Tag Archive | "Steve Bisciotti"

Ravens’ improbable run may not be fate, but sure feels like storybook

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Ravens’ improbable run may not be fate, but sure feels like storybook

Posted on 15 January 2013 by Luke Jones

At some point over the final seven minutes of regulation in Denver on Saturday night, Steve Bisciotti saw the big picture while everyone else wondered if the Ravens’ season was coming to an end after Peyton Manning threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas midway through the fourth quarter.

Under the weather and unable to make the trip to Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Ravens owner did something he’d never done before by reaching out to John Harbaugh as the fourth quarter pressed on. Bisciotti knew the head coach wouldn’t see the text message until after the game, of course, but he wanted Harbaugh to know how impressed he was with such a valiant effort against the No. 1 seed Broncos.

“I’ve never texted you during a game,” Harbaugh read to his team following the 38-35 double-overtime win. “We are down 35-28. And I think it’s the best game I’ve ever seen us in the playoffs since 2000. Win or lose, I am so proud of the team and proud of you.”

Though not prophetic in the sense that Bisciotti predicted the final outcome or could foresee what would unfold, the gesture was just the latest in a list of special occurrences that make you wonder about these Ravens. Harbaugh and inside linebacker Ray Lewis have consistently referenced their faith and while I don’t subscribe to the idea that God or any divine being is concerned with the outcome of football games, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence to support that notion if you so choose.

The Ravens’ run to a second consecutive AFC championship game may not be fate, but it sure feels like a storybook tale, filled with trials, tragedy, and triumph. Perhaps that’s what Bisciotti was acknowledging in reaching out to his head coach in those closing minutes of regulation on Saturday night. Harbaugh couldn’t help but share it with his team following one of the greatest wins in the history of the franchise.

“It was just something I thought the team needed to hear, coming from him,” Harbaugh said. “He is a great leader. Our players love him. They love when he is around. He is an inspiration to all of our guys. To me, this organization, he sets the tone here. It’s a great organization because of his vision. The guys needed to hear that in that moment. I’ll tell you, I think they appreciated hearing it.”

And why wouldn’t they after such a remarkable season, filled with highs and lows?

The Ravens lost their original owner Arthur B. Modell just days before the start of the regular season. The man responsible for the very existence of the franchise here in Baltimore has been memorialized with a simple patch reading “Art” on the team’s jerseys all season long.

Personal tragedy struck young wide receiver Torrey Smith when his younger brother Tevin was killed in a motorcyle accident the night before the Ravens’ Week 3 meeting with the New England Patriots. Unsure if he would play earlier in the day, Smith caught two touchdown passes to lead the Ravens to a 31-30 victory as a national audience marveled at his courage on that Sunday night in September.

Injuries that would have devastated most teams have only strengthened the Ravens’ will as only two defensive players started all 16 games this season. Linebacker Terrell Suggs overcame a torn Achilles tendon in the offseason to return in mid-October before having to play through another debilitating injury when he suffered a torn biceps to begin the month of December. Playing nowhere near full strength all season, Suggs’ two sacks of Manning were critical in Saturday’s divisional-round win.

Ray Lewis, the face of the franchise playing in his 17th season, tore his right triceps on Oct. 14 as nearly everyone but the linebacker thought his season — and potentially his career — was over. Instead, the 37-year-old returned to action just in time for the playoffs and announced he would retire at the end of this “final ride” in the postseason.

A three-game losing streak in December that included the dismissal of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron and the promotion of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell threatened to dismantle the good vibes of a 9-2 start, but the Ravens rebounded to beat the New York Giants in convincing fashion to clinch their second straight AFC North division title in Week 16. An offense described as schizophrenic for most of the season has looked as potent as any in the NFL in disposing of the Indianapolis Colts and outscoring the powerful Denver Broncos in two playoff wins.

It’s rarely been easy or pretty, but here the Ravens stand in the middle of January, one of four remaining teams with a chance of raising the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the first Sunday in February.

