Thursday, July 28, 2011

Are the Ravens patient during free agency or broke?






Why are the Ravens slow to do anything? Try this, they are a little less than $8M under the cap and that is BEFORE Marshal Yanda's new deal. Now granted the releases and signings haven’t officially taken place but that’s the snapshot o f the Ravens cap as provided by our own Brian McFarland (who will have a more comprehensive piece on this topic tomorrow).

So now you know (at least in part) why the team released Willis McGahee, Kelly Gregg, Todd Heap and Derrick Mason. They desperately needed the cap space for Yanda.

So where was the hiccup? Why did these cap issues just suddenly creep up out of nowhere?

Last week ESPN’s John Clayton reported that the Ravens were $1.8M over the cap and that number did not include the RFA tenders which totaled around $10M. Then the minimum salaries went up by $55K per player for about three-fourths of the team’s roster. Not all of those add into the cap because of the rule of 51, but that also took away another $1.5M or so.

Bottom line, until the Ravens can sign Ngata to a long-term deal or restructure other contracts, they appear to be handcuffed.

At the end of the day, maybe Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens are not as much patient as they are broke.

This isn’t shaping up well so far for the Ravens, a team that had secondary issues heading into the off season with pending free agents Josh Wilson, Chris Carr and Dawan Landry. They have an unsettled situation at right tackle and no experience in the backfield behind Ray Rice. The last time the Ravens had such thin depth there, was back in 2001 when Jamal Lewis went down and the team had to turn to a rapidly aging Terry Allen and the plump and unproven Jason Brookins to carry the rock for Brian Billick and Elvis Grbac.

Where will the pass rush help come from?

What about WR where the team suddenly seems thin without Derrick Mason?

Can they even afford Marc Bulger as a back-up QB?

Who will be the swing interior offensive lineman now that Chris Chester is gone?

It’s not over until it’s over but for the moment, the Ravens are down a few scores at the half.







Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ravens let one slip away





So Josh Wilson is a Redskin…

I have to admit, this one stings a bit.

But before we explore that, let’s dial it back 48 hours for a moment.

When I first heard about the Ravens parting ways with fan favorites Willis McGahee, Kelly Gregg, Todd Heap and Derrick Mason I was quite surprised by how swiftly the Ravens moved. After all, Ozzie & Co. are often very pragmatic.

The first two, McGahee and Gregg were understandable – players not performing to the value of their respective contracts.

Heap’s dismissal was difficult to see coming despite the hints the Ravens provided last year when they drafted tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta in rounds 3 and 4 respectively.

Upon further review, Mason’s release isn’t shocking given the $4.5 million price tag for a 37 year old wide receiver, but a mild surprise nonetheless.

Add it all up and the message was clear – these guys have a plan and they are ready to execute it.

Or so I thought.

Now granted it’s much too soon to start grading the Ravens’ offseason. That’s about as short-sighted as grading an NFL draft the day after it happens. But that said the Ravens are off to a bad start.

Yes they did tackle priority No. 1 – signing Marshal Yanda. But since then you might conclude that someone slipped Ambien in the Ravens front office water cooler.

A little over a month ago a Ravens source informed me that when the lockout ended and the predictable chaos ensued, the Ravens would be prepared and patient – a staple of the Ozzie Newsome repertoire.

On another occasion the same source explained how pleased they were with the Josh Wilson acquisition, particularly when the cost was just a fifth round pick.

The Ravens have uncertainty in their secondary. Jimmy Smith is a rookie without the benefit of OTA’s. Chris Carr could be moving on – the same for Dawan Landry. Lardarius Webb had an inconsistent 2010 and Domonique Foxworth is coming back from a major ACL tear. We all know how that can go.

And then there was Josh Wilson, a player who came on strong at the end of the season and reportedly was the team’s next targeted signing.

And a 3 year, $13.5 million deal with a $6 million signing bonus sent him packing down the BW Parkway to wear burgundy and gold.

