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The Young and Restless

Posted on 14 November 2008 by Brian Billick

As I prepared for my game this week between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs I had a chance to see first hand what the Chiefs are going through with their purging of their roster and building anew this franchise. Trading away their best defensive player (Jared Allen to the Minnesota Vikings) and loading up on draft choices this year you can clearly see the commitment the Chiefs have made to the future, and the growing pains they are experiencing at 1-8.

Seeing Herm Edwards and Carl Peterson put this plan in motion, I can’t help but think back to the 2002 season when Ozzie Newsome and I were faced with the same task.

As much as we as coaches would like to think otherwise, our jobs (particularly that of a head coach) are inexorably linked to the finances of any given situation. In 2000 the Baltimore Ravens reached the top of the professional football pyramid winning Super Bowl XXXV and then returning to the divisional round of the NFL playoffs in 2001. The price was unavoidable, however.

In 2002, the Ravens fielded the youngest team ever (19 rookies) in the history of the NFL. The decisions made in the preceding years to the “Cap Purge” of 02’ were all made with the consensus agreement that the team would have to be gutted after the 2001 season. With every signing leading up to the Super Bowl year General Manager Ozzie Newsome would make the obligatory observation, “Now we all know the piper has to be paid in 2002, right.” It was an acknowledgment by all involved that the expenditure “over the cap” had an unavoidable consequence in today’s NFL. That for every dollar “over the cap” you spend you will be devoid of those dollars in subsequent years.

At the heart of the Ravens’ Championship year were players like Shannon Sharpe, Priest Holmes, Rob Burnett, Duane Starks,Tony Siragusa, Qadry Ismail, Sam Adams. Jeff Mitchell, Jamie Sharper, Jermaine Lewis and even future Hall of Fame Rod Woodson would all be victims of the financial “balancing of the books” that every team must come to recon with.

It was only fitting that the cover of the 2002 Ravens’ Media Guide adorned the oil portraits of myself and Ozzie. Indeed, we where left with the task of rebuilding a championship team with our “financial” hands tied behind our backs. We did so in the only way left to a team in this situation and that is to draft and draft well.

Draftees like Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Todd Heap, Gary Baxter, Casey Rabach, Edgerton Hartwell, Ed Reed, Anthony Weaver, Dave Zastudil and Chester Taylor would team with holdovers Chris McAlister and future Hall of Famers Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden to form an AFC North Division Championship team in 2003. They key was the franchise’s willingness to take the dramatic steps to “purge” their championship team of older and more expensive talent and replace it with younger more affordable players.

The problem lies in being a victim of your own success. When you draft well, even though the young player comes cheaper, they play themselves into the higher priced market that makes it increasingly tough to keep all of your good players. Ultimately, the successes of drafting Ed Reed, Todd Heap and Terrell Suggs then forced the Ravens to let go of Jamal Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Gary Baxter, Casey Rabach, Edgerton Hartwell, Anthony Weaver, Dave Zastudil and Chester Taylor. It has become a vicious cycle, in a reverse of nature, the “young eating their old.”

In training camp of the 2002 purge year Todd Heap had a humorous, but acute observation. We had long had a tradition on our team that the most veteran players got to sit in first class when we traveled. Typically that would be seven or eight players, usually with 10+ years in the league. Todd Heap, who was just entering his third year in the league, at our first OTA with this young group observed, “Coach, looks like I am going to be in first class this season.”

Having spent the day with Herm Edwards, it’s clear he is finding the same things I did in 2002. Though tough getting through the loses, it was one of the most enjoyable years I have had coaching. Working with and developing the young talent is what being a coach is all about. Herm will also find that by having to play so many young players you are going to learn a great deal more about them than you might otherwise have a chance to do. Next year when he looks at his roster and sees a bunch of 2nd and 3rd year players he will not have to worry about how they will play in their first starts. They will all have 10 to 16 games of playing experience.

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Mailbag: A postcard from Cleveland

Posted on 05 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

FROM THE MAILBAG:

nestor:

by the way, made the trip to cleveland last weekend. found the town and 99% of the people to be great. unfortunately there was one dude about 7 rows behind my 2 sons and i that seemed to have a problem with us wearing the purple.

there were some pretty hairy moments, particularly after they scored 10 unanswered to take the lead. i thought i might be watching most of the 2nd half from the lock-up.

needless to say, it suddenly got real quiet in the 4th quarter.

we had a blast.

signed,

brad

Hey Brad:

Well done…send along a pic from the roadie and I’ll post it from now on…

My videos are on wnstv…check ’em out…
I go every year and I almost have a routine at this point.

