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Top 10 Baseball Distractions

Posted on 03 December 2013 by Glenn Clark

Honorable Mention: Women’s College Basketball-Big Ten/ACC Challenge: Ohio State @ Maryland (Wednesday 7pm Comcast Center), Siena @ Maryland (Monday 7pm Comcast Center); NBA: Milwaukee Bucks @ Washington Wizards (Friday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet), Denver Nuggets @ Washington Wizards (Monday 7pm from Verizon Center live on Comcast SportsNet/NBA TV); Boxing: Zab Judah vs. Paulie Malignaggi (Saturday 8pm from Brooklyn live on Showtime); Auto Racing: NASCAR Awards Banquet (Friday 9pm from Las Vegas live on Fox Sports 2)

10. Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Wednesday 7:30pm Verizon Center); Halestorm (Wednesday 7:30pm Rams Head Live), Panic! at the Disco (Monday 8pm Rams Head Live); Spacehog & Sponge (Friday 7:30pm Baltimore Soundstage), Monster Magnet (Sunday 8pm Baltimore Soundstage); Carbon Leaf (Friday 8pm Saturday 3pm & 8pm Rams Head on Stage); Megadeth (Wednesday 8pm Fillmore Silver Spring), NOFX (Friday 7:25pm Fillmore Silver Spring); Matisyahu (Monday 7pm 9:30 Club); Muse “Live at Rome Olympic Stadium” available in stores/on iTunes (Tuesday)

I don’t care what face you’re making, it doesn’t change how much I secretly love TSO.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to Soundstage Sunday night, but you should sing along with this tune for me.

I believe by law Carbon Leaf is not allowed to go more than a month without playing around here.

I’ll be the Muse record doesn’t suck.

9. Jeff Dunham (Thursday 7pm Patriot Center); Donnell Rawlings (Thursday-Saturday Magooby’s Joke House); The Wolverine” available on Blu-Ray/DVD (Tuesday); Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Tuesday-Sunday France-Merrick Performing Arts Center at The Hippodrome); Parade of Lighted Boats (Saturday 6pm Fells Point/Inner Harbor); “A Monumental Occasion” (Thursday 5pm Mount Vernon Place)

I don’t really have a lot to say about any of this. Sorry. I didn’t really have time to study if we’re being fair.

Instead, courtesy of The Robb Report, for Christmas this year I’d like you to buy me a backyard stadium for $30 million. For reals.

I would also settle for this $83 million sky yacht.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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Despite crowded wild-card picture, Ravens’ task clear over final month

Posted on 02 December 2013 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The Ravens entered the weekend with the rare chance to not only rest but take a long look at the rest of a crowded AFC playoff picture.

Moving into the No. 6 spot in the conference by way of their 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers last Thursday night, the Ravens could give thanks at the end of the holiday weekend for still holding the final wild-card position due to their tie-breaking win over the 6-6 Miami Dolphins earlier in the season. But four teams linger with 5-7 records, and different factors are working for and against them in the chase to play football in January.

There’s plenty of watching and wondering what will happen over the season’s final four weeks.

“Everybody is playing everybody right now,” coach John Harbaugh said. “With so many teams involved, it’s going to be the way it’s going to be. One team wins, another teams loses. A lot of times, it helps us either way, and it hurts us both ways — it doesn’t really matter.”

The Dolphins have only one game remaining against teams that are .500 or better (New England).

Pittsburgh plays three of its final four games at Heinz Field and only one of those four contests comes against an opponent with a winning record (Cincinnati).

Despite a crippling quarterback situation, the New York Jets play only one team with a winning record and it’s an NFC opponent (Carolina).

After a disappointing home loss to the Bengals that did no favors to the Ravens’ AFC North title hopes, the Chargers still play three of the final four games at home.

And even 5-7 Tennessee has games remaining against Jacksonville and Houston, two of the worst teams in the NFL.

It’s a lot to process as we start tracking conference marks, records against common opponents, and strength of victory, but Harbaugh and the Ravens choose to focus only on what they can control with so many scenarios still alive with four games to go. The hope of a division title will depend on the Bengals slipping at least once or twice leading into the Week 17 meeting between the teams in Cincinnati, but advancing to the postseason for a sixth consecutive season is a clear path if the Ravens can avoid treacherous detours along the way.

“What matters is us; we just have to win,” Harbaugh said. “If we win games, things are going to work out for us. If we don’t, things are going to be tough. That’s what we have to take care of; we have to take care of ourselves.”

