Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Bowe doesn't know code

Back during the dark days when Ravens fans searched under any rock even remotely connected to the NFL for a new wide receiver, the name of Dwayne Bowe popped up regularly. Count me among those who actually supported such a move to get Bowe who at one time reportedly could have been had for a second round pick.

Bowe has recently cloaked himself in a shroud of controversy and now if you can believe ESPN the Magazine he's accessorizing the shroud with more cover ups.

Back in May Bowe is on record (again according to ESPN the Magazine) saying, "My rookie year, we were playing in San Diego.

"You hear stories about groupies hanging out in hotel lobbies, but some of my teammates had it set up so there was a girl in every room. The older guys get on MySpace and Facebook a week before we go to a city; when a pretty one writes back, they arrange to fly her in three or four days in advance. They call it importing."


I wonder how many of the Chiefs' players had some 'splainin' to do to their wives or significant others?

But since the interview was published, Bowe has claimed that he didn't say it, he was taken out of context, his thoughts were twisted, yada, yada, yada.

Now ESPN the Magazine Editor in Chief Gary Belsky released a statement on Bowe's denials and has hinted that there's a lot more and a lot worse comments on tape originating from Bowe.

"As we have said, we will happily allow Mr. Bowe the chance to listen to our recording of his interview, in the event he forgot that he made these comments," Belsky said, via Sports by Brooks.

"He has not asked to do so. Despite his persistence in denying having made these comments-unfairly damaging the reputation of one of our best writers-we have consistently avoided releasing the audio from his interview to spare him and others further embarrassment, specifically because the on the recording he offers more lurid details than we published and because he named several teammates as having participated in the off-hours activity in question."

This thing if Bowe allows it to perpetuate could split the Kansas City Chiefs or it could force the team to move Bowe.

I bet the Chiefs can't wait for their next road trip to San Diego.

Wonder how many of the wives will opt to go to that game?

Steve McNair, a year later

On July 4 it will be one year since the tragic death of Steve McNair. Perhaps like many of you I attended a holiday party, the spirit of which was heavily dampened as the sad news spread.

I recall on the next day I was interviewed by Delmarva ESPN Radio’s Shan Shariff and asked about my first thoughts upon hearing the news…

“I thought first about McNair’s family – his four boys and his wife and I can’t imagine the pain they must be feeling. I then wondered how and why someone who to the outside observer had it all could even put himself in such an uncompromising position.”

Almost a year later, those thoughts haven’t really changed.

Generally speaking, we are a forgiving society and as time goes on we tend to remember the good things and allow them to outweigh, perhaps even conveniently remove the bad things from our memories.

But in the case of Steve McNair, I hope that everyone can learn from his deadly mistakes as well as his kind, caring and giving ways. Clearly he was a torn man. One with a wonderful heart and soul yet tortured by his demons and those demons ultimately led to his demise.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

WNST continues to crumble

Back in a day Nestor Aparicio could bring it. He had the Baltimore shtick down pat and in many ways he was the spokesperson for the typical Baltimorean who reveled in embracing the underdog, black sheep of the family, ugly stepchild persona.

He delivered attitude, smack talk and proudly carried Charm City's inferiority complex banner for all of us.

He was once Baltimore to the core.

Slowly but surely he developed a following; and then his own radio station; and then an entire roster of competent sports talkers.

They understood what it meant to be a fan because they were all fans and while ego was always an issue for the diminutive Dundalkian, it never seemed to get in the way - at least for the listening public. Through hard work, an understanding of their customer and talent they were able to deliver a unique and desirable product despite their hamster powered AM signal.

But one day, Aparicio started to sniff himself a little too much and he really liked the aroma, you know sort of in a two dogs getting to know each other kind of way.

His ego became the 800 pound gorilla in the room, one that no longer was big enough for Terry Ford, Jeremy Conn, Rob Long, Bruce Cunningham, Aaron Wilson, Casey Willett, Bob Haynie and now Ray Bachman.

