Tag Archive | "terrell"

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With Big Ben & Polamalu out, no excuses for Ravens tonight

Posted on 29 November 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

As we all now know, the Steelers will play tonight’s game here in Baltimore without their two best players, with the late subtraction of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger joining safety Troy Polamalu in the black and gold infirmary.

It is not lost on any Ravens fan that tonight it’s clearly: advantage Baltimore.

Big Ben, as ‘yins from ‘donton affectionately call him, has been poison for anything in purple since he entered the league. He is the Ravens kryptonite. Polamalu’s interception of Joe Flacco in Pittsburgh last January must be considered the most heartbreaking play in the history of the franchise.

I don’t think I need to remind you that the Ravens are on a three-game losing streak to our friendly neighbors from the northwest.

Or that this is their first appearance on Baltimore turf since hoisting a second Lombardi Trophy to the Tampa skies last Febuary.

Or that, at 5-5, a loss to the Steelers tonight will effectively end the Ravens season.

I hate the Steelers. You hate the Steelers.

Let’s hope that attitude — and a few first downs and quarterback pressures along with some goofy white towels we’ll all be waving — are enough to keep the Ravens season alive tonight.

I get the feeling we’ll be feeling the loss of Fabian Washington more than we realize — just like when Chris McAlister went away two years ago — but there are no excuses for a Ravens loss tonight.

We can’t cry about Terrell Suggs not suiting up (of course, John Harbaugh has played the cat and mouse injury report game all week with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.)

Flacco needs to be crisp and sharp. Billy Cundiff can’t miss field goals. Matt Katula needs to snap straight. The offensive line can’t create pre-snap penalties. The defensive front seven must make Dennis Dixon run for his life like the rookie quarterback he is tonight.

The game is on national television. It can’t be a coming out party for some guy from Oregon we’ve never heard of.

The only thing worse than losing to the Steelers at home to effectively end our season with leftover turkey from Thanksgiving would be the thought that it happened at the hands of some guy named Dennis Dixon putting on a black and gold cape.

A disturbing thought.

Let’s hope we don’t go there…

The Ravens must win tonight.

My updated prediction: Ravens 34, Steelers 9

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Don’t ask…just click! Very, very funny…

Posted on 30 October 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I’m not one for cartoons, jokes, chain letters or general web stuff that I refer to as “spam.” (And for the 1000th time, NO, I don’t want to play Mafia Wars with you on Facebook! Stop sending me that manure!)

However, I got this link forwarded to me on Facebook (thanks, Tom!) and, well, it’s pretty freaking good.

It’s PG-13, don’t worry…thank me later!

Just click here…

Be ready to laugh…

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Live From Westminster: Cousins carted off field in AM practice

Posted on 07 August 2009 by Luke Jones

6:39 p.m. –The Ravens will hold two practices tomorrow, a morning session at 8:45 a.m. and an afternoon workout at 2:45 p.m.  Both practices are expected to be full-squad.

Just a quick note to anyone planning to head out to Westminster on Monday to watch the Ravens in action.  The morning practice will be closed to the public.  The afternoon practice scheduled for 2:45 p.m. will be open for fans to attend.

3:24 p.m. — Despite the defense thoroughly dominating this morning, there were a few highlights for the offense.  Flacco threw a long touchdown pass to Mason during a 7-on-7 drill, beating Frank Walker in coverage.

Justin Harper also made another spectacular one-handed catch.  Harper must still prove he can hold onto the ball when getting hit, but he certainly has shown an ability to stretch the field.  He continues to share time at the No. 3 receiver spot with Kelley Washington with Mark Clayton sidelined with a hamstring injury.

3:17 p.m. — The special teams practice lasted about an hour, as the team focused on kick return and punt team alignments.

Chris Carr, Lardarius Webb, Ray Rice, and Jayson Foster worked on returning kicks.  Punt returners included Carr, Yamon Figurs, Rice, and Foster.

Tavares Gooden was present but did not participate in the special teams workout.

1:20 p.m. — Here’s a fun story from today’s practice:  Derrick Mason had joked during his return press conference on Sunday that the team did not have a marching band or the girl scouts come out to celebrate his return.  A local girl scouts troop from Westminster came out to practice this morning, and Mason greeted them and even conducted an interview with the girls after practice.

The audio is up in the WNST vault if you’d like to take a listen.  Mason also talked about his health and the other wide receivers in camp.

1:19 p.m. — We did see our first “fight” of the camp this morning.  Frank Walker and Evan Oglesby mixed it up a little bit, but it wasn’t exactly Ali-Frazier.  With the first preseason game still six days away, these players are definitely getting tired of hitting each other and are ready to hit an opponent.

12:51 p.m. — I just saw Oniel Cousins walking around the hotel.  He was walking with a limp, but there was no apparent wrap or support or anything of that nature on his left leg—definitely a good sign.

