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

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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…)

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Ravens gather to commemorate Super Bowl XLVII a final time

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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.

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Ravens celebrate Super Bowl glory with unknown in front of them

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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.

 

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

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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.

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Photos: Preakness quite the star-studded affair in Baltimore

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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…

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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.

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BOLDIN

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The Dismantling of the Ravens

Posted on 28 March 2013 by Tom Federline

It has been 7 weeks. What just happened Baltimore? Where have all our Ravens gone? I’ll tell you what happened, the Baltimore Ravens organization is in mass salary shedding mode. Bisciotti and Newsome are playing the shrewd business man game. They have a product that sells, they have a product at the top of its’ market, they have the upper hand. It’s time to ride the wave and make some cash. While they are on top, why not increase ticket prices, why not renovate the 15 year old stadium with 35 million dollars of upgrades, why not unload salary and dump over-priced contracts? Where are they going to find $120 million dollars to over-pay the Super Bowl QB with a new contract? The time is right for “re-building”, they have an excuse, they  breakdown the championship team and blame it on  ”the salary cap”.

Nice purge Ravens, it’s not the first time you have done this, is it? Well they didn’t really purge in 2001, they just didn’t renew the contract for the leader of the offense, Super Bowl winner, Trent Dilfer. I guess they did learn some lessons from that screw up. This time they kept the QB and are letting 40% of the starters go. Ok, two are retiring. Hey, it might work. Just hard to swallow in such a short turnaround time. And Horribaugh, I know you are just on for the ride, so who is going to drive the bus now? It appears the Ravens Nation and front office need an SOS in the form of a ”Message in the Bottle” – The Police.

My outlook hasn’t changed, I’m old school, you don’t get rid of the people that got you there. The Ravens organization lost me when they let Trent Dilfer go after winning the Super Bowl in 2001. At that time, the possibility existed for the Ravens to create an NFL dynasty with that defense. Ray-Ray in his prime and they had an offensive leader. The Ravens front office blew-it then. And unless the front office can pull the Easter Bunny out of a hat, they have lost me again, with the “roster purge” of 2013.

This whole Salary Cap excuse - not buying it. They are in panic unload mode, they made to many promises they can’t keep, they extended contracts and monies beyond their means, they got lucky with the Super Bowl win. They had two high salary veterans retire and they still were above the salary cap? Oh that’s right they have a new 20 million dollar man. We just won the Super Bowl – time to raise ticket prices. Come on Ravens – who you trying to kid? Ok, you got your quarterback and made him one of the richest NFL players ever. Good move. Now what do you have? Defense is devastated. Offense may survive. Although losing Boldin, was just plain…………..”fixed”. Nice brotherly bet payoff, huh? By the way, I’m calling it now – the San Francisco 49ers with a real head coach – Jim Harbaugh, just won Super Bowl XLVIII.

Offensively, the 20 million dollar/year mans go to wide receiver - is gone. The heart of the offensive line, the veteran center, the man who called the blocking schemes and delivered the ball to the 20 million dollar Flacco, retired. Defensively – the heart and one of the greatest of all-time, Ray Lewis – retired. The inside linebacker who picked up the slack when Ray was out – Dannel Ellerbe – gone to Miami. The defensive end, Paul Krueger, finally coming into his game – gone to the Browns. The smash mouth sticker of the defense, Bernard Pollard – gone to the Titans. The surprisingly reliable defensive back who picked up with the loss of Lardarius Webb – Cary Williams, gone to the Eagles. And finally the artery that fed the heart, the second in command on defense and one of the greatest safeties of all time – Ed Reed – gone to Houston. All were starters – all are gone.

The Ravens could pull this rebuilding, salary restructuring off. Hey, they pulled off the improbable ”Ray-Ray, Last Dance, Super Bowl Run”. Let’s see who they replace these guys with. Elvis Dumervil? Could be a start, even though I think this cat is carrying some excess baggage. Now a new DB in Mike Huff from Oakland. Mike who? We all knew Ray-Ray was done. We figured Birk was on the same boat. And Mr. Two Tickets to the Hospital, Ed Reed………..is one plough-over from a juiced up fullback to be put the DL, for the rest of his career. The loss of Ellerbe and Pollard hurt. The line backing crew is in dire straits. At least “Ngata Chance” is still here! Or will they dump all hope?

Are the Ravens just letting it ride this year? Are they grabbing the cash while they can? Are they really rebuilding? We’re not going to know until November. Let’s also see what they say about the “salary cap” next year, after they have adjusted to the 20 million dollar/year one man contract. Hey, I am a Flacco fan. Always have been, always will be, he’s a leader. I am not a fan of the obnoxious sports salaries and contracts. It has ruined the game. Bottom line – The Ravens won another Super Bowl and that is cool. Watching the exodus of the players that got them there - is not. And “O” yeah, no Ray Lewis next year. Cha, cha, changes……….time to face the strange.