It wasn't that long ago that Aparicio was touting Bachman as the station's MVP. So after that and 14 years of dedicated service Bachman gets kicked to the curb.

Maybe such dedication doesn't fit the WNST business model any more.

Today the station and its affiliate website seem to be little more than a divorced wives club and all its members, instead of whining about their ex-husbands, they bitch and moan about the Orioles. Aparicio has invested an obsessive amount of time and energy criticizing the "very available man" Peter Angelos and in the process he's actually taken all of the Orioles owner's worst qualities and trumped each and every one.

In many ways WNST has become the Baltimore Orioles of sports talk radio.

The only difference is that one has cash flow and the other is flowing in a downward circle around the drain.

And in the end, we'll all have lost something through this slow death that was once a valued part of Baltimore's slice of Americana.

They really were once very good and they were the "station with balls."

Today sadly, they are little more than the station with PMS.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Ravens, David Reed and Jerry McGuire

The Ravens have agreed to a three-year contract with fifth-round wide receiver and kick returner David Reed. The deal includes a signing bonus of about $134,000 and the standard base salaries of $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011 and $490,000 in 2012.

Some may see the signing as a threat to underachieving WR's Mark Clayton and Demetrius Williams but the reality of the signing is that it's merely a formality. The deal on the surface might look like a $1.34 million deal but the Ravens are only on the hook for the signing bonus should Reed fail to make the team.

Our own Aaron Wilson is reporting that Tavares Gooden has switched representation from Drew Rosenhaus to Tony Fleming from Impact Sports out of Boca Raton, FL. Fleming was Gooden's original agent out of the University of Miami.

The inside skinny on Rosenhaus is that he is a volume agent. In other words he takes on many clients and encourages them to settle quickly. Rosenhaus has been fingered by some for prioritizing his own aspirations over those of his clients.

I guess he never read the Jerry McGuire mission statement.

Bulger's new deal with Ravens

With Marc Bulger's new deal, the Ravens will pay him $3.8 million in 2010. Some might say that's a bit of a stretch for a backup QB but let's face it folks, QB is by far the most important position on the field so why not have a capable backup who is playoff battle tested?

The Sun's Jamison Hensley pointed out that Bulger's $3.8 million outpaces Joe Flacco's 2010 salary of $2.78 million. What Hensley either overlooked by mistake or intentionally to get a rise out of fans is that Flacco's 2009 "salary" from his rookie contract was $1.535 million but with incentives Flacco's W-2 reached $8.6 million, according to the USA Today.

Heading into his third season and with an improved set of offensive weapons it's safe to say that Flacco's earnings will leave Bulger's in the dust barring injury.

The Bulger acquisition certainly raises questions about Troy Smith and John Beck who apparently aren't very highly regarded by the Ravens' coaching staff. Both are slated to earn a tad more than $1.1 million in 2010 and undoubtedly one of them will never see those restricted free agent dollars from Steve Bisciotti.

But which one will it be?

Well the Ravens will have the luxury of using both arms during the dog days of summer and let the two duke it out and help the team answer the question, "Who wants to be a Ravens' millionaire?"

Don't be surprised if neither makes the team.

The Ravens might want the money and the roster spot and may be confident enough that they can find a QB in an emergency situation on par with the talents of Smith or Beck. Who knows, either of the two still could be available later in the season.

And let's be real here, if the Ravens have to us either of these inexperienced signal callers anyway, would the season still bear hope?

It's a bit interesting that the Chicago Bears didn't make a play for Marc Bulger. Given Bulger's ties to Mike Martz one might safely conclude that the fit was a natural. Could Martz know something that the Ravens don't?

This loose connection between the Ravens and the Bears could come into play again should John Harbaugh decide to part ways with Smith and/or Beck. Lovie Smith and Martz might see the pair as intriguing backup prospects in the Windy City.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Can Walt Harris find his fountain of youth in Baltimore?

