Tag Archive | "ray lewis"

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Why the Ravens will survive offseason purge

Posted on 01 July 2013 by jeffreygilley

I just finished celebrating the Super Bowl victory when the Ravens began losing players. Some were to retirement while others were just released or traded. The losses include Carry Williams, Paul Kruger, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard, Ma’ake Kemoeatu, and Dannell Ellerbe. At first, this was troubling but Ozzie Newsome had a plan and executed it to perfection.

Overwhelming, yes. But the Ravens are set up for long term success at the right price. That is something I have always admired about Ozzie Newsome. Newsome doesn’t get attached to players and approaches football from a business aspect at all times.

I guarantee you Newsome and the Ravens front office were laughing their you know whats off when players like Kruger and Ellerbe signed with other teams. Not to say Ellerbe and Kruger are bad players but they are not worth $75 million combined. Not to mention Ellerbe has struggled with injuries his entire career and Kruger had one good season.

Replacing Kruger and Ellerbe will be Arthur Brown and Elvis Dumervil. The Ravens also have replacements lined up for Williams, Pollard, and Kemoeatu. But notice how I didn’t mention replacements for Boldin, Lewis, or Reed. No one can replace those players.

Boldin is the only loss that truly concerns me. The roster is filled with young receivers with high ceilings and raw ability but that only takes you so far. Boldin brought intangibles to the offense that personified the Ravens playing style. He was also the guy Flacco looked for in clutch situations. None of the young receivers like Deonte Thompson, Tandon Doss, or Tommy Streeter can replace Boldin but maybe Dennis Pitta can.

Look for the Ravens to use Pitta in more of a slot receiver role in 2013. With Pitta in the slot, they can utilize Ed Dickson who is a dangerous weapon when given the chance. Versatile rookie fullback Kyle Juszczyk could also line up across from Dickson as a second tight end.

In a way, while they have lost Boldin, the offense has a chance to be more versatile. Replacing Boldin with a wide range of young fast receivers to stretch the field which fits Flacco’s skill set.

Expect the Ravens to make the playoffs once again. The defense has improved and Flacco can carry this offense. In addition, I dont trust the Bengals to make much of an improvement and the Ravens have owned the Steelers lately.

Comments (0)

D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Five Questions for Friday

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

D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction Five Questions for Friday

Posted on 20 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

As we try out a new segment “Five Questions for Friday” on The D&L Window Tinting Morning Reaction, I wanted to pick readers’ brains on the following topics.

(Update: Thanks to those who chimed in via Twitter, Facebook, and in the comments section below. You can catch Friday morning’s segment HERE.)

I’ve offered my own thoughts on each question and invite you to offer your answers in the comments selection below and I’ll share your insights on Friday morning.

1. If you’re only able to keep two moving forward, who would you choose among Manny Machado, Matt Wieters, and Chris Davis?

This question was brought up during Thursday morning’s show by Jonathan in Essex and it’s an intriguing one to ponder, particularly when you acknowledge the potential cost that each of these three young players will carry in the future.

Wieters and Davis are both scheduled to become free agents after 2015 while Machado isn’t currently scheduled to see free agency until after the 2018 campaign.

Machado is the easy first choice and Wieters would have been my second pick in spring training, but my answer may be changing as the season progresses and we see Chris Davis continue an MVP-caliber season. Even if this is Davis’ career year and he settles in as a first baseman capable of simply hitting 30 to 40 home runs in the typical year, he brings the type of power only a handful of players in the major leagues can provide.

However, Wieters’ defense and ability to handle a flawed pitching staff is a major reason why the Orioles have become a winning franchise over the last two years. He never did become Johnny Bench offensively, but he’s still a good offensive catcher with exceptional defensive skills, a rare combination among backstops in the game today.

If I’m choosing now, I’ll keep Machado and Davis, but a big reason why is the Orioles’ window for signing Wieters to a long-term extension continuing to close. The catcher will be 29 when he hits free agency after 2015 and will be looking for an expensive and lengthy contract, which is something I’m not crazy about doing for a catcher who will have much tread worn away from the tires by then.

2. After Torrey Smith and Dennis Pitta, which player currently on the roster will be the most productive receiver for the Ravens in 2013?

Smith and Pitta are the easy choices for seeing a spike in production following the departure of Anquan Boldin, but it remains to be seen who else will emerge to become a bigger part of the passing game.

I’m not sold on Jacoby Jones suddenly become a consistent wide receiver in his seventh year despite the big-play ability, so I’ll go with Tandon Doss finally figuring it out in his third year to become a respectable contributor. Anyone in the media will tell you how well Doss has practiced over the last couple years, but limited opportunities and nagging injuries have prevented him from becoming a household name.

Many have written him off after being targeted only 20 times in his career and his disappointing showing in the wild-card round against Indianapolis, but he fits the closest profile to what the Ravens received from Boldin over the last three years. And he’s gotten stronger and quicker since entering the league as a fourth-round pick out of Indiana.

Of course, don’t forget the possibility of Ray Rice becoming an even bigger factor out of the backfield as a receiver, especially with the power-running ability of Bernard Pierce likely cutting into his total number of carries.

3. Of the four Orioles currently in line to be starters in July’s All-Star Game, how would you rank them in order of being most deserving? Which Orioles belong in the Midsummer Classic and which ones don’t?

Of the four players slated to be starters as of the last voting update, Davis is clearly the most deserving. After that, I’d be inclined to go with Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Nick Markakis in order from most to least deserving of the nod.

Jones continues to be very productive in a down year for American League outfielders. Meanwhile, Hardy is hitting .311 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs since May 1 and continues to be an excellent defensive shortstop.

