Wednesday, April 22, 2009

WNST = We Never Stop Texting...or shameless self promoting


Since WNST craves cheap publicity, let me play the philanthropist here and give them even a little more. Apparently they need it.

I subscribe to the station’s text messaging service. At one time it was a rather handy tool particularly when traveling. Now, the text messaging service amounts to nothing more than a platform for shameless self-promoting and a running joke amongst intelligent fans and members of the media. Anyone with a Blackberry or similar device could do far better without the false alarms. Count the boy who cried wolf among WNST fans.

Of course it could be said that many at WNST are immune to shamelessness, starting at the top of the AM 1570 food chain. One only needs to consider the Free the Birds campaign and the regular pity parties thrown before and after the Bob Haynie show.

Is it really necessary to send an alert to subscribers that Matt Wieters left a AAA game in Norfolk with a sore hamstring? What’s next, Brian Roberts up all night with heartburn?

These guys will stoop to any level for a crumb of attention…

Now Drew Forrester, the station’s Apostle Peter, is trying to attract eyeballs to WNST’s website by emphatically stating the club’s draft day wish list for pick No. 26 (according to a Ravens’ “staffer”) in order of importance: Brandon Pettigrew (TE, OSU); Rey Maualuga (ILB, USC); Larry English (DE, N. Illinois); Hakeem Nicks (WR, UNC); and Kenny Britt (WR, Rutgers).

As if Ozzie Newsome and Eric DeCosta would tell him…

Who is the random “staffer” in Owings Mills, the janitor?

Would Forrester really expose a "solid" source? I think he's smarter than that.

Yet Forrester’s blog post, as solid as a hollow chocolate Easter Bunny, brought eyeballs into WNST's website which by the way (in case he didn’t remind you incessantly) you can find on WNST.net.

Speaking of corralling eyeballs, what do you think about this American Idol-like contest that Nestor Aparicio (aka the King of Shamelessness) is promoting like a parrot on crack? They claim to be searching for new bloggers and hosts for their site and station yet they fire one of the more upstanding and loyal guys ever to work for WNST in Casey Willett -- without notice!

And if WNST genuinely needs to replace Willett why not look to the capable Thyrl Nelson or Mark Suchy and promote from within?

The answer is obvious!

Ryan Seacrest Aparicio and his rapidly crumbling operation are all about the cheap publicity stunt.

Do these contestants really think Aparicio cares at all about them?

Well he might just as long as they bring a couple of new sponsors to WNST.

Think I’m taking a cheap shot?

Just ask Casey Willett or Aaron Wilson or Rob Long or Jeremy Conn or Terry Ford.

They'll happily serve up the truth and that’s something you won’t find on WNST.net.

Yet I'm sure you will get a text at 7 in the morning claiming otherwise.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boldin's route to Baltimore has road blocks


Much attention has been given to the potential trade between the Ravens and the Cardinals for Anquan Boldin. The Ravens are unlikely to part ways with a first and third round pick this year, particularly given the shape of the 2009 NFL Draft.

The Ravens are believed to really covet their positioning in this year’s draft given the number of value picks that should be available to them at No. 26. The players projected to be drafted between picks 10-25 aren’t materially better than the players that should be on the board for the Ravens yet they will cost significantly more to sign.

Also indirectly affecting any swap of picks for Boldin is the trade that took place over the weekend between the Eagles and the Bills. To land Pro Bowl tackle Jason Peters the Eagles parted with a first round and a fourth round pick in ’09 as well as a conditional pick in 2010. Clearly there is far less room for error when trading for a two-time All Pro 27-year-old left tackle than for a three time Pro Bowl wide receiver who will soon be 29.

Left tackles have far more career longevity; they are more adaptable to a new offense and they are arguably more vital to a team’s success. If the Bills couldn’t land a first and a third for Peters, it’s doubtful that anyone else will pay more for Boldin despite the philanthropy demonstrated by Jerry Jones in 2008 when he gave up a first, second and sixth in the ’09 draft for former Lion Roy Williams.