12:49 p.m. — The kicking battle was fairly even again, as it has been for the better part of camp.  Graham Gano made two kicks beyond 40 yards but missed from 53.  Steve Hauschka missed from 42 but hit from 45 and 53 yards.

I continue to be impressed by both kickers.

12:46 p.m. — Domonique Foxworth is really starting to settle in with his new team.  On a deep pass attempt to Demetrius Williams, Foxworth was step-for-step with him as the pass fell incomplete.  Ray Lewis was heard praising the new cornerback, the calling card of knowing you belong in the Baltimore defense.

12:28 p.m. — One of the more intriguing stories of the morning was the player lining up next to Ray Lewis in Gooden’s absence.  While most would have expected Jameel McClain, rookie free agent Dannell Ellerbe was running with the first team.  I mentioned Ellerbe earlier this week, but he is clearly making an impression with the coaching staff.

McClain was lining up at inside linebacker with the second unit, so it appears Ellerbe has passed McClain on the depth chart—for now.  It will be interesting to see what happens if Gooden is out for any extended period of time.

12:22 p.m. — Prior to sitting out with an ice pack on his left knee, McGahee displayed some nice moves in the open field after catching a screen pass from Flacco in 11-on-11 thud.  McGahee has had a solid camp, so hopefully the ice pack is just a precautionary measure.

Speaking of running backs, Le’Ron McClain displayed some nice cuts during live action this morning.  Despite the fact that McClain will be used as a fullback this season, I still expect him to receiver his fair share of carries along with Ray Rice and McGahee.

12:09 p.m. — With Gaither not participating in any live drills, Michael Oher once again lined up at left tackle with Marshal Yanda shifting to right tackle on the starting offensive line.  David Hale took Ben Grubbs’ place at left guard.

The Ravens are incredibly thin on the offensive line right now with Grubbs and Gaither out and the left leg injury to Cousins this morning.  They’re fortunate to have Chester, who can play both guard positions and center, and Yanda to play both guard and tackle.  If not for the versatility of these two, a bad situation would be even worse.

Considering the Ravens were in need of another tackle before Cousins’ injury, you would have to think the Ravens will bring in another tackle to camp.

10:39 a.m. — Morning highlights were ALL defense. Todd Heap dropped one into the hands of Ed Reed who returned it for a TD. Ray Lewis rocked Jalen Parmele at the line of scrimmage that got a big “ohhhh” out of the crowd. And — either good or bad news depending on your view — the defense sacked Joe Flacco three times when going live for a series. It’s been quite the defensive show, but the Cousins injury was bad news this morning. We’ll see how he progresses.

10:34 a.m. — Oniel Cousins just went down on the field. He walked over to the cart and is now being carted off the field. There will certainly be more to come…We just sent a WNST Text on this. Join our text service here…

10:10 a.m. — Frank Walker has been subbing in for Fabian Washington this morning.

10:06 a.m. — Willis McGahee has now joined Jared Gaither in the “ice club.” McGahee is icing his left knee.

10:01 a.m. — Jared Gaither is on the field with an ice pack on his neck and shoulder. We’ll know more when the practice is over. John Harbaugh is NOT speaking to the media today. He will be leaving immediately following the morning practice for Philadelphia to attend the memorial service for his good friend and former Eagles defensive coordinator Jimmy Johnson.  More with Bob Haynie in a little bit…

9:17 a.m. — Jared Gaither appears to be limited on the field this morning, not participating in the 11-on-11 right now. But he is on the field and looks to be mostly fine.

8:46 a.m. — Jared Gaither is back on the field practicing this morning. Demetrius Williams is also on the field this morning, a beautifully cool summer day.

There are three noticeable Ravens missing today: Terrell Suggs, Ben Grubbs and Tavares Gooden.

I’ll be tweeting today (Twitter seems to be down or slow again today) as well as checking in at 9:30, 10:30 and all day at WNST AM 1570 with Drew and Bob.

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Suggs continues his double talk over camp

Posted on 15 July 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Today is the day. Either Terrell Suggs agrees to the deal the Ravens have put forth and becomes a long-term signee or he’ll be franchised at 4 p.m. and will have to suffer with a second year of detainment and a $10.2 million payday in 2009.

After telling The Los Angeles Times that training camp is “overrated” two weeks ago, Suggs told Jamison Hensley this in this morning’s fishwrap: “The fans want to see me in training camp on time, and I want to be there on time.”

A change of heart? Perhaps…but who can blame him about training camp? Not many are fond of the necessary evil.

But here’s the key fact for the day: there’s a contract for about $30 million in guaranteed money sitting on the table awaiting his wet signature. Of course by signing the current multi-year deal the Ravens are offering, it would indeed mean that he’d need to be in Westminster in 12 days.