“I don’t think a lot of people expected us to be here,” defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “For us to overcome a lot of things, not only injuries but some family problems with Torrey’s family, everything that has happened with our team, I think we all just understand that we’re a family here, and we can lean on each other and depend on each other.”

The highs have been as fun as any in franchise history as “Fourth and 29″ and “The Prayer in Thin Air” are words that will now live forever in Baltimore football lore.

Under-the-radar performers such as Corey Graham and Jacoby Jones, signed largely for their special-teams abilities, have been critical to the Ravens’ success in ways few would have envisioned in the offseason. Even the former punchline of the 53-man roster, veteran offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie, has finally regained his starting job to bolster an offensive line playing better now than it did all season.

Rookie kicker Justin Tucker, anointed by the Ravens to replace Billy Cundiff after a heartbreaking 32-yard miss in last year’s AFC Championship, rewarded the organization for its decision by nailing the game-winning 47-yard field goal in double overtime Saturday to send Baltimore back to the conference championship game.

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Ravens get blasted by Broncos; Flacco, Harbaugh have long days ahead

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Ravens get blasted by Broncos; Flacco, Harbaugh have long days ahead

Posted on 16 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

After the Ravens were eliminated by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs on January 15, 2011, lots of folks in town were bellyaching about the (hopeful) removal of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

At the team’s “State of the Ravens” press conference a week or so later, owner Steve Bisciotti  explained his personal philosophy for retaining Cameron despite an up-and-down offensive performance from the unit he supervised during the regular season and playoffs.

“I know John’s feeling is we like Cam under fire next season as our offensive coordinator,” Bisciotti said that day, effectively supporting his coach by not ursurping his authority and firing Cameron because he has the right to make such a move.

Well, Cameron is gone now, having been dismissed by Bisciotti last Sunday night after the Ravens fell in Washington, 31-28 in OT just hours before.

So, Cameron is no longer under fire.

But someone else is and his name is Joe Flacco.

The Ravens dropped a 3rd straight game on Sunday, getting run out of the gym by the Denver Broncos, 34-17 at M&T Bank Stadium.  It would have been 41-17 or 48-17 if Denver needed bonus points on their checking account.  They basically just walked around throughout the 4th quarter and played keep-away with a 21-point lead.

And with the fan’s scapegoat, Cameron, now no longer part of the problem, Flacco has clearly become public enemy #1.

There’s an argument that he should be, based mainly on a horrible throw at the end of the first half that completely changed the game.  With Denver up 10-0, Flacco drove the offense down the field and had a first and goal on the 4-yard line when the 5th year quarterback tried a quick snap throw in the flat to Anquan Boldin.  The ball was picked off and returned 98 yards for a TD and a 10-7 game suddenly became 17-0.  And, of course, that was all she wrote, as Baltimore fell to 9-5 and dropped consecutive home games for the first time in five seasons.

Should Harbaugh and/or Flacco have called a time-out there?  Absolutely.  They had three to burn – and a rookie offensive coordinator in the booth.  Get a time-out there, get yourself situated, and make the game a 3-point affair heading to the locker room.

Blame that on Harbaugh if you want, or Flacco, since he’s a big boy and he’s been around long enough to know better, but one way or the other, someone has to call a time-out there and get things settled down.

Yes, that throw and the resulting interception return for a TD changed the game.

But I don’t think it cost the Ravens the game.

They weren’t winning this one, no matter how many times they got down there to the 4-yard line.  An undermanned Ravens defense actually did well to only allow Denver 27 points.

This one, honestly, was on Flacco and the offense.  Again.

But the quarterback doesn’t deserve all the blame.  The offensive line continues to be a trainwreck.  The wide receivers looked disinterested most of the afternoon.  And once it got to be 31-3, it almost looked like some guys had – ahem – “stopped trying” if you know what I mean.

