, always painfully honest and up-until-this-point, always “in the know” when it came to the state of the Ravens. Over the previous nine years, his integrity, honesty and information had been in his words “unfiltered” — meaning the unvarnished truth.

At 10:10 a.m. the internet and local sports world exploded with multiple reports that Brian Billick was out as the coach of the Baltimore Ravens.

The shots heard round Owings Mills were not only unexpected by Billick, but by most of the media, many members of his coaching staff, and everyone else in the organization who reasoned that the three years left on his contract — still damp with just 11 months of tread on it and $18 million more of Baltimore Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti’s money guaranteed — made him amongst the safest coaches on the continent.

Sure, the Ravens had a bad year amidst a sea of injuries and another season of dreadful quarterback play with a broken down Steve McNair, an overmatched former Heisman Trophy winner in Troy Smith and the unfulfilled potential of 2003 first-round draft pick Kyle Boller, but firing a decorated coach was certainly a major risk (and expense) for Bisciotti.

Newsome was powerless and only became aware of Bisciotti’s intentions hours before. This was Steve’s decision and Steve’s alone.

The head coach who had led the Baltimore Ravens to the playoffs in four of his nine seasons and a 2001 Super Bowl title was unceremoniously fired and suddenly an NFL head coaching job was now available, where only moments before there was a franchise with a clear leader and a clear direction that had

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Five years later, the magic of Purple Reign 2 and Ravens Super Bowl title revisited

Posted on 11 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

Prologue:

Here we go again, Baltimore!

 

 

May 14, 2013

 

When I wrote “Purple Reign: Diary Of A Raven Maniac” in March 2001, it was no less than a small civic miracle that the Baltimore Ravens even existed. Given what our community had been through trying to get back into the NFL after the departure of Bob Irsay and the Mayflower van exodus of the Baltimore Colts to Indianapolis on that snowy night of March 28, 1984, just having an NFL team was a victory in itself. This is sometimes lost on the younger generation of fans in Baltimore and should never be forgotten.

The ensuing hostage situation involving civic money, stadiums, lawyers, lawsuits, a private-mostly-old-boys-club of NFL owners, and the expansion charade that Paul Tagliabue presided over in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was as big a part of the story for anyone who loves Baltimore, loved the Colts, or was falling in love with the Ravens. As an aside, two decades later the choice of Jacksonville and Charlotte look fairly dubious as NFL hot spots despite the insistence of The Sun King that Baltimore was unworthy and should consider building a museum.

Anyone who is over the age of 40 would tell you that they spent long stretches of their lives from 1984 through 1995 believing that Baltimore would never get an NFL team again. The odds were so slim that I went so far as to say on my radio show in 1993 that I’d run naked down Pratt Street if NFL football ever returned to Charm City. And, yes, you can google my name, “Nasty” and “naked run” to see that I pretty much paid up on the wager in the spring of 1996 after Art Modell moved the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore to become the Ravens. I must warn you – it’s not a pretty sight, me running through rush hour traffic in tighty-whiteys taking $10 bills from cabbies who wanted to donate to the charity run.

I declared it a civic miracle that Baltimore got a team – and it really was. To think that all of the political machinations that ended with John Moag, building on the efforts of Herb Belgrad and the fading dream of outgoing governor William Donald Schaefer, succeeded in bringing the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore by offering Arthur B. Modell and his family a bigger, better deal is still the greatest “tipping point” event of my life. I’ll never forget that day and the promise that it brought to my life as a Baltimore sports radio personality and wannabe-entrepreneur.

I had faith. I was purple when purple wasn’t cool.

The Modell family brought football to Baltimore and allowed me to shed every piece of Houston Oilers’ gear I’d ever owned and loved.

The marriage between the Ravens and Baltimore gave my career life, my family the ability to hope, launch, grow and build WNST AM-1570 & WNST.net in 1998. It also landed me a nationally syndicated radio program for three years on Sporting News Radio that included the Ravens’ 2001 Super Bowl win. And it’s allowed me to follow my childhood dream to be a sports writer in my hometown in the modern era of social media. I love Baltimore sports as much as you do, and I’ve devoted my life to chronicling it.

You are holding a book that took 100 days to write, but 17 years to research and about 29 years to live. The championship was a gift to me, and I felt a calling to write about it and you’re holding the result.