Suggs told the world two weeks ago that the deal was “close” to a long-term agreement.

One thing is for sure: the deadline is now close and we’ll know more by the end of the day.

Either way, Suggs will be in uniform on Sept. 13 when the Chiefs come to town to start the Festivus season. So I’m not sweating it. Apparently, neither is Suggs.

If you want to be the first to know if Suggs inks a long-term deal, you can join our WNST Text Service here.

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Happy 90th Birthday to my Pop!!!

Posted on 05 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

On a morning when the coffee buzz is about Ray Lewis and Matt Birk getting signed and Terrell Owens getting released — and I can’t believe any serious or rational Ravens fan would think signing T.O. is a good idea — my thoughts have been about my father on what would’ve been his 90th birthday. As many of you know, I dedicate each March 5th broadcast on AM 1570 to my dad and in 2006 I wrote a book about my father and his influence on my life and what it’s become. I’ve said it many, many times: my father is really the one responsible for building WNST. My career and my passion for sports and Baltimore is all a result of those trips on the No. 23 bus from Dundalk through Highlandtown and the connection to the No. 22 over to 33rd Street.

It has now been 30 months since our “Free The Birds” march on Camden Yards. I’ll save the report card for the changes it enacted for closer to Opening Day. But I wanted to “reprint” the book here online over the next few weeks. There are 19 chapters about how I was raised, my love of baseball and more than anything, why all of this exists. Feel free to read it or ignore it (or re-read it). You can even “comment” on the chapters if you wish. I haven’t changed a word in it since I wrote it in September 2006. It’s presented “as is” (or in this case, “as was.”)

When we launched the new WNST.net back in October, I disbanded the www.freethebirds.net site because I felt like it had pretty much run its course. So, this book hasn’t been available and many people have asked me about it or dropped me an email and I really didn’t have the time or occasion to “re-present” it. On the day of my Pop’s 90th birthday and with the Orioles illegally having banned me from the franchise essentially because of this book and the actual Free The Birds event on Sept. 21, 2006, I thought the timing is right to honor my father and make the book public once again.

I’ll post a chapter every morning for the next 19 days. The pictures will be gone (I just don’t have the time to upload them all). Maybe one day, I’ll find the time to re-post all of those and put them back into the story.

Either way, it’s a tribute to my Pop on what would’ve been No. 90 for him. I lost my Pop on July 11, 1992.

I wonder what he’d make of the internet, every baseball game on TV every night and what WNST has become for Baltimore, a true open forum for free speech and sports communication. I wonder what he’d think of Brian Billick being my business partner and this site being the No. 1 place in Baltimore for sports news, information, audio and video.

But mostly, I wonder what he’d think of the Ravens because he loved football as much as he loved baseball. I can’t imagine how much fun we would’ve had over these last 13 years with the week to week drama of the franchise each fall and the Super Bowl win and the AFC Championship Game loss and the Colts games and the roadgames and all of the memories we’ve all created since 1996.

Hope you enjoy the book. I worked pretty hard on it!

And I hope you tune in at 2 p.m. today and contribute a good story or two about your dad.

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Sylvia

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So lemme guess: you skipped the Pro Bowl again?

Posted on 09 February 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

I spent the afternoon yesterday at Sylvia’s house in Parkville watching the Pro Bowl, eating chicken wings and pizza and drinking Miller Lite. Honestly, I’m glad we did make a date to watch the game with her many Ravens buddies and waiting for a random big play from a guy in a purple helmet or to get a look at the many Ravens staffers donning Don Ho-style red Hawaiian flowered print shirts. The entire coaching staff from John Harbaugh and Cam Cameron right on down looked like Peter Schmuck at Camden Yards on a summer night.

But the Pro Bowl sucks even when you’re with people you like in a really cool basement (Sylvia won our “Miller Lite Purple Palace” contest last month). We all know that. Vanilla defenses. Lots of “no shows,” including our own Ed Reed. Even the quarterbacks stunk yesterday, with everyone from Peyton Manning to Kerry Collins to Drew Brees to Kurt Warner throwing these wobbling dying duck passes all over the Honolulu turf. Brendon Ayanbejdo played more base defense in the Pro Bowl yesterday than he did during the entire NFL season. LeRon McClain missed at one shot at the endzone and got in on his second chance. Terrell Suggs and Ray Ray looked regal in their red jerseys making a few random tackles and missing others.

And there’s no doubt about it: NO ONE wants to get hurt. Everytime Ray Lewis went toward the ball we were all holding our breath and he STILL might wind up on the Steelers in six weeks for all we know? Or, this might’ve been the final time he strapped on a purple chinstrap. That thought definitely crossed my mind.

