Tag Archive | "todd"

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Dickson tells Luke and Glenn about life after Todd Heap

Posted on 30 October 2011 by WNST Staff

In case you missed our Monday Night Live show with Ed Dickson a few weeks ago, our Luke Jones and Glenn Clark had a chance to discuss Todd Heap’s contribution to the development of the young tight ends with the Ravens.

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Ravens sign former Texans FB Leach; Heap goes home to Arizona

Posted on 31 July 2011 by WNST Staff

On a day when the Ravens facility seemed quiet from a practice perspective, the fanbase was given two jolts of news during this active free agency period as Ozzie Newsome signed fullback Vonta Leach away from the Houston Texans and watched as Todd Heap signed with the Arizona Cardinals after flirting most of the morning with the New York Jets.

The action has been fast and furious and every signing signals the end or the beginning of a new era. It’s now apparent that Le’Ron McClain is finishes as a member of the Baltimore Ravens with the addition of Leach, who is big, bruising lead blocker who will create challenges for linebackers and safeties in the AFC North.

Heap, who is an Arizona native and an Arizona State grad, decided to go “home” despite many attempts by Rex Ryan to woe him to the Jets for another purple reunion.

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Monday Bloody Monday: Ravens set to part ways with Heap, Mason, Gregg and McGahee

Posted on 25 July 2011 by WNST Staff

The action came fast and furious and with shocking force on Monday afternoon as the Ravens — via many sources, agents, players and media — are set to part ways with a bevy of big-name stars as the 2011 free agent period comes like a tsunami. Veterans Todd Heap, Derrick Mason, Kelly Gregg and Willis McGahee were all informed of the termination of their contracts almost immediately following the NFLPA ratification of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Several sources inside Owings Mills said that Heap and Mason will be offered a chance to return to the team at a lower salary. Gregg could also be offered a reduced role and a lower salary. Many other teams around the NFL are expected to release veterans in an attempt to lower their 2011 salaries and free up cap space.

It promises to be an unprecedented week of news, information and free agent signings.

For full, unfolding coverage you can always follow us in real time on Twitter @WNST.

WNST will have full coverage of all of the information and pending changes in Owings Mills all day Tuesday at WNST.net and AM 1570.

Ravens players are expected to start appearing the Owings Mills headquarters as early as 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

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MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

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EXCLUSIVE: It was Peter Angelos vs. Steve Bisciotti in latest skirmish over MASN & Ravens TV rights

Posted on 08 August 2010 by WNST Staff

In a city with two sports teams and a major regional sports TV network that’s owned by one of them, conflict is inevitable.

So, when the Ravens sat down at the negotiating table with the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) last spring to hammer out the details of a new contract, the football team was prepared for a difficult negotation but maintained confidence a deal would get done for their pre-season games and weekly TV shows such as The John Harbaugh Show.

Instead, the Ravens abruptly lost their broadcast partner last week in an 11th-hour flip by MASN owner Peter Angelos, who also owns the rival sports franchise in Baltimore, the MLB Orioles.

The two parties, led by high ranking officials from the Ravens and MASN, reached a verbal agreement on a new four-year deal in April.  “It actually went more smoothly than we thought it might,” said a Ravens source.  “We went in asking that our old four-year deal just be renewed under the same terms and conditions and they (MASN) were agreeable.  The deal was beneficial for both of us.  MASN got winter programming exclusive to their network and we were able to bring the shows that comprised Rave TV to the Ravens fan base throughout the Mid Atlantic.”

There were a few new twists to the agreement, including more prominently placed signage for MASN at M&T Bank Stadium and the installation of permanent fiber-optic wiring in the press rooms at the stadium to give MASN the highest quality production capabilities.

“We put in an extensive amount of work and product in June and July,” said a Maryland Stadium Authority source, who was part of the team that supervised the installation. “And the Ravens paid for all of it.”

At stake now, are various forms of Ravens-exclusive programming that range from weekly shows to pre- and post-game specials for both home and away games.

“The deal is dead,” said a Ravens source. “Angelos killed it at the end of July when our staff was already on the street selling packages.”

A MASN source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said the change in the agreement occurred earlier in the summer when Orioles majority owner and MASN managing partner Peter Angelos got involved.  When the two parties consummated their first deal in 2006, the elder Angelos wasn’t involved in the final stages of the negotiation. It was more John Angelos and other officials, who were just launching the money-making regional network after the birth of Washington Nationals spawned the deal.