And this miracle gift of NFL football in Baltimore that was willed to exist by a toxic stew of money, lawyers, lies, covert meetings, politicians, local business, fans, television, and a roomful of really wealthy white men over the past 40 years has given our sports community the highest highs and the lowest lows. It’s kinda like sausage: you really don’t want to know how it’s made.

Since 1958, Baltimore has won five NFL titles via the Colts and Ravens and three World Series via the Orioles.

I’m about to enter my 30th year on the Baltimore sports media scene that began in 1984 at The News American, and I’ve never seen a bigger – or better – local sports story than this unlikely Super Bowl run of the 2012 Baltimore Ravens and Ray Lewis marching the Lombardi Trophy through the streets of downtown amidst 250,000 people near the Inner Harbor and Camden Yards.

Here’s the truth: this book you’re about to read was an absolute labor of love because these stories jumped off the lips of those who gave me access and honesty from inside and outside the Baltimore Ravens organization. There aren’t enough pages in this book to express how grateful I am to have been involved in chronicling all of these Ravens games over the years. For better or worse, it’s defined my life and my career. And this book is the most important project of my career.

And my first question to virtually every person in February and March 2013 in researching this book was: “What were the most important decisions that led to a Super Bowl 47 win?”

I got a myriad of different answers:

 

  • The Ray Lewis last ride inspired the team
  • Joe Flacco emerged and was flawless in the playoffs & Super Bowl
  • Cam Cameron was fired
  • Jim Caldwell took over the play calling
  • Terrell Suggs coming back allowed Paul Kruger to rush the passer
  • Corey Graham could actually play cornerback in the NFL
  • Justin Tucker was a better kicker than Billy Cundiff
  • Anquan Boldin caught big passes down the stretch
  • Having Bryant McKinnie play well at left tackle and moving Michael Oher to right tackle gave Joe Flacco time and confidence to throw
  • Jacoby Jones made big plays all year

 

These are the obvious strategic and emotional issues that led to the team winning in December and January on the field, but there were thousands of decisions made off the field dating all the way back to the day that Ozzie

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How a beautiful cat named Kitty came into our lives and rescued us with eternal love

Posted on 26 September 2017 by Nestor Aparicio

Five years ago she gazed into my eyes through her pair of shining, beautiful, emerald green windows to her soul and my life would never be the same.

From the moment I laid eyes on her and touched her furry little white belly, all I ever wanted to do was protect her and love her and rescue her from the abandonment where we found her in a cage waiting for a home and someone to love.

I didn’t want a cat.

Let me make that very clear from the outset. Anyone who knows me, knows this is a fact.

Some of you might not like cats or understand cats or have ever had a cat but I sincerely hope that you’ve felt the power of the love of an animal once in your life. Our story is about a transcendent little girl that we rescued from Baltimore Humane in 2012 but who, in the end, rescued us and taught me more about unconditional love than any other experience in my nearly half a century on this planet.

We lost our beloved Kitty while we were with the Ravens in Europe on our WNST.net trip. Her sudden and completely unexpected death on Thursday has shaken us to the core.

My wife is distraught over her death. She would tell you that I am doing far worse.

I am unspeakably shaken, more so than when I lost my mother back on August 15th. We prepared and knew for years that my Mom would be leaving us soon. Somehow, we never, ever considered losing Kitty.

I’m experiencing a sense of profound loss and sadness that I would’ve thought impossible when we adopted a cat known only as “Bree” back on April 16, 2012. It’s been an incredibly awful month for me – a time of sadness and sorrow and loss that I’ll never want to remember but know that I’ll never forget.

If you would’ve told me that my wife’s relentless desire for an animal over the first decade of our marriage would lead me to this emotional black hole of emptiness and incredible appreciation for her precious and wonderful life, I would’ve never believed you.

My wife always wanted a cat for us. Honestly, I never understood that emotional grip even though I had a cat named Poe back in the early 1990s long before the Ravens existed. He was a Balinese, peaceful blue-eyed beauty who I adored but loved only in the finite way a 20-something man could love a creature that didn’t have curves, perfume and human characteristics.