I love the RTA…

I love the flight…

I love Paninis…I always order the turkey and the cole slaw and fries are the bomb!
I love paying $20 to a scalper for a ticket…

I have great memories of Cleveland…from the 1995 World Series, the 1996 playoffs, Oilers trips back in the 1980’s, Indians games at the old ballpark, nights with Ohio’s finest in the Flats, buddies at Baldwin-Wallace college who I met on a spring break trip…

I’ve seen Springsteen, The Who, Phil Collins, Def Leppard, The Alarm, The Smithereens…tons of bands and trips to Cleveland on Southwest Airlines for $19.

I’ve had many, many, man fun nights in Cleveland. Probably as many in Cleveland as any other place besides Baltimore on earth…
I get to catch up with Phil Savage…

I love the trip…wouldn’t miss it!

BUT…I REALLY love the trip when we kick their asses and I get to watch their fans mercilessly boo the home team…
I honestly don’t recall ever going to Cleveland and NOT hearing their fans boo the team.

It’s as much of a tradition as them playing “Hang on Sloopy”…

They made Tim Couch cry…

Honestly, I didn’t hear them boo them until Terrell Suggs picked off the ball, and for the 50,000 who were left many just grabbed their stuff and rolled.
They didn’t even have the ENERGY to boo them.

It really is a lot of fun going to the games every week and the reason I shoot the videos is to show you what it’s like to be a schmuck from Baltimore in the seats every week.

It’s one of my favorite parts of life: going to Ravens games on the road.
I don’t do “roadtrips” to Cleveland anymore because people really don’t want to go.

If you wear purple, it generally sucks. It’s just not any fun getting crap thrown at you and having your wife get called a whore for three hours. So, we wear black and just have “quiet” fun.

The fans sitting next to us didn’t know we were Ravens fans until the third quarter. We kinda snuck up on ’em. It was a LOT of fun! Extremely memorable! With Obama buzzing around, Springsteen playing music that you could literally hear from our seats, it was pretty cool. And the comeback got me outta my seat high-fiving my wife and screaming like a banshee with a spear…

(Hey I was with Billick tonight at MaGerks…had to slip that one in there…It was a great time and an awesome crowd! Vids are coming soon!)

I can’t wait for Houston…

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The afterglow of Cleveland

Posted on 03 November 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Talk about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

With just over a quarter remaining in yesterday’s key divisional AFC North matchup, the Ravens were 14 points down on the road, the Browns fans were coming to life with a chorus of “Hang on Sloopy” (don’t ask…just watch the video!) and the vultures were circling our black birds at Cleveland Stadium.

Some of the Cleveland “faithful” had already begun to pile out onto the street to watch Bruce Springsteen perform before the Barack Obama rally, which was literally adjacent to the stadium (think as close as Oriole Park is to M&T Bank Stadium).

The Browns had our rookie quarterback on the run. Our beaten defense had been pushed around for 30 minutes – or as Terrell Suggs said: “We were getting our asses handed to us.” And staring at a two-touchdown deficit on the road in a hostile environment, it didn’t feel as though a comeback was in the offering.

Todd Heap hadn’t caught a pass. Willis McGahee was on the pine. The backend of the secondary, while not looking like Ike Booth and Donny Brady circa 1996 was still not Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle in their prime for sure.

But, as we learned in the locker room after the game, it was about that time that Ray Lewis came to the forefront on the sidelines and talked about playing a full 60 minutes of football. He talked about believing and not quitting. All of the stuff many may view as “rhetoric” when it doesn’t work was viewed as gospel once the Ravens came storming back to score 24 unanswered points during the final 16 minutes of the game.

And, lo and behold, the Ravens created their first miracle of the John Harbaugh administration and gave us our best memory of Cleveland yet, a stunning 37-27 victory on The Lake. (Well, it’s at least the the best memory in Cleveland since the Roberto Alomar homer back in 1996.)

