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Street Talk Men of Character

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Are The Ravens Too Risk Averse?

For many years the Ravens have been known for their rough, tough smash-mouth attitude and style of play. Players brought that mentality to the football field week in and week out regardless of what transpired off the field in their personal lives.

Times have changed for the Ravens over the years and as we’ve seen, the organization has shied away from taking players that have “character issues”  particularly after the Ray Rice debacle several seasons ago.

No one can blame the Ravens for distancing themselves moving forward from those types of players but has the zero tolerance policy as of late, kept the team from taking quality talent?

“We weigh the risks,” remarked general manager Ozzie Newsome when asked during the State of the Ravens press conference about the team needing playmakers and taking risks with players.

“Within this organization, we have a lot of people that have been around athletes that have had issues, but when we take a player, especially through the draft, then we come up with a plan of what that player needs – not only on the football field, but off the field.

“I don’t think we’re afraid of ‘character guys,’ but we want guys that, No. 1, love to play football, that are going to be here on time and hopefully not get in trouble when they leave.

“But we have to do any and everything that we can with 21- and 22- and 23-year-old athletes to help them so that they can go from being a young Ray Lewis or a young Jamal Lewis, who had issues, to end up being stellar leaders within the organization. We’re not afraid of that. I think there are good players that don’t have character issues.

Ronnie Stanley is a real good football player, and he doesn’t have any character issues,” Newsome continued.

“But, we’re not afraid of it. When we do take someone, it’s upon all of us to make sure that that guy is doing everything he needs to do to change his life.”

Newsome is right!

There are and were plenty of quality players that have donned uniforms for the Ravens and performed at a high level. It does leave one to wonder however if Chris McAlister, Jamal Lewis or Terrell Suggs were available in the draft, would they turn in the card for any of these players.

It’s a fair assumption that they wouldn’t. After all, both Laremy Tunsil and Noah Spence were both available for the Ravens during draft day and the team opted for Ronnie Stanley, who played extremely well, and Kamalei Correa who failed to impress.

“A lot of these issues … I think that we learned a few years ago that, categorically, you have to look at them [individually],” added team owner Steve Bisciotti. “To say ‘character’ is a pretty big pot.

“I think you know there are some people that we are going to take off our board that do real well in the league. That’s just the way it goes,” Bisciotti explained. “Categorically, yes – domestic abuse? Not taking them. Kansas City is in the playoffs partly because a guy they took a chance on.

“Will we take chances like that again? I don’t think so,” quipped Steve. “But, we were all 22 – smoking pot and bar fights and cheating on tests and things like that. If you’re not willing to take chances and give people second chances, then yes, you’ll be out in the cold.

“You’ll miss a lot of good guys.”

While Bisciotti is quick to point out the team will not take a flier on any player with a domestic violence flag, he is all about second chances.

No one wants a state correctional bus to pull up to M&T Bank Stadium on Sundays by any means.

But we would like to see some second chances offered.

Have the Ravens become too risk averse when it comes to players with character red flags?
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Brian Bower

About Brian Bower

Brian Bower is avid football fan, born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland. He has covered the Baltimore Ravens and NFL player positives in the community for the past 6 years. This will be his 3rd season with the Russell Street Report. His work has been featured on NFL.com, ESPN blogs, Comcast SportsNet Baltimore, as well as the Baltimore Ravens web page. He is also a regular guest on local radio and ESPN Radio in Honolulu, Hawaii. Brian is very involved in the community and has spent the last twenty years as a volunteer firefighter. Email him at [email protected] More from Brian Bower

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