THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens visiting with some interesting players

Lombardi's Way THE GRAPEVINE: Ravens visiting with some interesting players

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

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

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

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

Apparently John Harbaugh saw enough of Terrell Owens in Philadelphia to know he would never buy into the underlying concept of “What’s Our Name?”  But you have to give the Buffalo Bills props for signing T.O. to a one year contract.  He is a supremely conditioned athlete who besides sticking his foot in his mouth and displaying temper tantrums that undermine the team isn’t an off the field problem.  Few could question his productivity.

Some might say with Owens that the end doesn’t justify the means but T.O.’s M.O. is to behave for a year.  Year 2 is when he morphs into a drama queen.  It will be interesting to see what he does in Buffalo. Maybe Willis McGahee can give T.O. his VIP pass for the Buffalo night life circuit.

When it comes to Owens we always seem to focus upon either his on field accomplishment or his sideline/locker room drama. But to be fair, he does deserve credit for his role in the sixth annual National Alzheimer’s Gala. Yesterday Owens received the Alzheimer’s Association’s first Young Champions Award for raising awareness in the fight against the disease. T.O.’s grandmother suffers from the debilitating effects of Alzheimer’s.

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

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

Have you moved on?

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

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

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

I completely and respectfully disagree with Rob’s assessment.

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

It didn’t happen.

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

Conversely no one expected the Ravens to be remotely near postseason play in 2008-09. And when they did make it, every win seemed like a bonus for a team already playing with house money. So when the Ravens ultimately lost to the Steelers in Pittsburgh, the third loss against the Steelers during the same season, most fans got what they expected.

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

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

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

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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 CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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