While the real world is in a seemingly constant state of financial crisis and life isn’t a whole lot of fun for most of us from the gas pump to the checkbook, it’s stupid stuff like sports that can create a little bit of fun and a diversion from daily life. At least here in Baltimore with the fantasyland that sports provides us, it’s turning into a very good year for our football team, which makes for nice Monday mornings.

Hell, it makes for great WEEKS in my world, where everywhere I go and everything I do leads me into a conversation about football and the Ravens.

So, on a personal note, there’s nothing more gratifying than when the Ravens win.

It helps WNST morale. It helps the morale of the community. And it makes food taste a little better and the beer is, to quote Chuck Thompson, a little colder.

The Ravens are 5-3, headed off to play Houston in six days and apparently will draw the Sage Rosenfels quarterback card instead of Matt Schaub, who left the Texans’ game early yesterday.

Ray Lewis is playing like a man possessed, showing himself to be the veteran leader in his “walk” year that we’ve been wanting to see as fans.

It’s officially time to start talking about “Festivus.”

(Does John Harbaugh even know about this sacred football holiday?)

And then there are the three “rookies” who stepped to the podium after yesterday’s gritty, improbable win.

Ray Rice had as big of a day on the road when it mattered against a division rival as you can imagine a rookie having. (Although he’ll be hearing about getting knocked out of bounds short of the end zone a few times this week from teammates.)

Joe Flacco was almost flawless in his effort yesterday and continues to show poise, confidence and ability that are beyond his years.

And rookie coach John Harbaugh is starting to show results in the only place it really matters: the team is 5-3 and could be in first place by the end of the night.

Only time will tell if yesterday’s offense-defense bonding on the Lake will take root and this will be a playoff team (or maybe even a true contender for a Super Bowl title in this oddest of seasons).

The conversations here and around town will talk about the obvious problems: the lack of a bye week, the powerful NFC North teams looming during the holidays and tough games and the secondary will probably be a question mark until proven otherwise. There will be plenty of time to debate all of this, week to week, as the team continues to mature.

But yesterday was one for the books — a classic, an unexpected gem to begin the Festivus season. Not even being stuck in the Cleveland airport for three extra hours last night could wipe the smile off of my face.

As I walked to the subway after hearing about 25 minutes of Springsteen (as many of you know, one of my favorites), we strolled to Tower City Mall as Bruce broke out an acoustic version of “The Rising” and dedicated it to Barack Obama, who was about to take the stage.

Bruce could have just as easily sent that one out to the purple birds, who were trying to navigate the insane scene of 100,000 people on the square downtown en route to the airport for a “rising” of their own.

The rising to the top of the AFC North, creating even more separation from the whole state of Ohio.

The rain began to fall on the Cleveland night as the sun set before 5 p.m. for the beginning of a long, cold winter on Lake Erie.

The Ravens are 5-3. The Browns are 3-5.

Going in opposite directions once again.

The bad news?

We’re all stuck rooting for the Redskins tonight.

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You Play The Coach – Game Ball Picks – Week 8

Posted on 27 October 2008 by Alex Thomas

What a great sports weekend…almost perfect in fact. Too bad the Redskins and Phillies had to ruin it all by winning. Let’s recap:

-Jon Ogden’s pre-Ring of Honor induction cocktail party was a lot of fun

-Ravens humiliate the Raiders

-Steelers lose

-Calvert Hall water polo wins its 8th straight M.I.A.A. title; JV team wins 2nd title in 3 years.

-Manchester United picks up a point (even though they should have beat those rat finks in Everton).

-Terps beat NC State

Thoughts on the Ravens game:

-Maybe Joe Flacco can teach Mark Clayton how to get open.

-Holy “crap”…did we just run an OPTION play? Don’t get me wrong, it was fun watching this style of playground football, but this stuff isn’t going to work every week. Just against Loch Raven High School…oops…I meant Oakland. This was Cam Cameron’s version of “run to the Buick and turn around.”

-Ian Eagle had the funniest line of the day, maybe the decade. I laughed so hard I cried, and I may or may not have soiled myself. They panned to a shot of Camden Yards, which was already gutted for the offseason, and said: “It’s October, which means no baseball in Baltimore…sorry O’s fans.” And then said something along the lines of “That’s not a low blow. Just the facts.” Ian Eagle and Solomon Wilcotts are easily my favorite CBS broadcasting team. Then again, my motto is “anyone but Rich Gannon.”