An insider on that initial deal said: “It was a perfect marriage. The Ravens didn’t want to deal with Comcast Sportsnet, which was featuring Washington Redskins programming and treated Baltimore and the Ravens like a second-class citizen. MASN was just getting started and needed fall and winter programming and credibility and market awareness. They had a presence and partnership with the best brand in Baltimore. Everyone was happy!”

This time around, though, citing changes in the upper management structure of MASN, Peter Angelos stepped in after a verbal agreement was made in April and the deal was ready to be signed in late spring.

“Peter didn’t like the deal once he read through it all and saw the terms,” said a MASN source. “He contended that a network should NEVER pay a team a rights fee for programming if it’s not all entirely live. So we had to go back to the Ravens and tell them we weren’t going to pay them the same fee we had provided in the past. We knew it was about to get ugly.”

A source familiar with the negotiations said MASN went to the Ravens with an offer that included a “greatly reduced rights fee” and the freedom for MASN to re-run the exclusive Ravens programming with no additional compensation to the football organization.

At first, it didn’t get ugly because the Ravens weren’t totally sure what the new offer or new terms were going to be. But, eschewing the history of how the Orioles and MASN conduct business under Angelos, they remained patient, hopeful and confident that a deal was sensible and reachable.

“We couldn’t really figure out what they wanted,” says a Ravens source.  “They would always talk in generalities like, ‘We need to re-work some things’ and they’d never be real specific about what they wanted changed or what the offer was.”

“We called in early June to remind them that the deal needed to be signed and we were told then that some parts of it hadn’t yet been approved by Mr. Angelos and that they’d get back to us with some revisions.”

As has been customary and legendary from those in the MLB world who’ve dealt with Angelos, those revisions sat on Angelos’ desk for weeks and the “official answer” never came.

Just after the July 4th holiday, the Ravens again contacted MASN and asked for the signed deal so they could continue selling advertising and sponsorships for the various MASN-aired programming.

“We were getting nervous by then,” a Ravens staffer said.  “We pressed them a little bit for a signed contract, and that’s when we were told the original deal wasn’t going to be honored,” explained a Ravens source. “We were told at that point that Peter wasn’t happy about paying a rights fee and that he wanted to speak directly with owner Steve Bisciotti.”

The MASN source explained it like this: “Peter never wants to talk to a mid-level or high-level employee. It’s the top of the ladder or nothing.”

That apparently was Ravens president Dick Cass, who allegedly met with Angelos.

MIAMI, FL - JANUARY 4:  Owner Steve Bisciotti of the Baltimore Ravens  and president Dick Cass watch warmups before play against the Miami Dolphins in an NFL Wildcard Playoff Game at Dolphins Stadium on January 4, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

“One of Steve’s fundamental beliefs is that he employs good people who understand his business and that’s what he pays them for – to conduct business on his behalf,” said the Ravens staffer.  “When Steve got wind of the Angelos request, he said, ‘I don’t need to talk with him about this.  You people know much more about this than I do.  Get the deal done!’ ”

So that became an issue that no one at either MASN or the Ravens could fix.  One person – Angelos – who didn’t want to talk to anyone BUT the owner and another person – Bisciotti – who felt it wasn’t his position to interfere with his people’s work.

“It’s not like Peter suddenly started operating like this,” said the MASN source.  “When the time comes for the deal to get done or not, he wants to look the other guy right in the eye or at the very least speak directly with the person on the other end who is his equivalent.  This time around, it backfired on us.”

It backfired when the Ravens made a final inquiry in late July and were told that MASN’s position wasn’t changing.  A reduction in the rights fee was now the only valid offer and Angelos was adamant that Bisciotti get involved during the final days of negotiation.

Bisciotti eventually did call Angelos, but he did so to simply tell the MASN head honcho, “My people say this deal is no good for us, so we’re going to pass.”

In the aftermath, the MASN public relations people tried to soft-peddle the break-up in early August by claiming the split was amicable.  MASN spokesman Todd Webster included a “we wish the Ravens nothing but success” throwaway line when commenting to the local media, most of whom who are on the payroll or in the profit chain of MASN or Angelos himself.

(A request to speak on the record with members of the MASN executive staff about this exclusive story at WNST.net was refused.)

But WNST.net is reporting that the “split” was anything but amicable.

“We’re basically six weeks from the start of the season with a sales package on the street and a handshake for a deal from April and an existing relationship and they pulled the rug out from under us,” says the Ravens source . “There’s no way that’s going to be amicable.”

