Tag Archive | "Ray Rice"


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Five questions pondering Hardy, Rice, Alvarez, Ravens franchise value

Posted on 24 July 2015 by Luke Jones

On Fridays, I’ll ponder five topics related to the Orioles or Ravens (or a mix of both).

Five questions …

1. Is it just me or should the Orioles be concerned about the remainder of J.J. Hardy’s contract? Baltimore’s announcement of a three-year, $40 million extension with the veteran shortstop on the eve of last fall’s American League Championship Series seemed like good news at the time, but it was fair to wonder if it was a sound investment in a middle infielder on the wrong side of 30 and wrapping up a season plagued by back issues that zapped his power. Hardy entered Friday’s game with a .345 slugging percentage, which would be the lowest of his career after he hit only nine homers and slugged .372 last season. To be fair, Hardy is hitting .263 with four homers and a .401 slugging percentage since June 9, but his lack of power is just one of many reasons the Orioles have struggled with offensive consistency all season and he’s still owed a total of $26.5 million in the next two seasons.

2. Is it just me or is it obvious why Ray Rice hasn’t gotten another shot in the NFL? The question really isn’t whether the former Ravens running back should get a second chance, but the fact that Greg Hardy and Adrian Peterson have survived their own off-field transgressions would lead you to believe the 28-year-old is in line for an opportunity. Many — including myself — have discussed Rice’s poor 2013 season and his workload dating back to college as factors supporting the idea that his career might be decline, but it comes down to one factor and one factor alone — the surveillance video of him striking his wife being on display for the world at any moment. Photos and words describing an incident are heinous, but many have sadly become desensitized to those mediums. The video and its public release changed everything, however, as NFL owners have been unwilling to budge on Rice to this point.

3. Is it just me or is it difficult to explain the Orioles’ dramatic struggles on the road? There are a slew of reasons why the 2015 season has been disappointing, but one of the biggest mysteries is why the Orioles have been so poor away from Camden Yards. Baltimore’s 19-30 road record entering the weekend series at Tampa Bay was the worst in the American League while a 27-18 home mark is in line with the success of the last few years. Few would have predicted the Orioles repeating their excellent 46-35 road record from 2014, but even a record in the neighborhood of .500 away from home would have them within striking distance of the Yankees. Alas, a mark of a good club is being able to hold its own on the road and Buck Showalter hasn’t seen that from the Orioles in 2015. Plain and simple, you can’t expect to contend when you play like a 100-loss team on the road.

4. Is it just me or is it time to take a look at Dariel Alvarez and Christian Walker in Baltimore? Instead of more discussion about a crowded outfield of underwhelming veterans, the Orioles should be making room for the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder, who has 13 homers for Triple-A Norfolk and has rebounded nicely after hitting .238 over the first two months of his 2015 campaign. It remains to be seen whether Alvarez profiles as anything more than a reserve outfielder in the majors, but his rifle throwing arm and power are skills worth evaluating while the Orioles continue to receive so little from their current options. It could also be time to take a look at Walker instead of continuing to run Chris Parmelee out to first base and while contemplating a trade of Chris Davis. The 24-year-old got off to a terrible start, but Walker has heated up over the summer and has four homers in his last 10 games.

5. Is it just me or is it difficult to believe the Ravens are entering their 20th season? As the great John Eisenberg penned earlier this week, seeing Forbes magazine rank the Ravens as the 24th most valuable sports franchise in the world was a pleasant reminder of how far the city has come in football perception. It was just two decades ago that Baltimore kids only dreamed of having an NFL team while their parents and grandparents shared stories of Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, and Bert Jones. Not only have the Ravens been profitable, but they’ve been a model of consistency on the field with two Super Bowl titles, four AFC championship game appearances, four division titles, and 10 playoff appearances in the last 15 years. While many opine that NFL owners didn’t support the city’s bid for an expansion team in the 1990s because the package was so attractive to owners pondering relocation, the current franchise value only reiterates how wrong the league was in not giving the ball to Baltimore over other cities.

