Saturday, March 28, 2009

After 25 years are you over the BALTIMORE Colts?


It was 25 years ago today when Bob Irsay, probably drenched in Beefeater and tonic, ordered the Mayflower vans to pack up his sorry excuse for a football franchise and move it to the land of Hoosiers, Mellencamp and race cars.

Twenty-five years is a long time and if you haven’t gotten over it by now, isn’t it about time?

I get that a drunk ripped out the hearts of many and robbed our city of a big part of its heritage while the league’s collective hands were tied. They stood by and did nothing.

NOTHING!

For 12 seasons we were left without NFL football. The USFL and the CFL marched through Baltimore. Insincere owners dangled their franchises with the sole purpose of gaining leverage as part of an attempt to achieve a more desirable goal than moving to the Land of Pleasant Living.

We were force fed the colors of burgundy and gold and subjected to wretched Redskins games when they played pathetic cellar dwellers like the then St. Louis Cardinals.

It sucked!

But it’s over…long over.

We have our memories and pictures and books and all of the memorabilia that fuels reminiscing. Hopefully memory lane will suffice because the reality is that is all you will ever get when it comes to the Baltimore Colts.

It might help those who aren’t “over it” to get over it if the Baltimore Colts were properly displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A couple of years ago we started a petition to present to the Hall that as of this writing includes nearly 29,000 electronic signatures. Several messages that I have personally left for officers of the Hall have been ignored. We will continue to try to have our voice heard and your electronic signature on our petition can certainly help. You can sign it here at Colts Heritage.

That said, for me I am way over it. I didn’t realize just how over it I was until the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl back in 2007. I didn’t care that they won and my apathy was clearly proof of that.

We have the Ravens now – the BALTIMORE Ravens.

No we don’t have the old name and colors and horseshoe and Irsay. Instead we have a new name and colors and a bird and Bisciotti. It’s a new era and together we are building a new heritage – Ravens Heritage.

This topic calls to mind an email I received from one of our site visitors during the first year of our inception. The gentlemen who sent the email shared that he and his Dad had a falling out and the two were estranged. Both dug their heels in the dirt and wouldn’t budge. Neither would accept blame as the days of silence between them turned to months and then years.

Upon hearing the news of Art Modell moving his Browns to Baltimore, the son bought two season tickets – one for himself, the other for his Dad. The son never called his Dad, he just mailed him the tickets.

During the inaugural game of the new Baltimore Ravens franchise, the son took his seat at Memorial Stadium unsure of his Dad’s attendance. Not long after taking his seat, the son’s father arrived.

A painful grudge that undermined the stability of a family was forgotten and a father and son relationship restored as a result of the Baltimore Ravens arrival.

Those who aren’t over the Baltimore Colts departure should take note.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Discussing Baltimore hate: Colts v. Steelers as Silver Anniversary of Colts' moves nears


This Saturday is March 28th and for those of you old enough to remember, it marks the silver anniversary of the Colts departure from Baltimore. Under the cover of a snowy night on March 28, 1984, Bob Irsay and his merry band of yes-men escaped to Indianapolis.

For those wounded by the move, has the pain subsided?

Have you moved on?

While listening to Rob Long’s show earlier this week on Fox 1370 Sports Radio, Rob raised an interesting question: “Do you feel more hatred towards the Steelers or towards the Colts?”

My guess is that the Steelers pump up your blood pressure far more than the Colts.

Rob leaned towards the Colts and stated that the venom directed towards Peyton Manning & Co. exceeded that directed towards Mike Tomlin’s crew. Rob’s measuring stick was the level of disappointment following the Ravens’ loss to the Colts during the Divisional Playoff in 2007 compared to the level of disappointment following the loss to the Steelers in the AFC title game this past January.

I completely and respectfully disagree with Rob’s assessment.

In 2006, the Ravens finished the season at 13-3. Heading into the playoffs many proclaimed them to be the 2007 postseason’s most dangerous team and they were hosting a team in the Indianapolis Colts that appeared to be a good matchup for the Ravens. Ravens’ fans expected a win and even looked ahead with hopes that the New England Patriots would defeat the San Diego Chargers so that Baltimore could host the AFC Championship Game.

It didn’t happen.

To make matters worse, the Patriots did beat the Chargers.

Conversely no one expected the Ravens to be remotely near postseason play in 2008-09.

And when they did make it, every win seemed like a bonus for a team already playing with house money. So when the Ravens ultimately lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the third loss against the Steelers during the same season, most fans got what they expected.