Next year, the Pro Bowl will move back to the mainland for the first time in more than a generation, and will be played the week before the Super Bowl in Miami, which will probably allow me to attend. But what’s to see when you actually watch the game?

Guys kinda going through the motions. The NFL marketing its various “Pro Bowl official game jerseys.” And all of the stars in one place at one time in a game that should probably be changed to a flag football game. Even the announcers kinda make fun of how the game is an “exhibition” that borders on a joke as far as a competition goes.

It was a great chance to honor our “Miller Lite Purple Palace” winner and talk football. All of Sylvia’s friends were buzzed up about all the same stuff all of the WNST listeners have on their minds.
Sylvia's Purple Crew

What’s going to happen with Ray Lewis?

Are the Terps going to make the tournament?

The Orioles are going to suck again.

But there’s something poignant and “final” about seeing the last snap of the football season and knowing we have to wait until August for the next round of crappy football that doesn’t matter and until after Labor Day for the first meaningful games again.

Today, the offseason begins in the NFL. The combine is next weekend in Indianapolis. The owners meetings happen in late March. The 2009 schedule will be released in early April. And then cometh the draft, which is one of my favorite weekends and events of the year.

Hang in there. We’ll try to make sense of the offseason and the Terps and Gary Williams and of course, we’ll be following the Orioles with the only objective coverage in the marketplace.

I’ll chat with you more at 2 p.m. today with a major announcement.
Nestor and Sylvia

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Getting a grip on the Festivus activities

Posted on 23 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

So, it looks like we’re getting into the playoffs. Well at least we can talk that way for a few more days and as a 10-point favorite against Jacksonville this weekend (and please note the gametime change to 4:15 p.m., which means the coldest possibilities for us) the Ravens should win. Heck, if they don’t win they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs, really.

So, assuming that the Ravens are going to win this week and advance to the playoffs I started putting together playoff possibilities onto a cocktail napkin on Sunday and this is what I came up with…and I can’t imagine the NFL scheduling gods could have cooked this weekend up with a whole lot more drama than what they have – several cool matchups and playoff spots on the line in both conferences.

Indianapolis can now pack their bags for Denver or San Diego. But that Sunday night game is gonna be a good one. You gotta think that the Chargers have all of the momentum and the home field. What a story that would be, digging out from 4-8 to make the playoffs. Kinda unheard of…

Clearly, Nasvhille and Pittsburgh are just sitting tight, taking a “bye” week before their official byes. And as we saw two years ago, that extra slacker time isn’t always the best route. Two of the last three Super Bowl champs (Pittsburgh 2005 and N.Y. Giants 2007) have come from the No. 6 hole and not only won three in a row on the road but also overcame the extra game and the lack of a bye. You’d figure that being a higher seed would be a good thing but the recent history doesn’t support it.

And the Ravens (or the eventual No. 6 seed) will be headed to the AFC East winner. If Miami beats the Jets, we’re headed to South Florida. If the Jets beat the Dolphins, we go to New England provided they win in  Buffalo (hardly a given).

And such begins any legitimate Ravens fan’s aspirations of catching fire and making January 2009 one helluva memorable month. Here are my thoughts:

1.    Miami is the Ravens’ best first-round path. While the flights are jam-packed (good luck trying to get to South Florida next weekend if the Ravens make it there!), the weather and a matchup where the homefield won’t be so unkind is favorable for the Ravens. It certainly beats going to frosty New England, which is the worst scenario for the Ravens. If the Jets win and the Patriots flop this weekend and we wind up at the Meadowlands against Brett Favre, I still like our chances. Just FYI: if the Ravens go to New England or New York, we’ve already got “Miller Lite Roadtrips” ready to go! If the Ravens play in Miami, we will not be offering a trip.
2.    A Ravens win at the AFC East champion would take them to a path that’s well-traveled and familiar to Ray Lewis, Matt Stover and any real Ravens fan: Nashville. Clearly, the Titans would rather not see No. 52 coming back into the former Adelphia Coliseum in January. And assuming another Tennessee road miracle win…
3.    The AFC Championship Game could be in Pittsburgh (assuming they don’t choke the weekend of Jan. 10-11) or San Diego, Denver or even Indianapolis, if they could win two in a row on the road and take down the Steelers at Heinz Field.

Of course every fan of every team is plotting their own pathway through their respective conference playoff possibilities. This is the joy of having a Festivus celebration – the possibilities and hope that even being a “potential” No. 6 seed affords. And, we still have to win a game at home this weekend against a feisty Jacksonville team to do that.