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Rice continues waiting for second chance that may never come

Posted on 27 March 2015 by Luke Jones

It was exactly four months ago Saturday that former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones overturned Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension levied by the NFL on the same day the sickening video that changed everything was released.

And that video is the biggest reason why the former Ravens running back reportedly hasn’t received as much as a visit or even a tryout with another team despite the many who have offered their endorsements for him around the league. Various Ravens officials and players have expressed hopes of Rice receiving another chance while former Baltimore assistants such as Indianapolis head coach Chuck Pagano and Detroit head coach Jim Caldwell — men who know Rice better than most and who both had a need at running back this offseason — have echoed that sentiment.

Nearly everyone in the NFL who knows Rice wants him to receive another chance, but no one wants to be the one to provide it.

Should Ray Rice receive another chance in the NFL?

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The 2008 second-round pick remains unsigned while the likes of Trent Richardson — along with his train wreck of a career as a former No. 3 overall pick in 2012 — and Darren McFadden — and his 3.3 yards per carry average over the last three seasons — have found new homes in free agency. Make no mistake, Rice’s 3.1 yards per carry average in 2013 is a real factor contributing to his frigid market, but even several running backs you’d describe as “has-beens” or “never-weres” have received work on the open market as the calendar turns to April this coming week.

Yes, the video is what distinguishes Rice from Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, who both landed elsewhere despite their own dark clouds of domestic violence hanging over their heads. Opinions vary on whether any of the aforementioned men deserve second chances in the NFL, but it’s clear a different standard has been attached to the 28-year-old running back.

The Ravens were willing to stick by Rice until the public relations nightmare of a second video surfaced on Sept. 8, and it’s that visual of the heinous act that makes him unemployable while others who’ve committed — or who have been accused of committing — similar acts have received more of a pass. Fair or not, it appears to be reality for Rice, who continues to wait for his second chance.

Will Ray Rice receive another chance in the NFL?

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If no team signs Rice soon, his chances wouldn’t appear to improve with the upcoming draft that includes a deep group of quality running backs who are several years younger and possess more upside.

Four months after an arbitrator ruled in Rice’s favor and forced his reinstatement, the question is no longer whether he should receive another chance. Everyone has his or her own opinion on that matter that’s unlikely to change at this point.

But when those who know Rice best won’t even give the three-time Pro Bowl selection a second chance, you must seriously wonder if it will ever happen.

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Series of unfortunate events led to Ravens’ 2015 cap woes

Posted on 09 March 2015 by Luke Jones

With free agency set to officially begin on Tuesday, the Ravens find themselves in a familiar position of lacking salary-cap space.

It’s the cost of doing business when you draft well and strive to keep as many of your own young players as you can. That’s the proven method for sustained success compared to those teams who draft poorly and subsequently throw around money on the volatile free-agent market to try to build a winning team.

Of course, the reminder must be delivered to those Ravens fans who panic every March after seeing some players depart and are too impatient to wait for general manager Ozzie Newsome to act. The more levelheaded fans recognize this yearly process and remind anyone who will listen of the old mantra, “In Ozzie we trust.”

But this offseason is unique as the Ravens are dealing with the fallout from a series of unfortunate events that have wreaked havoc on their salary cap, leaving them with just $4.639 million in space before tendering their restricted and exclusive-rights free agents ahead of Tuesday’s 4 p.m. deadline. Much attention has fallen on the future of defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, who carries a $16 million cap figure for the 2015 season, but three other events have left Newsome and the Ravens in even worse shape than they might have been under normal circumstances.

The most obvious is the lingering fallout from the Ray Rice saga as the Ravens are still carrying $9.5 million in dead money on their 2015 cap after cutting the running back last Sept. 8. Even though the 28-year-old free agent hasn’t even been on the roster for over six months, his ghost carries the fourth-highest cap figure on the team for the coming season.

Some argued at the time of his signing in 2012 that the Ravens shouldn’t commit to a long-term contract with Rice, but no one could have foreseen the circumstances that led to the termination of his contract.