They let Wilson walk for that reasonable number.

It was like turning down front row seats at a Springsteen concert for face value.

I don’t get it.

But I’ll rely on blind faith and believe that a week or so from now, it will all be clear to me.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go and find my glasses.





Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Introducing RaveOnTV





We are extremely pleased to announce that we have formed a partnering relationship with B’more Birds’ Nest featuring GOOBVISION in our brand new RaveOnTV.

Goob was the 2010 DirecTV Ultimate Displaced Fan and he will be providing video blogs that are short and sweet, entertaining, funny, occasionally informative and delivered straight from the heart of a diehard Ravens fan.

Goob’s contributions will be complemented by other video blogs, details of which are still being developed. Word is that there will be at least one Erin Andrews-like video blog and a visual fiesta of the popular
The Good, Bad, Ugly & The Megan Fox.

We look forward to this season, and hope you’ll be here to enjoy the ride with us.



Ravens part ways with some fan favorites




At 5:48PM, just hours after the NFL announced that the lockout had officially ended, Ravens Executive Vice President & General Manager Ozzie Newsome issued the following statement:

“We are excited to be back in the business of football and looking forward to having our players back.

“With this agreement comes a new salary cap, unlike last season when there was no cap. We will be making a number of roster moves in the next 48 hours that will free up salary cap space. This will give us the ability to make offers to our players we want to re-sign, plus put us in a position to sign free agents from other teams.”

Within an hour Black Monday started to unfold as we learned of the Ravens decision to part ways with (in order): Willis McGahee, Kelly Gregg, Todd Heap and Derrick Mason.

The first two came as no surprise. The productivity of both players fell far short of what their respective salaries suggested -- McGahee ($6.0M) and Gregg ($3.5M). This is the business of the NFL.

Todd Heap would be next to fall along with his $4.6 M salary. That is a big number for a player who by most evaluations doesn’t crack the top third of the league’s best tight ends. It’s possible that the Ravens could bring Heap back at a more reasonable number but then again, there is a reason the Ravens drafted two tight ends in the third (Ed Dickson) and fourth (Dennis Pitta) rounds of the 2010 NFL Draft.

Perhaps this was part of Ozzie Newsome’s plan all along. You may recall back in 2002 Shannon Sharpe was a salary cap casualty, supplanted by Heap who was then in his sophomore season.

And then there’s the player generally considered to be quarterback Joe Flacco’s security blanket – Derrick Mason. Before the 2010 season Mason announced that he was retiring only to return with a new two-year deal structured like a one year commitment. At the age of 37, despite few if any signs of slowing down, Mason’s scheduled $4.5M sticks out like a Terrible Towel at a Ravens Convention.

And the salary cap knife took notice.

Each will be missed in many ways and it’s possible that Heap and/or Mason will return at market value salaries. But if this truly is goodbye I’ll remember each in different ways:

McGahee, for his boyish optimism and that unforgettable run against the Raiders to put the Ravens into the playoffs during the 2009 season.



Gregg, Buddy Lee, for showing us that all things are possible for those who relentlessly pursue a goal and also for that against-all-odds sack of Michael Vick.



Heap, for laying out his body time and time again, the catch against the Chargers during the 2006 season and of course, HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAP!



Mason, for your leadership when the offense had none, your consistency and that TD catch against the Titans (1:36 mark of video below) during the Divisional Playoff Game from the 2008 season.



Today is a day for heavy hearts. And yes I get that this is football, that it’s just a game and that all of these players are wealthy and will lead good lives. But nevertheless, today feels like one of those days when a co-worker who has become your friend, decides to leave the company or perhaps even more fittingly they learn that there’s been a cutback and their jobs are no longer available.

Thank you gentlemen for all that you've given as winners both on and off the field. Your achievements and good deeds will NOT be forgotten!