Markakis is a pick based mostly on the outstanding voting efforts of Orioles fans, but little about his solid-but-unspectacular season really screams All-Star starter if you’re looking at his numbers objectively. He ranks 15th among AL outfielders with a .761 OPS this year.

Aside from Davis, no Orioles player is more deserving of an All-Star nod than Machado, who leads the major leagues in hits and is on pace to set a new major-league record for doubles as he already has 33 in 73 games. It’s understandable that he ranks second behind 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for third basemen, but it will truly be a shame if he’s left off the All-Star team.

Wieters currently ranks second among AL catchers and will earn consideration because of his defense and reputation, but his offensive numbers don’t hold up as well this year with a .702 OPS, which ranks behind Joe Mauer, Carlos Santana, Jason Castro, Ryan Doumit, and Salvador Perez among AL backstops.

4. Because everyone else has asked the question and I want to address it once before moving on, so who would be your four choices for the Ravens’ hypothetical version of Mt. Rushmore?

I suppose Pro Football Talk should receive the blame for getting this discussion rolling for the 32 NFL teams this spring, but I find it difficult to come up with a definitive foursome for a franchise that only has 17 seasons of history to its name.

The first three are elementary with Ray Lewis, Jonathan Ogden, and Ed Reed, but choosing a fourth feels forced. Super Bowl XLVII most valuable player Joe Flacco would be my tentative selection for now, but Flacco has too much football ahead of him to definitively etch him in stone as one of the four greatest in franchise history.

Still, I’d include him before the likes of Ray Rice, Jamal Lewis, Matt Stover, and Terrell Suggs based on the first five years of his NFL career.

The truth is these types of exercises work much better for teams with extensive histories and it feels artificial for even successful teams with shorter histories such as the Ravens, let alone teams lacking any substantial prosperity like Jacksonville or Carolina.

5. What is your favorite superhero movie?

Yes, I realize this isn’t a sports-related question, but I thought I’d throw in a non-sports topic to discuss and I plan to see “Man of Steel” over the weekend.

The newest attempt at a Superman movie has received mixed reviews, but I’ll freely admit to being a nerd for superhero movies such as the Batman trilogy and saw “Iron Man 3″ in the theater earlier this spring.

“The Dark Knight” goes down as my all-time favorite superhero movie, but I also found “The Dark Knight Rises” to be much better than many gave it credit for as I thoroughly enjoyed Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane. It was impossible to match the psychotic performance of the late Heath Ledger as the Joker in the previous movie, but Hardy gave a more than respectable effort playing the homicidal man behind the mask.

How would you answer the five questions posed? Comment below and see if your answers make the cut for Friday’s show.

Comments (3)

You couldn’t ask for a better year for Dad

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

You couldn’t ask for a better year for Dad

Posted on 16 June 2013 by Luke Jones

“My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person; he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano

As we spent the day honoring our fathers, grandfathers, or any man who’s embraced the enormous responsibility of being called “Dad,” it’s easy to reflect on what was a great year for Dad if he’s a Baltimore sports fan.

Perhaps you were lucky enough to cherish the Orioles’ first playoff appearance in 15 years with the man who held your hand as he walked you through the gate at Memorial Stadium or Oriole Park at Camden Yards countless times or sat down to watch with you on TV or just happened to put the ballgame on the radio as he drove you nowhere in particular. Witnessing a raucous and packed Camden Yards wave rally towels for Games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series was as good as it gets after 14 seasons largely filled with misery and eventual apathy.

The Ravens’ second Super Bowl championship undoubtedly meant more if you can remember your father crying when the Colts skipped town in the middle of the night or you spent a large portion of your childhood wondering with Dad if Baltimore would ever get another NFL team as autumn Sundays were all too quiet for far too many years. Whether you made the once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Orleans or celebrated at home with the rest of Charm City as Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and John Harbaugh raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy, the feeling accompanying that bear hug, high five, or glowing smile will never be forgotten by those fortunate enough to share them with their fathers.

It was the perfect way to bid farewell to Lewis, who was the omnipresent figure teaching Baltimore to “raise the roof” and to remember what it felt like to have an NFL team in the infancy of the franchise and making an improbable return from injury for the “last ride” of his career, entering the pantheon of the city’s all-time best sports figures over the last 17 years.

The last 12 months have been a wonderful time to spend with Dad, but many weren’t able to share those special memories with the man holding so much influence over not just their Baltimore sports fandom but in other aspects of their lives. For those individuals, his presence may no longer be here physically, but his spirit lives on through every pitch and each snap, the cheers and moments of disappointment, and with each breath his son or daughter takes.

I once heard someone say that when you lose your father at a young age, you spend the rest of your life trying to make him proud. Truer words have never been spoken if you’ve found yourself in that unenviable position, regardless of how old you might be.

Sunday marked the ninth Father’s Day I’ve spent without my dad, but his smile and embrace were felt as strongly as ever while watching what transpired on the Baltimore sports scene over the last year.

Many landing in this wonderful but difficult business of sports media will point to the influence their father had in sharing a love for sports, writing, or both at an early age. My dad didn’t live long enough to see me take the unique path to where I am today that began with five rewarding years in public education, continued with a unique media competition at WNST.net, and eventually turned into a full-time opportunity to cover the local teams with which I grew up. But he’s the biggest reason why I’m doing what I love today and he – along with my mom, of course – was my biggest fan in whatever I tried to accomplish.

I miss his physical presence and voice every day after nearly nine years without him, but I know he’s been right there with me along the way, starting with the first Ravens game I attended without him in 2004 when I sobbed uncontrollably just six days after he died – the emotion came immediately after Reed returned an interception 106 yards for a touchdown in the closing seconds to wrap up a victory against Cleveland — and continuing each time I walk into the press box or cover another training camp practice in the sweltering heat of Owings Mills in August.