After the loss fans were consoled by the fact that their expectations were far exceeded in 2008-09.

No the bitterness of the loss did not approach that of the loss to the Colts in January ’07. But it had nothing to do with hating the Colts more than the Steelers. Nothing!

It had everything to do with the level of postseason expectation.

Ravens bring in some interesting players


Count the Ravens among the teams that are interested in West Virginia quarterback Pat White. Many see him as a hybrid player suited for some version of the Wildcat scheme. The guess here is that the Ravens are attracted to his outstanding athleticism and they’ve tied his future success to the position of wide receiver. As we witnessed last year, the Ravens are afraid to use their Wildcat in meaningful games.

It’s interesting that the Ravens are having Western Michigan safety Louis Delmas in for a visit. Yes he is the consensus top-rated safety, running a 4.52 in the 40-yard dash and registering a 37-inch vertical leap at the NFL scouting combine. But do the Ravens really need a safety, particularly one that could be selected on Day 1 of the 2009 Draft? If the interest is sincere one has to wonder if the team has lingering health concerns about Dawan Landry and/or Ed Reed.

Steelers' Tomlin puts voodoo on Ravens

Last year Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin looked into his crystal ball and what it told him was that the Cleveland Browns would win the AFC North Division. We all know how that turned out. This year he has directed his voodoo towards the Land of Pleasant Living.

"You have to like Baltimore," Tomlin said when asked for a prediction yesterday. "They won 11 games last year with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback. They have a good football team. They have a great defense, they have a quarterback who proved he's their quarterback of the future, he's a guy on the rise. You have to respect that."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Baltimore Ravens fans are the best, Samari rolls on...


Newly acquired nickel back and kick returner Chris Carr certainly knows how to warm his way into the hearts of Ravens’ fans. During a recent conference call with the Baltimore media, Carr commented on his decision to play for the purple and black.

"I just always had a feeling about Baltimore and how it would be cool to play for them," Carr said. "Playing in Baltimore, the two times I've played there in my career, I was like, 'Man, these are the best fans.' There's no better place to play."

Speaking of playing in Baltimore, the Ravens are moving in on free agent offensive tackle Orlando Pace. According to one source, the Ravens are in the driver’s seat for Pace, “if they want him.” Word is the Ravens would like to replace Willie Anderson with Pace if they can make the numbers work. The team is concerned about Anderson’s blossoming waist line.

If Pace does become a Raven, he’ll be forced to do something that Adam Terry has struggled with – move from left tackle to right tackle. Jeremy Green, the director of pro scouting for Scouts Inc. not only thinks that Pace could play right tackle, he should play right tackle at this point in his career.

“I think he could play right tackle and it might almost be better for him to play right tackle. He's not going to be as physical in the running game as you might like, but he's also not going to be facing the opponents' best speed rusher like he was on the left side. He has really struggled with some guys that can really rush the passer. It was getting to the point where guys were running around him. But even if he's at 80 percent, I think he can handle the guys on the other side. You could do a lot worse than having a player who is 80 percent of what Orlando Pace once was, especially on the right side.”

My colleague Michael Popovec wrote today about the importance of depth at the position of cornerback. Clearly the Ravens have struggled with that due to injury over the past couple of seasons. Mix in Fabian Washington’s propensity to miss plays while under the care of the medical staff on the sidelines for intermittent minor nicks and depth becomes an even bigger issue.

But I have to disagree with Michael’s position on Samari Rolle. To pay Rolle $4.1 million to be a nickel just doesn’t make any sense regardless of the need for depth. Moreover, Rolle really isn’t built to be a nickel at this point in his career and he’s not dependable enough to be a starter. Age has taken away some of the fluidity in Rolle’s hips and that is a vital trait for nickel backs taking on slot receivers.

I do expect the Ravens to add depth to the secondary via the draft but not necessarily on Day 1. The matchup of their draft board and available players when Ozzie is on the clock will determine that. That said, keep this name in mind (except when traveling through Cleveland’s airport) – Derrick Martin.

Martin played extremely well during camp last August and prior to his injury he was the best reserve corner in preseason contests. He has fully recovered from his labrum injury so look for D-Mart to provide quality depth for secondary coaches Chuck Pagano and Mark Carrier.

Should the Ravens go WR with pick No. 26?

Wide receiver is clearly a need position for the Ravens that will be addressed in the upcoming draft. The question is “When?” The Ravens currently have the No. 26 pick in the draft and many mock drafts have them selecting one of these three collegiate receivers: Darrius Heyward-Bey Percy Harvin, or Hakeem Nicks.

