Tag Archive | "The Afternoon Drive"

A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A Final Week of Private Workouts As Draft Season Nears Culmination

Posted on 23 April 2011 by Glenn Clark

We’re less than a week away from the kickoff of the NFL Draft (Thursday night-8pm-ESPN & NFL Network), but we’ve already seen the end of Private workout season, as the Ravens hosted their final private workouts this week.

Now GM Ozzie Newsome, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta, Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz, Head Coach John Harbaugh, Owner Steve Bisciotti, Team President Dick Cass, VP of Football Administation Pat Moriarty and the entire scouting staff will be involved in the process before the team makes their first pick.

Before I continue, I remind you of the players we have already profiled during Draft season.

QB-Ricky Dobbs (Navy), Pat Devlin (Delaware), Colin Kaepernick (Nevada), Josh Portis (California-Pennsylvania), Taylor Potts (Texas Tech), Christian Ponder (Florida State), Tyrod Taylor (Virginia Tech), Jake Locker (Washington), Greg McElroy (Alabama), Andy Dalton (TCU), Jeremiah Masoli (Ole Miss), Ricky Stanzi (Iowa), Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M)
FB
-Anthony Sherman (Connecticut), Owen Marecic (Stanford), Shaun Chapas (Georgia)
RB
-Evan Royster (Penn State), Da’Rel Scott (Maryland), DeMarco Murray (Oklahoma), Damien Berry (Miami), Kendall Hunter (Oklahoma State), Roy Helu Jr. (Nebraska), Alex Green (Hawaii), Shane Vereen (Cal), Jordan Todman (UConn), Dion Lewis (Pitt), Jacquizz Rodgers (Oregon State), Mark Ingram (Alabama), Ryan Williams (Virginia Tech), Mikel Leshoure (Illinois), Darren Evans (Virginia Tech), Stevan Ridley (LSU)
WR
-Lester Jean (Florida Atlantic), Terrence Toliver (LSU), Leonard Hankerson (Miami), Austin Pettis (Boise State), Denarius Moore (Tennessee), Owen Spencer (North Carolina State), Jock Sanders (West Virginia), Titus Young (Boise State), Vincent Brown (San Diego State), Ryan Whalen (Stanford), Torrey Smith (Maryland), Randall Cobb (Kentucky), Jon Baldwin (Pittsburgh), Greg Salas (Hawaii), Cecil Shorts III (Mount Union), Jerrel Jernigan (Troy), Niles Paul (Nebraska), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State)
TE-Will Yeatman (Maryland)
OT
-Matthew O’Donnell (Queens University Canada), Gabe Carimi (Wisconsin), Nate Solder (Colorado), Anthony Costanzo (Boston College), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Derek Sherrod (Mississippi State), DeMarcus Love (Arkansas), James Brewer (Indiana)
G-Danny Watkins (Baylor), Will Rackley (Lehigh)
C-Zane Taylor (Utah), Kris O’Dowd (Southern Cal), Rodney Hudson (Florida State), Brandon Fusco (Slippery Rock)
DE
-Justin Trattou (Florida), Allen Bailey (Miami), Eddie Jones (Texas), Ryan Kerrigan (Purdue), Brooks Reed (Arizona), Cliff Matthews (South Carolina), JJ Watt (Wisconsin), Cameron Heyward (Ohio State), Dontay Moch (Nevada), D’Aundre Reed (Arizona), Aldon Smith (Missouri), Adrian Clayborn (Iowa), Sam Acho (Texas), Ryan Winterswyk (Boise State), Christian Ballard (Iowa), Ricky Elmore (Arizona)
DT-Muhammad Wilkerson (Temple)
LB
-Mark Herzlich (Boston College), Casey Matthews (Oregon), Adrian Moten (Maryland), Nate Irving (NC State), Colin McCarthy (Miami), Martez Wilson (Illinois), Kelvin Sheppard (Louisiana State), Alex Wujciak (Maryland), Akeem Dent (Georgia), Justin Houston (Georgia)
S
-Jermale Hines (Ohio State), Jaiquawn Jarrett (Temple), Maurice Rolle (Louisiana-Lafayette), Rahim Moore (UCLA), Ahmad Black (Florida), Will Hill (Florida)
CB-Anthony Gaitor (Florida International), Aaron Williams (Texas), Jalil Brown (Colorado), Jimmy Smith (Colorado), DeMarcus Van Dyke (Miami), Brandon Harris (Miami), Ras-I Dowling (Virginia), Richard Sherman (Stanford), Brandon Burton (Utah), Curtis Marsh (Utah State), Chris Culliver (South Carolina), Buster Skrine (Chattanooga)

If you missed any of those profiles, you can check them out in the archives here at WNST.net.

Part 1-A look at players who participated in the East West Shrine Game in Orlando, Florida
Part 2-A look at players who participated in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama
Part 3-A look at players who participated in the NFLPA Game (former Texas vs. The Nation Game) in San Antonio, Texas
Parts 456-Previews of players ahead of the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis
Part 7-A look back at players who made in impact at the National Football League Scouting Combine at LucasOil Stadium in Indy
Parts 8, 9 & 10-A look at players who participated in early Pro Timing Days
Part 11-Players the Ravens have shown direct interest in

The Baltimore Ravens (obviously) made no personnel changes this week, so my team needs remain the same…

1. Defensive End
2. Offensive Tackle
3. Wide Receiver
4. Cornerback
5. Fullback
6. Inside Linebacker
7. Safety
8. Center
9. Running Back
10. Quarterback

Here are ten more prospects-all of whom have been shown special attention by the Ravens during Draft season. (Reported by WNST.net, National Football Post, Carroll County Times, Baltimore Sun, Pro Football Weekly or others.)

Thanks to CBSSports.com/NFLDraftScout.com, NFLDraftBible.com, WNST.net (The AP), ESPN.com, NFL.com, Wikipedia, YouTube and various official athletic websites for helping to put together the profiles.

DT Corey Liuget (Illinois)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlprPUyKL8M[/youtube]

It might have surprised some to see that Liuget had visited Owings Mills for a meeting with the Ravens. The team has PLENTY of depth on the D-Line (with the exception of rush end). Behind Haloti Ngata, Kelly Gregg and Cory Redding, the team has the likes of Brandon McKinney, Terrence Cody, Arthur Jones, Lamar Divens and Kelly Talavou to play the position.

Liuget remains an intriguing prospect. He’s an outstanding gap filler at 6’2″, 298; and even managed eight sacks during his career with the Fighting Illini-five of those coming in 2010.

Liuget is expected to come off the board as early as the mid-teens in the first round. Should he fall, the Ravens would find themselves with a difficult decision-as it would be hard to imagine they have many players higher on their board than a player with Liuget’s ability.

Liuget has been a steady riser during Draft season. The Ravens have to be impressed by the fact that he’s capable of playing in both the three and the five technique-and his Pro Day workout in Champaign was reportedly quite impressive.

He might not seem to fight an immediate need-but he simply can’t be ruled out as the Ravens’ first round choice.

CB Justin Rogers (Richmond)

justinrogers

If you’ve been following my Draft updates, you should be well aware of the Ravens’ issues at Cornerback.

Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Fabian Washington are slated to become unrestricted free agents. Cary Williams is an exclusive rights free agent. Domonique Foxworth missed the entire 2010 season due to a torn ACL.

The team is going to have to address the defensive secondary SOMEHOW during the offseason-by retaining their own players or adding new ones (or more likely a combination of both).

Rogers recently visited 1 Winning Drive, giving the Ravens a chance to take a better look at the CAA prospect. His size (5’11″, 180 pounds) is not exceptional, but his 4.40 Pro Day 40 time certainly is.

His Spiders career was certainly exceptional as well, as he finished his four seasons with 12 interceptions (three of which were returned for touchdowns.) He showed himself plenty capable of being a matchup corner-albeit against FCS competition.

He’s not going to come off the board until Saturday. Most pundits believe the team will have picked a corner before then-but it doesn’t rule out the possibility that the team could still add Rogers.

LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J36hhdBm9QU[/youtube]

The Ravens certainly aren’t the only team that has shown interest in Ayers, as half the league (or more) has hosted the former Bruins backer. But it doesn’t change the fact that the interest in Ayers from General Manager Ozzie Newsome and the team is genuine.

That being said, Ayers isn’t a perfect fit for Chuck Pagano’s defense. While he’s shown an ability to get after quarterbacks (11 sacks during his career in Los Angeles), he can’t be fairly expected to be a true “rush backer.”

Of course, the Ravens already have one of those players in LB Terrell Suggs, so they’re really only in need of a complement to T-Sizzle.

Ayers is a more complete standup backer, as he added 6 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) to his numbers at UCLA. He has mammoth size (6’3″, 254 pounds) and pretty good speed to boot (4.69 40 at his Pro Day).

As the Ravens look to address their rush early in the draft, they’ll have to decide on whether they’re looking for more of a down lineman or a stand-up backer. My guess is that they’re looking for more of a hybrid-as it will allow them to keep LB Jarret Johnson on the field significantly-but slide a rusher back in obvious passing situations.

Ayers likely won’t stick around until the team’s 2nd round choice (at 58). The team will probably have to pull the trigger at 26 or miss out.

(Ayers joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” on AM1570 WNST Thursday, that chat can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

G/C Stefen Wisniewski (Penn State)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPMkroHBPqM[/youtube]

If selected by the Ravens, Wisniewski would not be the first Wisniewski to play Pro Football in Charm City.

His father (Leo Wisniewski) was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. His family tree is rooted in NFL tradition, as his uncle (Steve Wisniewski) was an eight time Pro Bowl guard for the LA/Oakland Raiders and still an assistant O-Line coach for the team.

Clearly football is in his blood.

The Ravens could be well served to add the 6’3″, 313 pound interior lineman to their O-Line. Wisniewski played more Guard in Happy Valley, but many teams believe he will be a Center at the NFL level.

The Ravens have flux at both positions, as G Marshal Yanda is a restricted free agent-but could be asked to return to OT should unrestricted free agent Jared Gaither depart. While C Matt Birk decided to return this season, he is widely expected to be playing in his final NFL season. G/C Chris Chester is also a restricted free agent, but isn’t widely viewed as a “Center of the future” type.

Wisniewski is likely to be a Friday night pick. It would be easy to imagine new Offensive Line coach Andy Moeller rooting to add a player with the bloodlines of a Wisniewski.

DE Robert Quinn (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqJrjwjf55c[/youtube]

The word “interesting” doesn’t even begin to describe Quinn as a NFL Draft prospect.

Quinn is likely better known for his off the field history coming into his pro career than he is for his on field ability. He was suspended for the 2010 season after the NCAA determined he had lied to investigators about receiving improper travel accommodations and jewelry.

When asked how the scandal could affect Quinn (and former UNC teammates Marvin Austin & Greg Little) at the Ravens’ annual Pre-Draft Luncheon, Newsome pointed out the Ravens had an advantage because Pagano was the DC in Chapel Hill back in 2007.

Quinn is widely believed to be a Top 10 talent in this year’s draft class-but the off field trouble has left in doubt where he will end up being selected. That’s where the Ravens come in. Should he continue to fall, the team would have the opportunity to select him at 26th or even consider moving up a few spots to get him.

Quinn has the physique of the type of rush end the Ravens are interested in adding to their defense. He’s 6’4″, 265 pounds and has really good speed (4.59 40 at his Pro Day). In two seasons with the Tar Heels, he tallied 13 sacks-11 of which came in 2009.

As well as addressing the off field trouble, the Ravens have to determine whether or not the year off will also hurt Quinn on the field.

If he slides, it will be awfully difficult decision on whether or not the team should take the chance.

LB Jonathan Cornell (Mississippi)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCO9L3kFDrg[/youtube]

Despite the fact that only a few players in the history of the NFL have even been worthy of being mentioned in the same SENTENCE as future Hall of Fame LB Ray Lewis, the words “heir apparent to Ray Lewis” tend to get thrown around frequently during Draft season.

It ultimately is never fair to any Inside Linebacker the Ravens select, which Tavares Gooden has found out in recent years.

Gooden, Dannell Ellerbe and Jameel McClain have failed to nail down the WILL LB spot next to the perennial Pro Bowler, and Jason Phillips hasn’t been able to work his way on the field regularly. We also know Lewis won’t be around forever…even if it feels like he might be.

At 6’1″, 236 pounds; some scouts are going to label Cornell as “undersized.” Of course, some of those same scouts said the same thing about that former Miami Hurricanes LB in 1996. Cornell certainly showed an ability to make tackles, finishing his Rebels career with 215 tackles and eight sacks. His 4.76 forty time at his Pro Day in Oxford had to be considered at least a bit disappointing.

There’s no guarantee that Cornell gets drafted at all. Ellerbe and McClain both made the team’s roster out of Training Camp after not being selected. The Ravens will be a bit more hamstrung in the late rounds of this year’s Draft, as they will be unable to sign undrafted free agents until the NFL’s labor dispute is resolved.

With that in mind, Director of Player Personnel Eric DeCosta and company will know that it might be more necessary than ever to not risk exposing a player like Cornell to a prolonged post-Draft free agency period.

DE Jabaal Sheard (Pitt)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VUXMVmDwvmA[/youtube]

Sometimes a team finds red flags in a player that concern them as they make a decision in whether or not they should be drafted.

Other times a team finds positive attributes that make the decision to draft the player a true slam dunk.

In the case of Sheard…well…there’s…both? From the Carroll County Times…

“He was arrested last summer for felony aggravated assault and resisting arrest after an altercation in a bar where he threw a man through a glass door. He pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, was ordered to apologize and pay medical bills. He was suspended from the team for two weeks as well as internal discipline.

He was awarded a medal for bravery years ago for helping an elderly woman escape from a burning home.”

When not getting arrested or helping elderly women from their homes, Sheard has been a hell of a pass rusher for the Panthers. He’s tallied 19 sacks over the last three seasons, and is viewed as a player who could stand up or put his hand in the dirt at the next level.

Sheard is a beast of a man, measuring in at 6’3″, 264 pounds and clocking in with a 4.68 forty time at the Combine. Scouts have been impressed with his bull rush abilities and the way he handled double teams when teammate Greg Romeus got hurt in 2010.

The Ravens are expected to address DE/OLB early in the Draft. Sheard is unlikely to stick around until the 58th pick and might not be a stretch at all should he come off the board at 26.

WR Greg Little (North Carolina)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHwr7WlO77E[/youtube]

So remember all of those things I said about Quinn? Let’s repeat them for Little.

It’s hard to imagine how the year off will affect him, but we do not it took away an opportunity for him to prove himself as a superior pass-catcher.

Little played just a season and a half at receiver after starting his ACC career at Running Back. He finished his UNC career with 1,774 yards of total offense and 12 combined touchdowns. But the only numbers scouts can really use in considering his potential NFL ability are his 62 catches for 724 yards and five TD’s in 2009.

Ironically, Little has good size (6’3″, 231 pounds) but only decent speed (4.51 forty at the Combine). Unfortunately, he’s never really established himself as an outside or over the top receiver, so teams are hard pressed to determine whether or not he’ll be able to be much more than a slot option.

The Ravens probably have receivers like Little on the roster already. He’s similar to Anquan Boldin, certainly thicker than Derrick Mason. The team will have tough decisions to make with unrestricted free agents T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte’ Stallworth, but neither are really expected back in Charm City next season.

The team is more likely to think big and fast when it comes to receiver upgrades, as they desperately need to stretch the field vertically and extend the field horizontally. The team could use more than one receiver in their upgrade process, which could be where Little fits the picture.

If the team doesn’t go receiver early in the Draft, they could certainly consider grabbing Little on Friday night and trying to use free agency (which should be coming…eventually) to add a superior playmaker to their corps.

G/C Mike Pouncey (Florida)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klPDvs5vvAM[/youtube]

One AFC scout said this to me about the predicament the Ravens could find themselves in when it comes to Pouncey at 26.