If Boldin is traded to the Ravens, the bet here is that it will take something less than a No. 1 & No. 3 to get Ozzie to pull the trigger.

Some, citing the Cardinals need for a running back have suggested that the Ravens trade Willis McGahee and a pick to Arizona for Boldin. Yeah and I’m sure that the Cardinals can’t wait to inherit a Ravens’ problem. Let’s call a spade a spade. The Cardinals are cheap and if they weren’t, they’d probably pay Boldin and everyone would live happily ever after in the desert.

So why would they take on McGahee’s work ethic issues and his fat contract?

The answer is they won’t.

Plus even if the Cardinals wanted McGahee, the Ravens can’t afford to part with him. No, that is not a typo. The Ravens cannot afford to trade Willie Mac. If they did the team would be hit with a staggering $11.25 million charge against their cap and if you haven’t looked at the Ravens cap status lately, they have but a fraction of that available ($1.5 million).

Sorry folks if the Cardinals want a Ravens’ RB, it won’t be McGahee even if he does make Cardinals’ head coach Ken Whisenhunt’s heart go aflutter.

Oh but you say why don’t the Ravens extend Terrell Suggs to a long-term deal and free up some space to bring in Boldin and/or to rock you out a Hurricane, right?

Not so fast…

Sources have indicated that the Ravens have extended an offer to Suggs that would pay him fairly and place him among the highest paid defenders in the league. If the Ravens don’t get Suggs extended this year, 2009 will probably be the linebacker’s swansong season with the club.

Don’t know if you saw the NY Times article on Ozzie Newsome but it’s worth checking out. The article supports the notion that Ozzie is among the best if not the best GM on draft day. Interestingly the article also accounts some draft day discussions from 2008 between Ozzie, Eric DeCosta and Steve Bisciotti. The Ravens believed that drafting Joe Flacco at No. 8 would have been a bit embarrassing so they traded back to No. 26. DeCosta was confident the Ravens would get their guy at 26 but Bisciotti wasn’t willing to take the risk and so they moved up to 18 to get Flacco.

Perhaps that was the origins of Whacko for Flacco.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Expanding to 18 games could upset the NFL's competitive balance


Roger Goodell’s determination to add two regular season games to NFL schedules is interesting to say the least. Like everything else that inspires action on the part of the NFL, money is the motivator.

Goodell is championing his cause by siding with the fan, claiming that it isn’t fair for the Average Joe sitting in his expensive seat to fork over full price for a less than full preseason product. But that’s just a smoke screen. What the league really wants is more money from TV and extending the season two more weeks can potentially grow the NFL coffers even more.

On the surface such a move should be rewarding to NFL fans. The month of February is perhaps the worst on the sports TV calendar so why not enhance it with meaningful NFL games?

However if Goodell successfully achieves the prerequisite vote from the owners, it could tilt the balance of power in the NFL.

The league’s salary cap for each club grows as the league’s revenues grow. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, each cannot exceed the salary cap but perhaps more importantly, they are required to spend a minimum percentage of the cap. Most recently that percentage was 86.4%.

Now if the league expands to 18 games, the revenues will grow and so will the cap. Teams might also have to expand rosters from 53 to perhaps 60 players since the risk of injury increases with the added games. Players will also want bigger salaries to compensate for the extended work.

It all adds up.

Eventually the cap will swell to such proportions that the small market teams, perhaps even the mid market teams like Baltimore will hover around the salary cap minimum because the burden of the increasing cap jeopardizes their profitability. They will be at a distinct disadvantage.

With the likely expansion of rosters, more resources will have to be poured into scouting and coaching – perhaps the respective team headquarters will require expansion along with administrative personnel placing additional pressure on teams’ income statements. Gradually, the big market teams will pay the most; employ the best coaches and most efficient scouts; and field the deepest rosters.