-Way too many penalties yesterday. The Ravens need to play more disciplined next week to beat a Browns team that looks MUCH better than they did in week 3.

-The Ravens defense took away Oakland’s will to live yesterday. Another dominating performance; and if it weren’t for two pinpoint passes by JaMarcus Russell, we’re probably talking about a shut out. You can’t blame Fabian Washington for those plays. He was blanketing the receivers and Russell just made two really good throws…that was about all he did yesterday.

-Suggs looked very motivated…I wonder why?

-This McAlister situation is awfully strange. I’m not very comfortable with the following scenario: Frank Walker on Braylon Edwards.

-My game ball this week goes to Ray Rice. This kid is a rock star.

Who gets your game ball this week?

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No “I” In Team

Posted on 26 October 2008 by roblong

Throughout the Ravens’ game, I received several texts and e-mails about the Ravens use of Troy Smith. The majority of the messages expressed they felt Coach John Harbaugh gave in to Terrell Suggs’ comments by using Smith in the offense on “certain” packages.

Let me remind you that there’s no “I” in team. While I am paid to give my opinion and I welcome yours, this is Harbaugh’s team. He has to do what’s best for the organization.

I’m sure Harbaugh feels he did exactly that. He’s the new coach with someone else’s players. With that, he’s in a situation where he can actually make a move in the AFC.

Today, the Ravens ran some offensive plays that were, worst case scenario, harmless to the offense. A couple turned out to be highly productive. Harbaugh’s not giving in to players, he’s creating the best situation for this team to be successful, now. If there are several players voicing their support for Smith to get some playing time, he put it to rest without sacrificing the team’s future. And they all looked like they were having fun.

Oh, it was by design that Joe Flacco got involved in a unique way. Now, he walks away feeling that he’s a part of the new “wrinkle” in this offense with his first career reception.

In the end, everyone wins. Harbaugh shows he can be “flexible” in the midst of the crossroads. Now, if he permanently benches Chris McAllister, he has Smith in his back pocket. It’s all about give and take. If McAllister is not in the team’s future, he can always say, “Guy, I have your best interest at heart.”

Today, John Harbaugh did a very good thing. I believe he may have won over a few players in the process. He proved there’s no “I” in team. That even includes the Head Coach.

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Ravens crush woeful Raiders, 29-10

Posted on 26 October 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

The Raiders have played an interesting foil in the annals of Baltimore football history.

There was the “Ghost To The Post” thriller on Christmas Eve in 1977. The Raiders were the first team to come to Baltimore to play the Ravens in 1996. And, of course, it was a trip to Oakland and a win in the AFC Championship Game in 2001 that took the Ravens to Tampa and a Super Bowl title.

Today, however, the Raiders look to be a shadow of their famed black and silver pirate crest, a hapless franchise with second-rate talent and an owner that makes Peter Angelos seem sensible.

What the hell happened to the “commitment to excellence”?

We’ve seen some bad football teams roll into Baltimore since the Ravens came to town 13 years ago challenging the great Billy Jo Hobert, but today’s effort by the Raiders might’ve been one of the worst we’ve ever seen in the Charm City. That’s about as bad of a football team you’re gonna find with the red, white and blue NFL crest on it.

Their offense was hopeless, the special teams were poor – making Jim Leonhard look like Dante Hall in his prime – and the defense was good enough to allow a slow, 6-foot-6 quarterback to spread wide and catch bombs from the backup quarterback. And who Tom Cable and where is Lane Kiffin?

If Al Davis were in his right mind, he’d be ashamed of what a cruel hoax this is on the Raider Nation and the Black Hole. Next week, they might want to try to show up against the Falcons.

Sure, the Ravens looked great today and we’ll all gladly take this 29-10 win. At 4-3 on Halloween, this 2008 season has some real life and some real promise as the purple heads to Cleveland next week where a win puts them on a fast track for a potential playoff berth. It would be time to bust out the “P” word (or is it still Festivus?). No one could argue with 5-3 at the turn, even if the second half appears to be helluva challenge with so many potential playoff teams on the slate in November and December, including the entire firing squad of the NFC East.

But I can’t fathom how the Raiders are going to win another game with that band of ragamuffins.