The position is one of if not the most difficult position to project to the professional level and consequently there have been more wasted first day picks on receivers than nearly every other position. Teams that select first round receivers almost seem compelled to put the player on the field to start their rookie campaigns and that’s a tall task.

Effective NFL pass catchers must be able to grasp new and expanded playbooks, read defenses and make pre-snap adjustments that parallel the same adjustments made by their quarterbacks. It takes time and until it really clicks in for the young receivers, they won’t play as fast – slowed by the mental processing that takes place immediately before and after the quarterback says, “Hut!”

To challenge a draft prospect on a cerebral level and determine their mental processing prowess, NFL scouts subject draft eligible players to the Wonderlic Test. A score of 17 is considered average for a wide receiver. Heyward-Bey scored a 14, Harvin a 12 and Hakeem Nicks an 11.

Comparatively speaking the other projected first round choices at the position, Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin scored 15 and 27 respectively. Draw your own conclusions…

Darrius Heyward-Bey seems to be the preferred choice for the Ravens by the local fan base. He has all of the desirable measurables (save the Wonderlic) that teams look for in a receiver: size, strength and speed. But his production at Maryland is questionable at best.

Defenders of Heyward-Bey might successfully explain away the lack of productivity and point to things like inconsistency at quarterback. Still his inability to dominate given his ideal physical skills will give NFL GM’s pause and the pause may lead to a pass on DHB when teams are on the clock during Round 1 come April 25.

North Carolina Tar Heel Hakeem Nicks was far more productive in the ACC than DHB and his style of play is very reminiscent of Michael Irvin. Nicks ran a 4.49 forty at the combines but chose not to run during his pro player day at the university. Word is that Nicks put on about 14 pounds during the three week period between the combines and his pro day in Chapel Hill.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Are Todd Heap's days in Baltimore numbered?



Some folks have questioned the Ravens decision to acquire TE L.J. Smith and it begs the question, “Why?”

The Ravens need three tight ends. Dan Wilcox has hardly been the model of health, he’ll be 32 in three days and his contract has expired. Last season Wilcox’ cap figure was $1.092 million. The contract for the soon to be 29 year old L.J. Smith (May 13) carries a $1.5 million figure.

In 39 games over the past three seasons Smith has 109 catches for 1,145 yards and 9 scores. Wilcox has played in 32 games during that same stretch and collected 31 catches for 203 yards and 6 TD’s.

The move to get Smith (the Eagles’ franchise player in ’08) qualifies as a no brainer!

And it raises concerns about the future of Todd Heap in Baltimore.

Comparatively speaking during that same three year stretch (2006-08) Heap has played in 38 games hauling in 131 passes for 1,407 yards and 10 TD’s. Heap’s cap figure is a whopping $6.37 million in 2009.

Could Heap’s days in Baltimore be numbered?

Keep in mind that Heap hasn’t exactly been near the top of John Harbaugh’s Christmas card list. The two have been seen in the past on the sidelines exchanging some unpleasantries.

If the Ravens release Heap, they would realize a cap savings just under $1.1 million. Can Heap’s productivity be replaced for $1.1 million? Exactly how valuable were his 35 catches for 403 yards during his 16 starts in ’08?

As it stands today, Heap will more than likely be a Raven in ’09.

But if Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew is the Ravens’ highest rated player on the board when they are on the clock with pick No. 26, do they take him?

And if they do, will we then have heard the last of “HEEEEEEEEAP!” at M&T Bank Stadium?

You might want to hold off buying a new Heap jersey for yourself or a loved one…
Photo by Sabina Moran

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When it comes to the Ravens' Ring of Honor quality should reign over quantity


Ever get tired of all the Ring of Honor discussions and what former or retired Raven should be in that Ring? I know I do but yet here I am pecking away at the keyboard drudging up the topic again.

Yesterday I happened to be listening to The Bruce Cunningham Show (thank God for Mark Zinno) on 105.7 The Fan and the topic was brought up and this time the former Ravens in question were Chris McAlister and Brian Billick.

The aforementioned Cunningham initially suggested without hesitation that both should go in the Ring while Zinno leaned towards neither candidate being worthy. Cunningham later retreated on McAlister faster than you can say Ronnie Prude. As for me, I’m with Zinno – neither belongs in the Ring!

Before you get your panties all in bunch, let’s retreat for a moment and touch on what the Ring should signify…

It should be an award of distinction for unique and exemplary accomplishments. It should represent greatness in achievement that approaches excellence. It should acknowledge uncommon feats.