How long before Pete Rozelle’s dream of a league of parity is shattered?

Ravens should steer clear of Boldin trade winds


Could Anquan Boldin help the Ravens? Absolutely!

Should the Ravens make a serious play for Boldin’s services? Absolutely not!

In order to dress Boldin in purple it will cost the Ravens a first round pick and a third round pick. Then once the swap is complete Boldin’s agent Drew Rosenhaus will hold the Ravens for ransom until a new deal is worked out assuming he hasn’t taken them to the cleaners prior to such a trade.

What might Rosenhaus demand for his client?

More than likely he’ll look at the money given to Larry Fitzgerald to start the conversation. Clearly Boldin is no Fitzgerald and the sides would probably settle on a deal somewhere between Fitzgerald (4 years, $40 million, $30 million guaranteed) and Bills’ receiver Lee Evans (4 years, $37.25 million, $18.25 million guaranteed).

Boldin will be 28 in October. Over the course of his six NFL seasons he has played in all 16 games only twice averaging 13 games played per season. During his last four campaigns Boldin has hauled in 345 passes for 4,496 yards and 31 scores.

Comparatively speaking over that same span, Derrick Mason has racked up 337 catches for 3,947 yards and 15 touchdowns – a difference of 2 catches, 137 yards and 4 TD’s per season.

And Mason hasn’t had the luxury of playing opposite Larry Fitzgerald in a wide open offense.

Those who argue that Boldin can still be productive without Fitzgerald drawing away coverage will point to Boldin’s rookie season in ’03 prior to Fitzgerald’s arrival. Then Boldin had 101 catches for 1,377 yards and 8 TD’s. Clearly an outstanding season but one needs to keep in mind that the Cardinals were 4-12 that season and dead last in points allowed in the league surrendering 28.2 points per game. It’s safe to say the Cardinals played catch up often scoring 227 points less than their opponents that season. It’s safe to assume that Boldin’s statistics were inflated while facing soft prevent defenses.

Take away Boldin’s familiarity with the Cardinals’ offense.

Take away Pro Bowl QB Kurt Warner.

Take away Fitzgerald and slot receiver Steve Breaston.

Could he still put up Boldin-like numbers?

Maybe, maybe not.

But even if he does, is he worth the cost of a first and a third round picks plus $25million in guarantees? If he’s averaging just 13 games per season as a No. 2 receiver what happens when he gets the attention of a No. 1 receiver?

The consensus among Ravens’ fans is that the team can’t get it right when it comes to drafting a wide receiver or developing one, preferring instead to acquire an established player and plug him into the roster.

But why can’t the organization get better at finding the right receiver? Apparently they’ve improved at finding a quarterback. Today the scouting department and the coaching staff works closely together when evaluating talent and finding the right fit. When Brian Billick was the head coach, he was a bit condescending towards the scouts and that created a slight divide between scouts and coaches.

The vibe is now more harmonious and that improves their chances of a hit on a wide receiver. Who’s to say that Hakeem Nicks or Kenny Britt can’t be the next Anquan Boldin? And if either is as productive as Boldin the costs are much more favorable as is the player’s longevity. In 2008 the 26th pick in the draft cost $11.4 million over 5 years with $6.5 million guaranteed. That’s a far cry from what Rosenhaus will demand for Boldin.

Plus the team gets to keep a third round pick.

And let’s not forget that Terrell Suggs will eventually need his long-term deal and Haloti Ngata will need an extension as well. Oh and there’s this guy named Flacco. If he becomes the quarterback we all think he could be, Flacco is going to cost a pretty penny down the road as well.

In the long run there are better ways for the Ravens to improve their passing game starting with a pass on Anquan Boldin.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Boller stands to gain if he stands on the sidelines



It’s been said time and again that Kyle Boller was very much a lightning rod here in the local sports scene. Mention his name in a crowded sports pub and you might trigger an earthquake-like crack in the foundation – one side consisting of the Boller bashers and the other the Boller huggers.