The second example remains more open-ended, but tight end Dennis Pitta’s second hip injury in 14 months last September has not only left his career in jeopardy but has created another gaping hole of dead resources. Though nothing is official in terms of his playing status, Pitta’s $4 million base salary is guaranteed for 2015 and it would be more costly to cut him than to keep him this year, meaning his $6.2 million cap figure will stay on the books despite the strong possibility that he sits out the season.

It’s fair to question whether the Ravens should have been more conservative before committing to Pitta last offseason — they could have used the franchise or transition tag to make sure his surgically-repaired hip was sound after the first injury — but they had received assurances from doctors that the 29-year-old had no greater risk to injure his hip again.

Those two players alone are responsible for $15.7 million in cap space with Rice no longer on the roster and Pitta potentially unable to play again. It’s akin to having another Ngata weighing on the cap without the benefit of having either player on the field.

A third event more open for debate than the others was the second anterior cruciate ligament tear suffered by cornerback Lardarius Webb only six months after he signed a six-year, $50 million contract in 2012. Prior to his second ACL injury in less than three years, Webb was emerging as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, receiving the fourth-highest grade of all players at his position from Pro Football Focus in 2011.

Few would argue that Webb has ever been the same since then and injuries are surely part of the game, but it was also terrible luck when he had just become one of the highest paid players on the roster. If he had continued on his pre-injury track, the Ravens would likely be able to live with his $12 million cap figure for the 2015 season and their concerns at the corner position would be less severe. Instead, they’re facing the possibility of cutting him and further depleting a position that was Baltimore’s Achilles heel in 2014.

No team — good or bad — is immune to making mistakes as there will always be signings and draft picks that don’t work out, but the three events outlined above have contributed to the Ravens’ worst predicament in several years despite the NFL’s salary cap increasing by $20 million over the last two offseasons.

This isn’t meant as an excuse for Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens as they’ll find a way to make additions to the roster, but it’s a simple reality to keep in mind as you brace for the start of free agency and what figures to be a difficult series of departures.

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Five hot topics for “State of the Ravens” address

Posted on 23 February 2015 by Luke Jones

More than a month after their season-ending loss to New England in the divisional round, the Ravens will finally hold their annual “State of the Ravens” press conference Tuesday afternoon as they look back at last year and offer a look into their offseason plans to improve for 2015.

Below are five topics of interest that are likely to be covered at length:

1. Off-field conduct

A lingering Ray Rice question or two will be asked — particularly of team president Dick Cass, who hasn’t addressed the matter in a press conference setting — but the focus will likely fall on what the organization is doing to address off-field concerns that included five arrests last offseason and ex-Raven Terrence Cody and safety Will Hill already surfacing in the news over the last month. Head coach John Harbaugh acknowledged in January that the bar is higher in terms of expectations, but concerns will remain until the Ravens can show last year was an aberration and not a lack of organizational control.

2. The future of Haloti Ngata

The five-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle’s future and $16 million salary cap figure for 2015 have been dissected ad nauseam, but it will be interesting to listen to general manager Ozzie Newsome’s thoughts after Harbaugh expressed confidence last week that an extension would get done. Even though he ultimately inked linebacker Terrell Suggs to a new deal last winter, Newsome made it clear at last year’s “State of the Ravens” that he wasn’t afraid of letting a good player walk out the door. You wonder if we’ll hear a similar “bad cop” routine from Newsome to contrast Harbaugh’s optimism and put some heat on the veteran player.

3. Fixing the secondary

Newsome has often said you can never have too many good cornerbacks, but there’s no question the Ravens were lacking at that position last year even before the season-ending injury to top corner Jimmy Smith. Veteran Lardarius Webb carries a $12 million cap figure and is a likely candidate for a pay cut or a restructure deal, but the Ravens need to find a cornerback — maybe two — who is ready to step into a meaningful role. Safety might be an even bigger concern with Hill’s off-field baggage and the disappointing starts to the NFL careers of Matt Elam and Terrence Brooks.