Back during the offseason of 1997 the Ravens attempted to address some serious concerns at the position of cornerback. To help in that regard the team dipped into the free agent market and signed Rod Woodson who had just finished a subpar season with the San Francisco 49ers.

The move at the time seemed to be a bit of a reach particularly when the 49ers signed free agent corner Antonio Langham who the Ravens were all too happy to remove from their roster.

Langham struggled mightily in Baltimore so naturally the two moves combined raised serious doubts.

Why would the 49ers make no attempt to re-sign Woodson yet they were all too eager to make Langham a rich man?

Woodson had a so-so year at corner for the Ravens in 1998 and after the team drafted Chris McAlister, Marvin Lewis did the sensible thing and put the former All Pro corner's football acumen and willingness to deliver a blow to work at safety. Woodson went on to be a Pro Bowler for the Ravens during his final three seasons with the team, 1999-2001.

Yesterday the Ravens signed another free agent corner who is a former Pro Bowler, Walt Harris. Now Harris is a bit long in the tooth and he'll celebrate his 36th birthday during training camp in Westminster. But in short spurts maybe Harris can play. Club insiders believe that he is an upgrade over the more youthful Frank Walker but then again, some cynics might say that a folding chair is an upgrade over the former Raven.

That said, maybe like several before him Harris can play better as a Ravens defender than he did with his prior club. Besides Woodson, Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, Tommy Polley, Trevor Pryce, Mike McCrary and Corey Harris come to mind.

Every now and then you get lucky by taking a shot with former Pro Bowlers like Harris.

Come to think of it, the Ravens have added a few other former Pro Bowlers in Ken Hamlin, Shayne Graham and Marc Bulger.

Who knows, maybe they'll get "lucky" again.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ravens bigger, better with Bulger

If you are looking for someone who can escape even the highly skilled and intuitive eye of 24's Jack Bauer while on a top secret reconnaissance mission, well that guy just might be Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome.

Did anyone see the signing of QB Marc Bulger coming?

Upon first hearing the news I immediately blasted a few text messages to confirm and provide insight to the report - a report which even after rehashing several times still seemed hard to believe.

After the move to get Bulger soaked in a bit it I reached the conclusion that the acquisition was no less than a stroke of genius. And perhaps even more importantly for Ravens' fans it suggests that your team really has its collective eye on the ultimate prize being awarded in Dallas in February.

You hear the Ravens, more specifically Ozzie, often recite the team credo, "right player, right price." Yet it is rare, perhaps even unprecedented that the team has been willing to invest $3.8 million in a backup quarterback particularly when the starter has never missed a game.

But the more you ponder the move, the more brilliant it seems.

Critics will argue that the team should have invested the money in a pass rusher or a cornerback.


Name one pass rusher or corner on the market today who can be had for a 1 year, $3.8 million deal who is better than what the Ravens already have on their roster. Any that might be able to make as big of an impact as Bulger?

Go ahead, I'll give you a month to contemplate that. You'll need the time.

And while you're chewing on that, think about this too...

What would be more damaging to the Ravens post season aspirations? An injury to Joe Flacco or an injury to backup corner Chris Carr subbing for recovering Fabian Washington?

Do you really think that Troy Smith or John Beck could keep the Ravens' offense moving? Apparently the Ravens don't.

Last season one of the best kept secrets (there goes that Ozzie again) was the extent of Flacco's injuries. He was beaten up from the Vikings game forward. To his credit Flacco did not use his physical shortcomings as an excuse for poor performances down the stretch.

Might the Ravens have been wise to rest Flacco and allow his injuries to heal at least partially?

Perhaps but that assumes they had at least some confidence in Smith or Beck.They don't!

Enter Marc Bulger.

Smith apologists will argue that if given the chance he would be more than adequate as a starter. Really? I guess that's why the Browns opted for the great Seneca Wallace over Smith.