(Please see next page) 

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Rice says Cameron firing is “wake up call for everybody” with Ravens

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Rice says Cameron firing is “wake up call for everybody” with Ravens

Posted on 12 December 2012 by WNSTV

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Does Ozzie Newsome deserve some blame in the Flacco-Cameron saga?

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Does Ozzie Newsome deserve some blame in the Flacco-Cameron saga?

Posted on 11 December 2012 by Drew Forrester

If you’re one of those who like to play the blame-game, Monday’s dismissal of Cam Cameron offers you a smorgasbord of options on which to feast.

In no specific order, you have the following:

John Harbaugh, the man who employed Cam for the last 4+ seasons, and the person in charge of the on-field product, which includes being in touch with his players and their festering aggravation with one of his coaches.

Steve Bisciotti, who, while rightfully considered in general a “good owner”, has spent a little too much time over the years hob-knobbing with the players to the extent he might be closer with them then he should be.

Joe Flacco, perhaps the main spoke in the Cameron firing-wheel, and the guy who potentially might have suffered the most while working under his now former boss.  But, if Cameron was inconsistent as a play-caller and offensive coordinator, Flacco has to wear the same basic scarlet letter, for he, too, hasn’t exactly been a shining beacon of consistency in the last four months.

The Ravens defense, which has been occasionally superb but more often a liability this season, particularly in the final 5 minutes of the team’s most two recent losses to the Steelers and Redskins.  True, they were very good earlier in the year against the Chiefs and the Browns and the Chargers.  They were also woefully exposed by the Cowboys, Texans, Steelers (with a bum at quarterback) and Redskins.

The Ravens offense, with players in key positions not playing up to par week-in and week-out.  I’m all for Jim Caldwell taking over at this point, but I’d be shocked if he can give back to Anquan Boldin that step he’s lost over the last year or so…or turn Michael Oher into a premier pass blocker as a left tackle…or heal Marshal Yanda’s bad ankle within two weeks…or get Torrey Smith to run his routes to completion the way they’re designed in the playbook.

And then, there’s one other name to add to the mix:  Ozzie Newsome.

Let the continuing story of “how Cam got canned” be examined with Ozzie’s name in mind, for it’s Newsome who wasn’t able to ink a new deal with his team’s franchise quarterback, thus paving the way for Joe Flacco to play the 2012 campaign as a “lame duck”.

Yes, there always remains the option of the franchise tag for Flacco.  But, as any player will tell you, that’s a band-aid – a nice, lucrative one – he’d rather not wear if it’s possible.

The easiest way to start any conversation about Joe Flacco and his contract situation is to simply say this about him and his future in Baltimore:  The Ravens want him back in 2013 and Flacco would like to return for a 6th season.

There’s no debating that at this point.  The two parties are still in love.

But – and here’s where we start the dissection of how things are off kilter – these are very complicated times in Owings Mills, particularly when it comes to assessing Flacco’s value.

And who’s fault is that?

If you ask Flacco and/or his agent, Joe Linta, they’re going to place the blame squarely on the employer — the Ravens, the offense and, naturally, Cam Cameron.

Linta, as a natural reaction to his Flacco’s contract status being in the spotlight, would argue up and down that with each passing game where the Baltimore offense was stagnant or stuck in neutral because of Cameron’s inconsistency, his client was effectively “losing money”.

Honestly — he’s right.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that his client doesn’t bear some of that responsibility.  He, Flacco, that is, might be costing himself money with every incompletion or strip-sack or poor audible.

But the agent would never admit that to the general manager of the team.

Instead – and if you close your eyes and let the movie play out in your head, you’ll hear it for yourself – I’m quite certain with every “new conversation” Linta and Newsome have had over the few months that Joe’s representative has reminded Ozzie in no uncertain terms that Cameron and the on-again, off-again Ravens offense is costing the quarterback big money.

