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Chapter 5: A Ravens family that loves its Juice and never quits…

Posted on 16 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. And I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for…”

– Lou Gerhig (July 4th, 1939)

 

 

IF YOU VISIT THE BALTIMORE RAVENS’ facility in Owings Mills, it’s virtually impossible to miss the office of O.J. Brigance. His office door is always open, and it’s in the main foyer hallway, the most traveled area in the building for any employee or visitor. If you want to eat or go to the bathroom at the Under Armour Performance Center, he’s almost like a toll stop. You have to stop or at least slow down and acknowledge him.

It’s hard to know what the many young, incoming Ravens players or staff employees first think when they enter their new workplace and pass the office of Brigance, who sits in a very complex wheelchair-like device in front of a communication device called a Dynavox, which faces toward the door.

There are more than a handful of bonds that link the two Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl championship teams beyond Ray Lewis, but none more spiritual than the journey of O.J Brigance over the 12 years between confetti celebrations that demonstrate just how much lives can change, transform and, in some cases, deteriorate.

O.J. Brigance was No. 57 on the Super Bowl XXXV champions in 2001, the special teams captain who made the first tackle of the game on that beautiful night in Tampa. He was also the starting middle linebacker on the Baltimore Stallions Canadian Football League Grey Cup championship team of 1995. He’s the only man with a ring from both league’s championship teams from the same city.

And now, at 43, he sits motionless, all except for the flicker of his warm, bright eyes that allow him to communicate with the world around him via this amazing communication device that has kept his virtual world untouched despite his body betraying him, slowly disintegrating in front of everyone.

He gave his body to football all of his adult life. Now that same body, once a perfect physique honed by Brigance’s incredible drive, determination, and work ethic in the gym, has withered away. His spirit however remains transcendent for all who are in his presence.

He first felt the symptoms during a racquetball game in 2007 at the Ravens facility. From the time the franchise moved from Cleveland to Baltimore, beginning at the dumpy old facility on Owings Mills Boulevard about three miles away from the castle-like palace in the woods off Deer Park Road, the exhausting window wall game has been a staple for coaches, scouts, and various office personnel to blow off steam, get in a sweat and compete with each other for the “King of The Court” title. Racquetball, not cornhole, is the original, game of choice in Owings Mills. Brigance, a regular in the rotation in a building full of pretty fit athletes and former athletes, noticed some weakness in his right shoulder, his strength and range of motion were slowly changing so he sought out a neurologist. He was an athlete. He knew his body, and he knew something was wrong.

After a battery of tests, he and his wife Chanda were given the stunning diagnosis: O.J. had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

A.L.S. is a motor neuron disease, first described in 1869 by the noted French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. It occurs rarely and spontaneously. To date, except in strongly genetic forms of the disease, the cause of ALS is not completely understood. The last decade has brought a wealth of new scientific understanding, but how it starts in the body is still unclear.

Commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and outside of the United States as Motor Neuron Disease (MND) or Charcot’s Disease, it is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain (upper motor neurons) and spinal cord (lower motor neurons) and affects muscle function. The motor neurons control the movement of various voluntary

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Baltimore Sports Quiz — for real Baltimore sports fans

Posted on 24 April 2014 by WNST Staff

You can fake a lot of things.

People can have thousands of Facebook friends and fake popularity.  Men can wear a power tie and fake success.  Women can fake orgasms.

It’s just the way of the world.

But you can’t fake sports.  In fact, it might be the one true thing you can’t fake.  And if you want to know what “faking” sounds like while it’s happening, tune in and listen to a Cast-off New York Cop and the Smartest Guy in an Empty Bathroom bumble through their idea of local sports talk every morning.

Last night, at Buffalo Wild Wings in Owings Mills, as part of the Baltimore Sports Media Superstar Competition, WNST proved why it’s the only sports media outlet who has the right to call itself “real” Baltimore sports talk.