4. Taking care of their own 

Much of this will hinge on a tight cap situation, but the Ravens proved last year that they were more concerned with taking care of their own than jumping into the free-agent market after re-signing Eugene Monroe, Daryl Smith, Dennis Pitta, and Jacoby Jones. The Ravens would love to have wide receiver Torrey Smith, running back Justin Forsett, and tight end Owen Daniels back next season, but how realistic is that with so few resources available? An offense that took major strides a year ago will already be dealing with new offensive coordinator, but it’s possible there will be significant player turnover as well.

5. Offseason surgical procedures and health concerns

Pitta’s future is bound to come up again after Harbaugh presented a less-than-encouraging update last week, but the end-of-season press conference typically brings updates on other players who’ve undergone offseason surgeries. The Sun reported earlier this month that center Jeremy Zuttah underwent a cleanup procedure for his hip, but the Ravens also have a number of players continuing to recover from season-ending injuries including Jimmy Smith, right tackle Rick Wagner, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro, cornerback Asa Jackson, and Brooks.

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Rice apologizes to Baltimore as anniversary of Atlantic City incident approaches

Posted on 13 February 2015 by Luke Jones

As the one-year anniversary of the infamous domestic-violence incident that resulted in the end of his career in Baltimore falls this weekend, Ray Rice issued a statement of apology and thanks to the city and Ravens fans.

In a letter to The Baltimore Sun, the 28-year-old running back again expressed regret for striking his wife inside a casino elevator in Atlantic City early on the morning of Feb. 15, 2014. After his aggravated assault case was resolved without any prison time and he initially received a two-game suspension, video surfaced of the incident on Sept. 8, which led to the Ravens terminating Rice’s contract and the NFL suspending him indefinitely later that same day.

“To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down,” Rice wrote in his letter, “but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue.”

Rice won his appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension and was reinstated in November, but no team signed him before the conclusion of the 2014 season. The Sun reports Rice now plans to leave Baltimore and return to his native New York as he hopes to continue his NFL career.

His wrongful termination grievance filed against the Ravens was settled in January, but terms were not released. Rice also thanked the organization, mentioning owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, and head coach John Harbaugh specifically and expressing pride in winning Super Bowl XLVII.

Below is Rice’s full letter to The Sun:

Dear Baltimore,

This is not a farewell or goodbye. The last seven years that my family and I have spent in Baltimore have by far been the best of our lives. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you all for the love and support you’ve shown my family and I throughout my football career. We’ll always be grateful for the love we’ve received from all of our fans and supporters, and for winning a Super Bowl. To all the kids who looked up to me, I’m truly sorry for letting you down, but I hope it’s helped you learn that one bad decision can turn your dream into a nightmare. There is no excuse for domestic violence, and I apologize for the horrible mistake I made. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me, and I hope to make a positive difference in people’s lives by raising awareness of this issue. Thank you, Baltimore Ravens, for all you have done for my family and I. I’m very grateful to Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome, John Harbaugh, and everyone at 1 Winning Drive. I love you all very much, and I’ll always be proud to say I played for the Baltimore Ravens.

Thank you.

— Ray Rice




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Ravens president Cass on Rice settlement: “It’s time to turn the page”

Posted on 16 January 2015 by Luke Jones

After deciding to settle the grievance filed by running back Ray Rice over his Sept. 8 release, the Ravens are ready to put one of the ugliest sagas in franchise history behind them.

The wrongful termination hearing was set to begin on Thursday before the sides agreed to a settlement that spared each party further public scrutiny and embarrassment. Rice was seeking the $3.529 million he was scheduled to make in base salary upon returning from his original two-game suspension before his contract was terminated hours after TMZ released the in-elevator video of Rice striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in an Atlantic City casino.

It remains unclear how much money was included in the settlement.

