LETTERS 2 TL: ALL ABOARD THE TRAIN

Lombardi's Way LETTERS 2 TL: ALL ABOARD THE TRAIN

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CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’
 
TL,
 
Is it safe to book my trip out to San Diego or would you recommend holding off until Monday or Tuesday? Great site I read it daily, keep up the good work. One thing, could you get some more shots of the good looking girls over at Mothers after the game?
 
Thanks,
 
Jason, Washington D.C.
 
Jason,
 
If you are asking will the Ravens win on Sunday, YES! I don’t think that they’ve worked this hard to come this close to a desired bye only to let it slip. That being said, I think the Bills will cover on Sunday.
 
Here’s how I see it…Ravens take the lead and get there with a ton of pressure on J.P. Losman. They will go up say 24-7 early in the third and then put it in cruise control on their way to a 24-17 win with Kyle Boller & The Backups leading the “charge” in the second half. Aaron Schoebel will give Adam Terry all he can handle but in the end the Ravens first team defense and the 12th man will be far too much for the Bills to handle.
 
So does that mean the Ravens will end up in San Diego after they beat the Colts on January 13/14?
 
NO!
 
I think the Patriots will take care of the Chargers meaning the AFC North Championship will be played at The Vault. If you want to spend your money wisely and if you want my advice, think Southern Florida instead of Southern California.
 
Welcome to Miami,
 
TL
 
P.S. Pictured…your desired objects of my camera lens!
 
D-MASE BENT OUT OF PLACE?
 
Tony,
Aaron [Wilson] reported that Mason was popping off a bit about not getting more catches. Wouldn’t you think that Mason would go directly to MCNAIR?? Heck.. Clayton is the one getting open 7 or 8 times per game?
 
Harry O’Sullivan
 
Harry,
 
Don’t worry too much about Mason. He is a solid team guy and player with a great work ethic. He’ll be fine. I do think the Ravens do need to involve him more and now that Clayton and Demetrius Williams are emerging, he’ll probably get less attention which will mean more opportunities. Brian Billick and Steve McNair are probably telling him exactly that.
 
Mason is no T.O. or Keyshawn Johnson!
 
Throw him the damn ball anyway,
 
TL
 
MERRIMAN’S JUICING OK?
 
TL,
 
Doesn’t it just take a reasonable and logical mind to concur with Merriman’s own comments in deciding that one of the supporting reasons why he is, in fact, having the season that he is having is due to his steroid use in the first place? Albeit said, ever since following his performance while he played for the Terps, anyone could see that he is a special player. His recent run-in with the NFL regarding his use of steroids only taints this and raises suspicion about his past and present performance. Deservedly so. Why a guy with his inherent God-given ability would hinge some level of success on the injection of an illegal performance enhancing drug is beyond me but fear of failure, fear of whatever can be a strong motivator.
 
Since the fans, coaches, and peers vote for the Pro Bowl then they are, in essence, slapping the NFL or any other oversight organization in the face by recognizing Merriman. The performance enhancing benefits of steroids don’t just magically disappear the moment that the NFL tells Merriman to stop taking them. If he really stopped taking them in the first place, you know and I know that he’ll see/feel the results for some time onward and try to take measures to maintain his performance. But, everyone is different and everyone responds in differing degrees.
 
Just look at Giambi. After basically admitting that he took steroids, he, as well as his head, shrunk back to normal size after time. He found a way, or at least appears to be, back to his old self. Just proves there is more than one way to skin a cat.
 
Ravens game this week will be no walk in the park. With the Bills giving up 142 Yds per game on the ground would be nice for our run game to improve going into the playoffs.
 
Thanks,
 
Paul Day, Forest Hill
 
Paul,
 
I think that Merriman should not be allowed to participate in the Pro Bowl nor should he be allowed to receive any post season awards. To make him eligible for one or both sends the wrong message — that cheaters do win.
 
I admire Jason Giambi for not only coming clean (although it was a bit of a sheepish admission of guilt) but also for finding a way to restore his level of play without illegal chemical enhancements.
 
Today I heard Rob Long on WNST argue that the wrong message is already being sent to kids by condoning the behavior of players like Terrell Owens. So therefore Long concluded that barring Merriman from post season awards would accomplish nothing since the barrier of less than acceptable behavior has already been broken and accepted.
 
Clearly these are mutually exclusive circumstances. Owens is a coddled and immature drama queen whose antics are finally being taken to heart as evidenced by his omission from the NFC Pro Bowl squad. Merriman cheated the game, his opponents and his teammates.
 