“Well…they’d have to take him…they couldn’t afford the risk of him joining his brother in Pittsburgh.”

Clearly that doesn’t ACTUALLY mean the Ravens would have to select Pouncey at 26, but it is a tough decision they’d face. The Ravens have struggled to get consistent pressure on Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger over the years, which has allowed for Pittsburgh to dominate the AFC North. Every decision they make this offseason must be made knowing the road to the Super Bowl will go directly through the Steel City.

Should Mike Pouncey join his brother Maurkice Pouncey, the Steelers’ O-Line would clearly become that much stronger. It would also make the Ravens’ road to Super Bowl XLVI even more difficult.

That being said, the Ravens’ interest in Pouncey isn’t solely based on keeping him out of Pittsburgh. Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron would be well served to add a player of Pouncey’s size (6’5″, 303) and ability to his O-Line. Pouncey is more likely to begin his career at guard than center; and the Ravens could ultimately shift Yanda to tackle should Gaither depart and stick with Pouncey at RG. The move would also give them a potential “center of the future” should Birk retire following the season.

Most scouts believe Pouncey isn’t quite as NFL ready as his brother was, but it’s hard too many rookies being as NFL ready as his brother was. Few scouts doubt the fact that Pouncey is an outstanding talent however, which is why he could go off at the board at 26 or earlier.

Head Coach John Harbaugh spent real time with Pouncey at the NFL Combine. The other head coach Pouncey said he spent real time with in Indy?

Mike Tomlin…of course.

K Kemar Scarlett (Morgan State)

kemarscarlett

Scarlett gained attention in recent weeks after a lengthy ESPN.com profile and an appearance with Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST recently. (That interview can be heard in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net.)

The Ravens visited Scarlett’s Pro Day over on Hillen Road, but make no mistake-they’re very happy with their own kicker (Billy Cundiff) and they have no interest in Scarlett or any other kicker available in this year’s Draft. It’s certainly a refreshing change for Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg after the last two offseasons.

That being said, Scarlett had a nice career for the Bears; connecting on 27 of 34 field goal attempts, including two 47 yard boots during his senior season.

Scarlett will have an opportunity to play football professionally…it just isn’t going to start with him hearing his name called in the NFL Draft.

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

Comments Off

Nakamura on potential Japan benefit event: “We want to do as much as we can to raise money”

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Nakamura on potential Japan benefit event: “We want to do as much as we can to raise money”

Posted on 22 March 2011 by Ryan Chell

Haruki Nakamura

Ravens safety Haruki Nakamura may be locked out of the Ravens training facility right now due to the owner-imposed work stoppage, but right now he’s been worrying about far more important matters in his personal life.

Nakamura, in his third year out of Cincinnati after being drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2008 NFL Draft, just last week had the weight of a country’s disaster resting on his shoulders as the killer tsunami and earthquakes devastated his ancestral nation of Japan.

However, it didn’t take long for the Ravens safety to react to the tragedy. Within days, Nakamura already began work in trying to raise money for the relief effort over in Japan, as the death toll is already over 5,000 people and  rising.

Numerous more individuals  could be affected  by radiation poisoning due to reactor leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

And his time off for the NFL lockout could be a blessing in disguise for Nakamura, who joined “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider last week to talk about his efforts in trying to help his homeland as best he could from his position.

“It’s unbelievable what’s going on over there with the fact that the whole nuclear power plant has basically failed,” Nakamura told Snider. “All the reactors have failed. There’s fires. There’s explosions…all on top of what happened with the earthquake and the tsunami. It just seems real dark over there.”

Nakamura said that football is the least of his concerns right now as he slowly has gotten word of the safety of friends and family-including his half brother-in the Land of the Rising Sun.

“This is one of those things where football seems so small and to help a country-especially one having roots with me being a Japanese-American-it’s one of those things where they’re saying the death total could reach over 10,000 people, which would be the death total of Katrina, it just puts it in perspective,” Nakamura said.

What Nakamura has in mind was to raise money for the Red Cross, who have already been hard at work over the last two weeks in the cleanup, rescue, and rebuilding process over in Japan from the tsunami and earthquake.

“As of right now, we’re going to leave it in the Red Cross’ hands because they know specifically where to put it in the places hit most,” Nakamura said. “They’ve been doing this for countless years and what we’re going to do is the fundraiser part and we’ll let them do their part.”

And how does he intend to do his part?

By getting a little help from his friends.

Nakamura has been working with Cal Ripken Jr. and his team in the hopes of putting together an autograph session at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen featuring the likes of Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, safety Ed Reed, running back Ray Rice and countless other Ravens with proceeds gained through admission benefiting the Red Cross’ efforts.

“It’s very unfortunate with what they’re going through and it’s just one of those things where what we’re trying to do is try to put together a fundraiser in order to raise money to send over there.”

Nakamura hasn’t set a date as of yet, but he told Snider that he is aiming for either Saturday or Sunday the weekend of April 2nd at Ripken Stadium for the autograph session to occur.

And since his public outcry for help last week through various media outlets and his willingness to not only lead the effort but to reward those who offer their support, Nakamura has received help from all areas and ages-including some young Ravens fans.

“It’s just one of those things where we want to do as much as we can to raise money,” the Ravens safety said. “I was recently contacted by an elementary school kid who emailed Ken Murray who then emailed me, and said ‘Hey, this kid wants to know how he can help’. It’s become very neat to see how people are getting involved and there’s some young ambassadors out there who are trying to make a difference already.”

And word has reached out as well to a battered but resilient Japan. One of Nakamura’s friends in Japan is a reporter for one of the biggest television stations in the country, and she has already told Nakamura when the event in Aberdeen does take place, she will be there to cover it.

Nakamura was almost shocked by that response and to see that his fellow Japanese countrymen were wishing him well when it was they who had no homes and didn’t have six-figure salaries like Nakamura under their belts that needed the prayers, it was mind-boggling.

But, Nakamura said that same determination and resilience will allow the Japanese to move on from this disaster better than any other country in the world.

“The biggest thing about the culture is that they’re so calm and collected and they’re a very disciplined group of people and always focused on the good of things,” he said.  “And they focus on being resilient and making sure that this won’t be as devasting as what it seems right now.”

“It’s pretty cool, but it’s greater to know that they’re safe,” he said. “We’re just keeping our hopes and prayers up that this will end as quickly as possible.”

WNST wishes Haruki Nakamura all the best in helping to raise money for those affected by the tsunami, earthquakes, and nuclear trouble over in Japan! As soon as the official details are released about the event, WNST will keep you informed! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. on return to team: “If you wait long enough, there might not be an opportunity to come back”

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Orioles Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. on return to team: “If you wait long enough, there might not be an opportunity to come back”

Posted on 10 March 2011 by Ryan Chell

Cal Ripken Jr.

Oriole great and Hall of Fame shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. is an idol in the city of Baltimore. It’s his town, and he certainly followed the legacy of his famous father in making Baltimore great during and after his playing days as an Oriole.

Ripken has made an impact on the youth level for Ripken Baseball, been a huge part of the Orioles minor league system with his Single-A Aberdeen Ironbirds, been an ambassador of the game of baseball to other countries, and even an insightful broadcaster for TBS and the MLB Network.

He even has dabbled in authorship, as he recently co-wrote a book along with Kevin Cowherd called “Hothead”, a fictional yet inspirational story of anger affecting play on the field.

Ripken Jr. has been all over Baltimore lately-except one place in particular. And it may be the one destination Orioles fans want to see Cal Ripken Jr.

They want to see their “Iron Man” back in some fashion with the Orioles. And they feel like Ripken’s success-which include a Rookie of the Year, World Series title, 2 AL MVPs, 19-All-Stars and a first-ballot Hall of Famer-can rub off on a franchise marred in 14 straight losing seasons.

But with all that Ripken has been doing right now, despite telling “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and Glenn Clark Tuesday that the curiosity on both sides has initiated some discussion, he is still not anywhere near close to taking a role with the Orioles as a coach, front office, or ownership position due to his son, Ryan, still being in high school.