And our memories are safe from the blade of any salary cap knife.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Two Minute Drill: Ravens, NFL News & Notes



Competitors don’t like to be backed into a corner so when you take some of the planet’s greatest competitors (NFL athletes) and pin them to the wall almost always a brawl of sorts ensues.

I am a bit curious as to why exactly they feel/felt so cornered. Didn’t they have an opportunity to sign this new CBA first on Wednesday?

We’ve all heard about how animated some of the player reps were in DC on what was to be player-signing-Wednesday. That just tells me that DeMaurice Smith and his merry band of filibusters did a poor job of keeping all player reps appraised of the developments during negotiations.

Tell me again, how can the players, out of one side of their collective mouth say that they have seen the new deal and then out of the other side say that the owners sneaked some things in there?

I got a kick out of Pete Prisco’s Tweets (including the one pictured) on Thursday after the owners ratified the new CBA. He beat up on the players side pretty good, particularly DeMaurice Smith.

Here are a couple other priceless Prisco-isms:

* If the players don't take this deal, after looking at it, they are crazy. Crazy. The owners gave them what they wanted. Look at it.

* Every NFL player has Twitter. They can tweet in their vote for recertification. This is the immediate era we live in, right?

And while we’re on the topic of Tweets, how about this short-sighted blonde moment from ESPN’s Mark Schlereth (@markschlereth):

* Think about this. If a preseason game is lost players stand to lose about $700 per man the league $200 million. Advantage players.

I don’t think so!

If the league loses preseason games pal, do you really think the players will only lose their $700 stipend? Really? Schlereth, you are a broadcaster on the worldwide leader and obviously you have no clue how the salary cap works! You don’t think that the $200+ million earned each preseason week by the league impacts the players?

Go back to sleep!

Not sure why I even pay attention to this cat. He’s the same analyst who labeled Haloti Ngata a bust.

And last but not least, HOO-RAH for SIZZLE! Terrell Suggs shared his thoughts on the stalled new CBA recently with The Sun’s Matt Vensel.

“I think it’s bananas. It’s crazy that we’re still here, that we ain’t got nothing done. What’s going on right now is just ridiculous,” Suggs said Friday afternoon. “We’re in a very fortunate business. The NFL is a very fortunate business. The players are very fortunate. And like I’ve said, who’s really losing out is the younger guys in the league and most importantly our fans, the people who make our business run.”

Wait to drive 55!



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Friday, July 22, 2011

Time for NFLPA to put up AND shut up!




Like many of you I was completely frustrated at the end of the day on Thursday when the daunting realization of another day of labor rhetoric would be spewed over all forms of media – including here.

The angst mounted and it wasn’t long before it was my dog’s fault that DeMaurice Smith stuck his head where the sun doesn’t shine leaving us all hanging for at least another day of this painfully elusive new CBA.

I hate it and I know you do to as evidenced by this poignant comment on our Facebook Page (
Ravens 247):

Maybe it's just me, but... our military is underpaid as are our police and firefighters. Teachers are being laid off right and left. People are losing their jobs and homes. The elderly cannot afford medical care, and these greedy, whining, overpaid twits are complaining about how to split 9 BILLION dollars? I have lost all sympathy for all of them.

It's hard to argue with the heartfelt points made by this
Ravens 247 liker.

I don’t feel sorry for the "twits". I do feel sorry for the fans who rely upon the NFL for their escapism, their dose of sanity mined from the insanity. It helps them to cope with many of the aforementioned societal struggles.

That said those struggles aren't the fault of the NFL just as they aren’t the fault of other successful companies like Apple or Anheuser Busch.

The difference is if those companies screw up and respect their customers like the NFL respects theirs (the fans), we’d all go to Motorola or the Miller Brewing Company. The NFL really has no competition – and it knows it! And in part, that’s why it is no surprise that this slippery new CBA was not corralled by both parties yesterday.

They don’t care that their customers are ticked off because they know we’ll be back.