As we’ve seen over and over again in the NFL: NO ONE LAYS DOWN late in the season. Well, no one but the Arizona Cardinals, any way…

The lowly Seahawks, Redskins and the Bills all pulled off upsets over playoff-inspired favorites last Sunday. The Jaguars played the Colts extremely tough last Thursday night and they’ll have two extra days of rest before coming here this Sunday. Maurice Jones Drew got dinged up very late in the game against Indy, so it’ll be interesting to see how effective he’ll be this week but he’s an explosive threat, like a human pinball or a poor man’s Barry Sanders. He’ll present speed issues for the Ravens defense in the middle of the field.

There’s no “counting chickens” as a Ravens fan. This Jaguars game is hardly a walkover in my mind. But a win this week opens all sorts of doors of possibilities for 2009 and dreams of an improbably Super Bowl run with a rookie coach, a rookie quarterback and a veteran Hall of Famer inspiring the troops in the September of his career.

The storylines for the Ravens are obvious:

Ray Lewis in a walk year trying to win another Super Bowl…

Trevor Pryce going for No. 3…

Derrick Mason and Samari Rolle, who both came up one-yard short almost a decade ago, getting another chance…

A first chance for Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Todd Heap and other Pro Bowlers to win a championship…

Will it start in Miami?

Or New England?

Or a trip to the Meadowlands for Favre and the Jets?

Can the Ravens avoid an upset at the hands of the Jaguars – who were truly Kyptonite to this franchise in the early years when they won the first eight matchups of the rivalry – to earn the No. 6 seed. For better or worse, the playoffs come to Baltimore at 4:15 this Sunday in what amounts to a “play in” game for the franchise and the city.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, indeed…

Happy Festivus to all…

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Ladybug

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Strange, nostalgic day to be in Dallas

Posted on 20 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a crazy day to be in Dallas. They’re shutting their stadium tonight amidst a potential season-wrecker if Joe Flacco, Ray Lewis and the Ravens come in a steal a victory. It’s the Ravens’ first-ever trip into Dallas, the final city they’ve never played in over the 13-year history of the franchise (not counting the Minnesota preseason game two years ago). And the civic pressure is on here in “Big D.” You can almost feel the anticipation for this game if you just drive around town and hear people talking.

If the 2008 Dallas Cowboys lose their final game in Texas Stadium to get essentially bumped from a playoff spot, they’ll be all-time chumps. Especially on the backend of Tony Romo’s January meltdowns and T.O.’s loudmouthed nonsense. This game is significant here — the lead story on every TV channel and the headline of every newspaper.

A big giant “love in” is scheduled for the pre-game and the in-game. The pageantry they’re putting on – and you do know that EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas – will rival what we did for the Orioles in Baltimore on 33rd Street back in 1991. If you really want to vomit and hate the Cowboys more than you already do, just flip NFL Network on today. The pre-game show starts at 5 p.m. and that goof Rich Eisen has already promised to get “every breathing Cowboy legend possible” onto the show. Just hearing Deion Sanders wax on (and off) with every Dallas legend from Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett to Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith is enough to make you hit the “mute” button.

I’ve hated the Cowboys since Clint Longley…

But here’s the reality: the WHOLE THING is set up for the Ravens to get their asses kicked on national “house TV” of the NFL with the star at the 50-yard line and a team and a stadium that helped build the foundational greatness of the shield is going down. (A little different than imploding the Hoosier Dome, as was done earlier to day in Indianapolis…)

Not that the game doesn’t have enough interesting subplots already – with both teams fighting for their January lives and a crucial win tonight – but the stadium closing combined with the constant drama of Terrell Owens and the matchup issues (still no word on whether Fabian Washington will suit up…join the FREE text service and we’ll keep you in the loop) on both sides of the ball, this figures to be a great and memorable night either way.

The Ravens need this game. The city kinda needs this game. I don’t want to wake up on Christmas Day on the outside looking in after all of the fun this team has given us this year. I want a playoff game in New England or New York or Miami two weeks from now. I don’t want the season to end. Tonight could be kinda ugly, as the Ravens enter the game as 4 ½ point underdogs. As big of a home game as the Pittsburgh fiasco was the other night, this might as big of a December road game as the Ravens have played in their history.

It’s always fun when the Ravens play in big games. You can feel the weight of this one here in Dallas for sure.

The weather report shows that the temperature will be dropping like a rock during the game. It was 78 degrees here yesterday when we landed. We walked in short sleeves after dark last night amidst the holiday lights. This morning it’s 60 degrees, damp and kinda chilly. It’s supposed to be 55 at 6 p.m. and 45 at 9 p.m. and 32 by midnight. Tomorrow, it’ll be 35 degrees when we leave Dallas.

I’ll continue to check in from Dallas.