“Ozzie, I respect you and the organization and so does Joe,” Linta is likely saying.  ”But you can’t possibly think you’re doing my client a true service by having Cam Cameron operate that offense in such a manner that it’s clearly hindering his qualities as a high-level NFL player.  You’ve known for a year now that Cam and Joe can’t exist together in the long run.  They’ve tried to make it work and it’s just not going to happen.  All you’re doing by trying to force this Cameron-Flacco relationship on both of them is costing Joe Flacco money.  And, even though I make little in comparison to my client, you’re costing ME money, too.  Get this Cameron thing sorted out and let’s make Joe the $90 million player he deserves to be.”

I imagine a conversation like that has been going on nearly every Monday or so for the last 13 weeks.

(Please see next page)

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Ravens Identity Crisis

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Ravens Identity Crisis

Posted on 01 November 2012 by Thyrl Nelson

Before the Ravens can be who they want to be, they have to decide who they want to be. This team can’t know where they’re going until they decide who they are; and so far at least, who they are seems to be a team suffering from an identity crisis.

The Ravens have never in their history experienced a sustained level of success that matches what they’ve accomplished over the last four years. And despite all of the “sky is falling” prognostications they look like a team that’ll be tough to keep out of a 5th straight playoff appearance. That said, it appears a safe bet that this season will end like the other four that preceded it…short of the Super Bowl.

 

It is the burden of expectations; a problem that more than half of the league’s teams would kill to have, but that will be of little consolation to those who have been along for this 4+ year ride.

 

Regardless of their previous successes or failures, the Ravens have always had an identity. Often times it was a frustrating identity, that of a team that would play to the strength of their defense and running game and that of a team that was seemingly being passed by as the rest of the league and its philosophies evolved.

 

For the last several years the team has appeared to be one in transition. Behind their (first ever) franchise quarterback and the franchise’s most versatile running back, Ravens fans have been pining for the switch to be flipped. This has put the offensive coordinator in a tough spot. Fans love the wide-open offense when it’s working (there were no calls complaining about Ray Rice’s touch numbers after the Ravens took apart Cincinnati in week 1) but still default back to their old school philosophies (Rice needs 25 touches per game) when it’s not working.

 

Cam Cameron has been the easiest of targets because he’s been the guy charged with authoring that transition, and because until he does so successfully, no one has any reason to be loyal to him. Owner Steve Bisciotti didn’t help Cam’s plight when he declared him “under fire” after the 2010 season.

 

In Cam’s defense though, he hasn’t exactly been set up for success. Throughout the Cameron/Harbaugh/Flacco era, the offensive line has been makeshift at best, the wide receiver corps dynamic and short staffed. The team still lacks a “go up and get it” threat that they can have confidence in between the hash marks and has instead invested heavily in a Pro-Bowl caliber backfield that’d be best served grinding out yardage on the ground.

 

The guy in charge of supplying that talent, Ozzie Newsome, has delivered a Super Bowl. He has a documented track record of draft successes that is tough to question much less match. And he has for that reason earned a status that insures he’ll hold his job for as long as he wants. That said, it seems that Ozzie is still building the Ravens to be a team that wins on defense and through their running game, while everyone else (in the league) is going in a different direction.

 

Lately Newsome has compounded those problems by “being too cute” on draft day. The Wizard’s willingness (or need) to forego first round picks in favor of stacking late round picks seems sound based on his history, but lately that abundance of picks hasn’t borne much fruit.

 

What the Ravens have now is an aged and beleaguered defense and an offense not built to overcome them. They have a real need to work out a long term deal with a quarterback who’ll wind up hamstringing their spending ability otherwise if he has to wear the franchise tag. And they’re a team that looks nothing like the wide-open “modern offense” that many expected them to be by now.

 

Steve Bisciotti took a great deal of pride back in 2005 with changing the process of communication in the building. It seems that we’re back to a place where one hand isn’t talking to the other. And it seems that the one guy who’s not on board with opening up the offense is the one who’s making the personnel decisions. That quite simply can’t work.

 

Before these Ravens can figure out where they’re going, they’ll have to decide who they are…and father time remains undefeated.