“The Ravens agreed to resolve the grievance with Ray Rice. It’s time to turn the page, and we’re moving forward,” team president Dick Cass said in a released statement. “We will continue to focus on being the best partner we can be with our community, and that includes our work with the House of Ruth and One Love Foundation on the issue of intimate partner abuse.

“We wish Janay and Ray Rice the best.”

The Ravens recently donated $400,000 to the One Love Foundation, an organization created in memory of murdered University of Virginia women’s lacrosse player and Baltimore native Yeardley Love that raises awareness about domestic violence.

Rice’s indefinite suspension handed down by the NFL after the in-elevator video surfaced on Sept. 8 was overturned in November, but the 27-year-old has yet to be signed by a team.

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Rice reportedly settles grievance with Ravens over termination

Posted on 15 January 2015 by Luke Jones

A hearing scheduled to begin Thursday between running back Ray Rice and the Ravens will not take place after all.

As first reported by Pro Football Talk, the sides settled Rice’s wrongful termination grievance in which he was seeking $3.529 million in base salary he was scheduled to make for the rest of the 2014 season before being cut on Sept. 8. Terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but the agreement appears to close the book on Rice’s relationship with his former organization.

Unlike his appeal of the NFL’s indefinite suspension handed down hours after TMZ released the elevator video of what transpired between him and Janay Palmer, Rice figured to have a more difficult time in winning his grievance against the Ravens given the wide latitude that NFL teams own in cutting players. It’s possible that both sides wanted to bring closure without shedding light on any new details that could bring further embarrassment to either party.

Rice’s side was expected to argue that his release fell into the category of double jeopardy as the organization supported him throughout the ordeal until the time of the in-elevator video, but the Ravens would have likely pointed to the running back’s poor 2013 performance in which he rushed for a career-low 660 yards and averaged just 3.1 yards per carry as more than enough grounds for termination.


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Forsett hoping to escape “friend zone” in free agency

Posted on 12 January 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After he expressed gratitude for the Ravens taking a chance on him by turning in a career season, Justin Forsett is looking for a long-term partnership.

Forsett rushed for a career-high 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the league’s eighth-ranked rushing offense and has expressed repeatedly that he’d like to remain in Baltimore. But the Ravens will need to pony up more than the one-year, $730,000 contract they gave the journeyman back last April.

“There’s also a business side of it where, unfortunately, I’ve been in the ‘friend zone’ for most of my career,” the 29-year-old running back said. “Hopefully, we can get into a deeper commitment somewhere down the road and get some stability. But it is what it is. It’s in God’s hands, and I’m at peace with it.”

Determining Forsett’s value could be tricky as it’s no secret the value of running backs has declined dramatically in recent years in the pass-happy NFL. His doubters may credit the improvement of the offensive line and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak’s history of finding productive running backs as the primary reasons for his success, but Forsett displayed excellent patience and vision in the Ravens’ zone-blocking scheme.

The longest commitment Forsett has received in the NFL was the two-year deal he signed with Jacksonville two years ago, but he was released after one injury-riddled season with the Jaguars.

The Ravens will be hoping for big things from Lorenzo Taliaferro in his second season after he averaged 4.3 yards per carry and rushed for 292 yards as a rookie, but Bernard Pierce was disappointing for a second straight year in running for just 3.9 yards per carry and carrying only 93 times. It’s possible that the Ravens could again look to the draft after selecting Taliaferro in the fourth round last May.

Beyond filling the void left behind by Ray Rice in the backfield, Forsett was strong in pass protection and was praised for his attitude and work ethic by coaches and teammates alike. He hopes to be a part of a Ravens offense that took major strides this season and is seeking further improvement in 2015.

“I would love to be a part of it,” Forsett said. “This is an organization that first gave me my shot, my first real opportunity, and I would love to stay.”

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Report: Ravens director of security charged with sex offense

Posted on 31 December 2014 by Luke Jones

The Ravens are back in the news for the wrong reasons.

According to The Sun, senior director of security Darren Sanders has been charged with a fourth-degree sex offense stemming from a complaint filed against him on Dec. 14. Details about the allegations were not immediately known, but the offense carries a maximum one-year prison sentence, a $1,000 fine, or both.