Though facing the best running back on the planet in Adrian Peterson doesn’t sound like a layup, the Ravens will face their last opponent with a record below .500 Sunday when the Minnesota Vikings come to town to conclude a three-game homestand. After that, the road becomes bumpier than at any other point this season with a Monday night road game at NFC North-leading Detroit, a Sunday night home finale against AFC East-leading New England, and a regular-season finale in Cincinnati.

The Ravens hold the one-game edge over all No. 6 seed contenders after Miami, but they’ll still need to win three of their final four to get to the 9-7 mark, a standard that would very likely put them in the postseason. An 8-8 record could still conceivably land the No. 6 seed in the AFC, but such a path will depend on tie-breakers and considerable help from other results.

The good news is Baltimore appears to be getting hot at the right time. After winning two straight for only the second time all season, the Ravens are back at .500 and are on the verge of getting tight end Dennis Pitta back to provide a boost to a below-average offense. Experience is certainly on their side as they can simply point to last year to remember it’s all about clicking when the stakes are at their highest.

However, these Ravens are also 1-5 on the road and figure to need to win at least one of their final two road games. Only one of Baltimore’s six wins — their Nov. 10 home win over the Bengals — has come against teams currently holding a winning record and only one other victory — an Oct. 6 win at Miami — came against a team at the .500 mark.

The Ravens believe they’re getting better and are peaking at the right time. They’ll have every opportunity to show that in the month of December.

Their playoff lives will depend on it.

“We are in position to control our own destiny,” Harbaugh said. “That is what you try to accomplish going into December, so we’ve accomplished that. Now it’s up to us to make the most of it and to go ahead and control our destiny, win the games we have to win, starting with this one – and this is the only one that matters right now – and take it from there.”

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Ravens center Birk walks away after 15 NFL seasons, first Super Bowl triumph

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — After a 15-year NFL career and finally winning a Super Bowl earlier this month, Ravens center Matt Birk figured it was the perfect time and setting to reveal he was walking away from the game.

In lieu of a fancier press conference at the team’s Owings Mills facility next week, the 36-year-old offensive lineman announced his retirement on Friday morning while dedicating a literacy center at Battle Grove Elementary School in Dundalk. Wearing a t-shirt with the slogan “Finish Everything,” Birk couldn’t specify a time when he made his final decision but spoke to head coach John Harbaugh for roughly an hour last weekend and said he hadn’t made up his mind at that point. He phoned the coach and general manager Ozzie Newsome on Thursday afternoon to reveal his decision.

Taking questions from the Battle Grove students before opening up to the gathered media, Birk was asked why he was retiring. The quick-witted center didn’t disappoint in laying out his answer.

“Why am I retiring? I’m old, I have six kids, and it’s just time. I really enjoyed football. I got to play for a long time. I’ve been very fortunate, but I just feel like it’s time to do something else.”

Birk spent the last four seasons with the Ravens after playing for his hometown Minnesota Vikings for the first 11 years of his career. Named to six Pro Bowls in his career, the Harvard University graduate was selected in the sixth round of the 1998 draft and earned his first championship in being part of the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3.

It was the perfect ending for a career that began with Birk struggling to make the Vikings’ 53-man roster in 1998 and ended with the grizzled veteran celebrating with teammates and his family on the turf of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans after finally reaching the pinnacle of the NFL for the first time.

“You can’t ask for anything more,” said Birk, who went to work out at the Ravens’ practice facility a final time Friday morning. “It is a great way to end it, but like I said, no one’s entitled to a Super Bowl. Certainly not me. I was just so grateful and fortunate that I was able to be part of this team. It is a special team and the run that we made — the championship that we won — is something that I’ll never forget. I was telling [Harbaugh], you get a reason to come back and get together and relive those days. You’re forever linked, and that’s pretty cool.”

Despite playing well this past season, Birk was expected by many to retire to spend more time with his family as the father of six children. He said Friday that his wife Adrianna had offered her blessing for him to continue playing if he wanted to return next season. Birk signed a three-year, $8.525 million contract after contemplating retirement last offseason, but the deal was structured in a way that many expected the longtime lineman to either retire or be released after the first year of the deal.

Asked whether he thought he had anything left in the tank to continue playing if he desired, Birk quipped that no one would be able to find out the truth.

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” said Birk as he laughed. “Anyone who wants to challenge me, yeah, I’ll tell them [I can still play] because there’s no way you’re going to find out. It was great. Last year, I felt great and that was a blessing. It’s a physical game; it’s a violent game. I was able to feel good about what I put out there on the field. It was just a good way for me to end.”