Now the first thing you need to do while gauging future inductees is cast aside the notion that the measuring stick for the Ravens Ring of Honor is Earnest Byner. That’s a joke – an egregious error on the part of Art Modell who immediately cheapened the distinction for all Ring inductees after Byner. So let’s just kick his induction to the curb and call it a momentary lapse of reasoning.

The members of the Baltimore Colts in the Ravens Ring…they don’t belong there either. Great guys, great accomplishments – not Ravens. Maybe they should have designed wall plaques for the honored former Colts and hung them around Unitas Plaza. They were Colts, not Ravens and they don’t belong in the Ravens’ Ring – period, end of story!

Michael McCrary…terrific work effort, an overachiever and a Baltimore blue-collar guy and I love him on my team but was he great? Do two Pro Bowl seasons qualify you as uncommon?

I get and support Art Modell’s inclusion in the Ring. I believe he should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame so of course he belongs in the Ring.

Four-time Pro Bowler Peter Boulware was a terrific player and an exemplary man off the field and in the community. But I don’t even think he deserves to be in the Ring.
Jon Ogden – no brainer. He should have been the standard upon which all future nominees would be measured.

Chris McAlister…c’mon! A great talent no doubt, but a classic underachiever and hardly a model citizen. How did McAlister distinguish himself? Will we think of him as being in the same neighborhood of excellence 20 years from now?

Brian Billick…interesting debate here but I say thumbs down as a Ring inductee. Billick did an outstanding job in 2000 by keeping his team focused on short term goals the entire season. Accomplishing those goals led to a World Championship. But what did he do before or since that is so distinguished? Does riding the coattails of an amazing defense qualify as excellence? What about wasting several years of standout defensive play with substandard offensive play?

Am I glad Billick came along?

Absolutely!

He brought attitude and resolve to a franchise that sorely needed it at the time but does that make him great?

No it doesn’t. How does a coach who is fired with four years remaining on a five year contract deserve to be in the Ring of Honor? Are honorable coaches fired?

As for future candidates, there’s Jamal Lewis. I say pass…too much drama, a relative train-wreck off the field and he’s done nothing but trash the organization since he’s been gone.

You know when you stop and think about it, there should be Arthur B. and J.O. for now and that’s it!

Ray and Stover, when their numbers are called – automatic inductees.

The same can be said for Ed Reed.

After that, time will tell.

Until then, let’s remember what the words “honor” and “distinction” really mean not just today but forever.

Will the accomplishments of the inductees stand the test of time and resonate in Baltimore’s sports eternity?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

BLACKBIRD SINGING: CMac to Pittsburgh? Ravens to host "terrible" corner?

GIVE ME VENGEANCE, BLACK & GOLD…"CMac to the Steelers", so we’re told by WNST’s Drew Forrester. Sources close to 24x7 suggest that Chris McAlister made the comment in a Reisterstown, Maryland pub for all those within earshot to hear. McAlister expressed frustration about his release and in a vengeful kind of way suggested that what better way to get back at the Ravens than to wear the colors of the Pittsburgh Steelers and play for the veteran minimum. One source claims that McAlister after being reminded that such a move would actually upset the fans more than the team, dissed the suggestion. That said, if CMac did don the black and gold, the Ravens should quickly sign Marvin Harrison, a player McAlister has always struggled with.

TICKING AWAY THE MOMENTS THAT MAKE UP A DULL DAY…If you are a NFL Draft aficionado and you look at Saturday April 25, 2009 as your own version of Christmas Day, well the opening of the presents will have to wait just a little longer. Word is that the draft’s start time will be moved from 3 PM (which by the way was moved last year from noon) to 4 PM EDT. The good news is that teams will have only 10 minutes to make up their minds when they are on the clock during round 1 (down from 15 minutes) and 7 minutes in round 2 (down from 10 minutes). Rounds 3-7 will be held on Sunday, April 26.

BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT…The Ravens are reportedly hosting a visit to Owings Mills today for Packers’ restricted free agent Jarrett Bush. When informed of Bush’s potential departure from The Pack TotalPackers.com (“TP”) emphatically replied, “It’s about f-ing time.” TP claims that, “Bush is, in a word - terrible.” The TP blogger goes on to write:

“Not only can he not cover an opposing receiver, but he consistently commits boneheaded penalties. Although he was the Packers’ second leading tackler on special teams (17) this past season, Bush also lead the unit in penalties committed (6).”