For what it’s worth I don’t think Kyle Boller will ever be anything more than a decent back-up quarterback. That’s my head talking.

The heart hopes that Boller finds his way to those lofty projections established by his long-time coach Brian Billick.

But I’m not holding my breath…

If nothing else, Boller was a class act. He willingly accepted blame even in the somewhat rare instances when he was not at fault and he spread the praise in those even rarer instances when he was responsible for a Ravens’ win.

As he departed Baltimore, he remained consistently classy.

"I had a great time there. I still think it's a great city," Boller told The Sun in his first comments to the Baltimore media this offseason. "I'm going to miss [owner] Steve Bisciotti a lot, and I'm going to miss my teammates. It's definitely different to be gone. But at the same time, it's very exciting for me to have a fresh start. I think it's going to be a great opportunity for me here."

Some might say that Kyle Boller never got a chance to be Baltimore’s franchise quarterback. They would be wrong. Forty-two NFL starts while supported by the league’s best defense during his term as a Raven suggests that Boller had more than ample time to develop and prove himself.

He never markedly improved. I would challenge anyone to watch tape of Boller and point to the noticeable differences between his rookie season and any season since. He’s made the same mistakes over and over and over.

The huggers will say that Boller had a poor offensive line. Why then was Jamal Lewis able to gain over 2,000 yards during Boller’s rookie season in a very one-dimensional offense?

Why is it that in 2006 Steve McNair behind the same offensive line that protected Boller in 2005 was sacked just 14 times during 468 pass attempts in 2006 (once every 33.4 attempts) while Boller went down 42 times in 2005? Subbing for McNair in ’06 Boller went down 3 times in 55 pass attempts (once every 18.3 attempts).

The answer of course is fairly obvious – he lacks pocket presence and his hyperkinetic personality isn’t a natural fit for the position quarterback in the NFL.

Recently departed Jason Brown, prior to Boller becoming his teammate again in St. Louis and during his introductory press conference with the Rams had this to say about the beleaguered signal caller.

"Kyle Boller with the Ravens, I love him to death. But you see what getting hit one too many times early in your career can do to you. He became gun shy.“Instead of getting the ball and standing back there with poise and then being able to step up, if there was a flash of anything, something, it might have been far on the edge, he was like ... and he started to scramble."

Of course Brown did some back peddling when he learned that Boller was about to meet him in St. Louie.

Good luck in the “Show Me” State Kyle. If you are smart, you’ll happily carry the clipboard and remain the outstanding teammate that you are. If so, you stand to make a lot of money and have a long career hovering beneath the radar screen as a back-up.

2009 Draft could signal the end for Heap and McGahee in Baltimore


The Ravens are very comfortable with the 26th pick in the draft and they are supremely confident that a player will fall to them who will be a productive contributor from Day 1. I’ve been told that the club sees very little separation in ability from the 10th player on their board to the 30th player. The added value in that of course is that the Ravens don’t have to pay their first pick as much money as the 15 picks preceding them given the league’s obsolete slotting system.

With that in mind, don’t be shocked to see the Ravens trade back if they are offered a sweetheart deal by another club. You may recall that the Ravens traded away an early round 2 pick in 1999 to the Atlanta Falcons for their No. 1 in 2000 which eventually became the fifth pick in the draft, Jamal Lewis.

While on the subject of running backs, it would not surprise me to see the Ravens take a running back in the second round. While most believe a new collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) will happen before the 2010 season, if that falls through next year will be a cap free season meaning the Ravens could dump Willis McGahee and his salary without negative cap implications. Word is that if the Ravens were entering the 2009 season as a cap free campaign, McGahee’s bags would be packed faster than you can say “missed voluntary work outs.”

Brandon Pettigrew visited the Ravens recently and rumor has it that the team likes the draft’s most complete tight end from OK State. Initially most thought that the Ravens would have virtually no chance to draft Pettigrew at No. 26 but after poor 40 times during the combines, some have him falling to the Ravens and beyond.