Your perspective changes when you work in media as you get to know athletes and coaches – for better or worse – and remember the obligatory rule of no cheering in the press box. You have a job to do, so the manner in which you watch and enjoy games changes from your previous experiences as a fan. What was once only a passion becomes a profession, with responsibilities that accompany such an awesome job.

But it doesn’t change how you feel inside, especially when you had the kind of relationship I enjoyed with my father through the first 21 years of my life. There isn’t a time that I’m walking to my car after a late night at Camden Yards or an afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium in which I don’t think of Dad, silently asking him what he thought of the game.

I can almost hear his opinions on Flacco, Harbaugh, Adam Jones, and Manny Machado even though each of those individuals came along years after his passing. And I know I’m not alone in sharing the sentiment that my late father has enjoyed the best seat in the house over this last year in particular.

What a year it was, Dad.

As the Orioles were on the verge of clinching their first postseason berth since 1997, one of the most unique scenes of the year occurred on the final home date of the regular season. Moments after a win over the Boston Red Sox, manager Buck Showalter and his club of talented but unproven players mixed with a few journeymen stood on the field watching a game between the Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Angels on the video board, with the outcome determining whether the Orioles would officially clinch a spot that afternoon or would need to wait a little longer.

It was a unique scene in which players and coaches transformed into fans just like the 41,000 gathered at the ballpark that afternoon. And it was a moment that brought a lump in my throat and moisture in my eyes as I thought of the countless games at the ballpark with my dad, who served as an usher for nine years at Memorial Stadium and was with me for virtually every game I attended through 2004.

I could remember the many times talking to him when I was away for college at Syracuse and how he’d inevitably fit into every conversation, “The Orioles still stink.” Truthfully, the language was a bit more colorful, but it was a running joke to mask the annual disappointment we both held.

In that moment sitting in the press box on that Sunday afternoon, I thought to myself, “Not anymore.”

Lucky enough to be at Yankee Stadium to cover the ALDS last October, I wore my favorite shirt to Game 5, a maroon polo that belonged to my dad and my grandfather before him. The color has faded to a light salmon and it has a few more holes around the collar and shoulders than I’d like to admit, but the shirt was the only garment of choice as the Orioles were unfortunately eliminated in a highly competitive series in which fans could still be proud of the club’s remarkable season.

A few months later, I wore the same shirt as I settled into my seat in the auxiliary press box at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for Super Bowl XLVII. Coincidence or not, there was something fitting about the seat to my left somehow remaining empty throughout the game as I thought back to 12 years earlier and the giant hug shared with my dad as we watched the closing seconds of Super Bowl XXXV on TV. I remembered the many conversations about our dream of one day attending a Super Bowl together and hoping we would get another chance.

As the confetti fell and I quickly made my way downstairs for post-game interviews, I felt the same lump in my throat and moisture in my eyes that I did on that final day of September in Baltimore a few months earlier.

I suppose it wasn’t exactly how we pictured it, but we did make it to a Super Bowl, Dad.

It would be difficult to ask for a better sports year as we spent Sunday honoring our fathers in various ways. Whether you took him to the ballpark or got together to watch the Orioles on TV, shared a meal, called him on the telephone, or simply spent a few moments lost in memory, I can only wish and pray you’re as lucky as I was – and still am — to have had such a wonderful dad.

His love of Baltimore sports and, more importantly, the valuable life lessons he offered about what it meant to be a man, a compassionate friend, a devoted husband, and a father are ones I remember and still try to fully grasp as I approach my 30th birthday and dream of one day having a family of my own.

Whenever someone who knew him tells me how much I resemble him, I smile proudly after once cringing when I was a teenager — though I’ll promise to refrain from growing his trademark mustache.

I feel his presence at every game, imagining him chomping on peanuts or popcorn while making an absolute mess, and it makes me smile far more often than I cry all these years later.

I’ll never stop trying to make him proud, hopefully experiencing a few more years like this past one along the way.

I hope you enjoyed it, Dad.

I know I did.

Comments (4)

Bisciotti anoints Flacco new leader of Ravens at ring ceremony

Tags: , , , , , ,

Bisciotti anoints Flacco new leader of Ravens at ring ceremony

Posted on 10 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

If there were any remaining doubts about who the new leader of the Ravens would be after the retirement of Ray Lewis and the free-agent departure of Ed Reed, owner Steve Bisciotti made it elementary during Friday’s ring ceremony.

Addressing the entire organization before unveiling the much-anticipated jewelry commemorating the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory, Bisciotti confirmed that sixth-year quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco will assume the role left behind by the two future Hall of Fame defensive players. No longer will Flacco just be entrusted to lead the offense but the 28-year-old will now be the principal figure of the entire roster, according to the owner.

“You are the leader now, like it or not,” said Bisciotti to Flacco, according to the team’s official site. “Not many guys do what you did in five years. Not many did it your way. Not many like the way you do it. But I said at the end-of-the-year press conference after last year’s [postseason] defeat that I think the fans of Baltimore will be rewarded by your low-key presence, and it will stand the test of time.”

It certainly has to this point as Flacco became just the second quarterback in NFL history — joining Joe Montana — to throw 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in a single postseason. The 2008 first-round pick is also the only signal-caller in league history to not only advance to the postseason in each of his first five years but to win at least one playoff game per postseason.

Of course, no one should expect any dramatic changes in the quarterback’s personality or the camera-friendly flare of Lewis, but Flacco himself has acknowledged becoming more vocal over the years because he naturally feels more comfortable in his surroundings. Many have pointed out that Flacco is more vocal behind the scenes than what we see on game day and in interviews when he is often accused by critics of being too passive.