I’m wondering if Frank Walker put in a good word for Bush.

IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS, I’D BUY YOU A HOUSE…But it wouldn’t be Mike Vick’s house which is still available. The luxury crib in suburban Atlanta was up for auction and required a minimum bid of $3.2 million. Only two people showed up and neither had the prerequisite deposit of $160,000 to start the bidding. Go fish!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Darrius Heyward-Bey will NOT be the Ravens No. 1 pick!


If you are a big fan of Darrius Heyward-Bey (“DHB”) and you’d like to see him in a Ravens’ uniform next season, here’s a dose of reality for you – it ain’t happening!

No, I’m not suggesting that he will have been plucked from the board by a team selecting before the Ravens. What I am suggesting is that if DHB is still on the board at No. 26, the Ravens will pass on him faster than you can say Yamon Figurs.

And here’s why…

Based upon things that have been shared with me by team sources, the Ravens believe that their positioning in the draft forces them to think “double” or maybe “triple.” In other words, when selecting at the bottom of round 1, they can’t be thinking “home run.” They want a solid player who will contribute from day 1.

Therefore the measurables are not as important as durability, toughness, intelligence and productivity. Forty two catches in 12 games for DHB in ’08 isn’t too bad but I wouldn’t label it very productive. Twenty-six catches for 286 yards and 2 scores in 8 conference games isn’t a disaster but I wouldn’t call it first round worthy regardless of his time in the 40 yard dash and his ideal size.

I’m having a Vernon Davis flashback here…

Could DHB be a home run?

Maybe.

But he could also be a strikeout and when drafting that far down in Round 1, the Ravens can’t afford to miss. They will go with a sure thing regardless of need.

They did it with Ed Reed and he became a home run.

They did it with Todd Heap.

And they’ll do it again in 2009!

Is WNST a sinking ship?



Those who read this blog know that I have taken my fair share of shots at WNST – specifically majority owner Nestor Aparicio. For so many reasons – some of which I’ve blogged about, some of which I’ve alluded to and some of which aren’t appropriate for this forum he is an inviting target.

He claims to be a champion of Baltimore and then arrogantly turns his nose up at those less fortunate than himself as evidenced by his thoughts on homelessness in Baltimore.

He fancies himself as an upstanding member of the media but then engages in a senseless altercation on Media Row prior to Super Bowl XLIII embarrassing his employees and sponsors.

He organizes a senseless rally called Free the Birds, the alleged intent of which was to persuade Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos to sell the team without realizing that his true intent was blindingly transparent – a cheap publicity stunt to bring attention to him and his station. And then he wonders why he is blackballed by the Orioles.

Aparicio once told me that his staff at WNST is like family to him and that he is driven each day because he has mouths to feed – not just his but family members of those who work for him, a noble concept for sure. Yet when economic times are as difficult as they’ve been in decades, he fires a man who put in countless overtime hours for WNST; cultivated relationships with the Ravens and Orioles (something that Aparicio can only dream of now); and let’s not forget that said fired employee was as loyal as a best friend despite the many challenges and opportunities to betray such loyalty.

On Friday Casey Willett was fired by Nestor Aparicio.

No warning.

No severance to speak of at this time although Willett remains hopeful as do his wife and 5 children.

Now that’s nasty, a well-earned moniker for Aparicio.

Times are difficult and such times usher in difficult decisions. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle these things and Aparicio’s compassion or lack thereof is grotesque. He was as delicate as a chainsaw during a circumcision.

Casey Willett is a good man, a first class guy who served in the U.S. Army for 6 years and as a medic at Walter Reed Medical Center. He will survive and when the dust settles, he’ll be far better off. In this I have no doubt!

As for WNST, who knows…

I’m disappointed that the WNST we used to know and love is nothing more than a memory. It was once the “station with balls” and now they are just the “station with no heart.”

They once boldly pushed new boundaries in the local sports scene.

Now they are just a trail of broken glass and shattered dreams.

And that’s a shame, particularly for Bob Haynie, Drew Forrester and Ray Bachman who have all invested vast amounts of sweat equity into this now sinking ship.

Consider this fair warning gentlemen!

And tighten up those life preservers, something Casey Willett never had a chance to do.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Ozzie Newsome not yet finished with free agent market

When asked about the possibility of other free agent signings during the Matt Birk press conference, Ozzie Newsome made it abundantly clear that the Ravens were far from finished. He didn’t mention names, danced around the topic of Terrell Owens (more on that in a bit) and then said something that in my opinion summarized the team’s approach to free agency.