If the Ravens call Pettigrew’s card, might that signal the end for Todd Heap?

From sex sells to a real dumba$$


The Sun’s David Steele weighed in today with his thoughts on the Ravens’ relative lack of national exposure given the fact that they made it to the AFC Championship game last season. Steele suggested that fans want offense and the Ravens are considered a defensive team. I wrote a column called “Sex Sells” during the Ravens 13-3 2006 campaign suggesting the same thing as Steele.

You can find it here and I dare you to tell me that you don’t agree!

That said, let’s face it folks, the Ravens for years have played a bland, boring brand of football and if you really weren’t a fan of the team, would you really want to watch them? C’mon be honest…

I don’t know about you but I have a Google Alert that points me in the direction of Ravens news. I don’t have the time to read all the stories, just the ones that capture my attention. Today something popped up that jumped off my laptop’s screen and sucked me in. It was a link to a blog entitled, Dumbass of the Week – Cleveland Browns.

So I hit
the link and the blogged opens up this way – verbatim:

There is a report that the Cleveland Browns is looking to trade Braylon Edwards. Edwards who at 6″3 and weighs 220 pounds. Is the Browns best threat in scoring in the passing game. But Edwards had a down season last year and now the Browns think that trading this guy with all this talent is the thing to do to the Giants. The Giants may give up a 1st round pick but Edwards puts the Giants right back into the hunt for another superbowl. The city of Cleveland who haven’t won any title sine the 1940’s and with dumb ass moves like this you see why.

And this writer has the stones to call someone else a dumbass?

He better recognize!

Adam Schefter to ESPN...John Madden to pasture


According to ProFootballTalk.com several league sources have indicated that NFL insider Adam Schefter will join ESPN later this year. (Yawn) Excuse me but what’s the big deal? Let me put Schefter’s current job in perspective for you. Wouldn’t you expect the public relations director of Under Armour to know about a new UA product announcement before the media and the general public learned about it?

Of course you would.

Schefter is the NFL’s mouthpiece. He works for the league (at least until his contract runs out in August). Shouldn’t he beat his competitors to the punch with breaking stories? And let’s not forget that when he speculates and a story hasn’t been served up to him on a silver platter he isn’t all that accurate. Remember his breaking story that suggested Ray Lewis would not be returning to Baltimore?

Speaking of the NFL on TV, the iconic John Madden is parking the Madden Cruiser and he’ll step down from NBC’s Sunday Night broadcasting booth. Here’s to NBC recruiting Troy Aikman to replace Madden. Aikman is the best analyst in the game and it’s not even close.

The Ravens 2009 schedule seems fair and balanced from my vantage point. And by all means count me among those who don’t give a rat’s hind parts that they have only 3 nationally televised games this year as of this writing. Seven of the team’s eight scheduled home games are 1 o’clock starts and as KC & The Sunshine Band once drilled into our heads, that’s the way I like it!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Sports do not build character...they reveal it


The title of this column comes from the legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Think about that for a moment – “Sports do not build character. They reveal it!”

Character is something that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has carefully and masterfully instilled in his team. The challenge was difficult – the slope steep and slippery. Harbaugh inherited a collection of extremely talented players that formed a somewhat fractured team.

Brian Billick enabled individualism and cliques and a locker room segmentation of “haves” and “have nots.” Of course that wasn’t Billick’s intention but with the relative lap of luxury that he extended to his players, he fostered and created something that Harbaugh found to be quite disturbing.

Harbaugh’s changes were swift and cutting. He reconfigured the locker room; extended training camp; limited practices without pads while dialing up the intensity and physicality; no longer could veterans sleep at home in their own beds during camp; “I” was checked at the door in exchange for “we.” Under Harbaugh the team would come first.

“What’s Our Name?”

“RAVENS!”

