For the past two seasons, Ravens fans have had the opportunity to scream Vonta Leach’s last name when he was announced before the game, and any time he touched the ball. But even when they were not yelling in excitement, the fans knew that his lead blocking was something special.
You know you have done more than just show up to practice and games when your head coach says of you, “He’s just a great guy.” That was just one of the many things that Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh had to say about Leach.
“He’s been a great leader,” Harbaugh went on to say. “He’s been a tremendous performer. I’ve never had more fun with a player since he’s been here, personally as a coach, than I have had with Vonta.”
Leach was more than just a football player for the Ravens; he was a friend, and a really good friend to many of the players.
Quarterback Joe Flacco was also a bit hurt when he found out that Leach was leaving.
“We’re going to miss him on the football field, but I think the tough thing is you lose out on a friend and you lose out on a great teammate.” Joe added, “I was great friends with him, and I’m just going to miss him.”
When asked about the release of Leach, defensive end Haloti Ngata said, “He was a good teammate, and I just wish him the best of luck wherever he goes.”
Just listening to the players and coaches praise Leach shows how much he meant to this team.
Leach will be missed, that is a fact. Still, with the departure of one player, comes the opportunity for another player to rise up.
The player that the Ravens have chosen to fill this new vacancy is Harvard fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
Harbaugh was asked about the rookie and what he has seen so far from OTAs and the first day of mandatory minicamp.
“He’s exactly where we expected him to be,” said Harbaugh. “He’s smart, of course. He has picked it up very quickly, which you would expect.”
So there you have it. One player leaves, and another player is given a great opportunity. The great thing about sports is that we will always have memories of the players that made a difference. Leach was one of those players. Now all the fans have to do is try to figure out a cool way to scream Juszczyk when he scores a touchdown (JUUUUUUUUUICE?)
Good luck Vonta, wherever you end up. And for old times’ sake, LEEAACCHH!