“I had been in talks with Andy MacPhail and I had also been in talks with Peter Angelos for quite a bit and basically we’re talking about making a bridge,” Ripken said. “It was because I wasn’t ready to do something now because I had made a commitment to myself that I was going to get my kids off to college.”

Ryan is a junior at Gilman, and so far appears to be the only thing holding Cal Jr. from taking on a job with the Orioles maybe in the same role his father did as a coach, manager, and scout.

All-in-all though, he said right now, it’s just tough because he admitted that with his son still around, he wouldn’t want to cheat him or his other family in the Orioles by not giving either the proper time commitment needed.

“If you’re a coach or a manager or if you’re upstairs in a bigger decision-making position, you’re tied to that schedule and it wouldn’t allow you to see your kids off to school,” Ripken said.

But last year after the firing of Dave Trembley as manager, he did admit that being asked to come in to evaluate the team was a process that sparked some interest out of him and put a twinkle in his eye.

“It was fun looking into it last year because they had an immediate need,
Ripken told Snider and Clark.

Ripken though was blessed to be able to see manager Buck Showalter come in from the broadcast booth at Baseball Tonight and light a spark under a disappointed and beaten 2010 Orioles team.

He feels like the team is in good hands with Buck at the helm.

“I was happy to see Buck come in and I was happy to see the Orioles turn it around,” Ripken said.”Buck’s an excellent baseball guy, and he pays attention to detail. I think that’s the only slight criticism you might have of him is that he pays attention to all the details.”

Ripken’s biggest observation of the change Buck Showalter has instituted on this team? He said from day one, Showalter has eliminated the focus of the uphill climb ahead of them and has the team believing from the first day he stepped into the dugout that this was a winning team.

“He’s changed the culture,” Ripken admitted. “I know I felt it when I came out to throw the first pitch last year. He invited me to the locker room and I sat in his office. Guys were coming in, and they had a looseness about them that he really understood baseball.”

It was there that Ripken also got a sense of what it looks like to see what Buck is doing from an outside perspective.

“It’s pretty miraculous from where I sit with what he was able to do as a manager last year,” Ripken said. “And he’s created a higher level of expectations for us fans.”

However, Cal Ripken Jr. does know that the entire city of Baltimore is holding their breath and waiting for the news of a return on his part.

But he does know that being away from the game too long is not in his best interest, and that if he is to return to the Orioles in some fashion, it must be soon.

“The risk I took when I was moved away from the game of professional baseball was if you wait long enough, there might not be an opportunity to come back.”

“So, we’ll start to look at that in a year or two.”

WNST thanks Cal Ripken Jr. for joining “The Afternoon Drive” with Rex Snider and we continue to wait till the day #8 is back in an Oriole uniform of some sort! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Former Ravens players and current NFLPA reps: “When an agreement is finally reached, it will be forgotten and we can focus on football”

Posted on 09 March 2011 by Ryan Chell

The Ravens have always been able to grab guys in the draft and free agency to best suit their needs for that upcoming season.

For years, guys like Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta, and Phil Savage have reached out to relative unknowns and made them into super stars on the football field.

But what you may not realize is that the Ravens have also been adept at having smart players on their team, and many of them are out representing the players union in the latest labor talks as player reps defending their fellow constituents’ rights-even if their time in a Ravens uniform has long since passed.

The Ravens’ player reps are Chris Carr, Matt Birk, and Derrick Mason, and joining those three are corner back Domonique Foxworth on the Executive Committee of the NFL Players Association.

Several former Ravens also litter the other 30 teams as fellow player reps. Joining Birk are former Ravens offensive tackle Tony Pashos(now a Cleveland Brown) and former center Casey Rabach-now a center for the Washington Redskins.

The three of them joined “The Afternoon Drive” last week to update Ravens fans on how the talks are progressing and what they’ve learned from the mediation and chats going on with the owners in the hopes of preventing a work stoppage due to labor unrest.

After grinding it out on the football field the last six months, these NFL player reps find themselves fighting in a new arena trying to best represent their fellow players in labor talks with the league’s owners.

It is their desperate hope that they not only can play football next year and not get locked out by the 32 NFL owners, but to also make sure that they get a fair shake of the NFL revenue for player salaries and post-career benefits.

Some fans out there following all this may see billionaire owners and millionaire players arguing over a big pot of money, but Pashos said that it’s not like that at all.

“There are only ten millionaires in a locker room,” Pashos said. “But there are 53 guys on a roster. There are guys who have been cut by different teams, so that’s not accurate.”

“But, it’s not a good fight,” Pashos continued, “as it represents greed to the fans. It’s coming off wrong to a lot of good people.”

The two sides have had two-plus years to get their issues straight with each other, and with the owners backing out of the collective bargaining agreement as they had the clause to do so, both sides have been hard at work over the last two weeks in attempting to draw up or renew it so that would benefit both sides.

There was definitely a lot of question marks and doubt thrown out there last week when it came to what was going to come down.

“The deadline was thrown out there,” Birk said, the Ravens center. “We knew the lockout was coming. I’m not sure what’s going to happen.”

All in all though, every player rep WNST talked to-former or current Raven-felt like there wasn’t a ton of pressure on them to get a deal done.

At least right now. Now, it’s about getting the money situation straightened out now when actual regular season games aren’t at stake.

“With a lockout in March, I’m not sure if that’s a big deal because nothing happens in March,” Birk said.

Rabach-who was drafted in the third round by the Ravens in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Wisconsin and played in Baltimore until 2005 when he joined Washington via free agency-agreed that right now the focus should be on using this time to get the discussion going on how best to fix the problems between the owners and the players.

“There’s not a ton of pressure right now,” Rabach said. “We were really happy with the deal we had last time. We didn’t pull out of the deal. But I do not want to send the players back to 1992 with a bad one.”

Last week’s deadline to bargain for a new CBA was expected to come without a new deal in place, but not before two delays-one for 24 hours and another for a week-were enacted.

“That could be a good thing,” former Ravens right tackle Tony Pashos said, who spent 2003-2006 in a Baltimore uniform. “If they need it, let’s do it and get it over with. It’s a dark cloud hanging over the cities and the league.”

Rabach agreed that was the best thing that could have happened because it continued to keep the players and owners in the mediation room and kept the work “Lockout” out of the discussion for one more week.

“Anytime you can keep the negotiations going, it’s better for everyone,” Rabach said. “Hopefully we can get something done and play football.”

Now,  this Thursday is the target date for the players union to decide whether to decertify, effectively sending the debate between the money shared by owners and players into court on the grounds of violating anti-trust laws.

That would begin the long process of fighting and “gnashing of teeth” from players and owners and probably would go towards there not being football in 2011 and in the future.

The official end to the 2010 CBA is this Friday.

But the players and these particular reps representing them really are trying to keep a positive mindset in all of this turmoil. They are planning on being in training camp at the end of July, and working with their owners to put a good product on the field at the beginning of September.

“I plan to prepare for August,” Rabach said. “I’m back in the weight room and have been for the last three weeks. You just worry that everyone isn’t doing the same, and you make sure that everyone is staying fit and is on the same page.”

Pashos meanwhile hasn’t yet had an opportunity to meet with his new coaching staff, including his new head coach in Pat Shurmur, who was recently hired to replace Eric Mangini.

That might makes things difficult for the Browns to gel properly should off-season workouts be missed.

“From the Browns perspective, I want to pick up the phone, meet with the coaches, and learn the game plan. I hope the football doesn’t suffer.”

Birk agreed. He’s ready to put all this behind him and play football.

And this is coming from a Harvard guy!

“If I had my choice, this wouldn’t happen either,” Birk said. “But because this is the NFL, it dominates the news daily. I get sick of hearing it too. But when an agreement is finally reached, it will be forgotten and we can focus on football.”

But the timeframe in that might be the biggest question.

“We’re gonna play this game,” Pashos said. “It’s a guess now trying to figure out when.”

WNST thanks the three NFL player reps for joining WNST last week! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

If Zbikowski Helps Ravens Beat Steelers, I Won’t Fight His Desire To

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

I think I’ve changed my mind about this about a hundred times since I first heard the news.

