GRAPEVINE: What a difference a year can make in the NFL!

Lombardi's Way GRAPEVINE: What a difference a year can make in the NFL!

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The contributors to this site (myself included), have had very little if anything good to say lately about WNST that doesn’t include Bob Haynie’s name. But sometimes differences need to be shoved to the side for the greater good.

Recently I learned that the station’s Rex Snider, a Facebook friend who I’ve yet to have the pleasure of meeting personally, is planning a radio marathon of sorts called, “Curing Cancer…One Call at a Time.” The event will benefit Harbor Hospital’s HarborView Cancer Center.

Snider plans to stay on the air beginning at noon on Saturday, July 11th and finishing 24 hours later at noon on Sunday, July 12th. Discussions will range from the world of sports to advocates of cancer research and the perquisite funding for such research and this really is the driving force behind Snider’s valiant and heartfelt efforts.

Folks can contribute by going to, mailing your pledge to the station which is located at 1550 Hart Road, Towson, MD 21286 or stopping by the studio.

Good luck Rex and thanks for your noble ways.

Whenever an NFL player becomes available who might be a match for the Ravens on the field yet is a problem off the field or in the locker room, fans inevitably look to Ray Lewis and conclude that he can be the voice of reason and stave off any potential issues.

Fans think that Ray can turn a drama queen into his own little dancing queen who will march to his beat on demand. Look up babysitter in the NFL Glossary and fans expect to see the willing and smiling face of Ray Lewis.

And given this widely held belief among fans, they precipitously conclude that the problem child flavor of the month can be the missing ingredient for the Ravens – particularly if the player is a wide receiver.

Plaxico Burress – bring him on!

Brandon Marshall – no worries, besides what has he been CONVICTED of…

If either gets out of line, Ray will be there to B-slap some sense into him.

Gee, that theory really worked well with Chris McAlister didn’t it?

It’s working well with Willis McGahee, right?

Look it isn’t Ray’s job to be a babysitter. And how could he even affect a player on offense? During the week, the offense installs their game plan and all of the unit meetings, film study, etc. are conducted independent of the defense. During the game, Ray is on the field when the offense isn’t and vice versa.

How and when is the mentoring to actually take place assuming Ray and/or his protégé is even willing?

The truth is players like Brandon Marshall and Plaxico Burress seldom listen to anyone. They are coddled and have been coddled for so long. Things come easily to them and when they don’t they push back.  There’s resistance.

If the Ravens take a chance on a player like Burress or Marshall (and the bet here is that it will NEVER happen) they will do so because the risk v. reward ratio works.

Not because Ray Lewis’ presence will help turn a malcontent into a choir boy.

As we are all well aware this is the NFL’s quiet time – the calm before the storm of training camp and the five plus months of coverage to feed the insatiable appetites of NFL fans. We love our summers but boy opening day can’t arrive fast enough.

The season is a marathon for the players. Top conditioning is a prerequisite and when you add in the mini-camps, training camp and preseason, there’s very little down time for the leagues athletes.

But now is that time.

Since there is next to nothing new going on, save a new contract here and there, I took a look back at some of the articles and reports we posted here on 24×7 at this time last year. The reminiscing was somewhat eye opening and it served as a reminder of the extent of change that occurs in the NFL in one calendar year.

Here are a few of the stories we covered that were relevant at the time yet seem so yesterday less than 12 months removed…

Ravens Offensive Line ~ it looked so bad that most fans and observers supported Troy Smith as the starter over Kyle Boller and Joe Flacco if for no other reason than he was more adept at avoiding the rush. The line looked like it would be a sieve as the team considered rejects like Barry Sims and even hired Chad Slaughter to “bolster” the line.

Willis McGahee ~ he would be the beneficiary of Cam Cameron’s system much like LaDainian Tomlinson in San Diego. Some predicted a blistering scoring season for McGahee. Apparently no one let McGahee in on the plan.

Chris McAlister ~ the team’s top cover corner knocked down the doors to John Harbaugh’s dog house, dove in and never re-emerged. C-Mac is now sitting in SoCal waiting for that call to come.

The Retirements of Jon Ogden and Steve McNair ~ One, you could see coming…the other was a surprise. When the Ravens drafted Flacco, the Ravens planned to keep 4 QB’s on their roster. It never happened as McNair sailed into the sunset quietly without so much as a whisper of a possible return.

Le’Ron McClain ~ with running backs McGahee, P.J. Daniels, Cory Ross and Allen Patrick all nursing injuries, McClain was asked to carry some of the load during the summer for Ray Rice who was the training camp workhorse. Along the way the Ravens discovered a new weapon. During his college career, McClain had 37 carries total during his four seasons at Alabama. As a second year Raven, McClain ran the rock 232 times.

As you can see, judging from some of the surprising developments from just ONE of the league’s 32 teams, a lot can change in a hurry in the National Football League.


Today marks the 6th anniversary of this site formerly known as We continue to grow and explore new ways to deliver a fan favorite website to those who bleed purple.

When I first worked with our former webmaster Time 2, Inc, I never envisioned THIS.  It has been a continual work in progress and its shape is the collaborative efforts of many who have given their time and sweat equity because they believe in and share a vision for 24×7.

We’d like to thank you or loyal visitors. Your valued feedback has also helped to define us and we invite more of it, much more.

Thank you to all our wonderful sponsors both present and past that make THIS possible. I would be remiss if I didn’t specifically mention the great folks that we work with at Pivnet, dba Toyota Live Web – specifically Jay Pivec, Melissa Lockhart and Michele Taylor as well as a few sponsors that have been with us since day one, namely Mr. Bill’s Terrace Inn, Matthew’s Pizza and The Wine Merchant.

Also a very special thanks to John Gehrig, Tanja Giles, Mike Payne, Nikki King, Laurie Tochterman and all the outstanding talents at D3 Corp for your excellence, timeliness and patience. Here’s a warning to you all – we’re just getting started!

Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Weekend!

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of and His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and he hosts “The Fanimal” also heard on 105.7 The Fan, Saturdays from 8-9AM. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, The Godfather, Guinness, orange crushes, meatballs and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi.

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