 

 

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An Open Letter to Bisciotti, Cass and the Ravens

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An Open Letter to Bisciotti, Cass and the Ravens

Posted on 06 August 2012 by Drew Forrester

Dear Steve, Dick and the rest of the Ravens organization:

Please consider this as a follow-up note to something I wrote about last December when you all announced that training camp was being relocated from Westminster to Owings Mills for 2012.

You guys took a lot of grief from the fans – and some media members – for that decision, although I can proudly say I was one of the folks who implored everyone to exercise some patience and wait and see how the Ravens handled everything before making a full judgement.

I predicted, quite quickly after your decision was announced, that the Ravens would go above and beyond the call-of-duty to make sure  the fans were “taken care of”.  I suggested that fans simply wait and see what plans were made for the summer of 2012 and that my guess was they wouldn’t be disappointed.  I just happen to have a copy of that piece I wrote, in fact.  You can read it HERE. 

As you can see, my prediction was right.

Once again, you all came through.

I was out at Owings Mills last week to witness first-hand how the 250 fans who were “invited guests” were treated.  I watched them interact with the players afterwards and I saw the smiling faces of both parties.  I even took a picture for a family of four from Annapolis out in front of The Castle.  I asked them how their day went and 11-year old Amanda said, “Joe Flacco said ‘I like your braces!’ to me!!”.

That Flacco, what a touch, huh?  By the way…if I haven’t told you this, I will now.  That kid is a helluva quarterback and a terrific representative of your franchise.  I’d go on to tell you to pay him and keep him here long-term, but I know you’re already trying to do that.

Anyway, back to training camp.

I was impressed with what I saw at Owings Mills, but the real litmus test for those promises you made would come on Saturday at the first of the three open practices.

Let me first say this:  I completely understand how much of a pain in the ass it is to move camp to the big stadium for one day.  Most fans (and even some media members) don’t really see how difficult that was to manufacture on Saturday, but I do.

As is usually the case with the Ravens, you all pulled it off like a road win in Cleveland.  With ease.

The practice moved along smoothly and the fans were always aware of the drill that was taking place on the field.  No one was bored.  If watching practice can be considered exciting – and to the 20,000 who were there, it was – then Saturday’s event delivered the goods for everyone.

I watched all of the players make their way around the bowl of the stadium and sign autographs.  I’m sure everyone who wanted one didn’t succeed because of the sheer volume of people, but I’ll tell you what I didn’t see.  I didn’t see one player sign for 25 people and then casually stroll down the steps and off the field.  And I stood there and watched, trust me.  Every guy signed hundreds of autographs.  And then some.

So, congratulations on following through on your promise to keep the fans involved as best as you possibly can.

You won’t get many of these letters, because folks are always quick to bash you but slow to say “Well Done!”.

I’m here to say “Well Done!”

Best wishes for a successful 2012.

DF

P.S. I won’t be this nice to you guys if you lose to the Steelers this season.

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Suggs facing reality of difficult road back to field for 2012 season

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Suggs facing reality of difficult road back to field for 2012 season

Posted on 14 June 2012 by Luke Jones

Typically this time of year is one linebacker Terrell Suggs doesn’t enjoy as the Ravens conclude another off-season program.

Like many veterans, Suggs could do without the formality of organized team activities and mandatory minicamps at the team’s Owings Mills facility weeks before the start of training camp in late July. However, everything changed for the five-time Pro Bowl defender after suffering a partially-torn Achilles tendon in late April.

Now, he wishes he could experience the monotony of taking the field for workouts geared more toward rookies and younger players than a 10th-year linebacker coming off the best season of his career.

“This is a very unfamiliar feeling for me,” Suggs said. “I used to dread this. I’d be like, ‘Oh my God, I’ve got minicamp.’ Ease us all back and go out in the sun. But now, I’ve never appreciated it so much, because I’ve never had to sit and watch my brothers go to battle without me.”