Let’s take it around the victorious purple locker room:

Joe Flacco wasn’t brilliant today (12 of 124 for 140 years) but he threw a TD, ran for one and damn-near CAUGHT one. The maturation of Flacco as a rookie is going swimmingly well for the team, with him getting all sorts of initiations to victories, defeats, road and home games and all sorts of looks from defenses around the NFL. I’m glad we bought the stock months ago.

Terrell Suggs, for all of his stupid bluster and idiotic pronouncements, certainly showed up to play today and made his presence felt anywhere around JaMarcus Russell, who looks like the next No. 1 QB bust of this decade.

Ray Lewis continues to dazzle in his contract walk season, making play after play and I’m still not sure that Justin Griffith made it anywhere near the goal line on that lone touchdown, but he’ll no doubt still be feeling that hit on Wednesday.

Let’s hear it for Jim Leonhard, who has become a fan favorite with these “little guy” efforts on defense and special teams. He’s MY SIZE for crying out loud, but he plays like a giant on the field.

The running game was effective all day, racking up 192 yards on 46 carries as the Ravens controlled the clock and exhausted the Raiders’ defense. The three-headed monster of Ray Rice (8-64), Willis McGahee (23-58) and Le’Ron McClain (7-32) has been more effective than any of us realized back in training camp. And let’s give the offensive line some props as well — even with Adam Terry and Marshal Yanda out, they’re still protecting Flacco pretty well and allowing the backs to move the ball.

Even Matt Stover had a perfect day, which we’ll need more of as the weather turns and the games become tight enough that his foot will surely play a major role in deciding the season.

But the biggest game ball goes to John Harbaugh and the coaching staff, who have held the team together through several crises this season, not the least of which was the notion that the team didn’t have enough talent to compete:

•    The quarterback carousel during training camp and prepping and winning with a rookie signal caller in the NFL.

•    The horrendous injury/age situation on the defensive side of the ball, with Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Kelly Gregg and Dawan Landry all out of the lineup. And that’s not to mention various dings to Willis McGahee, Terry and the loss of Yanda on offense.

•    The bad, ugly, brutal loss in Indianapolis and a three-game losing streak and the bounce back in Miami and again today. Good teams rebound. The Ravens have nicely. That’s good coaching and a lot of heart.

•    The difficulty of navigating and covering for the stupid comments and actions by some of his childish players (this was essentially what got Brian Billick fired). Not only did Chris McAlister not play today, no one even bothered asking where the hell he was. (Disciplined? Absolutely. But will they say it was his leg? Absolutely. They should just come clean and tell the truth, instead of this silly gameplaying that went on last week.)

One more game ball might go to the Ravens’ still-stellar front office acumen in picking talent. Jameel McClain, Willie Anderson, Evan Oglesby and Brandon McKinney all made plays today and none of them were on the team in August. Hats off to George Kokinis and Ozzie Newsome, who have improved this team coming out of Westminster.

The real test, of course, comes in January when the team’s 2008 record is public.

But so far, at 4-3 with winnable games on the horizon in Cleveland and Houston, the Ravens are far more interesting, entertaining and enjoyable than any of us thought possible eight weeks ago.

And if crappy teams like the Raiders are on the schedule (and there’s at least one left with Cincinnati) we’ll take them every week.

As long as the Ravens show up and beats them in the fashion they did today, it’s fun for all of us.

I’ve never been more excited about a trip to Cleveland…

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Ravens-Raiders blog

Posted on 26 October 2008 by caseywillett

This will be interesting to see how much the Raiders go after Frank Walker with Chris McAlister out today.

1:05 – Hard to throw the ball when you are being chased. Suggs with the pressure Pryce with the sack.

Jarret Johnson is having a monster of a year. He is making plays all over the field.

Jim Leonhard was  shoe string tackle away from taking the punt the distance.

1:15 – So three and outs for both teams. I think we could be seeing a lot of this today. I still stick with the Ravens winning 20-17. Sam Koch does not get the credit he deserves, he is very good about pinning teams deep.

1:25 – We have a Troy Smith sighting…and that did much for nothing.Did you think you would see the Ravens steal something from the Dolphins playbook ? Also saw the Ravens with 4 wideouts in one of their formations. Great day so far for Jameel McClain who got credit for the sack and safety on JaMarcus Russell.

1:34 – So I put in a request for Red Bull energy drinks in the press box cafateria.  This could be a long day watching this game. The Ravens should throw those trick plays away, twice they have tried some razzle dazzle play and had to call a timeout to avoid play clock from running out.