Flacco was rewarded with a six-year, $120.6 million contract this offseason, becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history at the time. Speaking to reporters after receiving his first championship ring on Friday night, the Baltimore quarterback expressed how touched he was to have been singled out with praise by Bisciotti during the speech.

“It was pretty cool,” Flacco said. “Steve is an awesome dude, a great owner, and this is a great organization. You can see how special of a night this is and how over the top they went for it. I think that just says a lot about him, and obviously, I’m honored that he would bring me up.”

Comments (0)

Your Monday Reality Check: Celebration over, preparation in full force this week

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

Your Monday Reality Check: Celebration over, preparation in full force this week

Posted on 10 June 2013 by Glenn Clark

As Nestor Aparicio, Luke Jones and I were sitting at the Baltimore Ravens’ facility in Owings Mills Friday night, we were discussing the finality of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII season/celebration. Luke pointed out the team would still have the ability to hang a Super Bowl championship banner at M&T Bank Stadium before their home opener Week 2 against the Cleveland Browns, but that’s about all that’s left for this team.

With the White House visited and the rings handed out, the Baltimore Ravens are now-in the words of now NFL agent Jay-Z-”on to the next one.” It was nice to have Ray Lewis and Ed Reed around Charm City for a week. It was nice to reflect once more on this particular era of Ravens football.

But as of today, that’s over.

As of today, the relationship between Ed Reed and the Baltimore Ravens is once again severed. He won’t be back in the building again until his career comes to a close. As of today, Ed Reed is nothing more than a player the Ravens will have to go up against when they play the Houston Texans…if he’s healthy enough to play.

It has been remarkably fun to celebrate a Super Bowl title for Baltimore Ravens players (and coaches and staffers who also received rings Friday night) and fans alike. It’s been a wild four months of player movement, late-night talk shows, Dancing With The Stars, accolades and high-fives.

It’s all in the past now.

The Ravens open their only mandatory mini-camp of the offseason tomorrow in Owings Mills. While a number of players have taken part in voluntary OTA’s and strength programs, this will be the first gathering of what will make up the overwhelming majority of the 2013 version of this team. There will still be a few lingering injuries that will prevent players from taking part in practice, but it will most certainly be the closest thing we’ll see to the first look at the Ravens in the post Lewis/Reed era before Training Camp.

While you’re scrambling to make sure you have your copy of “Purple Reign 2″ before Father’s Day (and that isn’t a bit-you REALLY need to make sure this is the gift you’re giving), the Purple Birds will spend their week taking the best look they can at the team that will take the field this year to try to protect their Lombardi Trophy.

For the World Champs, there are a number of questions as always. None will be fully addressed in minicamp; because no NFL issue has EVER really been fully addressed during the course of a minicamp. But many will be viewed closely with the understanding that this is the best opportunity to set the tone for how the team handles both Camp and preseason games.

The Ravens will have to plan a depth chart before Training Camp gets underway. While all players will get reps, determining who gets which reps with which unit and how many are necessary is something that will happen between now and the start of Camp. At no position is that determination more difficult than wide receiver.

The Ravens know what they have at the top of the depth chart at wide receiver. Torrey Smith (or “Samson” as LB Terrell Suggs joked Friday night) is expected to lead the group and appears to be on the verge of breakout stardom. His exceptional speed was combined with better route running and improved catching consistency last season, leaving many to believe he could become a 1,000 yard type of receiver in his third year out of Maryland.

(Continued on Page 2…)

Comments (0)

Ravens gather to commemorate Super Bowl XLVII a final time

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

Ravens gather to commemorate Super Bowl XLVII a final time

Posted on 08 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

The Super Bowl ring ceremony was quite the extravagant party in Owings Mills that served as a reunion for the 2012 Ravens as well as the final big celebration of the second championship in franchise history.

Yes, Baltimore’s home opener against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 15 will include the unveiling of a second Super Bowl championship banner, but that ceremony will be overshadowed by an actual game and won’t include those who’ve moved on to other organizations but were able to return to the team’s facility to receive their lavish Super Bowl rings.

Media access was limited at Friday night’s event as it was a party for members of the organization, but the Ravens provided an interesting foursome of players to speak to the media minutes after the rings were unveiled.

Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs, Joe Flacco, and Torrey Smith all stood at different stages of their career as they received their championship rings with the 38-year-old Lewis speaking to reporters first. Having retired after winning his second championship, Lewis spoke as a fatherly figure throughout the postseason and once again expressed his satisfaction over not only having the opportunity to go out on top but to see his teammates experience what it meant to be a champion.

“I always told them I wanted them to really feel what the confetti felt like. Now to be here, to have something that symbolizes it, it’s the ultimate because now it connects us forever,” said Lewis, who also wore his Super Bowl XXXV ring after receiving the Super Bowl XLVII one to wear on his opposite hand. “It took me 12 years to get back and get another ring. I want them to cherish what this moment feels like right now while we’re world champions.”

Flacco, the Super Bowl MVP, responded only how he could with the honest assessment of a gaudy ring that includes white gold and 243 round-cut diamonds. As Lewis pointed out, Flacco won a championship in his fifth season — like the linebacker did with the 2000 Ravens — and the championship surely provided validation in the minds of those who wondered whether he could lead Baltimore to a championship.

The quarterback admitted he probably won’t wear the ring, but it won’t be sitting locked up in his closet either.

“It’s kind of unwearable,” said Flacco, drawing laughter from reporters. “When I see people for the first time, I’m sure they’re going to have some interest in seeing it or at least I’m going to have some interest in showing it off to them. I’m definitely going to bring it a couple of places. I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m going to wear it, but it’s pretty special.”