Baltimore Ravens Safety Tom Zbikowski will step into a boxing ring at the MGM Grand Saturday night in Las Vegas to face a largely unknown opponent named Richard Bryant. The fight will be part of the undercard for the Miguel Cotto-Ricardo Mayorga showdown, which will air on Showtime Pay-Per-View. It will be Zbikowski’s second professional fight, but first since a 2006 knockout of Robert Bell at Madison Square Garden in New York.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-8BYolVPVw[/youtube]

When I first heard the news, I immediately thought to myself, “There’s no way this is okay.”

I understood the concept. With National Football League Owners and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) locked in a battle over a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), it appeared as though the league was quickly headed towards a lockout, which would allow players to do just about anything they wanted to away from football. New York Jets LB Bart Scott has been seen on Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling. Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards (a free agent who many fans would like to see consider Charm City) has also decided to box in the offseason.

But I couldn’t help but wonder if Zbikowski’s decision was a good one. I couldn’t help but wonder if as a professional football player, Zbikowski might not be better off simply preparing for football. Whether or not the NFL was going to experience a work stoppage, there are few of that don’t believe in our hearts there will be a NFL season in 2011, and the Ravens will have an opportunity to claim a second Vince Lombardi Trophy in Indianapolis in 2012.

On “The Afternoon Drive” last week on AM1570 WNST, Drew Forrester and I discussed our thoughts on Zbikowski fighting. I said then I felt as though if I were a teammate of Zbikowski’s, I would probably want to get on the phone with him and say “I understand you’re a boxer. I understand you want to do this. But we want to win the Super Bowl this year. Why don’t you just get together with me in Arizona and let’s work on getting ready for the season.”

In fact, when Washington Redskins OL and former Raven Casey Rabach joined Forrester and I last Thursday on the show, I posed the question to him. “If one of your teammates were to (choose to box, fight Mixed Martial Arts, etc during the lockout), would you make that phone call to say ‘just bear in mind everything that’s going into this decision you’re making.’”

Rabach’s answer seemed perfectly logical to me.

“I’d be the first one on the phone I think to call that player and say ‘hey, remember where your bread is buttered’” said Rabach. “Just be careful, be smart. Definitely those are things that would kind of scare a guy (like) myself, if I hear a player doing that. It just doesn’t seem like anything great will come out of that.”

On Friday’s show, we received a call from Mike Paskoff-one of our regulars on “The Morning Reaction” and someone I worked with briefly during my time at CBS Radio. He reminded me that when it comes to the decisions of other players, teammates tend to be very supportive. Whether the situation is a holdout, an off-field issue or a locker room dispute, players often tend to respond with a simple “that’s his business.”

While Paskoff was right, Rabach’s comments justified the uneasiness I felt about Zbikowski’s decision.

Is this REALLY a good idea?

There was a detour on the road to an inevitable lockout last Friday, as the owners and NFLPA agreed to extend discussion another week. Zbikowski participated in a conference call coordinated by Top Rank Boxing (who is promoting Saturday’s card) to tell reporters he would be participating in the fight with or without a work stoppage in the NFL. As an Unrestricted Free Agent, Zbikowski couldn’t be stopped contractually.

When asked about the support of his teammates, Zbikowski pointed out that a number of teammates including DT Haloti Ngata intended to head to Vegas to support him in his fight.

This Ravens analyst and lifelong Baltimore sports fan remained skeptical.

On Monday, I joined Thyrl Nelson on “The Mobtown Sports Beat” on AM1570 WNST to chat with Zbikowski about his decision, and to get direct word from the safety about my own concerns.

Thinking back on Rabach’s comments, I asked Zbikowski if any teammates had reached out to him to question his decision.

“I haven’t gotten that yet” the former Notre Dame standout told us. “I think people know better than that, because I’m just that hard headed. If you tell me not to do something I’m going to do the opposite, if you tell me not to do it I’m not going to do it, so you’re better off letting it run its course (and) let me do my thing.”

While not overwhelmingly convincing, I understood the concept. I’m 27 years old myself, and I still tend to have the mentality of a 16 year boy when it comes to authority.

“Whatever you want me to do; I’m probably not going to do it-just to make you uncomfortable.”

I’m pretty hard-headed myself. Somewhere right the great Tom Clark (my father) is chuckling.

But Zbikowski followed up those comments with others that were more thought provoking.

“To be honest with you, all these football players are doing MMA, boxing things anyways in the offseason. The days of lifting, trying to get bigger were in high school and college, nobody cares how much you bench on the football field, player wise, nobody cares how much you bench or squat, it means nothing. It’s how athletic you are, it’s how you perform. It’s all those things.”

Zbikowski was completely on target with such thoughts. A number of NFL players have sought out Mixed Martial Arts training in the offseason. In fact, many of those players have done so under the guidance of FOX NFL Insider Jay Glazer. Ravens DT Kelly Gregg was scheduled to work with Glazer during the 2010 offseason, but backed out at the last minute. Incorporating fighting into months of preparation for football isn’t unique to Zbikowski. The only unique aspect is that Zbikowski would actually step into a professional ring against a combatant who desired to cause him physical harm.

It’s unique…and potentially much more dangerous.

Zbikowski had said in his conference call that he had hoped to fight multiple fights during the spring and summer. I asked him Monday if he would still do so even if the league avoided a work stoppage.

“I’m going to see how this goes” responded Zbikowski. “If it’s another 50 second one (like his 50 second knockout of Bell at MSG), I don’t know If I can keep up the six, seven weeks of training because anybody who’s ever done boxing knows what kind of shape you have to be in and what kind of training it takes. That was one of the toughest things. I sparred almost 100 rounds for 50 seconds last time and that’s bittersweet, because you can’t complain about your pro debut at Madison square garden being a 50 second knockout. We’ll see how it goes because I’m not really one who’s good with making plans. I kind of fly by the seat of my pants and see what’s what.”

While it’s certainly understandable that Zbikowski wouldn’t want to prepare for weeks for less than a minute of fighting, it’s also reasonable to think that without a lockout Zbikowski’s only focus should be helping the Ravens win the AFC North.

With that in mind, the front office of the Baltimore Ravens (particularly Owner Steve Bisciotti, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Head Coach John Harbaugh) should have every right to ask Zbikowski to keep his focus on football if there is no work stoppage-even if he believes he will eventually become a full time boxer.

And if they do?

“I don’t know about this one because it’s already fight time, you know I would have a tough time saying no to it” responded Zbikowski. “I would just say ‘You guys have (Pro Bowl safety) Ed Reed, you don’t need me! Eight picks and he’s not even playing in six games! You don’t need me!”

It’s funny, but it’s not exactly reassuring. Zbikowski did go on to offer another thought that would reassure me a bit more.

“There’s not going to be anybody in better shape come Training Camp. I’ll guarantee you that.”

I’m still a bit uneasy. Zbikowski told me he’s well aware of the worst case scenario. There’s absolutely a chance (although I’d think the chances are slim) that he could step into the ring Saturday night and take the wrong shot to the head.

If that happens, the second guessing of his decision to fight will be the least of Zbikowski’s concerns.

But as Forrester has said on multiple occasions this offseason, there’s only one thing that should matter right now for the Baltimore Ravens.

Beating the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Zbikowski joked about how boxing could prepare him for the task.

“I’ll bring back a belt. When we play them, I’m going to stand at midfield. If they’ve got somebody they want to throw at me again like they did back when we had the home game, I’m gonna take somebody’s head off. Or you can just send me in (and) let me blitz. Haloti got a little piece of (Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger) on accident, imagine what would happen if I do it on purpose. I’ll take an ejection; I’ll take an ejection for the team.”

He gets the point. If he’s on the field and contributing if/when the Ravens face the Steelers this fall, I don’t care what he does in the offseason.

Of course, I’ll be pulling for him to never leave his feet Saturday night.