Jenn and I were married in the summer of 2003 and I was allergic to her cat, Spencer. Two months into our marriage, she gave her cat to a veterinarian here in Baltimore and Spencer lived a fine life but I realize now that I never truly understood her relationship or her emotional parting with her

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A YEAR LATER: What really happened with Cam Cameron firing?

Posted on 10 December 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

On December 10, 2012, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron. Eight weeks later, Joe Flacco led a winning offense to a Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers. What really happened? What caused that fateful decision?

Do you want to know everything?

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 15 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 7 here on all things Joe Flacco and why the Baltimore Ravens fell in love with him:

 

15. Dancing on The Edge of Chaos?

“People are going to believe what they want to believe. It’s what I believe is best going forward for our offense and for our football team. That’s not to say anybody can’t do the job or didn’t do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here – doing a heck of a job here for a long time. Nobody knows that better than me, and nobody has stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe that right now at this time, the timing says this is the best thing, and this is what we’re going to do.”
John Harbaugh (December 10, 2012)

 

THE SHORT RIDE HOME FROM Fed Ex Field after an excruciating loss was particularly disturbing for John Harbaugh. On the bus he started thinking about where the Baltimore Ravens would be in the coming weeks if things remained the same and this team continued to perform inconsistently. He’d been thinking about the end of this season since the end of last season. Harbaugh was a big picture guy with all of his assistant coaches. It’s the NFL – Not For Long. Change is inevitable.

But when exactly is the right time to make a glacial movement in philosophy? When, exactly, do you decide to decide to make a change in personnel? And how do you know if it’s the right decision?

“I was on the bus back from the Redskins game, and I just did it,” Harbaugh said. “I just decided this is what we needed to do.”

Twelve hours later, head coach John Harbaugh brought his longtime friend, former boss and current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron into his office in Owings Mills and fired him. Later in the afternoon, Harbaugh did his usual Monday press conference.

“We’ve replaced Cam [Cameron] with Jim Caldwell,” he began. “It’s been something that we went through last night and this morning and had a conversation with Cam real early this morning and then with Jim. And I just want to say that Cam Cameron has done an excellent job here over the last, almost, five years as our offensive coordinator. The record proves that. When you take a look at what’s been accomplished on offense for the last four years – the games that have been won, the points that have been scored, and really, by every measurement – Cam is a very good football coach. He is a loyal, hard-working guy. He’s a great friend. Obviously, it’s a difficult thing, personally, to do something and make a move like that with any coach, especially guys that you’ve been battling with for all these years, and Cam has been right in there battling. He has been a member of this team, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished here. At this time, the move is made to give us a chance to be the best that we can be. And that’s not saying anybody can’t do it, but it’s just an opportunity to try to get this thing going and become the best offense and the best team we can be, and we feel like it’s what is best for the team at this time. And, that’s why we made the move. There’s no more to it than that. We’ll go forward with that. So, Jim will take over. That started this morning. He’s working on the game plan with the rest of the staff. The rest of the staff is on board, and we’ll go to work like we always do and see how it plays out.”

In trying to piece together the story of how it had gotten to this point, this desperate place where Harbaugh felt he had no other option but to fire Cameron on the bus ride home from Fed Ex Field in Week 14 of the season, you have to go back to the biggest of big picture philosophies in Owings Mills.

“What gives us the best chance to win the Super Bowl?”

Much like when Bisciotti fired Billick nearly five years earlier, or when Billick fired his pal and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel during a bye week in 2006, this was as much about the team as it was any one or two issues, disagreements, or personal relationships.

The truth? It was hard to find anyone in the building who truly trusted, fully understood or had an ideal two-way communication with Cam Cameron. Relationships change. People change. But sometimes philosophies remain stagnant and grow stale.

Since Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti pre-dates Harbaugh, it begins with a vision even larger

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Need a Father’s Day gift? The Purple Reign collection is available with one click. Dad loves a happy ending….

Posted on 04 December 2013 by WNST Staff

Is your Dad a Baltimore Ravens fan? Does he love a happy ending? Well, then he’ll love The Purple Reign Collection for Father’s Day. The box set is on sale and I’ll sign ’em all any way you want: http://wnst.net/nfl/buy-purple-reign-2-faith-family-football-a-baltimore-love-story-here/

CLICK HERE

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Special Purple Reign deal for West Wing

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Special Purple Reign deal for West Wing

Posted on 25 August 2013 by WNST Staff

Recently I reached to our many Baltimore transplants and Ravens fans at The West Wing about Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story and was told by Kazy, Peter and the crew that if we put a really special deal together they’d help us spread the word about the 480-page opus of the Super Bowl XLVII run and all of the never-been-told stories of the championship.