What does surprise me is the apparent lack of preparedness by the “artists” formerly known as the NFLPA. What have DeMaurice Smith and his 32 player reps and filibustering attorneys been doing for the past two weeks when everyone in America heard repeatedly that the owners were convening in Atlanta on July 21 to ratify a new CBA?

Didn't they all understand the timeline?

And don't these guys realize that they have to recertify given anti-trust issues?

They moved at warp speed to decertify yet it is agonizingly cumbersome to re-certify for the good of everyone?

I’ll admit to not knowing much if anything about unions but c’mon, how hard is it to raise your hand and say, “Yes I vote to re-certify”? In this day of modern technology?

C’mon man!

If you follow any players on
Twitter you will know that there have been widespread inconsistencies regarding their interpretation of what’s going on. On one hand they accuse the owners of slipping in some unexpected things into the owner-ratified agreement while on the other hand they claim to not have seen the agreement.

Which is it?

DeMaurice Smith spends hours on a conference call with Commissioner Roger Goodell working through details but then claims to not know what’s in the agreement.

I’ll ask again, WTF were Messrs. Smith, Kessler & Mawae doing over the past two weeks?

Ringing the register?

Setting up exclusive network interviews at $1 million a pop?

Lining up new clients as a result of their newfound celebrity?

Positioning themselves for future cushy jobs?

Both sides spend weeks drafting an agreement that is predicated upon the NFLPA re-certifying and when the owners do their part in getting the league back on schedule the players need a timeout?

How about this…they had an opportunity to sign the deal on Wednesday and didn’t. The owners did their part on Thursday and then these little whiny, self-absorbed, uninformed, entitled athletes say the owners have backed them up against the wall and they won’t take it.

Well
boo-freakin’-hoo!

I just love this from Ravens’ safety Haruki Nakamura:

"[The owners] want to make a situation where they feel like they're making us get it done. They act like we need to get it done right now at this time.”

Excuse me but there is a time line. If you miss preseason games, guess what? The salary cap money pool will get wacked, and guess what that means? There is less money for you players or worse, the CBA goes back to the drawing board.

Here’s more from Nakamura…

"This is kind of like the power move [the owners] made at the beginning of the negotiations. They're trying to do it without saying it's a power move, but it is. We don't want to let a pressure situation force us to overlook something. If you're a good businessman, you would never sign a deal you don't truly understand."

First if you are a good businessman you are prepared. The NFLPA and its constituents are not!

Secondly, a good businessman would have seized the leverage and signed the deal on Wednesday. Then the owners’ backs would have been up against the wall, not the players.

I’m not blaming the players on whole. They pay their dues to be represented more professionally. But let’s face it Haruki, your representation was duped! Don’t blame the owners! Deal with it!

And then with a not so graceful stroke of spin doctoring, Smith in an email to the players writes:

“In addition to depriving the players of the time needed to consider forming a union and making needed changes to the old agreement, this proposed procedure would in my view also violate federal labor laws. Those laws prohibit employers from coercing their employees into forming a union, and could result in any agreement reached through the procedure being declared null and void."

This is insanely twisted and really an insult to the players’ collective intelligence. There’s no coercing. There’s no option. If the union doesn’t recertify, there is no CBA!

I never thought I'd say this in my lifetime, but I sure do miss Paul Tagliabue and Gene Upshaw. This thing would have been signed, sealed and delivered a while ago.

Hey maybe the players should have hired Casey Anthony’s defense team!

How ironic that one side says there’s a deal and the other claims there’s been a federal labor law violation.

Maybe it will be today when we have NFL labor peace. Maybe it’s tomorrow or Tuesday and when it does happen, we’ll move on and it will fade into the land of distant memories.

But it will be a memory nonetheless and in 10 years when we get to go through this all over again I’ll remember all the time we wasted during the 2011 CBA sparring and spare myself the agony.

