During one of our Ravens Rap shows down at The Blue Ox in Ocean City that featured team owner Steve Bisciotti, the topic of Todd Heap surfaced.
Heap has always been a popular Raven and for good reason. He was a very good tight end who could have been better and perhaps played longer if not for years of ineptness at quarterback during the prime of his career.
The 2001 first round draft pick’s popularity is no less in our State’s city by the sea.
When Heap last visited M&T Bank Stadium as a member of the Arizona Cardinals he was greeted on the field by Bisciotti. With one are draped across Heap’s back and another pointed towards the façade of the stadium’s bowl, Bisciotti asked, “Where would you like your Ring of Honor plaque to hang?”
On September 28 when the Ravens host the Carolina Panthers we’ll find out what Heap’s answer was when the Ravens honor the two-time Pro Bowler at halftime of the game Steve Smith circled on his calendar when he joined the Ravens.
Each new addition to the Ring of Honor triggers debate about the worthiness of those already in the Ring and the merits of future considerations. Relatively speaking Heap deserves to be there (although admittedly if I was running the Ring he wouldn’t make it and others would come down).
Heap was good, not great.
Great is what should hang from that Ring.
In 10 seasons Heap had 467 catches for 5,592 yards and 41 scores. Comparatively speaking the Steelers’ Heath Miller in 9 seasons has accumulated 466 catches for 5,273 yards and 40 TD’s.
Is Miller great?
I was reminded of Heap’s induction when my season tickets arrived and for some inexplicable reason, perhaps it is my series on the Ravens All-Time Team that triggered this, my thoughts drifted towards Kelly Gregg.
Gregg, as Jean-Francois Page wrote on our Facebook page, was “tough as a $2 steak.”
He was the lunch pale guy; the guy who did all the dirty work to enable his teammates to clean up and get the credit, feel the glory.
“Buddy Lee” was the consummate overachiever – quintessential Baltimore, recognized repeatedly by his teammates. When I hosted “Hot Sauce” featuring Bart Scott back in 2007, Gregg joined us one week.
Usually I arrived about 30 minutes before the show to prep, do a sound check, etc. Almost always Bart would arrive late and as the season slipped away, his arrival went deeper and deeper into that first hour. Bart’s guests arrived even later.
When Gregg was on, he actually arrived before I did – sitting at the Della Rose’s of Canton bar with a burger and a beer just blending in. I walked up to Kelly and introduced myself and thanked him for his time.
“You bet!” was his reply, a common one for the native Oklahoman.
Throughout that season Bart told me often on air and off that the Ravens’ defensive success started and ended with Gregg, the twice-discarded 1999 6th round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals. He was the guy who made it all work – the piston in that defensive engine.
But few outside of Baltimore seemed to notice.
Instead they noticed nose tackles like Casey Hampton who was a first round pick by the Steelers in 2001. Hampton is a 5-time Pro Bowler who during his 12 seasons in Pittsburgh has racked up 208 solo tackles, 165 assisted tackles, 9 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 4 passes defensed.
Comparatively speaking Kelly Gregg during his 9 seasons in Baltimore had 357 solo tackles, 152 assisted, 19 ½ sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 9 passes defensed.
Shockingly Gregg never made the trip to Honolulu.
Accolades outside of Baltimore were few and far between.
It’s time for Baltimore and the Ravens to recognize Kelly one more time. He was every bit as important (arguably more) to the Ravens defense from 2001-2010 as Todd Heap was to the offense during that same period.
If Heap belongs in the Ravens Ring of Honor does Gregg?