Entering his third season, Smith represented the younger players on the roster fortunate enough not to wait long to taste Super Bowl glory in their NFL careers.

And the former University of Maryland product struggled to keep his eyes off the hardware as he spoke to media.

“I told you all what I was going to be like. I didn’t cry or anything, but I can see how women feel when they get a ring,” said Smith as he laughed. “It has a lot of different meanings. There will never be another season like this. We can win the Super Bowl every year while I’m in the league and there will be nothing like this one.”

The most intriguing of the four to speak was 11th-year linebacker Terrell Suggs, who finally earned the Super Bowl ring he’s dreamed about after starring on the vaunted Baltimore defense for a decade. While Lewis, Flacco, and future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed received most of the attention for different reasons, Suggs won his first championship after the most difficult season of his career in which he recovered from a torn Achilles tendon in late April and then played with a torn biceps for the final two months of the 2012 season.

Always one to provide a colorful quote and having the reputation of being the class clown of the Ravens locker room, Suggs’ sincerity in describing how he felt upon finally seeing his first piece of championship jewelry was the highlight of the brief session.

“To have it so close, it finally hit me what exactly we accomplished together,” said Suggs, who figured out his ring was hidden in front of him when he was discouraged from moving his seat at the beginning of the ceremony. “It didn’t take a year. It took me 11 years to get it. It took coach [John] Harbaugh from when he got here in 2008 — we’ve been chasing this. It finally paid off, all that blood given. There’s not a word that describes what I’m feeling right now and all the emotions.

“The journey was long, but it was worth it. But I will tell you this, I damn sure want to feel like this again.”

Owner Steve Bisciotti took care of former members of the organization by not only awarding Super Bowl rings to David and John Modell, the sons of the late owner Art Modell, but to the five members of the team’s Ring of Honor who played on the Super Bowl XXXV championship team. It appears Bisciotti is setting a precedent by giving rings to Jonathan Ogden, Peter Boulware, Michael McCrary, Matt Stover, and Jamal Lewis, but fellow Ring of Honor member Earnest Byner wasn’t included in that group.

Byner was the only member of the Ring of Honor to have played for the Ravens — the Hall of Fame members of the Baltimore Colts are also honored — who did not receive a ring, so it appears this is a subtle way of ignoring the former Browns, Redskins, and Ravens running back’s inclusion, which was never accepted by fans from the time Byner was inducted in 2001.

He was a favorite of the late Modell, but seeing Byner’s name listed among Ravens greats as well as the Hall of Fame Colts has always looked out of place.

Comments (3)

Ravens celebrate Super Bowl glory with unknown in front of them

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ravens celebrate Super Bowl glory with unknown in front of them

Posted on 05 June 2013 by Luke Jones

(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)

WASHINGTON — In the days leading up to and immediately following their Super Bowl XLVII victory over the San Francisco 49ers in New Orleans, Ravens coach John Harbaugh and his players shared a similar sentiment over and over with reporters.

It would be the final time we’d see that team — the 2012 edition — together as some number of players, coaches, and staff members would inevitably go their separate ways. It was a reminder to all to enjoy the moment in knowing they would never all be together again, and Wednesday’s visit to the White House was a reminder of that despite the euphoria experienced in meeting President Barack Obama and touring his famous home.

Several key members of that team were missing for various reasons, including Anquan Boldin, Bernard Pollard, Matt Birk, Cary Williams, and Paul Kruger, as even the most prominent celebratory experience still didn’t look quite the same as the moments following the Ravens’ 34-31 win when the confetti fell and the franchise raised its second Vince Lombardi Trophy. However, it was the sight of two players in particular standing behind Obama at the podium that reminded you how quickly life has changed for the Ravens barely four months after their Super Bowl title.

Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, together as the former leaders of the Baltimore defense and two of the biggest icons in this city’s sports history, stood with most of their former teammates for the first time since the victory parade in downtown Baltimore.

It’s strange thinking of them in the same way as the many Super Bowl XXXV players who have returned to Baltimore from time to time for celebrations, knowing they are now officially part of the franchise’s past.

“You can’t think about Baltimore without thinking of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, two of the greatest defenders who ever played the game,” Obama said. “Now, these two won’t be wearing purple next year. Everybody is going to have to get used to that.”

Because Lewis’ fate had already been known entering the postseason as he expressed his intentions to retire, Wednesday was a unique spotlight for Reed to say goodbye to the organization he called home for 11 years before signing a three-year contract with the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. It was refreshing to see Reed smile and appear to hold no ill will toward his former team after the Ravens showed little interest in re-signing the 34-year-old safety.

Reed’s decision to attend the White House ceremony as well as Friday’s ring ceremony in Owings Mills appears to quell any concerns about any significant rift between the sides, which is exactly what all parties emotionally involved hoped to see in terms of Reed’s willingness to return to celebrate the first title of his career. And you assume Reed will be back many times after his Week 3 visit to Baltimore as a member of the opposition for the first time.

While making a joke about Reed’s grandfatherly look, the 44th president inadvertently provided a reminder of why the Ravens decided to forgo a last-ditch effort at a repeat, instead looking forward to the uncertain future with a revamped roster that still includes many core players with a championship pedigree. It was a special day made to celebrate what the 2012 Ravens accomplished, but the unknown stares each one of them right in the face in different ways.

And we all know nothing lasts forever.

“Ed is getting some gray hair,” said Obama, drawing laughs from the franchise’s all-time interceptions leader. “I’m not the only one, huh? You’re like an old man. That makes me feel better.”

Reed recently underwent hip surgery and told the team’s official site that he’s unsure whether he’ll be ready to play for Houston in Week 1. It was a reminder of the side of the 2004 Defensive Player of the Year that the Ravens and fans had grown weary of in recent years as his career winds down and injuries have taken their toll.