2:00 – The Ravens have pulled out several of the crazy formations such as using Troy Smith again and putting Haloti Ngata on the offensive line and Willis McGahee going in behind him for the touchdown run. I am still not ready to kick the dirt on the Raiders for the day.

2:15 – Sitting behind some of the officials for the Raiders, you can tell it has been a long season and may be even longer. They can not get out of their own way. De Angelo Hall keeps talking trash to the Ravens sideline for some reason. The Ravens have run the “wildcat” offense three times so far, two of them have been Troy Smith runs, while the other was a Ray Rice run.

2:45 – A great ceremony here at half time putting Jonathan Ogden into the Ravens Ring of Honor. JaMarcus Russell threw an absolute laser to Chaz Schilens for 60 yards. That was more yards on one play than the Raiders had the entire 1st half. The Ravens will have to start throwing the ball out of the wildcat formation if they want to continue to use it.

3:00 – Once again the Ravens try to come out with Troy Smith under center and have to call a timeout to avoid the play clock from running out. Ray Rice has made a lot of big plays and has put up over 100 yards of total offense today. Ed Reed must be really cold, because ever time he comes to the sideline he puts on sweatpants. The Troy Smith to Joe Flacco pass might be the greatest play in Ravens history, and to think it might end up with a field goal. Derrick Mason almost got knocked out by Wilbert Montgomery when he was going back out on the field. Mason was behind Coach Montgomery who flailed his arms in disgust and landed an elbow right on Derrick Mason who stumbled for a second then made his way onto the field.

3:15- I have to be honest, I did not see how Justin Griffith broke the plane of the end zone with the ball. It appeared that he went up and cam right back down with out the ball breaking the plane. That might be the only think that the Raiders have gotten right today. Thomas Howard of the Raiders might want to look at the scoreboard before he makes a tackle when his team is trailing 19-3 and celebrates like he just made the game saving tackle.

3:30 – Here is where the Ravens have to be able to put a team away. They dodged a pretty big bullet that the Raiders were not able to pick up that first down on their last drive. Now the Ravens have to put the Raiders away and turn the lights off on any dim hope they have of getting back into this football game…..Scratch that as McGahee fumbles, this could get interesting.

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Billick’s blog: Locker Room Talk Should Stay There

Posted on 25 October 2008 by Brian Billick

As I prepare for my weekly games for Fox I typically do a number of radio shows in addition to the three times per week at WNST, ranging from national shows like “Mike and Mike” to “The Dan Patrick Show” to local sports talk shows in various cities. This week I have the Washington Redskins vs. the Detroit Lions. As I worked my way through the week it seemed all anyone wanted to talk about was the comments by Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis about “bounties” on players, and about the topic of Brett Favre and his supposed calling of the Detroit Lions and wanting to help them with their game a few weeks ago vs. the Lions.

First, so-called “bounties” by players is a commonplace occurrence in any looker room and similar to the bravado displayed on most schoolyards. Players are constantly motivating each other by putting a certain amount of money in a pool and the cash going to the player that “knocks” so-and-so out of a game, or gets a interception for a TD, or pancakes a defender on a running play. This is standard operating procedure in virtually every locker room in the NFL.

Players know this is a very physical and violent game, and I have yet to meet one that would willing, by pre-design, go after another player with the intent to injure or end a career. Players are very cognoscenti of how quickly a career can be ended by injury. All you need do is watch players come together after a player is serious laid out on the field and show genuine concern for the fallen comrade. I saw this first hand just this year when I was doing the Arizona vs. New York Jets game and Anquan Boldin was laid out by Eric Smith near the end of the game. The players immediately congregated around Boldin and several gathered together in prayer.

What is worth commenting on is how stupid it is to talk about it afterward. Locker room talk should be just that. To expect people outside of that environment to be able to filter or understand what the mentality is behind that type of interaction between players is naive, if not just down right stupid. In the Championship game vs. the Oakland Raiders in 2000, Tony Siragusa put a brutal hit on Rich Gannon and knocked him out of the game. Goose was subsequently fined by the league. To this day I believe he would have gotten away with the hit, which wasn’t flagged by the way, if only he hadn’t bragged about it after the game.