The MASN source interviewed for this exclusive piece says the Ravens knew in early June there was a potential roadblock with the deal.

“They knew as soon as Peter (Angelos) got involved there was potentially going to be trouble.  They knew the deal was shaky at that point.”

When given that response, a Ravens staffer pointed to to the recent work done at M&T Bank Stadium.  “If we really thought the deal was in trouble, we wouldn’t have spent all that money to get the stadium ready for MASN.”

A Maryland Stadium Authority source said MASN remains a valuable working partner but they acknowledge it’s not always a bed of roses working with them.  “They’ve been involved in some battles with Comcast and WBAL at the baseball stadium that got very ugly.  It almost always relates to money and it always involves Peter.  And it’s always a last minute kind of thing.  That’s their M.O.  They wait until the last minute to start trying to get things done.”

And that’s how the deal with the Ravens eventually ended.  “We just ran out of time,” says a Ravens staffer.  “We had their (MASN) signage up, so that had to come down, and our people are out now trying to re-sell it.  We have shows to produce with sponsors lined up and there’s nowhere to air them.  We’re scrambling now.”

The break-up with MASN and loss of key programming doesn’t just hurt the Ravens financially – “we were nearly sold out of inventory” the Ravens source said – but it puts a crimp on their regional branding and marketing efforts.

“We count on that programming to satisfy our fans’ needs in the outlying areas that are important to us like Frederick, Hagerstown, York, Harrisburg and Lancaster,” said a Ravens official.  “That’s one of the reasons we like MASN so much.  They truly are regional for us.  And that’s important.”

One local media expert says the break-up was not only initiated by MASN, but might have come more as a result of sagging sales efforts.

“The real truth of the whole relationship with the Ravens is that MASN’s heart was never in it.  They just wanted to take something away from Comcast,” said the media source.  “They probably lost a lot of money over the last few years with their Ravens programming and they’re getting paid the same amount by a few million subscribers whether the Ravens are on the network or whether they’re airing Hawaiian League Baseball.”

So why enter into a business agreement with the Ravens?  What’s in it for MASN?

“They (MASN) owned inventory in each of those Ravens programs, anywhere from 1 to 2 minutes depending on the show and its length,” the media source explained.  “And MASN needs to sell that commercial inventory to make up for the rights fee they hand over to the Ravens.   If they can’t sell it, the whole relationship becomes a loser for MASN, except they have relevant programming to plug in during the winter months.”

“All you have to do is follow the Orioles broadcasts on MASN and you can pretty much figure out they’re having a tough time selling commercials in the baseball games.  I guess you have to ask yourself, ‘If we can’t sell all the ad space in the live programming we air 162 times a year with a Major League Baseball team, what are the odds we can sell ad space in the football season with taped shows?’ And if they were forking over $100,000 or so to the Ravens for the rights fee, that’s a lot of advertising to sell just to make that up, let alone make a profit out of it.”

A Ravens source would not confirm the amount of money MASN provided to the football team, saying only, “It was a six figure deal with our benefit being that we owned most of the time to sell to our corporate partners.”

The local media expert figures that MASN spent the early part of the spring and summer trying to sell their portion of advertising.  And when they couldn’t, they decided to go back to the Ravens and change the deal.

“That happens a lot,” says the media source.  “You’re on the hook for a lot of money and you figure you’ll sell enough to offset it.  When you initially go out and try to sell it and you can’t, you get nervous and try to change the fee structure.”

The Ravens continue to work hard to try and have their programming in place by Labor Day.  WNST has been told that Comcast SportsNet is not an option for them.

One less-appealing option is WBAL TV’s digital channel, which would serve as an olive branch from the Ravens since they’d likely make no revenue from the arrangement with WBAL.

“We’d be doing that because we want to help our broadcast partner out,” said a Ravens staffer.  “We clearly wouldn’t be involved in the same kind of rights fee deal we had with MASN, but the programming would air and that’s what’s most important at this point.”

The other obvious answer would be to air the unique programming of Rave TV on the team website, which could drive more traffic to their online hub.

The fallout of Steve Bisciotti vs. Peter Angelos and Orioles vs. Ravens will continue to be monitored at WNST.net.