We found a lady bug on the window sill and thought it might be good luck…Ladybug

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A win today paints Baltimore purple for the holidays

Posted on 13 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

The next 24 hours are yet another example of how great it is to have the NFL in Baltimore. Every watercooler and chat room and bar conversation in the city is buzzing with talk of Ravens vs. Steelers. There are Ravens hats and jackets and flags out all over the place. Indeed, as the holiday music plays, it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

The anticipation, the buildup has truly been a lot of fun for anyone who loves Baltimore. It’s the most significant regular season game that’s been played in Baltimore since the Toni Linhart fog game against the Dolphins on 33rd Street.

It’s the biggest game of the NFL weekend and the rivalry is starting to get some true national heat for the first time since Baltimore got back into the league in 1996. We’ve ALWAYS hated the Steelers, but now they kinda hate us as much. It’s a legit “Hatfields” and “McCoys”! And at 4:15, it’s all on the line. The season, in some ways, comes down to the next 60 minutes of football against the team we all love to hate! It’s almost perfect!

So, you know what happens if we win? A piece of first place, a short work week and another huge Saturday night nationally televised game against Terrell Owens and the Cowboys in Dallas. And the families and friends and co-workers and Facebook and Twitter all talk of playoffs and home games and byes. The Ravens become the primary theme of the Christmas season of 2008. My purple Santa hat will come back out as a daily reminder of how much fun it is to have the Ravens in Baltimore.

But my favorite part happens when they replace every light bulb in the city with the purple gels. And the city starts to glow an odd shade of purple. It’s really kind of amazing when you think about, the spirit our city gets for this football team. (BTW: We are EXTENDING the deadline for the Miller Lite Purple Palace contest through Dec. 21st to allow everyone to play. As you can see here, we’re getting some awesome pics and videos! Keep them coming and let us know if someone you know has a purple palace worthy of entry.)

With a victory on Sunday afternoon against the Steelers, this city will literally become a giant purple sea of enthusiasm.

It’s been a rough year financially for virtually everyone I know. Business throughout the city is off. Everyone I talk to who owns a business has felt the impact. Business at our radio station is off. Business at EVERY radio station is off. The Baltimore Sun’s parent company filed for bankruptcy last week. Sometimes just putting on the television in the mornings is depressing. I haven’t met anyone who hasn’t been affected in some way by the international economy collapse but one thing that can make times at least a little better — here in Baltimore anyway — is having this football team win and watching the community come together and cheer a little. It’s like a civic tonic.

Do you remember the Colts game from 100 weeks ago? All of the same emotions that we’ve seen this week – minus the Irsay talk – were present. The buildup, the constant chatter and “can’t wait until Sunday” feeling we’ve all had this week. A win today would kind of blow the roof off of the city and we could embrace the 2008 Ravens as true “contenders” to win a Super Bowl.

A win over the Steelers and the real fun of the holidays and Festivus begins in Baltimore. A loss, and well…well, it would be one helluva hangover if this goes the wrong way. (I don’t even want to think about it. I’m still shaking off the Colts loss and it’s been two years!)

I predict a Ravens victory, 27-13. They must win. The city needs it.

Let the games begin…

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THE COMPLETE ART MODELL PRIMER & FAQ REGARDING HIS HOF CANDIDACY

Posted on 03 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

Here is a primer on all things Canton, Pro Football Hall of Fame voting, the politics, the rules, the history and most importantly “Where Art Modell stands” in his lifelong quest to be bronzed and rightfully enshrined amongst the greats of the NFL game. You can also listen to Tuesday’s interviews with Peter King and Len Shapiro in our audio vault for more discussion about the reality of Art’s bid. Shapiro wrote a huge piece yesterday in The Washington Post pimping Modell’s candidacy and calling it a “travesty” that he’s not in Canton. It’s a must read!

(Incidentally, I’d love to link to a story in The Baltimore Sun regarding Modell’s candidacy, but once again our friends on Calvert Street are asleep at the wheel. Nice job of sticking up for your own, boys!)

This getting into the Hall of Fame business is more about politics and less about achievements these days if my research and the people I’ve chatted with who are in the room are really being honest.

The “clear cut” guys – this year it figures to a slam dunk for Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe and Bruce Smith as inductees – are mere formalities in many ways. Wide receiver Cris Carter is a bit of a holdover from last year, and figures to be a major factor with his gaudy stats. So, for the sake of argument, let’s just make them automatic and play for the bottom of the card, which appears to be the remaining one or two inductees. No one needs to make any strong argument for the non-bubble guys. It’s always the fringe people or the overlooked people who create the emotional stirs and long, heated debates in the minds of the voting committee.

There are 43 men and 1 woman who vote for the inductees into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. There are 12 at-large members plus one representative from each of the 32 NFL cities/teams on the committee. Scott Garceau is Baltimore’s local rep. Mike Preston was formerly on the committee until 2004, when the Tribune Company decided to make it “against company policy” to vote on such committees because of “conflict of interest” concerns.