Of course, the future Hall of Fame safety isn’t the only one undergoing change.

Lewis now looks at a new career in television as well as the opportunity to become a full-time fan watching his son playing at the University of Miami as the 38-year-old awaits induction into Canton in the summer of 2018.

Harbaugh now looks to try to become the first coach in Ravens history to guide his team to a second championship, which would not only trump Super Bowl XXXV coach Brian Billick but put him in rare territory in the history of NFL coaches.

And the remaining players on the roster welcome new veterans and rookies alike, trying to not only express what’s expected to be a member of the organization but to work toward defending their championship and advancing to the playoffs for a sixth straight year.

Sixth-year quarterback Joe Flacco tops that list of players as a Super Bowl MVP and a $120.6 million contract naturally puts more pressure on him to lead and to continue to excel behind center. The 28-year-old was singled out by Obama for his excellent playoff performance and how he was subsequently rewarded.

“Good timing with that contract up, huh?” said Obama, drawing laughter from Flacco and those gathered on the South Lawn. “That was some good timing. Capped off one of the greatest postseasons ever by a quarterback [with] more than 1,000 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions. I don’t know about you, Joe, but I would say that qualifies as elite.”

Even the commander-in-chief couldn’t resist using the “e” word, but that label brings a certain ambiguity that Flacco and the Ravens didn’t have to worry about on Wednesday.

No matter how much you’ve praised or haven’t cared for the decisions made by general manager Ozzie Newsome and owner Steve Bisciotti this offseason, the future remains an unknown for all those with a piece in the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII championship.

But it felt like old times for just a few moments on Wednesday, just as it will for the ring ceremony and the occasional celebrations in the years to come.

Nothing lasts forever, but there’s nothing wrong with looking back at what you’ve accomplished from time to time, knowing that it can never be taken away.

And the Ravens experienced that in all their glory, most of them back together for the first time since that unforgettable week in early February.

 

Comments (0)

Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

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

Purple Reign 2: Flacco & Bisciotti met, talked Super Bowls & millions last August

Posted on 30 May 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

This is an excerpt from a new, 480-page book on the Baltimore Ravens championship run called Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story. If you enjoyed every aspect of their Super Bowl win in New Orleans, you’ll love this book that chronicles how the team overcame adversity and personal tragedies, and used theology sprinkled with faith, family and love on the way to a Baltimore parade fueled by inspiration, dedication, perspiration and yes, a little bit of luck.

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 15 on the firing of Cam Cameron and its impact on Joe Flacco

This is from Chapter 9, “Injury after insult after implosion – Psychology 2012.” If you enjoy this small snippet you can purchase the book and read another excerpt here. You can also join the Facebook fan page here. The book will be released on May 31st and will be delivered before Father’s Day if purchase before June 5th.

 

AS THE TEAM WAS ASSEMBLED in the preseason, questions lingered, but Harbaugh felt great that the team had survived an offseason without arrests, without incidents, without any member of a veteran team blaming Evans or Cundiff for the New England loss. He inherited a fractured team in 2008, and by the summer of 2012 he was feeling good about the unity of the players and their maturity.

But the obvious questions for fans, media, and The Castle staff were all the same:

Is this the last chance for Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Matt Birk?

Will the offensive line hold up?

Can the Ravens win the big one?

Can Joe Flacco win the big one?

As Bisciotti knew on draft day in 2008, and as Newsome, Harbaugh, and everyone else in the organization had experienced the hard way — it always comes back to the quarterback. Was Joe Flacco going to be the franchise quarterback who would win a Super Bowl for the Baltimore Ravens?

Flacco, who played perhaps the best game of his career and threw what would’ve been the pass that took the Ravens to the Super Bowl on his last drive in January, somehow went into the 2012 season as the man on the hot seat who had not only turned down a $90 million offer for more than six months, but who had gone on WNST.net & AM 1570 in April and said he thought he was the best quarterback in the NFL. As much as Tim Tebow was the darling of ESPN with a seemingly non-stop Jets theme on SportsCenter, Flacco became something of a punch line for a quarterback who could get a team to the playoffs, but somehow was perceived as “not Super Bowl caliber.”

Short of catching his own pass in Foxborough, he literally had done everything he could do to get his team into the Super Bowl and yet the abuse was seemingly endless.

But the game is won on the X’s and O’s and the execution, and Flacco knew this. Cameron and Flacco had talked about more passing, more shotgun formations, and more pressure on defenses, but over the summer of 2012 it became clear the Ravens would become more of a personalized offense for No. 5. If the Ravens were offering Flacco $90 million dollars, they’d need to trust him to earn that money. He loved the tempo of the no-huddle offense and loved that it allowed him to dictate to the defense both personnel and pace.

“What quarterback wouldn’t want to run the no-huddle or fast-paced offense?” Flacco said. “Let’s be honest, it’s more fun to play quarterback when you do that. We like the pace we’re running on offense right now, but it’s a work in progress. We’ve done OK, and we’ve played pretty quick. But, we know we can play better, and we will play faster as we get into it more.”

Harbaugh endorsed this ideological move from being a team that always allowed its defense to cut loose while always seeming to fear the worst from the offense — trying to utilize the clock, run the ball, and be more conservative. “We’ve talked about the no-huddle [offense] since Joe’s [Flacco] rookie season,” Harbaugh said. “He ran it at Delaware and has had success in it when we’ve run it the last few years. He is a key to running it, and he loves it. And, we have the parts for it right now, including the offensive line. We can run the offense very fast, a little fast, slower, and we can huddle. We’re in a good spot right now with how we can run our offense.”