During the 2007 season, Brian Billick called upon Smith to start twice - once against the Seahawks and once against the lame duck Steelers in the '07 finale. The Ravens lost in Seattle 27-6 and they squeaked by a Pittsburgh team (27-21) that mailed it in and had nothing to play for since their playoff seeding was already set regardless of that game's outcome.

With Bulger the Ravens get a quality quarterback who is a two-time Pro Bowler and one who has played a significant amount of meaningful football. Had he been the backup in '09 it's quite possible that the Ravens would have rested Flacco in order to rest his ailing body a bit.

But because Smith and Beck are NOT as capable as Bulger, they asked Joe the QB to suck it up, they shot him up and sent his bruised and battered body out on the field to manage the game.

Bulger brings experience. He could potentially be a mentor for Flacco.

Could Smith or Beck offer that?

Does it really make sense to have three quarterbacks on the roster who are so close in age?

Bulger is also very familiar with the Ravens offensive system, one that is very similar to the Mike Martz system both of which have roots steeped in the Ernie Zampese/Norv Turner schemes.

And let's not forget that Bulger is just flat out better than either Smith or Beck and consequently the Ravens just got better at the most important position on the field.

So for everyone who thinks the Ravens are better off with Dre Bly or Ty Law coming off the bench at corner over Marc Bulger at quarterback just ask yourself this question...

Without Bulger on the roster, what season ending injury would worry you most, one to Joe Flacco or one to Fabian Washington?

Oh and let's not forget that by obtaining Bulger, the Ravens eliminated another option for the Steelers should more trouble surface in Pittsburgh.

Somewhere Jack Bauer is tipping his cap to Ozzie.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ravens just got better with Hamlin signing

Yesterday the Ravens signed Ken "Hammerin'" Hamlin to a one year deal. Hamlin is a punishing tackler who aggressively supports the run (although he can get trucked on occasion - see video below @ 4:19 mark). He can also separate a receiver from the football (just ask Anquan Boldin and Donte Stallworth) when in position.

I did say "when in position."

Despite Pro Bowl honors in 2007 Hamlin isn't exactly a ball hawk but his addition to the Ravens roster boosts the team's depth and more than likely special teams' play.

Still the signing, if it doesn't raise an eyebrow it at least pushes the brow in a northerly direction, particularly when one considers that lack of quality depth at cornerback the Ravens could be facing when they start the '10 campaign. Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington while ahead of schedule in their respective rehabilitation regimens still could be on the shelf come September 13.

Don't be surprised if the team eventually makes a similar move at corner.

But back to the position of safety...

After a slow start in '09 Dawan Landry came on strong. Haruki Nakamura is far ahead of schedule in his recovery from a broken leg and he looks to be ready for the opener at the Meadowlands. Tom Zbikowski played well during Ed Reed's absences and the former third round pick is slowly shaping into the player the Ravens expected when they drafted the Golden Domer after Joe Flacco and Ray Rice in 2008.

Might there be a log jam at the position?

Are the Ravens preparing for the eventual departure of 2011 free agent Landry?

Could there be some quiet concerns about Ed Reed?

Ignoring the health issues of the six-time All Pro would be the equivalent of Ozzie Newsome sticking his head in the sand. Yet discussions of Hamlin as the eventual heir apparent to Reed are just plain silly. Their respective games are about as similar as Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain.

They are just different players.

But adding Hamlin provides some flexibility. The Ravens could manage Ed Reed's season in a way that preserves and protects the team's rangy centerfielder. Maybe he gets the day off when the Ravens take on the likes of Cleveland, Carolina, Tampa and Buffalo - teams that aren't exactly aerial juggernauts.

Whatever the motive, the bottom line is the Ravens just got a little better by adding Hamlin. They improved the level of competition at safety and better competition inspires better play and desirable results.

Let's hope the same is true for Mark Clayton and the position of wide receiver.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

NFL Labor: Let the catfighting begin

You get the sense that this discord between the NFL Players' Union and the league's owners is shaping up to be the next continental divide?