The Ravens will save $2.05 million in salary cap space with Birk’s retirement, which will provide some relief as they deal with limited space and hope to work out a long-term contract with quarterback Joe Flacco. Baltimore drafted Delaware’s Gino Gradkowski in the fourth round of last year’s draft with the intention that he’d eventually take over for Birk.

The retiring center expressed confidence that Gradkowski would be ready to take over at center in his second professional season.

“Gino will be fine. The biggest thing about football is it’s a character game because it’s hard,” Birk said of his 2012 understudy. “It’s different from other sports. Gino’s got that. He’s a great guy. Gino will do whatever it takes to be successful.”

Birk was named the NFL’s 2011 Walter Payton Man of the Year for his work in the community, which includes his HIKE foundation to improve literacy. His foundation’s goal is to “impact the lives of at-risk children by providing interactive programs and resources needed to guide a child through the key educational transitions between elementary, middle, high school and college.”

Several teammates expressed congratulations to Birk via social media on Friday morning as the veteran was considered one of the leaders in the locker room in a different way from the demonstrative and vocal leadership of Ray Lewis, who was the first member of the championship team to announce his retirement back in January.

Birk was touched by messages posted on Twitter from several teammates including Vonta Leach, Jameel McClain, and Torrey Smith.

“That means a lot,” Birk said. “You play the game for a lot of reasons, but the respect of your opponent and more so the respect of your teammates is probably the biggest thing you’re shooting for.”

Cognizant of player safety concerns in the NFL, Birk has said he will donate his brain to Boston University’s School of Medicine for research into concussions.

His post-football intentions remain unclear, but the Minnesota native predicted Baltimore hasn’t seen the last of him by any shot.

“I’ll continue to advocate for player safety and retired players’ rights — now that I am a retired player,” Birk said. “We’ll see. I don’t have any plans for what’s next. I certainly didn’t plan on playing football for 15 years. Kind of not having a plan has worked out for me so far. I’m going to stay with it.”

Making the difficult decision to leave the hometown team he grew up rooting for following the 2008 season certainly wasn’t part of any plan, but he was immediately impressed with Harbaugh’s vision for the Ravens despite the coach having only finished his first season in Baltimore.

It’s safe to say the gamble paid off in choosing a new football home after 11 seasons in Minnesota.

“At the time, I just said, ‘[With] the limited information I have about the Ravens, I’m going to bet on this guy and I’m going to come here,'” said Birk, who labeled Harbaugh a friend first and foremost. “I’m sure glad I did. From the beginning, the organization and the city just welcomed us with open arms.

“I don’t need to tell anybody what this team means to this city. It’s definitely a special connection. To have the honor of playing here for four years and playing under coach Harbaugh and his staff, it was truly an honor.”

 

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“The Reality Check” Final Regular Season Power Rankings

Posted on 02 January 2013 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Okay, so no Josh McDaniels. Umm…Marty-ball?

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

Mike Mularkey: “Are you sure you didn’t want to fire me?”

30. Arizona Cardinals (31)

I cannot believe they’re really considering hiring Todd Haley. OH.MY.GOD.

29. Oakland Raiders (29)

Now they get ready for their Super Bowl…the 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine.

28. Detroit Lions (28)

The problem for Jim Schwartz is that he’s a former defensive coach for a team that can’t play defense.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (27)

Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole tells us the Eagles could keep Michael Vick around if they hire Chip Kelly.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

While the Browns’ first choice is the same Chip Kelly, no one’s first choice EVER has been the Cleveland Browns.

25. New York Jets (23)

QUARTERBACKS FOR SALE!!!!!!!!!!

24. Tennessee Titans (25)

Check back in with me in five minutes to confirm Mike Munchak still hasn’t been fired yet.

23. Buffalo Bills (24)

I think a Ken Whisenhunt/Russ Grimm combo would be a good fit there.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (22)

Do you focus more on what went wrong? Or do you focus more on how to build off of seven wins?

21. Miami Dolphins (17)

At least they have a quarterback.

20. St. Louis Rams (18)

Are they as close as their record would make you believe?

19. San Diego Chargers (21)

If Peyton Manning isn’t in the AFC West, they win the thing and save Norv Turner again.

18. New Orleans Saints (16)

I’ll go ahead and assume they win 13 games next season.

17. Carolina Panthers (19)

By keeping Ron Rivera, they’d give up potential “most desirable location” status for coaches.