Character has a lot to do with why the Ravens hired John Harbaugh yet Harbaugh’s arrival wasn’t the start of the organization’s focus on character but rather a continuation of what Ozzie Newsome and Steve Bisciotti started.

Ask Director of Personnel Eric DeCosta what characteristics he looks for in a player and he’ll recite words like: toughness; smart; productive; fast; passion; high character.

Look at the players the Ravens have drafted with their first pick since DeCosta assumed the reigns of Director of College Scouting from Phil Savage: Mark Clayton; Haloti Ngata; Ben Grubbs; Joe Flacco. Is anyone worried about these players in the off season? Are you concerned that any would skip workouts or report to the team out of shape?

Gone are the days of the Corey Fullers and the Chris McAlisters.

The Ravens are looking for a few good men – men of character.

The philosopher Novalis once wrote, “A character is a completely fashioned will.”

Think about that one!

I’m sure Ozzie and DeCosta will be thinking about it come April 25, the first day of the 2009 NFL Draft.

There are many players scattered around draft boards. The lines have blurred that separate pick 15 from 32 and in many instances character could elevate a prospect. It could also drop one.

General Managers whose jobs are largely vested in the draft particularly in this age of the salary cap are under the microscope. They must perform and they can’t afford to swing and miss.

When deciding between players who are nearly equals on the field, character may cast the deciding vote because GM’s need to know that their choice is dedicated to the team and that they have the will to improve and the determination to excel.

Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith visited the Ravens this past week. Smith, the Outland Trophy award winner, is dropping on draft boards like a bank stock on Wall Street. A look at the tape will show a player arguably the safest pick in the draft and at one point was projected to be the draft’s first pick by the Detroit Lions. But a series of questionable decisions by Smith raise serious questions about his character.

And judging from his picture above and his extremely poor conditioning, one has to question his will.

Why would a player whose dream is to be a highly paid NFL player throw it all away when he is on the doorstep of millions and no less than a top 5 selection in the draft? It’s the equivalent of taking a rest ten yards before breaking the tape at the finish line of a marathon?

Is he that unconcerned?

What is going on in his head?

And what will he do once he actually becomes a highly paid professional? Does he snap out of it or does it get worse?

Is this the kind of passion that DeCosta seeks?

Smith was once not even a remote possibility for the Ravens at No. 26 in the draft but now who knows? He could fall that far and history supports that notion. Hall of Fame talents like Warren Sapp and Randy Moss plummeted on draft day due to character related concerns.

Would the Ravens even want him at No. 26?

They aren’t sure and that is why he visited this week.

Another player with similar questions of character also visited the Ravens yesterday, wide receiver Hakeem Nicks from the University of North Carolina. Nicks looks like a tough player and he was productive at the college level. He is also a player that most believe will be available for the Ravens at No. 26 yet his weight gain (15 pounds) between the NFL Combine and his pro player day raises concerns.
The time between the Combine and his pro day left Nicks with 3 weeks to stay in shape. Apparently a daily trip past the drive thru window at Burger King was far more appealing than trips to the gym.

Imagine acing a college course only to skip your final exam. Just pass the exam and then punch your ticket for that dream job. Instead you skip the exam, stay at home and participate in a Krispy Kreme marathon.

What does it say about his character? How does it shape his will?

DeCosta has employed baseball terminology to label a prospect using “double”, “triple”, “home run” to describe picks.

“I’d probably rather hit a double, honestly, than aim for the fences”, DeCosta said recently.

I wonder how he would now categorize Smith and Nicks?

If their recent behavior is any indication about true character, both could be closer to strike outs than a double.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Ravens can't keep Pace with Bears, K. Gregg ready to fight?