My time would be better spent helping an unemployed teacher…

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Did Rex Ryan spoil Ravens plans for a new offensive assistant?





Like many of you I heard about the Ravens' alleged interest in former Indianapolis Colts Offensive Coordinator Tom Moore who eventually accepted a consultant's position with Rexy & The Jets. So I inquired about it with the team and I could not get a confirmation or a denial.

And that makes it even more intriguing.

From what I've been able to piece together from the start of the offseason is that Steve Bisciotti leaned towards replacing Cam Cameron after the 2010 season but John Harbaugh saved him. The consensus as to why pointed towards the then probable lockout and the resulting limited time to install a new offensive system.

While this theory may include some speculative aspects (although I think that it's right) what is clear is that Cameron is on notice -- Bisciotti's words during the State of the Ravens presser left little doubt about that.

Since that time we've heard a positive spin on the departures of Jim Zorn and Al Saunders. The rationale is that Cam has fewer opinions to contend with and Joe Flacco will be given more in-game decision making responsibilities with the ultimate goal being to synch up Cam and Joe.

Fast forward to this "leak" about Tom Moore and hiring him to study game film from South Carolina. If the pursuit of Moore is true and the pursuit was carried out behind Cam's back, it could be another message to the Ravens Offensive Coordinator.

However, it may be that Cameron himself or Cameron in cooperation with Harbaugh (who is supposedly going to be more involved with the offense) reached out to Moore to provide a specific area of expertise from afar.

All that said, I hardly think that a 72-year-old consultant of sorts sitting on his couch in Hilton Head or wherever he plans to take a load off is going to make a difference between between Cam Cameron's offense playing a full 60 minutes and finishing the job against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But the thought is interesting and a nice diversion from NFLPA counsel Jeffrey Kessler's self-serving, filibustering ways.








10 Ways to spice up CBA media coverage




Watching ESPN’s and NFL Network’s coverage of the NFL has been both nauseating and boring but then again, it isn’t all their fault because the NFL has been nauseating and boring given all the talk about labor strife and negotiations.

That said, they could capture my interest during their CBA coverage if the lead-ins consisted of:

1. Albert Breer gets a lap dance

2. Jason La Canfora starts a report without the words, “Like I’ve been reporting all along”

3. DeMaurice Smith has laryngitis

4. Roger Goodell was actually not neutered

5. Adam Schefter’s librarian back drop burns down and is replaced with pictures of Secret Agent Man

6. Bengals’ owner Mike Brown picks up the tab

7. Rich Eisen stops trying to be Dan Ackroyd

8. Highlights of Jerry Jones circumcising that mosquito

9. Brett Favre threatens to sext his junk to all team player reps unless they vote on the deal today

10. Ray Lewis grabs DeMaurice Smith and Roger Goodell by their collars and shouts, “Respect is earned!”

Just sayin’…

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Baltimore Sports Talk is Blah-Blah-Blah








Sports talk radio here in Baltimore is in the crapper. It’s not Scott Garceau’s fault. It’s not Steve Davis’ fault. I don’t even think it is Bruce Cunningham’s fault. There’s just so much topical redundancy that sports talk has become one homogenous dose of stale Melba toast.

Over at 105.7 The Fan they have a deep roster of capable sports talkers who collectively burn through 18 hours of non-stop chatter over the same two topics:

1. The Orioles Suck!
2. When will the NFL Lockout end?

It has become the equivalent of Vuvuzela FM!

The good news is they say it will end soon – the lockout that is, not the Orioles losing. And with the lockout’s end a tsunami sized wave of new topics will roll in for the sports gabbers to sink their teeth into. And that’s good for them and for us because the irritating iPod-stuck-on-replay blathering will soon end.

You know I have to admit that I’ve come around on Ken Weinman’s sidekick Vinny Cerrato and that surprises me. First I direct a lot of the blame for the demise of the San Francisco 49ers (my second favorite NFL team) on Cerrato and his ties to the Redskins as Dan Snyder’s slacky also make him an easy target. After all it is a Baltimorean’s birthright to hate all things tied to the Redskins.