16. Pittsburgh Steelers (20)

If they had a healthy Ben Roethisberger for 16 games they would have won the division. Unless the Ravens had a healthy Suggs/Ngata/Webb/Lewis. I guess what I’m saying is that it doesn’t matter.

15. Dallas Cowboys (13)

What the eff do you do here?

14. Chicago Bears (14)

I’d want this job.

13. New York Giants (15)

“Hynocerous” is one of the Top 5 nicknames in football this year.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 17 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 27 December 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (32)

Who’s a fit here? Josh McDaniels?

31. Arizona Cardinals (31)

At this point I have to assume Whisenhunt is gone. Players openly bitching there.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (29)

I can’t wait until they go 7-9 next year and somehow make the playoffs with Tim Tebow as quarterback.

29. Oakland Raiders (30)

I ASSUME Dennis Allen is safe, but you absolutely never know.

28. Detroit Lions (27)

But that was at least fun to watch Saturday night.

27. Philadelphia Eagles (28)

Nice of them to give Michael Vick a farewell show.

26. Cleveland Browns (26)

I honestly wouldn’t want the job of having to solve this puzzle.

25. Tennessee Titans (25)

Jake Locker gets another year before he’s fully labeled a bust.

24. Buffalo Bills (24)

I really have nothing to say about the Buffalo Bills.

23. New York Jets (20)

HIGH-LAIR-EE-USS.

22. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (21)

I wish I had paid enough attention to the Bucs to know whose fault their collapse was.

21. San Diego Chargers (23)

“You think Jon Gruden would go there?” is the question you’ll hear most related to the Bolts in the coming weeks.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers (16)

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

19. Carolina Panthers (19)

Is the late push enough for Ron Rivera to keep his job?

18. St. Louis Rams (22)

They can finish ABOVE .500…

17. Miami Dolphins (18)

Please beat New England.

(Continued on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 7 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 17 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Kansas City Chiefs (31)

It was only a matter of time.

31. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

I STILL think they find a way into the bottom spot.

30. Cleveland Browns (32)

It must be a proud moment for whoever is actually going to still be around next year.

29. Carolina Panthers (27)

So…Ron Rivera thinks he knows what the problem is? I guess it will just be fixed tomorrow…

28. Oakland Raiders (26)

Perhaps Carson Palmer can start practicing tackling…

27. Indianapolis Colts (24)

I don’t understand. Should we have seen this coming?

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (28)

Calm down, they were playing the Chiefs. Everyone blows out the Chiefs, right?

25. Tennessee Titans (29)

We can’t thank you enough for that, Titans.

24. New Orleans Saints (21)

Market correction. I still think they’re on the way up.

23. St. Louis Rams (20)

Wait…Brandon Gibson?

22. Buffalo Bills (25)

I didn’t see that coming.

21. Miami Dolphins (23)

Best Dolphins quarterback since…Cleo Lemon, I guess?

20. New York Jets (22)

If they beat the Patriots…

19. Dallas Cowboys (16)

I probably dropped them too far. I don’t feel bad.

18. Cincinnati Bengals (14)

You can’t do that against the Cleveland Browns.

17. San Diego Chargers (13)

But at least it was hilarious.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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The Reality Check Week 6 NFL Power Rankings

Posted on 10 October 2012 by Glenn Clark

Glenn Clark’s Rankings…

32. Cleveland Browns (32)

But at least the folks in Cleveland have absolutely nothing else going for them.

31. Kansas City Chiefs (27)

They don’t have a very good quarterback, they don’t have a very good coach. They still nearly beat the Ravens.

30. Jacksonville Jaguars (30)

What do you think the Jags’ elimination number is?

29. Tennessee Titans (23)

Would they really listen to trade offers for Chris Johnson?

28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (26)

But technically in second place.

27. Carolina Panthers (24)

Just like we all none of us saw coming.

26. Oakland Raiders (25)

They DID still beat the Steelers though.

25. Buffalo Bills (20)

I hate myself for ever giving them the benefit of the doubt.

24. Indianapolis Colts (31)

The whole “I’m pulling like crazy for Chuck Pagano” thing kinda outweighs the whole “I really despise Indianapolis” thing.

23. Miami Dolphins (29)

Kinda hard not to buy into Ryan Tannehill, isn’t it?

22. New York Jets (19)

Kinda hard to buy into ANYTHING about them, isn’t it?

21. New Orleans Saints (28)

The highest ranking a 1-4 team could possibly have.

20. St. Louis Rams (22)

I get a funny feeling that without Danny Amendola it will be hard to stay there.