The new union chief for the players, DeMaurice Smith is really caught between a rock and a hard place. Here he is, taking over for the late Gene Upshaw and he's saddled with the pressure coming from the players who want their next pay day and going up against ownership which for all intents and purposes has superior leverage.

Naturally Smith has to justify his lofty perch and salary and fight the good fight publicly but at the end of the day (aka the battle in the court of public opinion) the owners will win. Smith and Roger Goodell will pose for pictures and both will state that at the end of the day their agreement was best for all parties and most importantly the fans and valued sponsors.

But until then, expect a ton of cat fights.

It's already begun.

The Ravens had a few players whining about being overworked in OTA's - the names Carr, Heap and Mason consistently pop up. It's not much of a big deal really yet where there's smoke there's probably fire. It's a small salvo but a salvo nonetheless.

In New England they've got a mess on their hands with Logan Mankins who refuses to sign his restricted free agent tender of $3.26 million. He wants a long term deal with guaranteed ch-ching up front and he's bad mouthing the team. That usually works for Bill Belichick, right?

Darrelle Revis wants to be the highest paid corner in the league and is seeking 50 cents more than the deal the Raiders extended to Nnamdi Asomugha. Revis has 3 years left on his current deal so expect Rex Ryan to put his arms around Revis, wipe the crust out of his eye, give him a Lifesaver and make some promises that he's not sure he can keep.

Out in southern California, two Chargers' restricted free agents (Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill) refused to sign their tender offers and they are now threatening to sit out until week 10 unless they get long term contracts.

Labor uncertainties handcuff the owners a bit. Peer pressure amongst the owners handcuffs them even more.

How long before DeMaurice Smith pulls out one of the few arrows in his quiver - the concept of collusion?

The "fun" has just begun.

Terrell Suggs, an unwilling volunteer

Terrell Suggs has been the whipping boy of choice for Ravens' fans lately given his apparent disdain for voluntary OTA's.

Generally speaking, Ravenstown wants to see more of a commitment from the wealthiest member of the purple and black and his offseason attendance suggests anything but.But at the end of the day, does it really matter if Suggs reports to voluntary workouts?

Are the rules different for him because he's coming off a subpar season or because he's been extended guaranteed bonus money reaching into the mid $30M range?

What matters is how Suggs shows up for training camp.Will he be in shape then?

Will he have a productive camp and will that carry forward to a productive season in 2010?

Now if he fails to produce, fans, coaches, management and his teammates can hold Suggs accountable.

We'll see how it plays out but until it counts between the lines none of the angst outside the lines does.

Photo by Sabina Moran

Monday, June 14, 2010

McDaniel College, a Field of Dreams

As children, many of us aspired to be professional athletes. Back in the days before Xbox and PlayStation and EA Sports, the days when Video Pong was cutting edge, we spent our summers on the ball field from mid morning to sundown.

The fields were simple. Bases were made of castaway clothing or boxes -- perhaps even a crushed soda can or milk carton. The fields were safe. Parents didn't seem to mind that you hopped on your bike and took off, not to be seen again until dusk.

The fields inspired. They were hallowed grounds where children competed and honed their skills, surely to carve a path to the future, to the big leagues, to fulfilled dreams.The movie Field of Dreams makes its way to my DVD player from time to time. And each time I seem to pick up on something that somehow escaped me in the previous viewing.

During my most recent sit down with Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones, I was tuned in - no make that locked in on some of the dialogue. During the film's final moments, Ray Kinsella played by Costner is reunited with his deceased dad, John Kinsella.

John: Is this heaven?

Ray: It's Iowa.

John: I could have sworn this was heaven.

Ray: Is there a heaven?

John: Oh yeah, it's the place dreams come true.

Ray: (looking around at his field, his farm, his home and his family) Maybe this is heaven.

The messages, lessons and imagery of this movie will capture your mind and envelope it in a blanket of hope.