So for me and probably many of you, Cerrato had an uphill climb.

And then there’s that cackling laugh to get over – like nails on a chalkboard.

But you know what? Cerrato tackled that climb -- successfully. I like Vinny now and saying that is a quasi-shock to my system. But it’s true. Even if he was on a good day a substandard NFL GM he does bring a perspective that Weinman or any of his compatriots can’t. Cerrato delivers the NFL through the eyes of a sports executive and that is unique for Baltimore and captures my interest.

Plus, like him or not as a GM from a fan perspective, he seems to be well liked by the national media and others connected to the NFL. And those connections expose us all to guests we otherwise wouldn’t have access to and it sheds a different light on the world of sports.

And God knows we need that here in B’more.










Steelers' Harrison spews venom towards Goodell



James Harrison is one outstanding football player. He’s also one colossal moron!

Last year he was hit with $100,000 in fines for helmet-to-helmet collisions. Now in his defense, I would argue that the $75,000 fine was a.) not a an illegal hit (a penalty was not called) and b.) if it was the penalty didn’t fit the crime.

So after being fined Harrison whined so much even LeBron James said, “Man that dude really whines a lot!”

He said the league had it in for the Steelers last year given the fines and suspensions levied by Commish Roger Goodell.

Really?

If anything the Steelers are a team with a long, long history of preferential treatment, favorable calls and good fortune including the reduction of Ben Roethlisberger’s suspension last year from six to four games; the Immaculate Reception; Dan Pastorini to Mike Renfro potential game winning TD pass in the 1979 AFCC that was ruled incomplete; and Super Bowl XL which was littered with several game changing calls benefitting Pittsburgh, to name a few.

If anything the Pittsburgh Steelers have a horseshoe firmly planted where the sun doesn’t shine.

Now, back to Harrison…

In a recent interview in Men’s Journal that will hit newsstands on Friday, Harrison goes verbally postal on Roger Goodell.

"If that man was on fire and I had to piss to put him out, I wouldn't do it," Harrison told the magazine. "I hate him and will never respect him."

He also labels the Commish a “crook” and a “puppet.”

Harrison is entitled to feel any way he wants and one could certainly make a case for Goodell being a puppet. But once again just as he has in the past, this blathering knucklehead can’t control himself and he now opens himself and his team up to potentially further punishment and at the very least closer scrutiny.

Bill Parise, Harrison's Pittsburgh-based agent, tried to spin it differently when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reached out for an explanation.

"A lot of it is bravado," Parise said. "I think people have to be careful not to read that and think those statements are anything more than s of feelings, particularly in regard to the commissioner. The commissioner fined James $100,000 last year. What do you want him to say, he's my best friend? James is a tough individual and that's the type of language he uses."

Nice try Parise.

When the Post-Gazette asked to speak with Harrison his agent denied the request.
Who could blame him?

Every time he opens his pie hole Harrison’s foot goes deeper and deeper.

What does heel shoe leather taste like James?

And if his words weren’t damaging enough, Harrison on the heels of Plaxico Burress’ release following his two year “vacation” in the pokey is pictured in the article holding an FN Five-Seven pistol and a Smith & Wesson 460V revolver.

Maybe all those helmet to helmet collisions are starting to affect Harrison.

What a moron!

How long before the denials and the claims of twisted statements start arriving from Harrison's camp? I know, just a joke, right James?

Santonio Holmes, Ben Roethlisberger, Rashard Mendenhall, Hines Ward and now Harrison.

Hey, maybe the Steelers aren’t so fortunate any more after all.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The NFL is about to go nuts!



Good news however seems to be right around the corner. By most counts the NFL Lockout should end on July 21 barring any setbacks to the league’s recent CBA negotiating progress. And when that happens, events will unfold at an unprecedented pace.