In mid-August, while cleaning the basement of WNST, we found two unopened boxes of the original Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac and decided we’d package these for our friends in Cali who want to read both books.

So here’s a special offer for all West Wingers. Hope you check out the books and learn even more about how the Ravens have won two championships.

Purple Reign Both Books (including LAST COPIES of original 2001 softbound book)

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001) OUT OF PRINT SOFTBACK

$49.99 plus S&H

FOR WEST WING MEMBERS: $35.99 DELIVERED!!!!

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We hope you’re enjoying a “Purple Reign” weekend on WNST…

Posted on 27 May 2013 by WNST Staff

We here at WNST would like to wish a very Happy Memorial Day to everyone to all of Baltimore and hope everyone takes time to reflect on those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms Monday.

We also hope you’ve enjoyed this “Purple Reign Weekend” on AM1570 WNST.net. We decided to forgo turning things over to Fox Sports Radio this holiday in favor of sharing the many audio clips that will be part of the “Purple Reign Radio Memories” six CD set that are available by purchasing the VIP Box Set edition of “Purple Reign 2: Faith Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story” by our own Nestor Aparicio about the Super Bowl XLVII champion Baltimore Ravens.

The six CD set includes audio memories from the likes of Art Modell, John Harbaugh, Brian Billick, Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice, Ed Reed, Dennis Pitta, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Justin Tucker and more. It’s an awesome collection of audio spanning the lengthy history of WNST and the Ravens. The VIP set will make the ultimate Father’s Day present for the purple football maniac in your life.

We’ll be back with you live Tuesday morning at 6am when Drew Forrester and Luke Jones return for “The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction.”

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Purple Reign 2 excerpt here: How to find a franchise quarterback

Posted on 25 April 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

Ever wonder why the Baltimore Ravens fell in love with Joe Flacco in the first place? Here are all of the answers!

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 6 of the definitive book on the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in New Orleans, Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

If you enjoy it, please consider buying the books for the holidays as gifts for anyone who loves the Baltimore Ravens.

You can purchase both Purple Reign books by clicking here:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 9 here where Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti talk about the risk of $100 million:

You can read an excerpt from Chapter 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco:

 

 

 

CHAPTER 6: HOW TO FIND A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK

 

 

“You can always look at how the guys play. You just look at the tape. But at the combine you find out what kind of people they are. What’s important to them? How important is football to them? How important is their family to them? If we get those two things right, we’ll be right most of the time.”
– John Harbaugh (March 2008)

 

 

AN NFL SCOUT’S LIFE EXISTS with perpetual hope. Every time he shows up on a campus to watch a kid run, or gets on a plane to fly to a college town to see a game in the fall, or fires up his iPad to watch film, he wants to believe he’s about to find the next player who will help his team win the Super Bowl.

It’s the eternal quest for any NFL scout – find the next Pro Bowl player who can become a Hall of Famer. Or, at the very least, find a player who can help you win every year for the next decade.

By the time Baltimore Ravens area scouts Andy Weidl and Joe Douglas got in their cars and made the one hour drive north up Interstate 95 from Owings Mills to Newark, Delaware on November 10, 2007, Joe Flacco wasn’t a secret to the college scouting world. And he certainly was no stranger to Douglas, who joined the team in 2000 and is known to all in the Ravens organization as “Big Joe D,” whose job it was to scout the Northeast for the team from 2003 through 2008. Douglas was made famous during the Ravens’ summer of 2001 filming of “Hard Knocks” on HBO as “The Turk,” the lowly scout who has the duty of summoning players from the locker room to the office of the head coach where “Coach wants to see you, bring your playbook” means you’ll be leaving the campus and chasing your NFL dream elsewhere.

Incidentally, UrbanDictionary.com defines “turk” as “someone who is extremely brave.” Joe Douglas spent six months talking Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz into drafting a Division 1-AA quarterback from Delaware in the first round of the NFL draft.