If you missed Monday’s interview with Zbikowski, visit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

-G

(Headline photo courtesy of USA Today)

Comments Off

Anquan Boldin on hope for next year: “If I can get the ball more than 10-15 times a game, I’ll be more than happy”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Anquan Boldin on hope for next year: “If I can get the ball more than 10-15 times a game, I’ll be more than happy”

Posted on 08 March 2011 by Ryan Chell

If there is to be football next year, Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin not only wants to be a bigger part of the offense, he wants to be able to have the opportunity to speak his mind and offer his suggestions to offensive coordinator Cam Cameron on how best to get the Baltimore offense going.

Anquan Boldin

Boldin joined “The Afternoon Drive” last week to not only plug his upcoming “Chalk Talk” session with the fans at Morgan State on March 10th, but to also shed some light on the improvements he hopes comes from the coaching staff and the acquisitions made by the team in the draft and free agency(once it occurs) to bolster his new team’s offense.

“If I knew there was a player available that can really help us out, I might talk to Ozzie or something like that,” Boldin said.

A lot of the criticism in the off-season came at the expense of several of the offensive coaches, mostly notably guys like John Matsko and Jim Zorn, who both were given their walking papers by the team.

But most under fire was offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who as a friend of coach John Harbaugh may have had his job saved for another year.

Boldin however-who had career lows in catches(64) and yards (837) while playing a full 16-game season-unexpectedly gave Cameron all the confidence in the world going forward into next season.

But, that didn’t mean he wasn’t frustrated about being under-utilized compared to his previous seven seasons in Arizona where he averaged 83 receptions a year.

In short, he wants the ball more. He wants to be a useful tool for the Ravens to rely on down the stretch.

“I think every player wants to be productive,” Boldin said. “Every player wants to contribute as much as possible. If I can get the ball more than 10 to 15 times a game, I’ll be more than happy.”

Boldin said it was very frustrating coming from a pass-friendly offense where even as a secondary option to Larry Fitzgerald in Arizona he still was getting #1 receiver numbers.

“At times it would get frustrating because I came from a place where I was used to getting the ball and at least getting thrown to 8-10 times a game, and then you go and get one to two passes a game, it can get frustrating,” Boldin admitted.

But the 30-year old out of Florida State did want to emphasize the fact that as long as he is used on a consistent basis somewhat close to his standards…he has no problem being a secondary option still as long as the team is winning.

He hopes that belief is unanimous amongst his teammates.

“For me, if we’re winning I’m okay,” Boldin said. “I would never let that get in the way of the team.”

When it came to his frustration this year with his lack of productivity or when asked about his trust in the coaching staff, Boldin used the example of playing for an NCAA school the same as applying it to the pro game.

You don’t have the ability to choose and impact who your coaches are, but you do hope they put you in the best position to succeed on the field.

“With us, you don’t make decisions in college of who’s going to be your coach and who’s not,” Boldin said. “I think the thing is we need to get in and whoever our coach is, we try to develop a working relationship with where the team comes first and all egos are put aside.”

Boldin said he and Cam Cameron may have had some issues with the likes of each other during the season, but from what off-season the team has had has been focusing on-putting together a combination of good plays from Boldin and a well-drawn up game-plan from Cam Cameron-has him already feeling better about next year.

“With Cam Cameron, me and him have a pretty good understanding of what we’re trying to get done. As soon as the season was over, I was in there with the coaches and we went over different things with the offense…ways we could get better…different features with the offense that could have been used better…all that stuff.”

Ultimately, Boldin left Owings Mills with an even higher respect for what Cameron had in the works for next season and his approach toward trying to fix the mistakes of 2010.

“I respect the fact that they allowed the players to have an input, because you know, my desire is to win. I respect him for having that same desire.”

WNST thanks Anquan Boldin for joining the Afternoon Drive! Be sure to check out his Chalk Talk at Morgan State this Thursday!

Comments Off

Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 “MLB Players We’d Take on our Team Despite the Fact That They Aren’t Any Good”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Morning Reaction Tuesday Top 7 “MLB Players We’d Take on our Team Despite the Fact That They Aren’t Any Good”

Posted on 01 March 2011 by Glenn Clark

In honor of our new favorite Baltimore Orioles “journeyman” Brendan Harris; our “Tuesday Top 7″ topic this week was “The Top  7 Major League Baseball players we’d take on our team despite the fact that they aren’t really any good.

The only rule was that the player couldn’t have been out of the game for more than one season. We technically ended up breaking that rule.

Glenn Clark’s list…

7. Justin Maxwell

jmax

6. Michael Ryan

ryan

5. Clay Zavada

zavada

4. Kris Benson

krisbannab

3. Sidney Ponson

ponson

2. Chris Coste

coste

1. Rube Baker

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQweJm4BsKE[/youtube]

Drew Forrester’s list…

7. Jonathan Van Every

vanevery

6. Dioner Navarro

navarro

5. Russell Branyan

branyan

4. Clete Thomas

clete

3. Jeff Karstens

karstens

2. Bruce Chen

chen

1. Jake Taylor

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtkLSrMsUhE[/youtube]

If you missed the explanation of the list on “The Afternoon Drive” Tuesday on AM1570 WNST, hit the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault here at WNST.net!

Flexing my mic muscles since 1983…

-G

Comments Off

One-hit wonders in sports

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One-hit wonders in sports

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

This afternoon on…well…”The Afternoon Drive”, Rex Snider and I went over a list of our Top 5 “One-Hit Wonders” in sports. I had a list of ten…and actually more…to throw in there and I figured I might as well share it with you all.

I had a tough time putting them in order, so by all means this is no where close to any particular order. I tried my best but I figured if they’re a one-hit wonder, who cares where they’re ranked? Aren’t they all incredibly lucky?

1. Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets

Joe Namath

Broadway Joe. A guy we love to hate here in Baltimore. Why? Because of that lucky Super Bowl III victory, and his guarantee about it. He was the first quarterback to throw for 4,000 yards in the then modern era in 1967, and just because of one guarantee over the Colts in Super Bowl III , he became the first ever media-loved quarterback and rides his way into the Hall of Fame.

But he Why is this guy in Canton? He owns a career 65.5 career passer rating, and he only threw 173 TDs to 220 INTs. After Super Bowl III, he spent nine more years in the league but only won 35 games. He took the Jets to one more repeat playoff appearance in 1969-and lost it.

Rex Snider put the 1968 New York Jets on the team on his list because as a team, the Jets only made the playoffs 6 times between 1969-1997-the year Bill Parcells took over at the helm-and began putting the pieces together.

2. 1969 New York Mets

In the movie, “Oh, God” starring George Burns and John Denver, Burns-playing the role of God, said that the last miracle he ever performed was the 1969 New York Mets.

And it continued the trend of the Baltimore losing to New York for another season.

The Mets-in only their eighth season in the league-finished with their first winning season and ultimately defeated the Orioles in five games, winning 4-1.

In fact, the biggest part of that team, Tom Seaver (25-7, 2.21 ERA, 208 K), only got there because the Mets had been that bad for that long.

That ’69 Orioles team was considered by many to be one of the best teams in baseball history, but the Mets completed the upset.

After that season though, the Mets necessarily didn’t return to the mediocrity they experienced before 1969, but they lost in 1973 in the World Series to the Oakland Athletics 4-3( on top of that they only finished 82-79 that season).

It would then take another 13 years for former Oriole Davey Johnson then brought the Miracle Mets back to the Promised Land in 1986, and the on the verge of being eliminated, something happened that gave them another World Series…

Bill Buckner

3. Buster Douglas

Buster Douglas

Buster Douglas went up against the then-undefeated Mike Tyson on February 11th, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan as the two fought for the outright Heavyweight Boxing Title of the World. Everyone expected Tyson-then at the time 37-0 with 33 knockouts-to wipe the floor with Douglas (29-4-1, 19 KO)-so much so that only one Vegas casino took odds for the fight.

And they had Douglas winning at 35-to-1 odds.

The match was designed to be a preliminary bout for Tyson before then facing off against fellow undefeated contender Evander Holyfield, who was in attendance for Tyson-Douglas to fight.

Douglas-who in the weeks leading up to the fight had lost his mother and sickness around his family, but that did not deter him in the fight. In fact, it probably motivated him. He came out aggressive in the match, and for the first time in his career, pushed Tyson to the ropes. Tyson’s own team didn’t even see it coming, as they didn’t bring along necessarily equipment to tend Tyson’s wounds between matches.