While some of the idiot sports talking heads and media types were constantly flogging Flacco, the people who watch coaches’ film were always impressed with him, using the evidence and residue of four straight playoff appearances and his improving game to shout down the detractors.

“We’ve spent time with Joe [Flacco], and I perceive a change in him,” said NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, who saw Flacco play at Audubon High in his hometown of Philadelphia. “He’s won since Day One with the Ravens, but he’s more confident now. They’re confident in him, too, and the improved offense reflects all of that. He can make every throw. He can bring his team from behind. The question becomes, ‘Can they win a Super Bowl with Joe?’ And the answer is an emphatic, ‘Yes!’”

Mike Lombardi, who was doing NFL analysis in the summer of 2012 before becoming the general manager of the Cleveland Browns, said “That anyone spent the offseason criticizing [Joe] Flacco strikes me as ludicrous. Flacco didn’t drop the ball in the end zone against the Patriots. In fact, it was Flacco who drove the Ravens to give them two chances to win that game. It was others who didn’t make plays. While he doesn’t play in an offense that shows off his skills statistically, Flacco is a winning QB, and his record [45-21] shows it.”

ESPN’s Ron Jaworski spoke out on Flacco’s arm strength and ability to attack opposing defenses. “Arm strength – that’s Flacco’s No. 1 attribute,” Jaws said. “I get so tired of hearing how arm strength is overrated. It’s far more important than people think. He has the strongest arm in the NFL. And he has an aggressive, confident throwing mentality. The element always overlooked by those who minimize arm strength is the willingness of quarterbacks like Flacco to pull the trigger. Few recognize that because there is no quantifiable means by which to evaluate throws that are not made by quarterbacks with lesser arm strength. It’s all about dimensions. Flacco gives you the ability to attack all areas of the field at any point in the game.”

Flacco took the responsibility as a personal challenge and something he embraced.

“It’s definitely my offense as a quarterback; it’s my job to get out there and lead these guys and direct them and run the traffic, and get it run the way that I want it to be run,” he said in training camp. “Cam may be running the plays, and I may be controlling certain things on the line depending on what the play is, but the fine details of being a good offense are all of the fine details. And it’s my job to get those correct and that we have everyone on the same page. As long as I’m out there in practice getting it to the games and on game day, as long as I’m doing that and expressing to the receivers, expressing to the running back, and to the offensive line how I feel, and what I see back there and as long as we can get on the same page as that together, then that’s when we’re doing something, and that’s when I’m doing my job.

“You talk about being paid that much money, they don’t do that so that they can go out there to do every job, they do that so they can delegate some jobs onto me. And I can go out there and get it done the way it should be. That’s a big part of being a quarterback. To be able to make sure that everything is running smoothly and everybody sees it the way I see it. And that once we get there on Sunday, we can just react and play. Because we’re all up to speed and we all have the same vision of everything. I think that’s what good quarterbacks are able to do, is to take that and then take a certain play and make it great, just because everyone has a good understanding of that.”

By the beginning of training camp it was very clear that the Ravens and Flacco were at an impasse in negotiating a new contract that would replace the final year of his five-year deal from 2008. Newsome called Bisciotti and said that after tireless conversation with Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, there was no way to get a long-term deal and that the Ravens would need to play out the season and consider signing or franchising their star quarterback in 2013.

Bisciotti authorized a final offer – a “bump and roll” contract that gave Flacco a $1 million per year bonus if he won a Super Bowl and $2 million per year for the six years of the deal if he had won two Super Bowls. It would’ve been a raise that stayed on the books for the life of the deal. The average salary number was $16.7 million per year on the Ravens’ base offer, which would’ve made Flacco the fourth-highest paid quarterback behind Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Flacco was essentially turning down $90 million because he was rejecting the notion that he was the fourth best quarterback in the NFL.

Linta and Flacco once again turned it down the week before training camp opened.

Bisciotti was flustered, wanting to get the deal done and ran into Flacco in the cafeteria in Owings Mills during the first week of training camp and summoned the quarterback to his office upstairs.

“I had never, ever – not for one minute – even spoken to Joe about the contract,” Bisciotti said. “That was for Pat [Moriarty] and Ozzie [Newsome] to do, but I wanted to take one more swing at it and try to understand the situation.”

They spent 45 minutes with the door closed.

“There are two things here that I don’t understand,” Bisciotti said to Flacco. “I don’t understand why you’re walking away from this deal? As maligned as you are in the press and as little faith as so many pundits have in you, we’re offering you a $90 million deal and you can go wave that in their face and say, ‘F**k you guys! See, the Ravens DO believe in me!’ ”

Flacco was nonplussed. “I really don’t care about my critics,” he bluntly told the Ravens owner.

Bisciotti was exasperated. “I don’t understand it. Joe, don’t you think you’d play better with a clear head and having this contract behind you?” he continued. “You won’t have to answer questions from anybody, and you can just focus on playing and winning the Super Bowl.”

Flacco said it again. “Steve, I appreciate the offer, but I really don’t care about the media, critics, any of it. I’ve gotta trust my agent, and he doesn’t want any incentives in contracts. And I’ve gotta leave it to him.”

Bisciotti reasoned that until they won a Super Bowl together neither one would get that ultimate respect they desired. “I’m offering you a better deal than the one you’re asking me for if you’re planning on winning the Super Bowl,” he said.

Flacco wasn’t upset or emotional, as is his custom. He simply smiled and said he was going to play out the year. Bisciotti said, “Well, I tried,” as he shook Flacco’s hand. “Then go out and put a few rings on my desk and get what you think you deserve.”