Teams will have to secure new deals with a growing list of their own free agents; they will have to recruit and sign undrafted free agents; and then of course they will look to augment their rosters with veteran free agents.

This all promises to be very interesting and riveting from an observer’s perspective and undoubtedly only the strongest and most prepared organizations will emerge with offseason “W’s”.

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for…

* The new CBA will have a cap floor that will force thrifty franchises like the Bengals and Bills to spend more and spend it fast. If they are slow to the free agent party, these teams will have to cough up heavy dough for players who don’t deserve it in order to meet cap floor requirements. “B-type” free agents will earn more from these teams than they deserve. This could be a banner year for less than blue chip free agents.

* If the rookie wage scale is implemented as described and top picks like Cam Newton get about half of what the 2010 first round draft class received, look for possibly even slower than normal rookie signings. Agents will try to earn their keep and come up with creative ways to impress their clients and future clients. Eventually they will succumb to the slotting system which in future years will pave the way for faster rookie signings. But not this year!

* Speaking of rookies, the reduced wages will take some of the pressure off teams like the Panthers to put their rookie quarterbacks on the field prematurely. When the Rams paid Sam Bradford $50 million plus in 2010, there was little doubt that he would take the field as the starter. The economics almost dictated it.

Now you could see teams grooming young signal callers slowly like the Bengals did with former overall No. 1 pick Carson Palmer.

Never before seen Ravens practice footage



Mike Donnelly, Manager of New Media Communications for the NFLPA was kind enough to share this video with me yesterday (below) for the benefit of our site visitors. It provides some never before seen practice footage from the team’s informal gathering at Towson University back in May.

While the footage is good, the cry-me-a-river-it-wasn’t-our-fault commentary from a couple of the players is a bit too over-the-top for me and comes off as a “save the children” campaign.

I’m not taking sides in the labor debate, there’s plenty of self-serving blame to go around for all parties. But for me, these players – probably serving up accurate representations of the feelings of all players, are either na├»ve, brainwashed by their ambassador DeMaurice Smith or both.

It’s now time for you to be the judge.

Take a look…







Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Despite what Reed and Scott think Ravens got it right with Harbaugh




Recently Ed Reed was interviewed by ESPN’s Ed Werder. During the interview Reed expressed his affection for Rex Ryan and stated that the team wanted Ryan to become the Ravens’ head coach after Brian Billick was fired. It was not intended as a knock on Harbaugh who they barely knew (if at all) at the time.

Bart Scott in a recent interview with Pro Football Focus tried to expand upon Reed’s sentiments:

"I’m sure you guys are into the news and heard what Ed Reed said a couple of weeks ago about how disappointed he was and about how he wanted Rex to get the head job in Baltimore. No disrespect to John Harbaugh, but just how much he respected Rex, as well. It’s not just me. It’s anybody you talk to about the man. In life, you’re afforded a couple of special people. Not special coaches. You’re afforded special people. He’s a special person. When you find that special person, you know. Not only do I recognize it, but everybody to ever play for him recognizes it. It had nothing to do with him being a head coach or a coordinator. The same respect was given to him when he was a D-line coach. You know when people have the “it” factor? You know when somebody’s special."

Despite the affection of the Ravens’ players, Ryan was not the right guy to succeed Billick. The defense had far too much command of the team’s locker room already and installing Ryan as the head coach could have exacerbated the problem.

What the Ravens wanted and got with John Harbaugh is someone new and completely removed from the divisiveness of the 2007 squad. They also wanted someone more mature than Ryan who despite his successes so far in New York has proven to be a public relations train wreck saved only by his winning seasons.

Let’s see how it all goes down if the Jets begin to lose.

Perhaps then all his shenanigans with toes, flipping the bird to fans, having a “God d**n snack” and wearing wigs will go from amusing to embarrassing.

Make no mistake about it, long-term Harbaugh is a far better choice for the Baltimore Ravens.