As you suggest above, anything that Merriman accomplishes taints the achievement and as a result the achievements of his team. Should his team go on to win and Merriman not only goes to Honolulu but also wins All-Pro honors and the AFC Defensive Player of the Year, doesn’t that then say that it’s ok to cheat? Aren’t the risks of getting caught mitigated by the modest penalty particularly when the potential benefits are so rewarding?
 
I believe Merriman is an outstanding athlete who made a mistake and he should pay the price. Let him earn the rewards when he produces on the field after his Dixie Cup specimens consistently turn up clean off the field.
 
As for the Ravens this weekend, let’s grind it out and force Schobel to respect the run. The Bills are giving up 4.8 yards per carry. There has to be 4 yards per in there for Jamal.
 
Fear the Cheating Turtle,
 
TL
 
JUST COMPENSATION
 
Hi Tony,
 
Do the Ravens get any compensatory draft picks this year for Chester Taylor, Tony Weaver and Ma’ake Kemoeatu? I know it is probably tough coming up with articles everyday for the site, so please do an article on compensatory picks for the Ravens and if possible any significant picks for other teams in our division. Hopefully, we will have the "LAST PICK" in the first round and get a player as good as Todd Heap.
 
Thanks,
 
Dave Russo
 
Dave,
 
The NFL Management Council uses a formulaic approach to determining compensatory picks that is loosely based upon some mysterious combination of the salary, playing time and post season awards that the departed player receives as a member of his new team. However the exact formula is shrouded in secrecy and not available for public consumption.
 
The picks awarded for departing players are positioned between the end of the third round to the end of the seventh round. All of the players you mentioned were rewarded handsomely by their new teams and they have started a total of 44 games.
 
The Ravens also lost Darnell Dinkins, Dave Zastudil, Will Demps, Tommy Polley, Chad Williams and Anthony Wright. All of that will be factored in and measured against the additions of Trevor Pryce, Mike Anderson, Gary Stills, Corey Ivy and Justin Bannan to determine the quality and quantity of compensatory picks.  Keep in mind though that Pryce and Anderson were cap casualties and that shouldn’t factor into the equation.
 
I hope this helps Dave. To do an article on something shrouded in mystery would be purely speculative.
 
Off to the grassy knolls,
 
TL
 
AFC RULES
 
TL,
 
I know there are bigger problems in the world, like Iraq and Pam Anderson’s inability to stay married, but I’m still thankful for Steve McNair. That TD throw to Mark Clayton was probably the most impressive throw I’ve seen this season – I never saw a throw that literally embodied the expression "thrown on a rope" more than that one. Absolutely perfect placement, just enough over the safety’s head to be safe, just enough in front of Mark’s arms so he didn’t have to break stride.
 
Is this our reward for 10 years of patience with no QB? Because if it is, I’m thankful for every moment of it. And the SD-BAL game in the AFC title game may as well be the Super Bowl, because the NFC team loses by at least 10 to whomever wins.
 
Bill in Salisbury, MD
 
Bill,
 
Who do you think the Ravens will play after they host and beat the Patriots on January 21 in the AFC Championship?
 
Miami Beach…how sweet it is!
 
TL
 
THE WHITE ENVELOPE
  
Tony,
 
What a beautiful story (The White Envelope). It helped me overcome the recent troubles I’ve had in my life by making them seem insignificant. Thank you my friend for sharing that with us. That is what the season is all about, and everyday life would benefit from it as well.
 
God bless you, and Merry Christmas,
 
Mike in Grasonville
 
Mike,
 
I hope to post that anonymous piece every Christmas Season. However the only credit that I can take for it is having the sense to post it. It’s a wonderful lesson about the true meaning of the Season. I hope I can incorporate a White Envelope into my world.
 
My very best to you and yours!
 
Peace,
 
TL
 
WILL THE REAL SWAMI PLEASE STAND UP
 
Hi Tony,
 
Once again, the tried and true "Vojik Picks ’em Against the Talking Heads" System came through for me on Sunday. As game day approached, I carefully reviewed the major web sites for their week 16 picks. Things were looking good; most of the analysts were going with the Steelers, including, I believe, 8 out of 10 ESPN analysts. I waited with baited breath for the last piece to come in – Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg from Miami. True enough, he took the Steelers to win and said with authority: Pittsburgh gets the check mark – 23-10. Bingo! Nothin’ but net!! The fix was in.
 
I went down to the local tavern soon after to enjoy some Bloody Marys, cigars, and good sports talk in a weekly event we fondly call "church services." The boys were worried about the game but I told them, with complete confidence, that the Ravens were going to win and it wouldn’t be close.
 