D.I.Y.

Fedman

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can the “regression” talk regress now?

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Your Monday Reality Check: Can the “regression” talk regress now?

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Glenn Clark

Two of my absolute favorite people on the face of the planet are WNST.net’s own Luke Jones and Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole.

I really mean that. They’re not just two of my favorites in the business, they’re two of my favorites in the world. I love to talk shop with those guys, I love to chat about the world in general with them and I love getting the chance to spend time with them socially.

(This type of statement always leads to a “BUT….”, right? Not exactly this time.)

Both Jason and Luke joined me on “The Reality Check” during the first week of NFL free agency and separately brought up the same word, a specific word that has been repeated to me by a number of callers and e-mailers over the course of the last couple of weeks.

The word is “regression.” If you were playing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the moderator would tell you the word was of latin origin and could be defined as “a trend or shift toward a lower or less perfect state.” Perhaps the word could be used in a sentence along the lines of “After losing the players the Baltimore Ravens have lost thus far, we can expect regression from the team in 2013.”

That was essentially how both guys (and others) used the word over the last few weeks.

(You’re now CERTAIN there’s going to be a “BUT…” coming, aren’t you?)

I had to start every discussion about the term that I’ve had both on-air and off since the offseason began by accepting that Luke, Jason and everyone else who has suggested the Ravens are going to “regress” in 2013 are…well…probably right. I’m sorry. It had to be said.

They’re right because the Ravens won the Super Bowl in 2012 and it will be very difficult for them to win the Super Bowl again in 2013. Any scenario that doesn’t involve the Ravens hoisting a third Vince Lombardi Trophy would technically mean they had “regressed” from where they were last season.

(Okay, now it’s time.)

BUT…I was never REALLY willing to accept the notion of “regression” for the Ravens at any point. Sunday’s signing of former Denver Broncos pass rusher Elvis Dumervil re-inforces that belief, but it absolutely did not establish it. I just hope the addition of Dumervil will force others to similarly push aside the notion of “regression” in 2013.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Miss Jacoby Jones on DWTS? Check him out here…

Posted on 18 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Baltimore Ravens WR/KR made his debut appearance on the hit ABC show “Dancing With The Stars” Monday. He and partner Karina Smirnoff even threw in a tribute to Ray Lewis’ famous “Squirrel” dance. If you missed it, check it out below. At least until Disney pulls the video off of YouTube…

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Lewis considered long shot for Madden cover

Posted on 14 March 2013 by WNST Staff

Courtesy of Bovada, (www.Bovada.lv,  Twitter: @BovadaLV).

 

Odds to win the  Madden NFL 25th Anniversary Cover

Joe Montana (SF)                                  8/1

Barry Sanders (DET)                              8/1

Dan Marino (MIA)                                  9/1

Jerry Rice (SF)                                      9/1

Colin Kaepernick (SF)                            10/1

Robert Griffin III (WAS)                          10/1

Andrew Luck (IND)                                 12/1

Deion Sanders (ATL)                             16/1

Adrian Peterson (MIN)                            16/1

A.J. Green (CIN)                                    18/1

Kurt Warner (STL)                                  18/1

Randal Cunningham (PHI)                      18/1

Russell Wilson (SEA)                             18/1

Ray Lewis (BAL)                                    18/1

Troy Aikman (DAL)                                20/1

Victor Cruz (NYG)                                  25/1

Jim Kelly (BUF)                                     25/1

Marshall Faulk (STL)                              25/1

Arian Foster (HOU)                                25/1

Marcus Allen (KC)                                  35/1

Von Miller (DEN)                                   35/1

Dez Bryant (DAL)                                  35/1

Terrell Davis (DEN)                                50/1

Julio Jones (ATL)                                  50/1

LaDainian Tomlinson (SD)                      50/1

Ray Rice (BAL)                                      50/1

Michael Strahan (NYG)                           80/1

Chad Johnson (CIN)                              80/1

Trent Richardson (CLE)                          80/1

Field                                                     25/1

 

Wes Welker – Total Receiving Yards in the 2013 Regular Season  

Over/Under                    1000½

 

Wes Welker – Total Receptions in the 2013 Regular Season         

Over/Under                    90½

 

Wes Welker – Total TD’s in the 2013 Regular Season       

Over/Under                    7½

 

Reggie Bush – Total Rushing & Receiving Yards in the 2013 Regular Season         

Over/Under                    1050½

 

Reggie Bush – Total Rushing & Receiving TD’s in the 2013 Regular Season

Over/Under                    7½

 

Danny Amendola – Total Receiving Yards in the 2013 Regular Season  

Over/Under                    950½

 

Danny Amendola – Total Receptions in the 2013 Regular Season         

Over/Under                    90½

 

Danny Amendola – Total TD’s in the 2013 Regular Season       

Over/Under                    5½

 

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