Douglas, by any measurement, is as brave as Joe Flacco is fearless.

By 2007, Douglas had moved up the ranks of the scouting system and was making that fateful Saturday a “quarterback doubleheader” – a rare chance to see two teams in one day, both with targets who could be the next quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens. The afternoon game in Newark featured the Delaware Blue Hens hosting the Richmond Spiders in a Division I-AA matchup. The nightcap on the docket was Boston College visiting the Maryland Terps in College Park and Douglas would be joined by longtime Ravens scouts Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz, whom he’d meet at the I-95 Park and Ride near Catonsville so they could travel together to Byrd Stadium. Their target that evening was visiting Eagles quarterback Matt Ryan, who many thought would be the first quarterback – if not the first player – taken in the April 2008 draft.

Incidentally, Douglas was rooting hard for Richmond that afternoon and not out of disdain for Flacco or Delaware. Douglas was the starting left tackle for the Spiders from 1995-1998 and had been through many battles with the Blue Hens on the field. He was also quite familiar with many of the coaches and players in this contest. Even when he didn’t attend Richmond games – and it was rare to see his alma mater in person because NFL scouts don’t scout a lot of I-AA football games unless there’s a specific prospect they want to evaluate – his father would give him weekly Spiders reports from stands.

It was Douglas’ dad, Joel Douglas, who first told Big Joe D about Joe Flacco a year earlier after seeing the 2006 matchup in Richmond.

“He went to the game with my uncle and he called me up and said, ‘I don’t know who that Delaware quarterback was, but Richmond couldn’t stop him,’” Douglas said of a day when Flacco, then a junior who was making his seventh start for the Blue Hens, went 31-of-45 for 305 yards and a pair of TD passes in a come-from-behind 28-24 win over the Spiders. “Honestly, I was more mad that Richmond blew the lead than I was concerned about who Delaware’s junior quarterback was that day.”

The NFL scouting calendar begins in May after the draft. DeCosta and Hortiz enlist the entire organization to target potential candidates to scout for the following year. By August, the scouts plan their entire schedule for the fall, trying to chunk as many practices, games, campus visits and interviews as possible into the schedule while also trying to see the Ravens play some games at home and away. As an NFL scout, this is the most important time of the year because it’s a grueling workload, traveling as much as six days per week in search of a handful of picks you’ll make next April. Choosing a wise schedule lends itself to more rest and better scouting when you’re not driving six hours every day between visits. The schedule has to flow and be manageable so every possible combination is considered around games, campuses, distance, dates and, most importantly, legitimate prospects.

In the summer of 2007, Ravens scout Mark Azevedo, who was assigned Delaware during spring ball, recommended that Douglas see a tall, lanky kid who played quarterback at Delaware.

“Mark said, ‘Delaware has a kid with an arm. Put them on your schedule,’” Douglas said. “I had to look up his name because it rang a bell from the previous year when Delaware beat my Spiders.”

Even with McNair coming off a big 2006 season, anyone with football intelligence knew that the Ravens would probably be in the market for a quarterback in 2008 just based on his age and the fact that no one on Newsome’s staff – or Billick’s coaches for that matter – believed that incumbents Kyle Boller or Troy Smith were the answer. So, Douglas believed that seeing quarterbacks was a major priority that summer and fall in the hopes of finding the right player the following spring.

It was a full time job, this searching-for-a-Super Bowl-MVP-quarterback work.

IF YOU LIKE WHAT YOU’RE READING, YOU CAN BUY Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story HERE:

Continue to the next page to keep reading excerpt from Chapter 6…

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BLIZZARD SPECIAL: Get both Purple Reign books on Ravens for price of one!

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a great day for reading!

Here’s a chance to get the original Purple Reign (2001) paperback and Purple Reign: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013) hardback for just $32.99 with FREE shipping.

Here are three links to excerpts from Purple Reign 2:

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

Here’s another from Chapter 10 involving Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti’s cash showdown in August 2012.

And the firing of Cam Cameron and the aftermath is covered in Chapter 15 here.

 

Get BOTH Purple Reign Both Books — the original softback cover from 2001 and the new hardback edition of 2013 championship:

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001) ORIGINAL SOFT COVER – now out of print!

$49.99 plus S&H

NOW: $32.99 with FREE SHIPPING

 

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