OWINGS MILLS — General manager Ozzie Newsome saluted the Baltimore Ravens’ fans during a conference call with season ticket holders.
He recalled how the fans took to the former Cleveland Browns during their inaugural season in 1996, including a legion of former Baltimore Colts’ faithful.
"I’d like to begin by just thanking all of the fans, the way they’ve embraced this organization from 1996 on," Newsome said. "We moved here, we brought a football team here that wasn’t very good. They embraced us, they stood behind us through some tough times, 4-12, 4-12, 6-10, whatever those records were. So I don’t know if I can ever show my appreciation to this fan base. "
Newsome noted the Ravens’ home-field advantage, comparing it favorably to playing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium and traveling to Baton Rouge to play LSU when he was an Alabama player.
"I think our fans give us a home field advantage that is second to none," Newsome said. "I think the teams that come in here, they’re intimidated by the fans, they’re intimidated by the intelligence of our fans. I have nothing but kudos to that group.
"And kudos goes because you all have been there from the very, very beginning. You people are the reason why we can be a successful organization, because we know that we’ve got thousands upon thousands of fans that support us. I’d just like to say thank you."
MCCLAIN TRIES TO RETURN SMILES TO HOMETOWN ~ The wide path of destruction that a tornado rendered on Tuscaloosa, Ala., has deeply affected Baltimore Ravens fullback Le’Ron McClain.
It’s not only where he attended college at the University of Alabama. It’s his hometown.
And McClain was at his condominium in downtown Tuscaloosa when the tornado hit touched down last month and killed over 40 people and caused millions of dollars of damage.
McClain said he slept in his car the night after the tornado.
"I just ran, closed the bathroom door and jumped in my closet," McClain told the Montgomery Advertiser. "It was just pandemonium."
Since the natural disaster in late April, McClain has been raising money and lending a helping hand.
Along with former Ravens cornerback Frank Walker, he collected items for tornado victims.
McClain held a ‘Baltimore for ‘Bama Relief Day’ at the Carmelo Anthony Center and conducted a subsequent fund-raiser with former Alabama wide receiver Julio Jones.
"We’re going with a movement here, trying to get as much stuff as we can and take it back to Tuscaloosa to put smiles on people’s faces," McClain said. "I started a ‘MAD’ campaign for football — ‘Making a Difference.’ I want to make a difference in football on the field. With this tornado, that switched the emphasis. The football campaign is still on, but making a difference in Tuscaloosa is more important than that. ..
"People are affected by it all over Tuscaloosa. People say God has a reason for everything, but I didn’t understand it, so I had to pray about it and just let go. You see it on movies and everywhere else, but not Tuscaloosa. You go down there and see all the stuff that used to be there, and now it’s gone. People were in those buildings. It’s terrible. It’s like somebody dropped a bomb in the middle of it and blew up everything."