19. Detroit Lions (21)

They’ll start winning soon, right?

18. Washington Redskins (16)

And Mike Shanahan still thinks the option is a good idea.

17. Seattle Seahawks (18)

Everyone in the NFC West is over .500.

(16-1 on Page 2…)

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Your Monday Reality Check-A mountain of misinformation

Posted on 17 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

I honestly still can’t believe some of the things I read/heard/saw last week about Baltimore Ravens OT Bryant McKinnie.

If you missed it, McKinnie was not on the fall last week in Owings Mills during mandatory minicamp at the Under Armour Performance Center. When asked why McKinnie was not practicing, head coach John Harbaugh said “Bryant McKinnie is a guy that we held out just for conditioning purposes. We’re going to probably continue to do that and continue to try and get him in good shape. I think practice-wise, he’s just as well doing the conditioning part of it.”

Let me start this post by saying I fully understand a few things. One is that Harbaugh has never felt the need to share more information than necessary about any of his players. Another is that the information was new to reporters, so asking follow up questions might not have seemed pertinent. I wasn’t present at minicamp (media availability was scheduled during my radio show “The Reality Check” on AM1570 WNST.net each day) and was unable to fully grasp exactly what was going on.

With no media availability scheduled before the start of Training Camp, reporters felt it necessary to question Harbaugh later in the week for more information about McKinnie’s status. Unfortunately the coach was again vague, offering “we will leave that between us. That’s something that is an in-house type of thing right now. Bryant has done a good job, he’s worked hard. It’s not as simple as some of you guys want to make it. It’s just a situation where we are going to do what is best for the team, what is best for Bryant. We want him here; there’s no reason he wouldn’t be here. He has worked hard, so you try to do what’s most beneficial for every guy in every situation, and it’s always individualized.”

Now’s the part where I offer some examples of various stories I’ve read about Bryant McKinnie.

Here’s this from SI.com…

“Cut last season by the Vikings, Bryant McKinnie, who sat out Thursday’s practice, may be on the verge of extending an ignominious streak. Here is a player who has a history of being overweight and struggled with the same problem last season. He also reportedly has financial problems, yet can’t get into good enough shape to participate in minicamp. You have to question his commitment and when a team starts signing veteran offensive linemen and McKinnie gets held out of minicamp, it could be a sign of things to come.”

And this from SB Nation…

“The Baltimore Ravens gave veteran left tackle Bryant McKinnie a $500,000 roster bonus earlier this spring, but now might be regretting the outlay of cash. McKinnie came to Baltimore after the Minnesota Vikings cut him last summer for reporting to camp overweight. The Ravens rounded him into shape and he had a pretty solid year, allowing the team to shift Michael Oher over to right tackle and solidify that side of the offensive line.

McKinnie reportedly was on his way to getting in good shape earlier this year, but the most recent news was that the team held him out of the mini-camp this past week for “conditioning reasons.” This does not bode well for either the Ravens nor McKinnie.

Bryant is on the short end of a legal case where he defaulted on a $4 million loan he took out during the NFL Lockout last year and seriously needs a full season paycheck to pay it back. If he does not report to the Ravens Training Camp in six weeks in excellent shape, there is a very good chance that the team may decide to cut ties with him and let him go.”

Allow me to be fair again for a second. The SI.com blurb was a clear re-write with no author attached. While SB Nation does have a handful of experienced journalists and columnists, their sites are still largely made up of part-time writers/editors with no actual experience truly covering a team.

So perhaps CSNBaltimore.com’s veteran writer Ray Frager would be a better source.

“Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie’s conditioning issues have been a big part of the Ravens chatter over this week. There is speculation he is around that 400-pound summit that caused him to lose his job in Minnesota.”

Maybe even the Baltimore Sun’s Mike Preston would be a better option.

“The entire McKinnie episode is strange and you wonder if he is going to be around when training camp opens. Here is a player who has a history of being overweight and struggled with the same problem last season.

He also reportedly has financial problems, yet can’t get into good enough shape to participate in minicamp. You have to question his commitment and when a team starts signing veteran offensive linemen and McKinnie gets held out of minicamp, it could be a sign of things to come.”