In so many words, Ozzie said that they are looking to augment their roster via free agency in a way that allows them to pick the best player available on their draft board come April 25 without having the influence of “need” force them to betray their board. In other words, they simply want to piece together their roster prior to the draft that allows them to pick the best players available regardless of position. And as we’ve heard Ozzie and Eric DeCosta say many times before, eventually all positions become a need.

That is a plan.

That is a strategy.

That is why Ozzie Newsome does what he does and writers and fans do what they do.
The choices and decisions that the Ravens make are free of emotion, just as they should be.

While listening to today’s presser I was reminded that acquiring new talent is just one way that a team gets better. John Harbaugh pointed out that all the players and coaches are studying how they can improve upon what they do. Part of the roster may be stagnant and 80% of the faces will be the same. That doesn’t mean that the production has to be the same from that 80%. Coaches will look to get more out of their players and they will demand more from themselves. They will challenge each other.

It is all part of a process and the process can’t be judged until Harbaugh names his 53 man roster in September and regular season play resumes.

And when play resumes, don’t expect the Ravens to have Terrell Owens on their sideline.

Last year, the Ravens walked and talked team. The lived and breathed it and even chanted it: “What’s our name? RAVENS!”

During today’s presser, Harbaugh and Newsome commented on the talent and the character of the newest Ravens, namely Domonique Foxworth and Matt Birk.

Quality players, quality men.

Those are great shoes if they fit. Owens couldn’t make them fit with all the shoe horns in Nordstroms.

And if you are among the minority that sees a Ravens’ team need and sees Owens as a solution just remember this, John Harbaugh was on Andy Reid’s staff when Owens rolled his drama tour through Philadelphia.

He’s already seen that movie before.

Why go again when you already know how the story ends?

Ravens score with a winner in Matt Birk


I just finished watching the Matt Birk press conference and I can’t help but think that some things happen for reasons.

I like Jason Brown. I like his smarts and his leadership. I do think his game is a tad overrated at the moment but that’s not to say that he can’t become a Pro Bowl caliber center. In fact I think he will become that player.

Matt Birk already is that player – a Pro Bowler. Plus he’s a Harvard Grad and was the leader of one of the game’s best offensive lines in Minnesota. Centers can go at it for quite a while in the NFL so age shouldn’t really be a factor given the 32-year-old Birk’s 3 year deal – a deal mind you (3 years, $12 million) that is dwarfed by Jason Brown’s 6 year, $37.5 million deal.

Keep this in mind too... Brown was a fourth round pick. What’s to say that Ozzie Newsome, Eric DeCosta and Joe Hortiz can’t find the next Jason Brown in the 2009 NFL Draft? And this time around, the newly drafted center will have a player who just might have put the “M” in mentor to help bring the young player around.

Yet this signing begs the question why – why did Birk pick Baltimore over Minnesota? Here’s a guy who was born and bred in Minnesota and has been a career long Viking. He is a decorated player with 6 trips to Honolulu on his resume. His story is somewhat Ripken-esque.

He has four young children and anyone that has elementary school children and toddlers knows that it’s hard to uproot them and even more challenging to find the infrastructure – the support system to care for the children in the event Mom wants to have some semblance of a life outside of being a parent or if Mommy and Daddy want to have a quiet dinner in Little Italy at LaScala Ristorante.

Was it the money?

Don’t think so. From what we’ve been told Minnesota was offering money comparable to the Ravens and what Birk received from Ozzie Newsome almost seems like chump change given the deals of Jason Brown and Jake Grove (5 year, $30 million deal that includes $14.5 million guaranteed).

Maybe Birk didn’t want to play in a crappy dome any more.

Maybe he likes the Chesapeake Bay.

Perhaps he doesn’t like Vikings’ head coach Brad Childress.

Did someone say Super Bowl ring?

However you look at it, the move qualifies as a win-win. The Ravens get a solid player who once took on Shaun Rogers twice annually when Rogers was with the Lions. He is a great signal caller on the line and he’s an outstanding human being.
Birk might not be the mauler he once was but he could help the youthful talent that will line up to his left (Ben Grubbs) and right (Marshal Yanda) next season.
Good things happen to good people.

Things happen for reasons.

Tired clich├ęs for sure but would anyone be surprised if one day Matt Birk hoists the Lombardi Trophy and emphatically claims, “This is why I came to Baltimore!”

The big free agent signings get the media’s attention but it’s signings like Matt Birk’s that helps win championships.

Score one for Ozzie.