The 2009 list of 25 candidates will be pared down to 15 before Dec. 17th, when all 44 members must have their ballots and recommendations received. On Jan. 31, 2009 – the day before the Super Bowl – this group of 44 will enter the same room in Tampa and arguments will be given for all 15 candidates, plus the two senior committee nominees (this year it’s Claude Humphreys and Bob Hayes up for induction).

Let’s be straight: Virtually none of the candidates have anything left to “give the game” outside of Art Modell and Ralph Wilson, whose legacies and franchises live on in Baltimore, Cleveland and Buffalo. Paul Tagliabue is the only other “non player” on the current ballot of 25 names. All 22 of the others will be judged by their play on the field over the years, and virtually everyone on the HOF committee of 44 feels that “players” trump “contributors” when it comes time for voting. So, at best, Modell’s candidacy could be derailed by most anyone who actually stepped between the lines and played the game.

For the record, Tagliabue has many supporters among the 44, who all came in direct contact with His Commissionership many times over the last 20 years as he was the ultimate power broker in the sport for nearly a generation.

SO, HOW DOES ART MODELL GET INTO THE HALL OF FAME?

Good question. At this point, I believe it’s simply a matter of someone in our community (us?) making a stir and making it a viable, public outcry of support for Modell. Trust me, no one in Cleveland and not many amongst the 44 people in the room feel inclined to “jump on the table” for Art Modell. Other than Garceau, who is a staunch supporter of Modell (but who admits that having worked for the club as a play-by-play voice for a decade appears as a conflict of interest in that room), only Len Shapiro of The Washington Post has shown any partiality or inclination to grandstand on behalf of Modell. Another retired former voter and proponent of Modell is former USA Today columnist Gordon Forbes, who sends information to the current panel each year on behalf of Modell.

Here is the official “selection process” from the Pro Football Hall of Fame site.

I don’t think it’s as much about the facts of Modell’s contributions since 1961 to the NFL at this point. I think there’s some clear politicking – or lack thereof – going on. I’ve been told there are two major factors at play:

1. The move from Cleveland has created a “he’ll never get in because of that” mentality amongst some in the room and all of his other accomplishments have been diminished like Pete Rose’s sin of gambling on the game in baseball or Mark McGwire’s “not here to talk about the past” confession. For some, Modell is a lifelong pariah never to be recognized after “kicking the dog” on the cover of Sports Illustrated in Nov. 1995.

2. Over the years, some of Modell’s detractors have minimized his role and the legend of his involvement in the basic tenet of the merit of his candidacy: his role in the television negotiations and growth of the game with the networks and revenue. Time and the death of his contemporaries has definitely hindered Modell’s bid for Canton as much as anything because the very people who knew, felt, respected and lived through his many contributions are not the ones making a case for him at this point. Pete Rozelle, Wellington Mara, George Preston Marshall and Lamar Hunt are not here to be involved in the discussion although all of them no doubt believed in Modell’s Hall “worthiness.”

It’s now in the hands of the storytellers and some on the committee have heard conflicting reports as to whether Rozelle was the “smart one” and Modell was simply a guy who was the “No. 2” and simply got the credit of associating with the league. Of course, the mere fact that Modell came from a background of New York television in the late 1950’s would tell you that his network expertise was a key factor in the exponential growth of the league and its revenue during his tenure on the “television committee” for nearly 30 years.

From the Thanksgiving doubleheader to Monday Night Football, from winning an NFL Championship in Cleveland to winning a Super Bowl in Baltimore, from being involved at the game’s highest level since 1961 and being a massive part of shaping the sport for longer than most of us have been on the planet, Modell certainly deserves a better fate in Canton during the September of his life.

Certainly, most on the committee must believe that if Art is going to live long enough to see his own induction, the time is NOW for some action here in Baltimore.

We plan on creating some noise this week and hope that you’ll join our Facebook effort to help Art and raise awareness in Baltimore this week in anticipation of having a national audience here on Sunday night for the Redskins game.

WHO ARE THESE 44 GUYS ANYWAY AND HOW DID THEY GET ON SOMETHING AS IMPORTANT AS THE HALL OF FAME VOTING COMMITTEE?

Below is the list of the Hall of Fame voting committee, as selected by a board at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio:

Bernie Miklasz, Bob Gretz, Bob Oates, Charean Williams, Charles Chandler, Chick Ludwig, Clare Farnsworth, Cliff Christl, Dan Pompei, Dave Goldberg, David Climer, David Elfin, Don Pierson, Ed Bouchette, Edwin Pope, Frank Cooney, Howard Balzer, Ira Kaufman, Ira Miller, Jarrett Bell, Jeff Legwold, Jerry Green, Jerry Magee, Jim Trotter, John Clayton, John Czarnecki, John McClain, Kent Somers, Len Pasquarelli, Leonard Shapiro, Mark Gaughan, Mike Chappell, Mike O’Hara, Nancy Gay, Paul Domowitch, Paul Zimmerman, Peter Finney, Peter King, Rick Gosselin, Ron Borges, Sam Kouvaris,  Scott Garceau, Sid Hartman, Tony Grossi, Vinny DiTrani and Vito Stellino are the list of people.