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Ravens sign former Eagles tight end L. J. Smith

Posted on 17 March 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

Several media outlets are reporting that the Ravens have signed veteran tight end L.J. Smith to a 1-year, $1.5 million deal to potentially join Todd Heap in the team’s corps. Read more here…

This might’ve been moved forward by John Harbaugh’s years with the Eagles. Strangely enough, Harbs hasn’t attemted to raid any of the Philadelphia roster over the past 13 months.

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Baltimore BracketBusters and an Idea for a Baltimore College Hoops Triple-header

Posted on 04 February 2009 by Chris Bonetti

Morgan State @ Towson, Towson Center, Towson, MD – February 21
UMBC @ Rider, Alumni Gymnasium, Lawrenceville, NJ – February 21
Loyola College @ Drexel, Daskalakis Athletic Center, Philadelphia, PA – February 21

In case you missed it, earlier this week ESPNU announced the pairings for their seventh annual BracketBuster event.  The two-day slate of games featuring 51 games including teams from 17 different conferences is truly a celebration of mid-major college hoops.  The weekend of February 20th and 21st will be ruled by college basketball’s little guys and Baltimore will be right in the middle of the action.

It’s phenomenal that the folks at ESPN decided to match-up Todd Bozeman’s Bears and Pat Kennedy’s Tigers.  These two North Baltimore foes will lock-up for the 23rd time with the series tied at 11 games apiece.  Bragging rights are directly on the line

The reason why I think it’s so great is because it gives a team like Towson something else besides their conference tournament to look forward to.  It’s an impromptu late-season big-time backyard rivalry game.

While I love spontaneity as much as the next guy, I suggest taking this game and really running with the idea of a late year Baltimore-Baltimore match-up, sans the surprise.

Wouldn’t it be great to break up late season monotony with a battle for Baltimore bragging rights?

Imagine a triple-header of games at the 1st Mariner Arena in early February.  Take the five Division 1 schools around town, Coppin, Loyola, Morgan, Towson, and UMBC and that leaves you with one spot.  While this event would need great organizing to succeed, what would make it great would the participation of the big boys… the University of Maryland Terrapins.

I know, I know, what’s in it for Gary?  Why should he leave Comcast during his ACC conference schedule to play a “nothing good can come from this”-type game?  Well, I’ll simply offer, it might be good for Coach Williams to show his face around the Harbor a little bit more often.  Throughout his whole tumultuous January the center of discussion was recruiting, and more specifically, not recruiting the city well enough.  This would be a great event for kids from all over the greater Baltimore area to enjoy.  I don’t see how playing an in-state opponent in front of 11,000 people in his state’s largest city could possibly be a bad thing for a program attempting to re-grow some of those grassroots.

The benefit for the locals is obvious in exposure alone.  Any local media outlet would be crazy not to ant to put their name on the event and its content in their programming. Not everyone can go to the University of Maryland and play so this would be a great chance for young players to see the unique styles of our area’s coaches and become familiar with their distinct personalities.

You could even involve the high school teams in an All-Baltimore Basketball weekend.  The collegiate triple-header could be played on a Saturday or Sunday with varsity squads from all over Baltimore County going out of conference to play on the preceding Friday night.

I don’t know, just a thought…

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In case you weren’t in Nashville…

Posted on 10 January 2009 by Nestor Aparicio

The scene today at Graham Central Station could’ve only been followed by something as amazing as today’s win over the Tennessee Titans and the dramatic fashion with which it all unfolded. Matt Stover’s kick. Joe Flacco’s pass. Todd Heap’s catch. Fabian Washington falling on the ball. Rob Bironas missing the field goal. The crowd taking over the streets of Nashville in a virtual sea of purple and marching on LP Field en masse crossing over the Cumberland River.

Baltimore made a powerful impact in downtown Nashville this weekend. It was a takeover, something akin to what the Red Sox and Yankees do to Baltimore. The cops had to come out onto 2nd Avenue and break up the sea of purple. Apparently, they were stopping traffic outside of Graham Central Station and car-tipping was a fear. The only tangible difference between a Red Sox Nation holdup of our city three times a year was that once we got inside LP Field, we realized there were probably only 5,000 of us total. We took over the primary block of bars in Nashville, but the 70,000-seat stadium was plenty blue and red and at the end when Heap made that catch, it was an ear-splitting sound emanating from the stands supporting the Titans. Heap told me after the game that he couldn’t hear anything as the clock was ticking down to zero.

As for the game, there were hundreds of unused tickets. I got stuck with a pair myself. Tickets were virtually worthless an hour before game time. There were sellers everywhere and no buyers. It was a like a flea market. Any Ravens fan could’ve gotten in for $20 yesterday. I’ll get some videos up of it on Sunday when I’m waiting and watching more NFL Football.