Instead of thinking about traditional two-a-days and lining up with the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, and Haloti Ngata this summer, Suggs has his own version of training camp. The 29-year-old rehabs every day by working out, rehabbing his foot, resting and icing his foot, and then repeating the process.

Boldly proclaiming on the day his injury become public knowledge on May 3 he planned to return by November at the latest, Suggs must settle for baby steps now. Earlier this week, he longer required the use of crutches as he can now move around with a walking boot on his right foot.

Asked once again on Thursday if he still targeted November at the latest as his time to return to the field for the Ravens, Suggs offered a more measured perspective while still reinforcing the notion that he’ll do what many think he can’t in 2012.

“I am not a doctor, so [November was] just a guess,” Suggs said. “It feels good now, I guess. We’ll know in my progression when I will actually be able to come back. But like I said before when I first got injured, I will be in a Baltimore Ravens uniform in 2012. The only question is when.”

One of the biggest challenges in recovering from such a devastating injury is following the advice of the doctors and training staff and adhering to the schedule put in place. For a player like Suggs who enters this season having missed only three games in the first nine seasons of his NFL player, it’s only natural to want to push the issue when feeling good in the rehabilitation process.

While the rest of the Ravens organization has expressed cautious optimism and support for Suggs’ claim that he’ll return to play this season, they also understand how challenging that task will be and do not want the talented linebacker to put the rest of his career in jeopardy by pushing too far too fast.

“You work hard, but you do it within the boundaries of what you are able to do at the time,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We have a lot of people who are professional at that. Nothing really needs to be said other than to get back as soon as we can, and part of that is no setback. Professionals take care of that.”

One thing Suggs won’t have to worry about is the organization trying to withhold his base salary this season with him suffering a non-football injury away from the Ravens’ training facility. Suggs once again dismissed reports of him suffering the injury while playing basketball when asked about it on Thursday.

The 6-foot-3 linebacker explained his relationship with the organization was too strong to expect it to go after his 2012 salary, a sentiment shared by Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti in comments made last week.

“They’ve always been behind me no matter what was going on or what was happening in my life,” Suggs said. “We’ve got an understanding. I consider this organization my family.”

Suggs’ first public comments about the Achilles injury confirmed once again that no one — including the Ravens’ all-time sacks lead — really knows if he will see the field at some point this fall. But that uncertainty isn’t going to prevent Suggs from trying to do what many consider to be nearly impossible.

For now, he can’t worry about moving past a left tackle or getting to the quarterback as quickly as he can.

The battle is against himself.

“You’ve got to know your body,” Suggs said. “They constantly keep trying to tell me, ‘Rehab and rest. Work as hard as you can.’ Right now, rehab is my football field and until I master it, I won’t be out there. So, I’m definitely trying to become All-Pro at that [as soon as possible].”

Visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault to hear the entire Terrell Suggs press conference HERE.

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Bisciotti confirms Ravens won’t go after injured Suggs’ salary

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Bisciotti confirms Ravens won’t go after injured Suggs’ salary

Posted on 08 June 2012 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — It’s been speculated for several weeks the Ravens would not attempt to withhold injured linebacker Terrell Suggs’ 2012 salary after he sustained a partially-torn Achilles tendon in late April.

Owner Steve Bisciotti confirmed it Friday, admitting he’d have a difficult time walking in the team’s Owings Mills facility if he made such a decision to jeopardize the organization’s relationship with the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year and five-time Pro Bowl selection.

“I’d be scared to come to work,” Bisciotti said. “I think it would be a terrible message.”

Instead of questioning the nature of the injury or criticizing his star defensive player, the Baltimore owner acknowledged how hard his players work in the off-season. He wouldn’t want Suggs or any other player choosing to take it easy as the Ravens look to make a Super Bowl run in 2012.

The 52-year-old owner expressed his admiration for players’ ability to work hard when the spotlight of the season isn’t on them.

“I would be more upset if he hurt himself sleeping on his couch all season, you know,” Bisciotti said. “To me, if our players are engaged in activities that kept them in shape, then I’m proud of them for doing it. I don’t know if I would be working out in April the way these guys do what they do.”