Obviously, some of these names are more familiar than others. Some are frequent contributors to WNST. Some of them you know from television. And two of them – Miklasz and Stellino – were journalists here in Baltimore and covered the Colts leaving for Indianapolis. So, there’s plenty of perspective here on the NFL and plenty of expertise.

WHO ARE THE 25 NOMINEES ON THE CURRENT BALLOT?

Cris Carter Wide Receiver 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles, 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings, 2002 Miami Dolphins

Roger Craig Running Back 1983-1990 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings

Terrell Davis Running Back 1995-2001 Denver Broncos

Dermontti Dawson Center 1988-2000 Pittsburgh Steelers

Richard Dent Defensive End 1983-1993, 1995 Chicago Bears, 1994 San Francisco 49ers, 1996 Indianapolis Colts, 1997 Philadelphia Eagles

Chris Doleman, Defensive End-Linebacker 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers

Kevin Greene, Linebacker-Defensive End 1985-1992 Los Angeles Rams, 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1996, 1998-99 Carolina Panthers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers

Russ Grimm Guard 1981-1991 Washington Redskins

Ray Guy Punter 1973-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

Charles Haley, Defensive End-Linebacker 1986-1991, 1999 San Francisco 49ers, 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys

Lester Hayes, Cornerback 1977-1986 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders

Cortez Kennedy, Defensive Tackle 1990-2000 Seattle Seahawks

Bob Kuechenberg Guard 1970-1984 Miami Dolphins

Randall McDaniel Guard 1988-1999 Minnesota Vikings, 2000-2001 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Art Modell, Owner 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2003 Baltimore Ravens

John Randle, Defensive Tackle 1990-2000 Minnesota Vikings, 2001-03 Seattle Seahawks

Andre Reed Wide Receiver 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Washington Redskins

Shannon Sharpe, Tight End 1990-99, 2002-03 Denver Broncos, 2000-01 Baltimore Ravens

Bruce Smith, Defensive End 1985-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000-03 Washington Redskins

Ken Stabler, Quarterback 1970-79 Oakland Raiders, 1980-81 Houston Oilers, 1982-84 New Orleans Saints

Paul Tagliabue Commissioner 1989-2006 National Football League

Steve Tasker, Special Teams-Wide Receiver 1985-86 Houston Oilers, 1986-1997 Buffalo Bills

Derrick Thomas Linebacker 1989-1999 Kansas City Chiefs

Ralph Wilson, Owner 1960-current Buffalo Bills

Rod Woodson, Cornerback-Saftey 1987-1996 Pittsburgh Steelers, 1997 San Francisco 49ers, 1998-2001 Baltimore Ravens, 2002-03 Oakland Raiders

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS TONY GROSSI OF THE CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER?

Six years ago, when Modell’s candidacy had its best chance – while Art still owned the team and was fresh off of the Super Bowl XXXV victory – it was shot down in a legendary way when Tony Grossi, Cleveland’s representative and outspoken hater of all things Modell on behalf of the greater Cuyahoga and Northern Ohio area, gave an impassioned speech about how what Modell did to his hometown should forever forbid his enshrinement to Canton. This much is public record.

Now, what influence that actually had on the other committee members is debatable. My sources tell me that there are “anti” candidate guys all over the room. As an example, I have a feeling Scott Garceau, who was the reporter told by Tagliabue to “build a museum,” won’t be voting the former Sun King commish into bronzeness anytime soon on behalf of Baltimore’s  shoddy treatment in 1993.

Over the years, my mentor John Steadman lobbied against John Mackey’s induction. It’s just the way these things go. Some people have an axe to grind. Some just legitimately look at a candidate like punter Ray Guy and say: “I’m not putting a punter in the Hall of Fame.”

In the case of inducting Modell, there is obviously plenty of precedent given Al Davis and Lamar Hunt and other contemporaries have long been inside the walls of Canton. There are also several owners in the Hall of Fame who have moved franchises from one city to the next.

If these 44 people entrusted to “get this right” are going to hold a business decision (and one that many of them couldn’t possibly understand) against inducting Modell into the Hall of Fame when that business move made a community like ours whole is preposterous.

I will be writing more later in the week about Art’s specific contributions here in Baltimore since 1996.

Feel free to comment and please spread the word about our plans for Sunday night and the Baltimore fans’ ability to affect this vote and get Art rightfully inducted into Canton.

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