These are the memories that make it worthwhile to be a football fan and love the NFL. And, man do I love the NFL today. It was just one of the magical days of my sporting life. Just like it was eight years ago. Just like next weekend sets up to kick it up a notch, the way we did in Oakland eight years ago.

But will it be Pittsburgh? Or San Diego. As we saw in the Arizona-Carolina game, you never how these games are gonna turn out. Who the heck knows who is going to win? Who knew the lowly Cardinals would lay the smack down on the Panthers like that?

I have 100 seats reserved on two buses for Pittsburgh. I have the tickets. I have the bus. All I need them to do is win tomorrow.

If the game is in San Diego, I’ll be announcing a giant party for anyone who can make the trip but there will be no formal “WNST trip” to San Diego. It’s too pricey on short notice and I don’t really think there’s a market for $1400 trips for a weekend to California at this point. I think most people will feel like we’re 60 minutes away from the Super Bowl and “I’ll just wait and go to Tampa.” Understood!

Wait’ll you see the videos from today. It was the second biggest road party in Ravens’ history. It was Whiskey Joe’s-like. Go and ask your friends who were here. It was one for the ages. The party today was amazing. It was just an unreal day to be a Ravens fan.

This is what it’s all about.

Pittsburgh or San Diego?

Who do you wanna play and why?

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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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Ravens beat Dallas 33-24, throw a purple party in Dallas

Posted on 21 December 2008 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s become a joke amongst the local media, calling the Ravens “mighty men.” It’s John Harbaugh’s favorite “term of endearment” and corny catch phrase for his team. Tonight in Dallas, they were indeed mighty men, dropping the vaunted Cowboys like a bad habit at home on their special night and the hyper-emotional closing of Texas Stadium. The Ravens were impressive in dispatching the local stars, 33-24 to urinate on the biggest party in the biggest state in the swan song of the state’s greatest icon on a brutally cold evening.

Tonight, the real “stars” were wearing the purple helmets with the B’s. Strangely enough, it was punter Sam Koch who not only did his thing booting the ball effectively all night (including a 61-yarder) but it was the trick draw play on a field goal fake that stole the show and changed the momentum of the game. Really, who in the world was expecting that? A brass balls move if there ever was one by Harbaugh and the crew.

If this team makes noise in January, they’ll look back on this bounce back from that Pittsburgh fiasco and see the huge emotional breakthroughs. They finally beat a quality opponent on the road. The sheer willpower to persevere amidst an avalanche of injuries speak volumes about their “mighty men” status. The training room looked like an infirmary after the game, with Derrick Mason not being able to lift his arms, with Samari Rolle banged up, with Willie Andeson and Todd Heap hobbling. And while Fabian Washington gritted out a start, the team played the whole game without Ray Rice, who was an injury scratch. So, in came Willis McGahee, whose 77-yard scamper for an apparent “icing” touchdown was only topped minutes later — after Tony Romo led the Cowboys back down the field for an answer on a Ravens’ defense that has been leaky lately – by Le’Ron McClain’s 82-yard bolt to truly put the game out of reach. The final numbers were downright gaudy: McClain was 22 for 139 yards and McGahee finished with just eight carries but 108 yards and team rushing total was a whopping 266 yards and the Cowboys defense will look at the two fourth-quarter runs as busted plays that cost them their season.

For the local fans, it was morgue like, an evening of horrors from the home team on a night when it was all set up for the Ravens to be a “homecoming” pansy for the legends of Cowboys’ past and a night of civic remembrance and celebration. No doubt the Ravens players were inspired when informed that Jerry Jones PERSONALLY, HAND-PICKED the Ravens as his final opponent in Texas Stadium. (That’s a FACT by the way. Jones insisted on having the Ravens because when he looked at the schedule the Ravens were the weakest team on the slate. Perhaps he should’ve chosen Cincinnati?)

After the game Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs screamed all sorts of stuff about it into the NFL Films cameras and the postgame was filled with notions that the Ravens are the new Rodney Dangerfields of the NFL. But at 10-5 with a chance to ice a playoff berth against Jacksonville at home next weekend, it has been the most unlikely of seasons for the purple. Next Sunday will be OUR civic celebration for the 2008 Ravens, our final home game and a chance to send the Ravens on the road in style for an unexpected Festivus.