Though many of questioned Suggs’ motive for lying — if an ESPN report saying the linebacker was playing basketball instead of doing conditioning drills when the injury took place is true — Bisciotti echoed the sentiment of those who have pointed out the Achilles injury didn’t occur doing a reckless stunt or extreme sport.

Reading between the lines of the owner’s comments, you might even get the sense he believes the ESPN report to be true. But he sounded perfectly fine with that reality, empathizing with a player’s need to work out in a variety of ways.

“I want these guys striving [to work out] and it gets pretty boring in the weight room,” Bisciotti said. “He wasn’t kite-boarding. I’d like to see that some day — Terrell trying to kite-board — but if he’s playing basketball, that’s great.”

Bisciotti reminded critics of a few years ago when Suggs’ conditioning was questioned on the heels of signing a six-year, $63 million contract that included $38 million guaranteed in the summer of 2009. Suggs reported to camp out of shape and played at a sub-par level by his standards, vowing he would never repeat that kind of a season in which he missed three games due to a knee injury and posted a career-low 4 1/2 sacks

Suggs had 14 sacks and a franchise-record seven forced fumbles in 2011, becoming the third player in franchise history to be recognized as the top defensive player in the NFL.

“I’m proud of Terrell,” Bisciotti said. “He got criticized for being out of shape a couple years ago, and he said it would never happen again. He made the Pro Bowl [in 2010], and he made Defensive Player of the Year this [past] year.”

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Ravens to rename practice facility Under Armour Performance Center

Posted on 08 June 2012 by WNST Staff

Baltimore, MD (June 8, 2012) – The Baltimore Ravens, who play at M&T Bank Stadium in Camden Yards, and Under Armour (NYSE: UA), the leader in performance apparel, footwear and accessories, whose global headquarters are located downtown at Locust Point, are joining forces in a wide-ranging collaboration that will feature multiple community-focused initiatives. The ten-year agreement also includes naming rights for the Ravens’ practice facility in Owings Mills, which will be renamed the Under Armour Performance Center.

These dynamic organizations are led by nationally-recognized business and civic leaders.  Both Steve Bisciotti, owner of the Baltimore Ravens, and Kevin Plank, the Founder, CEO and Chairman of Under Armour, have enjoyed tremendous success both in the United States and abroad.

“I love the Under Armour brand and am proud that it is Baltimore-based,” Bisciotti said. “They started with football wear that players wanted, and still do. They produce great products. Under Armour is the only partner for our training center. Their success has been off the charts, and this partnership will serve as a long-term platform that will showcase to the nation the best of what two of Baltimore’s strongest companies have to offer.

“We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Steve and the Ravens over the years.  The Under Armour Performance Center is a facility that reflects our shared commitment to making all athletes better and to help the Ravens players excel on game-day,” said Plank. “We are even more excited that our partnership extends off-the-field, and will allow both of us to implement meaningful changes in the community.”

While both the Ravens and Under Armour have been active in improving the community, the two companies will combine to empower local youth and schools through football initiatives.  Specific youth football programs include the creation of annual grants, multiple clinics and statewide competitions.  Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and his assistants will play an active role in some of these programs, including a free Under Armour-sponsored clinic for over 400 Carroll County youth on June 16 at McDaniel College.

The creation of an annual 7-on-7 high school flag-football tournament, which already has attracted registration from 72 schools and more than 1,400 students for 2012, highlights the competitive elements of the agreement.

A visible component of the partnership is the renaming of the Ravens’ practice facility to the Under Armour Performance Center, which will host local and national media throughout the year and will showcase two of the city’s most successful corporate entities.

Under Armour recently announced the launch of a local community-based empowerment program, entitled “WIN Baltimore.” The platform is designed to spark positive social change throughout Baltimore and its surrounding neighborhoods by fueling the social, educational and physical advancement of the boys and girls who will serve as the future business and community leaders of the region.