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Panthers sign former Morgan TE Bryant

Posted on 12 June 2012 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE, Md. – Former Morgan State tight end Lamont Bryant has been signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Carolina Panthers and will take part in Carolina’s minicamp that begins today.
The 6-5, 225-pound Bryant started 11 games in 2012 and ranked as the team’s leading receiver with 21 receptions (371 yards) and two TDs. He capped the season by being selected to the All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference First-Team.
Bryant’s stock rose on draft boards with a standout performance at the Morgan State Pro Day held in March. Bryant measured in at 6’5, 225, had an 80 1/4″ wingspan, ran the 40 in 4.45 and put up 19 reps on bench. He also registered a 10’3″ broad jump, a ridiculous 43″ vertical jump, and ran the short shuttle in 4.38.
In 2010, he recorded five catches for 55 yards (11.0 avg) in eight games. In ’09, he caught 18 passes for 251 yards (13.9-yard average) and two touchdowns on his way to first-team all-conference honors in 10 games.
The Newport News, Va., native was moved from quarterback to tight end in ’08 and saw action in five games on special teams, where he blocked two punts.
The last MSU tight end to enter the NFL was Visanthe Shiancoe who was drafted in the third round (91st overall) in the 2003 NFL Draft by the New York Giants and currently plays for the Minnesota Vikings.

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Your Monday Reality Check-Shouldn’t Rice & Flacco deals have been done by now?

Posted on 04 June 2012 by Glenn Clark

It was as if there were some in the sports broadcasting universe that wanted to remind me that the Baltimore Orioles have been struggling mightily as of late.

Sure, they’re just one game out of first place at the time I type this, but the Birds sadly appear to be in a downward spiral that unfortunately most of us expected.

I’ve been a regular “Baltimore expert” for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio since the channel’s inception, and I rotate having conversations with hosts about the O’s and the Baltimore Ravens. When I received a call last week asking me to appear on the channel, I assumed the conversation would go in the direction of the O’s, as I’ve made about four Orioles-related guest spots already this season.

But when the producer asked me if I’d be interested in talking some Ravens football, I was admittedly caught off guard. “It’s still baseball season” I thought. Just one night later I received a call from another producer on the channel, also asking me to make an appearance to discuss the Purple & Black.

So on both Friday & Saturday night of this past weekend I found myself talking Ravens football across the country on SXM. It was perhaps the single greatest reminder that in Charm City, a “June Swoon” is a great reminder that Training Camp isn’t particularly far away.

As the 2011 football season ended, there were two main narratives surrounding the defending AFC North Champs. One was surrounding the pending free agency of RB Ray Rice. The other surrounded the future of QB Joe Flacco, who was set to enter the final year of his rookie contract. The Ravens’ season ended 132 days ago in Foxborough (at least as of the time I wrote this) and yet seemingly little progress has been made regarding either situation.

It leads to the question (at least for me), “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?”

ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio said in a recent appearance on “The Reality Check” (an excellent afternoon radio program on AM1570 WNST.net) that Rice’s agent Todd France was dead set on getting a deal similar to contracts given to Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson (seven years, $100 million with $36 million guaranteed) or Tennessee Titans RB Chris Johnson (four years, $53 million with $30 million guaranteed). The Ravens are believed to be more interested in a deal similar to those recently given to Philadelphia Eagles RB LeSean McCoy (five years, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed) or Houston Texans RB Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 guaranteed).

On top of that, a source with knowledge of talks revealed to me in recent weeks the Rice camp has a desire to see the running back’s deal exceed the overall value of Flacco’s.

A Carroll County Times report this weekend indicated the Ravens “aren’t anywhere close” to getting a deal done with Flacco. Flacco’s negotiating ability has been limited by the fact that contracts signed by quarterbacks not named Peyton Manning this offseason have been less than overwhelming financially. Manning landed a five year, $96 million deal, but if he’s healthy the Denver Broncos believe him capable of being Peyton Manning. The highlights of other QB contracts this offseason have been San Francisco 49ers QB Alex Smith (three years, worth up to $33 million with with $16.5 million guaranteed) and Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn (three years, $26 million with $10 million guaranteed).

Neither deal is helpful to Flacco’s agent Joe Linta, although despite all of the goofy conversation nationally about Flacco’s standing against other National Football League quarterbacks, there simply could not be any argument either of those two quarterbacks have accomplished as much as Flacco. Humorously, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo’s deal is up a season after Flacco’s. There had been rumors the Chicago Bears were interested in getting a new deal done with QB Jay Cutler, a decision that could have been helpful in figuring out the parameters of a Flacco contract.

Remember when I asked “what’s taking so long to get this stuff done?” Yeah, I’m aware that I’ve essentially answered my own question.

In both of my chats on SiriusXM this weekend I was asked what expected would ultimately happen with these situations. It was remarkably difficult to answer.

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