Notes:
  • Kudos to Adam Terry! I expected Joey Porter to have him for lunch, dinner, dessert, and an after-dinner drink. Adam hasn’t received much pub since pre-season when he mostly under-performed, but it looks like he’s been making a list and checking it twice over the 2006 season. Not to mention working his butt off. His play has markedly improved and his two illegal procedure penalties were just pimples on an otherwise outstanding performance.
  •  
  • While I’m on the subject of things Joey Porter, a second kudos to Jamal Lewis for running over ole’ 55 and then jamming his helmet into the turf. Suitably enraged, Porter received a personal foul one play later for engaging in a little payback. Way to go, Jamal. I’m thinking the Ravens should add this to their play book for future use. It’s like adding 15 yards to his rushing total. Porter is very easy to bait.
  •  
  • Cory Ross is not the answer for punt returns. Billick and the staff will have to consider using Mark Clayton here. In the playoffs against evenly matched rivals, good field position is just as vital as good hands.
  •  
  • Is it me or is Steve McNair’s arm getting stronger as the season goes on? The first TD pass to Clayton was a laser beam and the second to Williams was perfectly lofted with just the right amount of speed. Steve threw a couple other balls to Heap and Williams that required pin point accuracy and perfect timing. A win over Buffalo and a week off will only strengthen his arm.
Happy New Year and Continued Happy Festivus!!
 
Fran from Glen Burnie
 
Fran,
 
If those meetings are genuinely deemed to be church services then I may be in line for bishop-dom!
 
Nice job by Terry on Porter — agreed! But I’ll believe he’s turned the corner should he hold his own against Aaron Schobel this week. Schobel has been a force off the edge and if you recall, he gave Jonathan Ogden all he could handle back in 2004 when he had 5 tackles, 2 sacks and 1 forced fumble. The first sack and forced fumble took place on the Ravens’ second play from scrimmage and resulted in the Bills taking possession at the Ravens 22.
 
Naturally the defense held and Buffalo took the lead 3-0 in a game in which the good guys ultimately prevailed, 20-6.
 
As for Porter, let’s just say the punk got punked! Agreed on McNair and that week off will do him and the Ravens vets wonders, not so much because they’re tired but it recharges the battery and allows them to spend a little time with their families. Peace of mind provides clarity and sharper focuses come game day.
 
It’s Festivus For The Best of Us,
 
TL
 
CIRCLE THE BANDWAGON
 
Tony,
 
First, I have enjoyed your show and the website for years. It is great and is a must-see every day. I cannot get the show this time of year due to the signal problems and do not have a lot of time to tap in during the rest of the week. Still, I know that you all are good anyway.
 
I wanted to vent on one thing that bugs me every year. I listened to all of those who blasted the Ravens before the season and bit my lip because I had my own concerns. You had so many who ripped them and proclaimed that they were going 4-12 or 5-11. I never thought it would be that bad and was pissed when I heard all of that. It is a free country so I even had to listen to all of those who took shots at my team.
 
Now we are in the playoffs and trying to make it to the big dance. I just wish all of those who caused my purple blood to boil would call the shows and eat some serious crow. Let us hear them beat on themselves as badly as they ripped the Blackbirds. Let us hear them admit that they were way off base and need to re-think their professed football smarts. But alas, people like that are not inclined to stand and be counted since it shows just how wrong they can be. They can dish it out but hide under the rocks when they are losers. Gee, that sounds like a Redskins fan !!
 
Again, thanks for all that you guys do for those of the Purple Skin. Happy New Year and Happy Festivus to all.
 
Steve, Westminster
 
Steve,
 
There are the bandwagon fans and then there are the foxhole fans who are there through thick and thin. I don’t think that is unique to Baltimore. I do think the city is still learning how to become better football fans. There’s been progress over the years and I believe that today the fans are better in terms of how they collectively perform as the 12th man than they did say back in the Super Bowl season.
 
Having said that, I also think the fans locally have been spoiled a bit by success and jaded a bit because of the organization’s unwavering support of a quarterback leading a chronically inefficient offense. How else do you explain the yahoos who cheered Kyle Boller’s injury last year?
 
Like in any relationship where frustration exists, it will eventually manifest itself in various behaviors. Some are quick to jump off the bandwagon, some slow to jump on it, some are quick to boo while others flood talk shows with varying forms of lucid and sometimes not so lucid commentary.
 
All I can say is “All Aboard!” This train is going the distance!
 
People All Over The World…Join Hands,
 
TL

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts "The Fanimal" also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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