The Ravens franchise, founded in 1996, won Super Bowl XXXV in January of 2001. The team has earned playoffs berths in five of the last six seasons, and they are the NFL’s only team to appear in the playoffs in each of the last four seasons – posting at least one victory in each of those postseasons. Long recognized for their community involvement, the Ravens’ mission is to win football games, serve their fans and be a positive force in the community.

About Under Armour, Inc.

Under Armour® (NYSE: UA) is a leading developer, marketer, and distributor of branded performance apparel, footwear, and accessories. The Company’s products are sold worldwide and worn by athletes at all levels, from youth to professional, on playing fields around the globe. The Under Armour global headquarters is in Baltimore, Maryland, with European headquarters in Amsterdam’s Olympic Stadium, and additional offices in Denver, Hong Kong, Toronto, and Guangzhou, China. For further information, please visit the Company’s website at www.ua.com.

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Do you really care how Suggs was injured?

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Do you really care how Suggs was injured?

Posted on 06 June 2012 by Luke Jones

It’s no secret there was a cloud of uncertainty regarding the circumstances of Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs’ partially-torn Achilles tendon suffered in the final weekend of April.

While the 2011 Defensive Player of the Year maintains he injured himself doing conditioning work, ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter’s Tuesday report of multiple witnesses claiming Suggs tore the tendon playing basketball in Arizona confirmed initial reports that circulated when the news first broke on May 3.

Over a month after the injury was made public, does it really matter how Suggs was injured?

The Ravens have never commented publicly regarding the circumstances surrounding the Suggs injury, but it’s nearly impossible to believe the organization didn’t do its own investigating over what exactly happened when the star player was injured. In other words, Tuesday’s news was hardly surprising to the Ravens.

However, Tuesday’s revelation forces Suggs — and perhaps the organization — to address the story as the 29-year-old linebacker appears to have been caught in a lie if you believe multiple accounts from the Akchin Gymnasium in Maricopa. If in fact he was injured playing basketball, Suggs was likely fearful of any potential action taken by the Ravens to withhold his salary or fine him. Judging from his initial comments following the injury, it was clear how despondent Suggs was for letting down teammates and fans, another factor that may have led to him withholding the truth behind the incident.

Though it’s within their right as an organization to withhold his salary due to a non-football injury, the Ravens have given no indication they plan to do so, a course of action with which I agree. It’s understandable to be upset with Suggs over choosing to lie — if that’s ultimately what he did — but the reality is this injury could have taken place any number of ways.

Owner Steve Bisciotti, general manager Ozzie Newsome, coach John Harbaugh, and fans would love to put star players in bubble wrap during the off-season, but it’s not reality. If you’re familiar with any of the off-season workouts players put their bodies through to prepare for the upcoming season, you know it puts the individual at far more risk than a light jog or simply raising a five-pound dumbbell. While Suggs’ participation in a basketball tournament wasn’t approved by team officials, he just as easily could have suffered the injury in Torrey Smith’s charity basketball tournament earlier this year or Lardarius Webb’s charity softball game this past weekend — events cleared by the Ravens.

The injury remains unfortunate and damaging to the Ravens’ Super Bowl aspirations for the 2012 season, but the altered cause of the injury doesn’t affect my opinion of Suggs unless we suddenly learned he tore the Achilles doing something egregiously reckless such as performing wheelies on a motorcycle or parachuting off a building.

If Schefter’s report is true, Suggs should come clean and apologize, which would allow all invested parties to move on from the incident once and for all. It doesn’t impact his recovery time or make the injury any better or worse, but addressing the issue now eliminates the lingering doubt and will allow the five-time Pro Bowl defensive player to focus on his rehabilitation with minimal media distractions after this latest wave of scrutiny.

Yes, Suggs used questionable judgment if he did hurt himself playing basketball and proceeded to lie about it, but it’s not worth holding a grudge against a player who’s been a standout member of the organization for nearly a decade.

He and the Ravens have suffered enough already.

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