Hope is what will drive the athletes who take their field of dreams at McDaniel College on July 27. All of them were the best of the lot back on those fields as youngsters. They went on to high school to be the best amongst their classmates which resulted in college scholarships. In college they refined their craft and while they remained the best among peers, the gap narrowed.

This summer undrafted free agents like Curtis Steele, Prince Miller, Mike McLaughlin and Rodelin Anthony will test their skills against the world's best to see if they have what it takes - to see if they can realize a dream.

"They'll arrive at your door as innocent as children longing for the past."

These athletes will compete for limited spots on a roster that looks very deep and talented. They will attempt to gain the advantage they once enjoyed in days gone by. Yet the struggle is more intense and the threat of failure for the first time in their lives will be very real. It will stare them in the face and they will fight with every fiber of their being to avoid hearing, "We need your playbook" - the NFL equivalent to a visit from the Grim Reaper.

In Field of Dreams, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham failed to realize his athletic dream while among the living. He made it to the big leagues for a very brief stint but never had an appearance at the plate. Yet he lived his life without regret. When one dream fell short he redirected his ambition towards medicine and went on to live a fulfilling life.

You hear it often, "Life is a journey." And truly it is. It's difficult to envision what lies ahead in the twists and turns of life. The key is to adapt, adjust and to embrace new dreams and keep them alive.

Take Ray Kinsella. Ray worried that he was becoming like his father, a man who he believed never listened to the voices in his head that urged him to pursue his passion.

"I'm 36 years old, I have a wife, a child and a mortgage and I'm scared to death I'm turning into my father."

Ray threw caution and logic to the wind. He listened to the voices in his head and in the corn field.

"If you build it, he will come."

"Ease his pain."

"Go the distance."

Ray built that baseball diamond and later realized that his dad wasn't the man he rebelled against all those years. He also realized that his life, exactly as it was, was a very good one. It was his slice of heaven on earth right their on that Iowa farm, the field of his dreams.As we turn our attention towards Ravens Summer Camp, keep in mind that these players we often criticize are the best in the world at what they do. Even those who don't quite make the cut, aren't that far behind. The years of practice, the hours in the weight room, the gallons of sweat all lead them to Westminster, Maryland - the threshold to their dreams.

Some will make it. Some will not. Some will be redirected to the practice squad and get a second chance at fulfilling a dream. Mike Flynn did it. Kelly Gregg did it.

They persevered driven by a dream.

They went the distance.
Photo by Sabina Moran

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ravens rumors & news heading into the quiet of summer

The Ravens left a few around the league scratching their heads when they followed up their Round 3 selection of Oregon TE Ed Dickson with another tight end, Dennis Pitta. The Ravens however loved the way Pitta controlled the middle of the field at BYU running precise routes and finding open spaces aided by his ability to read defenses. The team has been running multiple 3 wide receiver sets during OTA's but don't be shocked to see Cam Cameron employing three tight end sets in some situational sub packages.

Speaking of Cameron and the tight ends, word is the Ravens' offensive coordinator wasn't exactly enamored with the pick of Dickson initially. Although an outstanding coach, Cameron's vision when it comes to recognizing talent isn't exactly 20-20. He didn't endorse the choice of Ray Rice either.

Looking back to the one NFL draft in which he had a heavy hand as head coach of the Dolphins in 2007, Cameron's choices included: WR Ted Ginn (9 overall), QB John Beck (40), C Samson Satele (60), RB Lorenzo Booker (71) and DT Paul Soliai (108). Ginn was moved to San Francisco for a 5th round pick; Beck was released after the 2008 season; Satele was traded to Oakland for a 6th round pick; Booker has 178 career rushing yards and is currently unemployed and Soliai has five career starts and 28 career tackles. Not exactly a good return on five of the 2007 draft's top 108 picks.

Demetrius Williams has added some muscle mass and has practiced well thus far during OTA's and if that seems like déjà vu well get in line. Williams has the tools to be productive but his inability to stay healthy combined with a lack of dependability has hardly made him one of Cameron's favorites. His lack of special teams contributions also hurt his chances to make the club in 2010.