The quiz that Nestor and the crew drummed up was the type of stuff that would make even the most seasoned historians, like Bob in Parkville, shudder before going into one of his classic historic tirades.  In fact, I’d be willing to bet that most of the sports media in this town wouldn’t come near any sort of respectable score on the WNST quiz.

I’ve taken a lot of local sports quizzes from outlets like The Sun–and I’ve aced them all without so much as breaking a sweat.  WNST’s was the toughest I’ve ever seen and I loved every minute of it.  It was exactly what you’d expect from real sports people.  The ones who don’t fake it.

In order to join in the festivities, I’m tossing out a quiz of my own quiz this evening.  If you can pass this with an “A,” you can call yourself a Baltimore Sports Fan.  If you struggle, well, I suggest you rectify your sins by taking a deep-dive into the past works of Steadman, Rosenthal, Eisenberg, McMullen, Aparicio, and Vecsey.  Ok–just kidding on the Vecsey thing; those of you who lived through and endured that horror will understand the sarcasm.

 

Here’s the Wiz Quiz–straight off the top of my head…

#1  In what year did the St. Louis Browns move to Baltimore?

#2  What was Rex Barney’s famous tag-line?

#3  What is the significance of Cubs GM Theo Epstein to Baltimore?

#4  Who was the first player to enter the Ravens’ Ring of Honor?

#5  Baltimore had three minor league hockey teams, what were their names?

#6  Baltimore’s USFL team’s nickname was?

#7  Which player won a Grey Cup with the Stallions and a Super Bowl with the Ravens?

#8  Who was the starting quarterback for the Baltimore Stallions during their Grey Cup victory?

#9  Who owned the Baltimore Stallions?

#10  Former Maryland Terps Basketball Coach, Bob Wade, has what significance to Baltimore?

#11  Which former Orioles’ pitching prospect had vanity license plates that read “24KTARM”?

#12  Which Orioles’ third baseman won Sporting News’ AL Rookie of the Year Honors in 1989?

#13  Cal Ripken Sr. wore which jersey number as a coach for the Orioles?

#14  Which two former Orioles make up two of only four members in MLB history to record more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs?

#15  Which movie was filmed at Camden Yards?

#16  Which movie was filmed at Ravens Stadium?

#17  Which owner played a major role in Baltimore not being awarded an expansion team over Jacksonville and Carolina?

#18  Who was the owner of the fashion store Merry-Go-Round, who also played a key role in the  “Give Baltimore the Ball” campaign?

#19  Which receiver holds the Ravens’ single-season record of 14 touchdown receptions?

#20  Who was “Zeus”?

#21  Who was “Full Pack”?

#22  Which Orioles’ favorite was known for eating Froot Loops before games?

#23  In the 1989 season, in the fateful series in Toronto to finish the season, what strange injury caused Pete Harnish to miss his scheduled start?

#24  Which former Oklahoma Sooners basketball star was once thought to be the heir apparent to Cal Ripken?

#25  Who was “Iron Hands”?

#26  Who returned the blocked Al Del Greco field goal for a touchdown in Tennessee, paving the way for the Ravens to move on to the AFC Championship in January 2001?

#27  Which Ravens’ defensive back fueled much of the Steelers-Ravens rivalry by stepping on Plaxico Burress’ head during a scuffle?

#28  What is significant about the Esskay sign in right field at Oriole Park at Camden Yards?

#29  Who is Len Burrier?

#30  Which long-time NFL punter went to Towson University?

#31  Which Dunbar standout played alongside of Joe Smith, Exree Hipp, Johnny Rhodes and Duane Simpkins?

#32  What number did Deion Sanders wear as a member of the Ravens, and why?

#33  What is it customary to hold up as visiting opponents’ lineups are being announced at the University of Maryland basketball games?

#34  Which former O’s pitcher lost 21 games in 1954, and went on to throw the only perfect game in World Series history two years later as a member of the New York Yankees?

#35  Why would a true Baltimore fan despise the number that precedes this question?

 

Do you know this stuff without Googling?  Have a trivia question for me?  Shoot a message or leave a comment on how you did.

Click here for the answers.

 

 

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