Tyson fought back and actually made Douglas hit the floor in the eighth round-ultimately reaching a count of nine before getting back up-and over the next two rounds, Douglas continued to beat down on a battered Tyson.

In the tenth round, in a famous scene, Douglas hit Tyson and sent him to the floor for the first time in Tyson’s boxing career. Tyson fumbled for his mouthpiece, and put it in with part of it hanging out of his mouth. He was in no condition to continue, and Buster Douglas was named heavyweight champion of the world.

He held the title for eight months before Holyfield finished him off in three rounds. Douglas retired after the fight.

4. David Tyree

David Tyree was sixth-round draft choice by the New York Giants in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Syracuse.

He did make the Pro Bowl in 2005 as a special teams player, but up until the 2007 season his career numbers were a whopping 54 catches, for 650 yards and 4 TDs.

But his touchdown-and maybe the greatest catch in the history of the Super Bowl-maybe even the NFL as a whole…made Tyree a legend.

David Tyree

His catch on a 3rd-and-5 on the Giants 44-yard line, with New York needing a first-down to extend the drive, was caught on his helmet with headhunter Rodney Harrison in tow.

His play kept the drive alive for the Giants, as Eli Manning eventually found Plaxico Burress for the winning touchdown, as New York upset the previously undefeated Patriots, 17-14.

Minus the fact that the Giants kept him around the following year just to repay him for his play in Super Bowl 42,  they immediately let him go after one season and that was it for Tyree.

He was with the Ravens during the 2009 season, appearing in 10 games for Baltimore but starting none.

And to think…if Mike Carey had blown the play dead, Tyree wouldn’t have made this list…and history…

5. 1980 United States hockey team

Do you believe in miracles?

Do you believe in miracles?

When most people remember this game between the Soviet Union and United States hockey teams, they think that this was the championship game. But it wasn’t. The eventual winner would be playing Finland for the gold medal in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

The US squad consisted of mostly collegiate and amateur hockey players, but coach Herb Brooks and his squad fought through a match that almost didn’t happen due to the international Cold War happening between the two nations.

The Russians at the time were considered to be the best hockey team in the world.

Even the New York Times wrote:

“Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments.”

But the United States did win. And then they beat Finland for the gold.

It made a career out of Al Michaels that’s for sure.

But they’re a one-hit wonder because the team didn’t even medal again in the Olympics until 2002.

Other considerations:

  • Brady Anderson (50 HRs in 1996 after never having more than 21 in a season, never had more than 24 after that season)
  • Brady Anderson

  • 1998 Atlanta Falcons (14-2 under Dan Reeves reaching Super Bowl XXXIII, losing to the Denver Broncos-team had only two seasons previous since 1996 with 10+ wins, never reached Super Bowl since)
  • Dirty Bird

  • 2000 Baltimore Ravens (Sorry Baltimore-had to put this one on there. Is this what the Ravens are on track for? I think the team will win another Super Bowl, but is it going to take a decade-plus in between them?)
  • Trent Dilfer

  • 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning (Won the Stanley Cup that year-a hockey team in sunny Florida? Haven’t won a playoff series since)
  • Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Don Larsen (pitched the only perfect game to occur in the World Series in Game 5 in 1956. Was the only such one in the playoffs until Roy Halladay’s no-hitter this past season versus Cincinnati. Why is that a one-hit wonder? Larsen’s career mark was 81-91 with a 3.78 ERA.
  • Don Larsen

  • Scott Mitchell (Had 32 TDs and 4,338 and a 92.3 passer rating for the Detroit Lions in 1995.  Never could repeat that success, including in Baltimore in 1999.
  • Scott Mitchell

  • Akili Smith (32 TDs, 11 INTs in only one season at Oregon, earning him the #3 pick in the draft by the Bengals. The rest is draft bust history.
    Akili Smith

  • John Paciorek (A ballplayer for the Houston Colt .45s in 1963-a late call up, he appeared in one game for Houston. On September 29th, 1963, Pacirorek went 3-for-3 at the plate hitting three singles, walking twice, and driving in three runs. He scored four times as well in the game. He never played again due to a back injury. Of the 20 major league baseball hitters with a 1.000 career batting average, he is the only one to have more than three at-bats.
  • John Paciorek

  • 1983 N.C. State basketball team (Not a bad team defeating both North Carolina-led by Michael Jordan and Ralph Sampson’s Virginia squad. But to then beat Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler’s Houston squad to win the National Championship-and on a last second broke play? And despite some success later on for the program under Jim Valvano and Herb Sendek, the Wolfpack have never been back on the national stage like they were in the late 70′s, early 80′s. Sidney Lowe-who now coaches the Wolfpack-was on this team and he could be fighting for his job down in Raleigh.

Got some more that I missed? Let I or Rex know below or on “The Afternoon Drive! 2-6PM, 410-481-1570!

Comments Off

Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth: “I personally and the players and the fans gain nothing from there being a lockout”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Ravens CB Domonique Foxworth: “I personally and the players and the fans gain nothing from there being a lockout”

Posted on 16 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Domonique Foxworth

Ravens corner back Domonique Foxworth may have been inactive for this season, but here in 2011, the former Maryland Terp has been hard at work in representing not only his Baltimore teammates but all general NFL players as a member of the executive committee representing the players association.

Joining Foxworth on this 10-person committee are Saints quarterback Drew Brees, Chiefs LB Mike Vrabel, former Titans C Kevin Mawae, Brian Dawkins, Colts C Jeff Saturday, and FB Tony Richardson of the Jets.

Labor talks, revenue sharing and the threat of an NFL lockout of the players issued by the 32 owners have been the heat of discussion this off-season so far since the Green Bay Packers took home the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLV.

With the two sides-the players and the owners-having until March 3rd to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement, Foxworth and the player reps from all 32 teams have desperately trying to gain an audience with league ownership so not only can they agree on how the league revenue should be separated but to also ensure that the players have games to attend in 2011.

Foxworth joined Rex Snider on “The Afternoon Drive” to give the latest on the talks-which so far have not gone well.

“The last few meetings have been called off so I can say it’s not going well,” Foxworth told Snider. “I’m hopeful. I wouldn’t go as far to say optimistic, but hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and we’ll get in the room and lock the door. If it takes a week, just order room service…whatever…we’ll figure it out. That’s what I want to do.”

“There’s definitely been a lot of posturing,” Foxworth said of the meetings he has been involved with. “I’m young to this…so I try to take in a lot and learn. But the kind of negotiating tactics I saw were new to me. I just wanted to go in the room, sit down, and talk it out. But I guess it never can be that simple.”

The two sides are arguing over the split at least eight million dollars in revenue.

Despite owners recently walking out of a scheduled meeting, Foxworth was optimistic that a deal would get done before the possibility of games being played or not becomes a concern.

And even if there was, he said he was going to make sure a lockout doesn’t occur.

“Everyone is aware that we have a deadline approaching and that people on both sides will get together and get serious in the room,” Foxworth said. “I expect to be in that room and like I said before I’ll do everything in my power to make sure we have a season.”

Domonique Foxworth

Foxworth is one of ten members of the executive committee of the NFL Players Association, and he said it’s on guys like him to give the player’s perspective when it comes to what the issues are, and given the front that NFL PA Director DeMaurice Smith has put up, it may be on guys like him to be the messenger between the league’s owners and the players.

“I give the players’ perspective,” Foxworth said. “We have the executive director, we have lawyers, we have staff that are there to represent the players. There’s nothing like being an active player and having a former player in the meetings to represent their interests.”

“I know what it likes to be in camp. I know what it’s like to be hurt. I know what it’s like to be a free agent, a rookie, and all those things are places most of the players in the league will experience. It’s important to speak up and the let the voice of the players be heard during the meetings, not just before or after.”

He also said that its imperative the fans know what is going on as well between the players and the owners because the fans are putting their hard earned money into the pot as well and they stand to miss a lot should games be in jeopardy next fall.

That was one of the reasons why Foxworth made time for WNST.