“I figured if he’s fine with it then I should be fine with it,” Bisciotti said. “I wanted it behind both of us. I guess I didn’t really understand how different a guy he was. I told him, ‘You are a different cat, man!’ ”

Flacco remembers the conversation vividly. “Yeah, he couldn’t get over it,” Flacco said. “He said, ‘Do you know what you’re doing? This is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard!’ I told him I knew what I was doing and my price wasn’t getting cheaper. I saw his point of view but I also thought that I was right. I’m a little bit of a hard head.”

Flacco believed the market always get set by the next elite quarterback that signs and the price always goes up if you perform. “It wasn’t a bad offer but I felt like I could do better if I waited,” he said. Like his adversary in this $100 million negotiation, he had gone to the Bisciotti school of downside management.

“My agent said to me, ‘Think about the worse possible situation and if you’re OK with that then hold your position,” Flacco said. The downside here would’ve been a catastrophic injury or a bad 2012 season on the field. “If I got hurt, I got hurt,” he said. “That’s the nature of the game. I was willing to look in the mirror and live with that.”

Flacco said he turned the tables on Bisciotti: “I told him, ‘You should give me four or five million more now because if I win the Super Bowl’ – and I did say ‘if’ – ‘then it’s gonna cost you $20 million.’ ”

Flacco figured he was still only making his base of $6.5 million in 2012 no matter what. The Ravens weren’t ripping up his deal. It was an extension. And there’s always a new “going rate” for top quarterbacks.

“I was actually glad that he called me up to talk about it because it was a cool conversation to have,” Flacco said. “Even though we weren’t agreeing it was a great conversation. It’s one of those talks that grows a relationship, I think.

“Hey, I tried to throw him a bone and save him some money.”

 

To purchase Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story, click here.

Comments (0)

Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

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

Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

Posted on 19 May 2013 by WNST Staff

An announced crowd of 117,203 attended Preakness Saturday at Pimlico Race Course. A certain number of them were perhaps a bit more interesting than others.

A number of Baltimore Ravens were in attendance for Saturday’s event, including WR Torrey Smith, K Justin Tucker, OT Michael Oher and G Kelechi Osemele. Smith posted this picture of the group hanging out with one of Charm City’s finest…

Smith also posted this picture of himself hanging out with former Ravens LB/future Hall of Famer Ray Lewis…

Ravens DL Arthur Jones was also hanging out with the group, he and Tucker ended up posing for this picture with KISS’s Gene Simmons. You read that sentence right.

This was just before Simmons managed to photobomb D. Wayne Lukas’ celebration on NBC after Oxbow won the race…

And to wrap up the Gene Simmons portion of today’s show, his model/actress long-time girlfriend Shannon Tweed posted this picture claiming how much money she won…

Ravens LB Jameel McClain was also in attendance and he made some interesting hand gestures…

Maryland football coach Randy Edsall attended the event with his wife…

New Orleans Pelicans G (and former Terp) Greivis Vasquez was also seen hanging out near the Under Armour tent Saturday afternoon…

“House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey was at Preakness and spent some time with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley…

“The Good Wife” star and Baltimore native Josh Charles was also at Preakness, he even stopped to pose with our own Glenn Clark’s fiancé Margaret…

The Baltimore Sun snapped this photo of former Buffalo Bills quarterback hanging out at Preakness Saturday…

Other celebrities in attendance included Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, former NBA player/coach Avery Johnson, celebrity chef Bobby Flay, Towson football coach Rob Ambrose, former NFL coach/ESPN analyst Herman Edwards, former U.S. Olympic Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi, Senator Ben Cardin, former NFL Coach/Terrapins OL Mike Tice and more.

Platinum artist Pitbull headlined the Infieldfest festivities as pictured below. Other performers included Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Chevelle and Florida Georgia Line.

The biggest star of the day was surprisingly Oxbow, who stunned the crowd by winning the race while Kentucky Derby winner Orb finished 4th. Perhaps the best photo of the moment was captured by ESPN The Magazine…

Comments (1)

Tags: , , , ,

Ravens Dodge Bullet with McClain Retirement

Posted on 15 May 2013 by jeffreygilley

That makes two inside linebackers that have retired from the NFL this offseason in Baltimore. Ray Lewis is a future Hall of Fame player and beloved icon in the sports world. Rolando McClain, an immensely talented but troubled individual with off the field issues that prevented him from becoming the star many projected him to become.

When the Ravens signed Rolando McClain, I told myself there could only be two possible outcomes. McClain could resurrect his career under the leadership the Ravens possess. Or, McClain could continue his troubled ways and fail. There could be no in-between.

With McClain’s retirement today, it seems the latter is true. At just 23 years old, Rolando McClain has retired from the NFL.

So where do the Ravens go from here? First of all, the team did not invest much in McClain’s long-term future. Not only was his contract for merely one year, the team also drafted Arthur Brown in the second round of the NFL draft.

Brown will have to step in and start right away. There is still uncertainty surrounding Jameel McClain’s injury and Josh Bynes is largely unproven. But Brown will be able to handle the pressure of starting right away. He is incredibly fast and is a good tackler in space. Brown should be in contention for defensive rookie of the year.

Largely, the Ravens dodged a huge bullet with McClain’s retirement. They have brought in some veteran leaders this offseason and McClain’s terrible attitude could have impacted locker room chemistry. While I love the potential McClain has, I am ultimately happy he has been decided to retire and will never suit up in a Baltimore Ravens uniform.

Another player who could make an impact at inside linebacker could be Bryan Hall. Hall is a former defensive tackle who has changed positions to inside linebacker. Jarret Johnson made a similar change for the Ravens and became a beloved member of the team for a long time.

If the Ravens were to play a game tomorrow, the starters at inside linebacker would most likely be Arthur Brown and Jameel McClain. Brown and McClain are not household names but they have the potential to be a great duo for a long time.

Comments (0)