This has all happened with the backdrop of Troy Polamalu questioning the league’s motives of fines with regard to play on the field.  It is obviously a very fine line to balance in what is, by design, an incredibly physical and violent sport.  I do disagree with Troy on one point.  He intimated that the league was fining not for safety reasons but to make a show of the fines and that they are doing something.  I strongly disagree.  This league has been very pro-active and diligent about providing the safest environment they can for the players.  The fines may not have an effect, but they need to be levied if for no other reason, to just get the players to pause and consider the effects of their play.

Having said that I do find it worth noting that at the end of the year the league will produce any number of videos for sale with “Big Hits in the NFL”.

With regards to Brett Favre helping the Lions with their game plan against the Packers, it is a non-issue in my book. The phone lines around the league are always burning between coaches and players about past and future opponents. This has become such a transitory league with both coaches and players changing teams so much it would be a surprise if this type of thing weren’t going on.

Players are constantly querying other players about whom they just played and how they played them. Most coaches will call a coaching friend or former associate about somebody they just played and how and why they took the approach they did.

I do regret that this will likely continue to tarnish Favre’s image. He is a great player and I am concerned that he may well be remembered more for what has happened in the last 6 months than what a great player he has been for over 16 years.

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Coach Harbaugh speaks on Chris McAlister’s status and Terrell Suggs comments

Posted on 24 October 2008 by caseywillett

Here are some news and notes as it relates to Ravens on Friday:

-Chris McAlister took 11 reps on Wednesday and has not practiced the last two days. So do not look for him to start on Sunday.

-Derrick Mason missed the last two days of practice with a severe headache. Mason attended meetings this morning but did not practice.

-Coach Harbaugh said that all of the talk about Terrell Suggs, Troy Smith, and Chris McAlister, has not been a distraction for the team. Some of the guys have joked with Suggs about it, but that is about as far as is it goes.

-Terrell Suggs and Coach Harbaugh have discussed his statement about Troy Smith should be the starting quarterback and that it is a non issue and he takes Suggs at his word when he said he just thought they both should play.

Here is the statement released by Terrell Suggs about the statements that he made about the bounty:

I’ve got to set the record straight about what I said about so-called bounties. I tried to explain this on Wednesday, but it keeps coming back up.

“We, the players, don’t pay each other to take another player out of the game. And you know coaches don’t do that. As I said before, we prepare to stop the other team’s best players every week. Those are the players who can beat you with big plays. For example, we’ve focused all this week on stopping the Raiders’ running backs. We’ve focused on them in practice and in meetings. They are marked men by our defense – we have to know where they are on every play, and we can’t let them get rolling on Sunday.

“When I did the radio show in Atlanta, that’s what I meant and I thought that’s what I said. I did repeat the word bounty early in the interview after the guy asking me the question used the word. That was a mistake. I misspoke, and I’m sorry for that.

“I hope that clears this up.”

Jim Leonhard  took some reps as the backup holder for Matt Stover. He is doing this because he would be the guy if something was to happen to Sam Koch. This is because Todd Bouman will be the 3rd string emergency quarterback.

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Flacco: “I’m OK with Terrell Suggs”

Posted on 24 October 2008 by joeflacco

It’s back to work for us this Sunday when we play the Raiders.  We’ve been watching film on them this week and they have a very opportunistic defense.  Every week I’m seeing different players, different schemes and different formations and I have to study a lot of tape to make sure I’m ready to put our game plan into action.

We had a really good overall team performance at Miami last week.  As I’ve been saying all year, the offensive line rose to the occasion and did a great job in protecting me.  It’s much easier to make the right read and the right decision when your line is keeping the defense away from you.  All credit goes to those guys and our receivers who made the catches.

I’m not one who gets worked up about team controversies and stuff like that because I’m too busy trying to take care of my game for Sunday, but some people have asked me questions about the comments Terrell made on a radio show earlier this week.  All I can say is Terrell came up to me and explained his comments and I’m OK wth everything…we have a football game to play on Sunday and that’s what I’m focused on.  As a rookie in the league, you have to dedicate all of your available time to studying, learning and preparing.  I have to be ready for Sunday against Oakland.  That’s my only concern right now.

We’ve had a really good week of practice and I’m confident we’ll be ready to play on Sunday.  I hope you all enjoy yourself at the game and I’ll catch up with Drew at 8:30 next Tuesday morning to talk about it.

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