“I think the fans deserve to know as much as we can tell them,” Foxworth said. “There are some things we can’t tell them to conserve the integrity of the negotiations, but one of those that we think we deserve to know and the fans deserve to know is what the finances and the economics of the league are, just being told what it is. But ‘Be Quiet…Sit Down’ just doesn’t work for us and it doesn’t work with the fans.”

But the request by the players for the owners to open their books-that may be the thing that has set the owners off the most.

And that’s why Foxworth has been adamant about trying to get everyone informed about the discussion, get the discourse going in the hopes of getting something resolved. And he’s open to advice on that matter wherever it should come from.

In the end, especially for Foxworth who missed this season due a torn ACL in the first walkthrough before training camp, he just wants to be on the field no matter what.

“I just want to play football and I feel like the fans feel the same way. Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the owners and the leagues does.”

“I personally, and the players and the fans gain nothing from there being a lockout but it’s really not going to be good for anyone for there to be a lockout.  Our window with the Ravens is still open, and a lockout for the season will be devastating for this team and this city.”

Foxworth hopes to come back in 2011 with a new CBA in place and hoping he can be that shutdown corner for the Ravens.

“I think we have all the components in place for a championship run,” Foxworth told Snider. “I think we had them last year and the year before that. We need to make that run before it’s too late because our time is now.”

WNST thanks Domonique Foxworth for joining the Afternoon Drive to give us the latest updates on the NFL CBA talks! WNST-We Never Stop Talking Baltimore Sports!

Comments Off

Matt Birk tells Rex Snider that reason for return to Ravens? Too cold in Minnesota

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Matt Birk tells Rex Snider that reason for return to Ravens? Too cold in Minnesota

Posted on 11 February 2011 by Ryan Chell

Matt Birk

Ravens center Matt Birk just finished his second of his three year contract that he signed with Baltimore before the 2009 season. Birk-a Harvard grad, six-time Pro Bowler, and two-time All-Pro, was brought in to replace Jason Brown, who left via free agency signing a lucrative deal with the St. Louis Rams.

Birk-while not the player he was in Minnesota-has filled in nicely since Brown’s departure and has been that veteran presence on the offensive line. Rumors floated around toward the end of the 2010 season that Birk, 34, would call it quits and retire.

Fortunately for the Ravens, Birk announced Tuesday that he would finish his contract with the Ravens and return for his third season as a Raven. Baltimore is no doubt happy with the move, and he joined Rex Snider this week on “The Afternoon Drive” to discuss what went into his decision process on returning and a neat event he has going on at the end of the month of February teaming up with a few ex-Raven Matts…

On the winter…

“Yeah you kind of get into that sports abyss right now, and then you look outside and there’s not much going on. So bring on the spring time.”

On the snow…

“Yeah this is nothing, Minnesota definitely, 9 out of 10 times when I tell someone I’m from Minnesota they say, ‘Oh boy its cold up there’… that’s the first thing that they associate the state with, and they’re absolutely right.”

On Minnesota…

“That’s how it gets up there its no joke.”

On returning…

“Well I appreciate that it makes me happy too.  I just wasn’t sure after the season, and I wanted to be up front with the Ravens, and let them know where I was at. I did get a little R&R, and I actually went back  to Minnesota for a little bit, and said ‘You know what…it’s really cold here I’m not ready to move back.’ So I better keep playing…”

On his body recovering…

“Yeah you know I think when you’re banged up, its hard to remember what its like to feel good, even though you know you go through it every year. There’s other factors that play in too. I have five children and a wife that I brought out here all the way from our families, which is great. Its been a great experience here, but eventually my wife and I being from Minnesota, will move back out there and settle down, and put our roots back in the ground. You know you just kind of want to take in everything, and just like everybody in life, you just want to make sure your doing the right thing by your wife and your kids and just make sure that your heart is still in it, and mine definitely is.”

“It was more of an issue of just physically and mentally being able to gear up and do it again. I came back from vacation and talked with Coach Harbargh a couple days ago, and I just told him my intent because obviously they need to know and the sooner the better… so yeah I feel good and I’m excited.”

On the difference a month off has…

Oh yeah, there’s still some bumps and bruises. But specifically I was dealing with a knee injury at the end of the year and that’s the game of football. Thats just the way it is and that’s fine. Certainly in the last month it’s certainly healed up some and by all accounts it’s going to be fine. I’m starting to work out again and try to get the body feeling good again. That’s what February and March and for

On “Football and Faith”….

Yeah it’s pretty unique. Myself and Matt Stover, and hopefully I can get one more player to join us. Stan White is going to lead the panel of discussion. Were going to talk about the role that faith has in our lives as men and as football players, I mean it’ll be a fun night. Were going to talk about obviously the ravens and all those things, have a silent auction, a meal, and lots of freebies too.  I think its kind of a unique event in a sense that you get a chance to know a side of players that you don’t see a whole lot of. It also benefits a great ministry called Kingdom Rain which travels to the poorest parts of the world in the Uzbekistan and other places, and actually train religious leaders in these places where people literally put there lives at risk to worship. They train leaders so they can be more effect in spreading the word of God, so we thought this would be a great opportunity for people to see a different side of us, and also get people to raise money and some awareness for a great cause.”

On things more important than football..

Absolutely and that does start with faith, and I think that’s a case no matter what career or what business your in. its exciting for me because it’s a platform and an opportunity to talk about something that’s important to me and I think so far the response has been great, we’ve got hundreds of people coming out and I just think its going to be a very special and unique event for anybody and everybody that’s involved with it.

On the CBA…

It is, its uncharted territory for us, the NFL and the players have enjoyed labor peace for a long time. Inevitably there’s going to be bumps in the road there seems to be every so often. We kind of don’t know if the lockout does occur, if the owners do lock the players our after March 3. I just sort of found out for sure, if that makes sense, that our health insurance is going to be canceled, we cant go to the facility, cant communicate with coaches. There are a lot of unknowns out there and as a football player you become a creature of habit you rely on structure and schedules. 12 months a year you know what it is every January is like this. February is like this.  But we don’t know, and nobody seems to know exactly what it’s going to look like, what’s free agency going to look like if we get locked out. What is the draft be like…its kind of a looming threat that’s getting closer everyday. Hopefully cooler heads prevail and an agreement can be reached and we can avoid this whole mess.

On how CBA  impacts lives….

“Well yeah. Nobody likes the unknown…everyone wants to know what’s next, everybody wants the security and like I said its something that we haven’t gone through before with this generation of players. It’s unfortunate and whether you’re a player, a fan, an owner. It’s a business, it’s a sport that’s great and all those things. But it’s a business and there’s billions of dollars at stake, so of course certain human elements can rear there ugly head, and I guess things like this happen.  And I know nobody wants to hear about it but hopefully we can reach an agreement and we can actually have the game and the business better off for years to come.”

On Biscotti’s comments on the CBA and professionalism in the organization….

Oh there is no question that the Ravens are first class and that starts with  Mr. Biscotti, and John Harbargh, Dick Cass, Ozzie Newsome and all the way down. It just resonates class. I’ve only been with one other organization, and when I came  here to visit I was just so impressed by what was going on here. Just the feel and the sense you got. Really, the strength  of any organization is the people and that was evident right when I got to 1 Winning Drive, and that reputation is the Ravens throughout the league.

People that I know in other places that have never been here, we talk and then say that’s a pretty good organization to play for isn’t it. And I say absolutely. That doesn’t surprise me that Mr. Biscotti said that, and it doesn’t do any good to sling mud or say bad things about the other side. It’s a negotiation  and people a lot smarter then me will be handling that, and im sure an agreement will be reached because theres too much at stake for the business of the NFL but more so for the game of the NFL and whats been built up here for the last 80, 90, 100 years of football.”

On Football and Faith info…

“The event is at 7pm, and people can go online to footballandfaith.org and find out all the information you need, read up on it some more. Obviously I’d love to see as many people out there as I could, I think its gonna be one of those special things.”

Want to hear Birk’s chat with Rex Snider? Check the BuyaToyota.com Audio Vault!

Comments Off