So Orlando Pace signed with the Chicago Bears to protect newly acquired quarterback Jay Cutler. You have to give Pace credit for his steadfast determination to play left tackle in the league again. He wasn’t going to get that opportunity in Baltimore. The Ravens have the league’s best value at left tackle and if his progress continues, Jared Gaither should be protecting Joe Flacco’s blindside for a long time…Back to the Bears, two first round picks, a third round pick and Kyle Orton for Cutler and a fifth round pick? Time will tell who ends up as the winner of that exchange but on the surface, I say the winner is Denver particularly if they parlay those first round pick in Ozzie-style. By the way, is Jay Cutler a big crybaby or what?

Speaking of crybabies, Nestor Aparicio continues to whine about not having a press pass for Orioles games. Look if you protested your neighbor’s behavior by wearing T-shirts and creating a self-indulgent website that said Free the Neighborhood, would you expect said neighbor to invite you in for a steak dinner? Ray Frager got it right today when he suggested, “Hey, Orioles, give him a press pass. At least then we don't have to hear about it anymore.”

I feel you Ray…

During a momentary lapse of reasoning, I checked in to Limited Access with Aparicio yesterday and he surprisingly said one thing during the middle of yet another pity party on WNST that actually made me laugh when referring to MASN as Mr. Angelos & Sons Network.

Staying with the radio dial for a moment, I was disappointed to hear that Bruce Cunningham was pre-empted this week on 105.7 The Fan to make way for Orioles’ spring training games this week. I couldn’t wait to hear another of the aforementioned Mr. Cunningham’s diaper tales. Hey maybe soon he’ll graduate to in depth coverage of Kingsville T-ball or maybe a review of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn…Props to Rob Long on delivering an educational exchange with Loyola College men’s basketball coach Jimmy Patsos regarding the recruiting process. Check out RobLongShow.com
to get the podcast of the interview.

In an ideal world on draft day, I’d like to see the Ravens trade back from No. 26 and nab Kenny Britt. He might not be the 26th best player on the board but from what I’ve been told, what I’ve read and what I’ve seen of Britt, he has tremendous upside and it’s difficult not to draw physical comparisons to Terrell Owens. Keep in mind that Ravens’ offensive assistant Craig ver Steeg coached Britt at Rutgers in 2006 and 2007. The drama will unfold on April 25, 2009.

Kelly Gregg is back on track and will return to the Ravens’ defensive line rotation which from this vantage point will be the best in the NFL. Recently The National Football Post’s Jack Bechta had an interesting story on Gregg which is a must read for Ravens fans. I “betcha” you’ll enjoy it. (Rimshot please!) It includes a challenge to Brock Lesnar.

Samari Rolle could return to the Ravens after all. There isn’t a big line forming to sign the recently released cornerback and that probably won’t change any time soon if at all. More than likely Rolle will remain on the outside looking in until after the NFL Draft…Dawan Landry signed his restricted free agent tender yesterday. The tender offer made by the Ravens was viewed by some as a bit risky because it was the low tender and to sign away Landry it would have cost the acquiring team just a fifth round pick (Landry was a 5th round selection in 2006). Of course the Ravens could match any offer made to Landry but in the end, they’ll get value in the 1 year, $1.01 million restricted free agent contract…Ed Reed is one of 9 finalists to grace the cover of Madden 2010. So far only he and Adrian Peterson have been named finalists. The other 7 will be announced shortly and the “winner” will be named on Friday April 24, 2009, the eve of the NFL Draft.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Mike Tomlin ridicules Harbaugh, Heyward-Bey sets 40 mark


Now that the preseason schedule has been set the Ravens have named their preseason broadcast team. Last year the club used the WBAL Radio feed for the games shown on WBAL TV and MASN. Recognizing the inefficiencies of that format, the team has opted to bring in Orioles announcer Jim Hunter as the play-by-play man and they are turning to Tony Kornheiser for color commentary.

Speaking of TV broadcasts, the NFL has announced their prime time games and the Ravens are looking at three. The Ravens will host a Monday Night game against the Denver Broncos and they will be on the road for Sunday Night games against both the Chargers and the Patriots. Dates have not yet been announced.