One player who is a special teams stalwart and is competing with Williams for what is believed to be the fifth and final wide receiver slot is Marcus Smith. Smith has looked sluggish in OTA's as he rounds into shape from ACL surgery and he continues to struggle with inconsistent hands. At this point Justin Harper is a bigger threat to Williams as is rookie David Reed. Reed is a smooth route runner with very good ball skills and hands. If he can pick up the offense quickly and earn a greater number of reps in camp while challenging for punt return duties, he could leap frog all competitors to fifth on the WR depth chart.

Back to Pitta for a second, word is that if Minnesota WR Eric Decker was still on the board during the 2010 NFL Draft he would have been the Ravens fourth round choice despite the scouting department's attraction to Pitta. In the past the Ravens have regretted missing out on defensive backs Bob Sanders and Nathan Vasher. It will be interesting to see how Decker develops in Denver contrasted against Pitta's productivity in Baltimore.

The Ravens are looking to augment their depth chart with a veteran in the secondary and the three currently being considered are Ken Hamlin, Walt Harris and Ken Lucas. Hamlin is a hard hitting safety while Harris is recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him in 2009 while a member of the 49ers. Lucas is an interesting guy who provides experience and good ball skills and all things being equal he could be the best fit. However there have been some murmurs amongst NFL circles about off-the-field concerns regarding Lucas that could affect the chemistry in the Ravens' locker room.

Some have expressed concern over Jared Gaither and his questionable work ethic and what the Ravens might do if Gaither doesn't become the staple at right tackle in 2010that the Ravens want him to be. Fans might not want to hear it but the team prefers Oniel Cousins at right tackle over Marshal Yanda. They like Yanda at right guard and the combination of Yanda-Cousins is preferred over Chris Chester (RG) and Yanda (RT). Look for Chester to get more snaps at center during camp and the preseason. The Ravens are looking to the future and they aren't sure how many more years Matt Birk has left in the tank. The club needs to know if Chester can competently accept the torch of O-Line signal caller.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Thank You Bob Haynie

Back in 2004 Bob Haynie invited me into the frat house-like confines of WNST to sit in with him to talk Ravens. It was a great opportunity for the then very young It also represented my first live in studio experience on an all sports station.

The nervousness that I believed to be mostly inward and undetectable to others was hardly as transparent as I thought. Just prior to our first on air segment Haynie said to me, "Just relax. You know this stuff so say what you know."

Shortly thereafter the commercial break had ended, accented by Haynie's queue, "Here we go."

And off we went...

Haynie brought me back in studio probably another 4 or 5 times and with each visit I felt more and more comfortable. Sharing a microphone with Haynie on air was akin to sharing a beer with him at Della Rose's - it was easy, friendly and most of all unpretentious.

He never used his vast knowledge of sports, particularly local area sports to intimidate callers. He respected each one, gave them time to complete their thoughts and through his interaction with him he tossed out the welcome mat to call again and again.

Yet that is only part of Haynie's charm. He has the unique ability to allow less informed listeners to feel like they are at a backyard barbeque while they learn from his insightfulness and his skillfulness when interviewing his many informative guests. The experience is on par with getting a sports degree on a schoolyard playground.

And for Haynie, that studio was his playground. He is a fan first but that doesn't cloud his objectivity. He has fun and so do you and unlike so many others around the dial, he never gave his listeners the feeling that he was bigger than the show. Thank you for making a difference and never compromising your values.

Bob Haynie - no less quintessential Baltimore than steamed crabs, Natty Boh, Charlie Eckman, Chuck Thompson, Vince Bagli, Brooks Robinson or Johnny U.

Let's hope the suits at 105.7 The Fan or Fox 1370 see it the same way and they put Bullet Bob back on the airwaves where he belongs and perhaps more importantly, where Bawlmer needs him.