Saturday, July 02, 2011

V 1370 "Robs" Baltimore of a listening pleasure




A few years ago when V 1370 contemplated a format change from their then Lifetime Channel-like psycho babble to sports talk, I met with station GM Bob Pettit to discuss the possibility of hosting a Ravens24x7.com themed show there.

Pettit asked me for my opinion on the format switch and I told him that Baltimore was ready for a sports talk station that could do the things WNST used to be able to do but deliver the product with a radio signal stronger than the hamster driven static that WNST has always been saddled with. Even when powerhouse 105.7 The Fan came along I told Pettit that if he positioned his product correctly, they could still be a force.

I believed that if he could recruit talent; see the world of sports through the eyes of a Baltimore sports fan and not that of corporate America; AND avoid the ego problems that have destroyed WNST, they could be successful.

I reminded Pettit that Baltimore loves an underdog and that Avis does pretty well being No. 2 to Hertz.

Unfortunately Pettit’s knowledge of sports is limited and because he really isn’t a Baltimore sports fan he couldn’t wrap his mind around my message. How else do you explain the “brilliant” programming decisions like joining the Washington Wizards and Notre Dame football networks?

Real Baltimore-centric there Bob!

1370 wasn’t much on spending to promote the station either, unless of course you think a few stickers slapped to telephone poles around town are considered a media blitz! Many months, sometimes more than a year would go by and sports fans in Baltimore never even heard of Fox 1370.

How is a salesman to market 1370 as a viable platform to promote a company’s products if people don’t even know the station exists? And how are they going to build the station if no one advertises?

No, Pettit didn’t get it!

And that more than anything else probably doomed the station formerly known as Fox 1370 from the start.

Of course by far the biggest tragedy in the demise of sports talk on 1370, is that for the time being one of the best sports talkers in town is without a microphone. Rob Long brings insightfulness to his program. He thinks outside the box and considers all angles to a story before delivering his unique perspective. He is quick on his feet, challenges callers without disrespecting them and he remains a fan without losing his objectivity.

Rob is a pro and talents like his will rise above this clumsy transition.

One of my favorite all time movies is Shawshank Redemption and for some reason as I write, I’m reminded of a scene when Red reflects upon his friendship with Andy Dufresne who has escaped from the Shawshank prison:

“I have to remind myself that some birds aren't meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they're gone.”

Rob Long is built for things bigger and better than the “jail cell” of V 1370.

And I have no doubt that he will surface soon and his feathers will shine again.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Landry's likely departure could open up opportunities for Ravens



The more I ponder it the more I think Dawan Landry has played his last game as a Raven. His coverage skills are average a best and he’s not the thumper he once was, probably (and quite naturally) stemming from his concussed spinal cord injury back in 2009. But make no mistake about it, Landry is a good guy and a good teammate whose time has come to leave the nest.

Like other safeties before him (Kim Herring, Will Demps, Jim Leonhard), Landry will receive a better offer from another club than the Ravens are willing to extend and like the others, he’ll no longer match up with Ozzie Newsome’s credo, “right player, right price.”

If and when Landry leaves the general consensus is that his vacated spot will be fought over by professional boxer Tom Zbikowski and martial arts black belt Haruki Nakamura. Yet a wild card in the competition could be Chris Carr.

Carr’s versatility coupled with a free agent price tag likely to be lower than fellow free agent CB Josh Wilson, could make Carr an appealing value for Newsome. Carr has also been a dependable player who hasn’t missed a game over the last 6 seasons. Wilson although a better cover corner has shown a greater propensity for injury.

It will be an interesting and difficult choice between Carr (28) and Wilson (26) but don’t be surprised if Carr gets the nod and if so it will be because he’s seen as a better value. And that could free up some cash that might allow the Ravens to pursue another pass rusher in free agency like Mathias Kiwanuka, Charles Johnson, Ray Edwards or Jason Babin.