What a ride…Enoy the videos. I enjoyed making them.

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Great Tight Ends

Posted on 15 November 2008 by Brian Billick

Tomorrow we may see a substantial achievement by one of the great tight ends to play this game. With one more TD reception Antonio Gates can get to 50 TD receptions in a career faster than any other tight end in NFL history. Not withstanding injury, Gates may well be on the way to the first of many feats to establish himself as one of the great tight ends of all time.

The year 1963 saw the beginning of a major shift in the NFL with the use of the tight end. The evolution of the tight end position has been constant since Mike Ditka changed the definition of the position as the 5th selection overall in the NFL Draft that year by the Chicago Bears when he caught 56 passes for 1076 yards and a still-record 12 TD’s by a tight end (tied by Todd Christensen twenty years later). Ditka, Baltimore’s John Mackey and St. Louis Cardinals Jackie Smith (all drafted in I963) began to shift the tight end position to one from primarily as a blocker to one who could be a major part of an offensive passing attack. All three would go on to have Hall of Fame careers.

These great players were followed by the likes of Charlie Sanders (Detroit) and Raymond Chester (Oakland) in 1968 and 1970, respectively. Dave Casper (Oakland) followed in 1974, our own Ozzie Newsome then came along in Cleveland in 1978, Kellen Winslow (San Diego) and Todd Christensen (Oakland) in 1979. Christensen was actually drafted as a running back by the Dallas Cowboys, moved on to the New York Giants before settling in Oakland and igniting his career as a tight end.

In the mid-1980’s Mark Bavaro (New York Giants) and Jay Novacek (Dallas) came along to prove invaluable parts of Super Bowl winning teams.

Shannon Sharpe started the 90’s off right with the Denver Broncos followed by Tony Gonzales (Kansas City Chiefs) in the later part of the decade.

Looking at this group one thing become readily apparent. If you want a great one you will probably have to use a high draft choice to do it. The chart below shows that you will probably have to expend a first day pick to get a TE of this caliber.

Mike Ditka

1963

Chi

1961, 1st round (5th overall) by Chicago

Kellen Winslow

1980

SD

1979, 1st Round (13th Pick) by San Diego Chargers

Tony Gonzales

1998

KC

1997, 1st Round (13th Pick) by Kansas City Chiefs

Ozzie Newsome

1979

Cle

1978, 1st Round (23rd Pick) by Cleveland Browns

Raymond Chester

1972

Oak

1970, 1st Round (24th Pick) by Oakland Raiders

John Mackey

1964

Bal

1963, 2nd round (19th pick) Baltimore

Dave Casper

1975

Oak

1974, 2nd Round (19th Pick) by Oakland Raiders

Todd Christensen

1980

Oak

1978, 2nd Round (28th Pick) by Dallas Cowboys

Charlie Sanders

1970

Det

1968, 3rd rond (74th pick) By Detroit

Shannon Sharpe

1991

Den

1990, 7th Round (27th Pick) by Denver Broncos

Jackie Smith

1965

StL

1963, 10th round (129 pick) St. Louis

Antonio Gates

2004

SD

2003, Not drafted

Obviously, Antonio Gates may end up as one of the great-undrafted free agent stories of all time. A basketball player at Kent State in Ohio, Gates, if he can stay healthy may break virtually every TE record.

Having said that it is hard to not recognize the accomplishments of Tony Gonzales: (those in RED are current Hall of Fame players. The only HOF missing from this list is John Mackey whose numbers don’t rate in the top ten).

RK

NAME

Year

Rec

Yds

Avg

Lg

TD

1

Tony Gonzales

12

870

10426

12.1

73t

71

2

Shannon Sharpe

14

815

10060

12.3

82t

62

3

Ozzie Newsome

13

662

7980

12.1

74

47

4

Kellen Winslow

9

541

6741

12.5

67t

45

5

Jackie Smith

16

480

7918

16.5

81

40

6

Todd Christensen

10

461

5872

12.7

50

41

7

Mike Ditka

12

427

5812

13.6

76t

43

8

Jay Novacek

11

422

4630

11

49

30

9

Dave Casper

11

378

5216

13.8

52t

52

10

Antonio Gates

6

378

4831

12.8

72t

49

Kellen Winslow is considered by many to be the best based on the numbers he generated even though he was a part of an offense with such great receivers as Charlie Joiner, Wes Chandler and John Jefferson. With all this talent outside, it is truly amazing that he was able to generate this much offense.

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