Sanders’ attorney, Andrew Alperstein, told the newspaper that the allegations against his client were “totally fabricated, made up.” Sanders, who has spent more than a decade working for the Ravens organization and is a former Baltimore police homicide detective, has reportedly been assigned a Feb. 9 court date.

The Ravens said in a statement that they were aware of the situation and “have been investigating thoroughly.”

Of course, Sanders was a scrutinized figure in the Ray Rice saga as he claimed to have requested video surveillance of the elevator incident from both Atlantic City police and the Revel Casino but instead heard a description of what happened from a law enforcement official. He also said that Rice told him he had slapped his then-fiancee and denied punching her before video of the incident was released by TMZ months later.

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HOLIDAY VIP DEAL: Buy “Purple Reign 2” for Ravens readers here

Posted on 05 December 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

Thanks for checking our section of purple cyberspace and for having interest in purchasing Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story via WNST.net. It’s been a labor of love for me — researching, writing and presenting the building of a NFL championship.

In 2001, I wrote Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac and I’ve had many inquiries regarding reprinting it and packaging it with the new book on the 2012 Ravens. So, below are the options to purchase both books as well as a 6-CD collection of our best WNST radio interviews with the many stars and interesting people from Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLVII. It will have original audio from 1990’s with Ray Lewis, Brian Billick, Jon Ogden as well as a two-hour life retrospective when I sat down with Arthur B. Modell in 2004. We’ll also include highlights from the past two years with Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Torrey Smith, John Harbaugh and others. It will be nearly seven hours of conversation with Baltimore Ravens who have hoisted the Lombardi Trophy.

The book is 480 pages, chock full of stories, background, behind-the-scenes information told in 22 chapters from the firing of Brian Billick to the hiring of John Harbaugh to the drafting of Joe Flacco and Ray Rice to the 2012 season and the Super Bowl XLVII win and parade down Pratt Street and celebration inside the stadium back in February.

And the best part of the book or books? They both have happy endings. If you love the Baltimore Ravens, you’ll love the book(s).

It’s the best work of my career and I know once you read it you’ll agree. Virtually every review has been a 5-star compliment since the book was released in June 2013.

Here are two links to excerpts from Purple Reign 2:

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

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



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Full color 12X18 poster of Purple Reign 2 cover (featuring fabulous artwork of local sports cartoonist Mike Ricigliano) that is suitable for autographs/framing or your mancave wall

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If you want to read game reviews about the 2012 Ravens, just looks online. If you want to read the story of the 2012 Ravens, if you want to relive the journey of the 2012 Ravens then read Purple Reign 2. This book cover so much history about the Ravens and is told through the eyes of Baltimore’s own award winning Journalist, Nestor Aparicio.The history of the Ravens is recapped from a fans perspective with inside information. Aparicio makes you feel as if you are in the Ravens Locker Room, draft war room and the sidelines. Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco, Ed Reed, Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, Art Model, Steve Biscotti, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh all provide Aparicio with amazing insight and recap events of the 2012 journey in a way never imagined. A must read for all football fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have if you’re a ravens fan. August 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The interviews make it all worth it. He goes into detail how some of the players were chosen in the draft. Honestly I couldn’t put the book down. You get to have a better insight and understand the different players in the team. If you’re a ravens fan, this is one book you definitely should have.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Ravens History August 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Nestor gives you behind-the-curtains access of the Ravens run to the Super Bowl!!! Amazing insight to the players, coaches and owners. A must have for every Ravens fan!!!
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Format:Kindle Edition
Nestor Aparicio is a true fan of the Ravens and his passion is what makes this book so great.. All of the “behind the scenes” moments that he describes in detail, show all of the hard work that went into this book.. A Ravens fan can open this book at any point and be captivated.. The 2012 season was a great ride and this book puts all of the pieces together.. From process of the hiring of Coach John Harbaugh to the magical win of Super Bowl XLVII, a true page turner.

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