Mike Tomlin was recently on record endorsing the Ravens as the AFC North favorites: "You have to like Baltimore. 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."

What wasn’t reported was the context of Tomlin’s comments…

Apparently the Steelers’ skipper made those comments on WISH 99.7 in Pittsburgh, a station known for its crotch humor. Word is that Tomlin mocked the Ravens and referred to their head coach as John “Softbaugh.” It didn’t end there. Tomlin later added some derogatory comments about Joe Flacco’s “eyebrow” and suggested that he try some Nair to split the “uni-brow.”

WNST has heavily promoted their website as of late and they are now leading with the web and not their rodent powered radio station. Rumor has it that station management is close to selling the 1570 location on the dial to a company owned by Dr. Phil McGraw, more popularly known as simply “Dr. Phil.” Insiders expect the new station format to be mental health and wellness, aka psycho-babble. WNST.net still plans on broadcasting their sports programs via the internet.

Darrius Heyward-Bey according to some sources had fallen out of favor with the Ravens’ scouting staff until his recent private workout with the team. The word most often used to describe DHB’s effort during the workout was “spectacular.” One source said that Heyward-Bey ran a blistering 4.1 40-yard dash and caught every pass thrown his way by Joe Flacco including a breathtaking one-handed toe tapping grab at the back of the end zone.

The Ravens Ring of Honor has certainly fielded more than its fair share of criticism, some of it from this very keyboard. According to one source the Ravens have been listening and apparently they agree with the critics.

Current members in the Ring except for Jonathan Ogden will be placed in a newly established group of distinction called the Inner Circle. The Ring of Honor will from this point forward include only perennial Pro Bowl players or those who like Ogden are sure-fire Hall of Famers.

Jason Brown’s new contract with the St. Louis Rams has yet to be approved by the league and if it isn’t approved by the time of the NFL Draft, some sources believe that Brown will be returned to the Ravens. If this happens, Brown will receive a one year contract equal to the average of the top 10 paid centers in the league. Should Brown return to the Ravens, look for a draft day trade between the Ravens and the Rams that might involve a swap of first round picks.

While we’re on the topic of the Ravens and Rams, insiders say that Torry Holt would already be a Raven if not for the contractual demands of Derrick Mason. Apparently if he isn’t extended at least one more season, Mason will retire should Holt arrive with a contract that is two years or longer. Until Mason’s contract is addressed, Holt who is a good friend of Mason’s will not visit Baltimore

Some stadium news…the Ravens are among the teams being considered to “host” a regular season game at Wembley Stadium during the 2010 season and that is something that is likely to upset PSL owners particularly during a season when ticket prices are normally held steady. You may recall that the team typically increases prices in odd numbered seasons.

M&T Bank Stadium is set to be the locale for the sequel to The Replacements which starred Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman. Both are said to be returning to star in the follow up which carries the working title, “Replaced Again.” Filming for the movie is scheduled to begin this October and there’s a chance that a scheduling conflict could arise with the Ravens. If that happens, Steve Bisciotti (who apparently will profit immensely from the film) and Orioles owner Peter Angelos have worked out an agreement to allow the Ravens to play at Oriole Park. As a final note on the filming of Replaced Again, word is that Bisciotti opted for the film instead of an M&T Bank Stadium date for U2. I guess he found what he was looking for.

Finally, Joe Flacco is expected to throw out the first pitch during Opening Day on Monday at OPACY. The Ravens signal caller is set to wear the new road jersey emblazoned with Baltimore on the front and the number 5 with B. Robinson across the back. Don’t be surprised to see Ed Reed joining Flacco wearing number 20 with F. Robinson along his shoulders. Reed is a very accomplished baseball player and some have even suggested that given his neck and shoulder nerve impingement that he take the game more seriously and take a swing (pun intended) at being the Baltimore area’s first two-time professional athlete. The buzz around Owings Mills is that Reed is seriously considering doing exactly that.

Happy April Fool’s Day!