LOMBARDI’S WAY: Ravens, NFL need to remember what honor means

Lombardi's Way LOMBARDI’S WAY: Ravens, NFL need to remember what honor means

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Want to stir up a debate at your local watering hole?

Just mention the Ravens Ring of Honor and then kick around the merits of each of its inductees.

Do they all belong?

Induction should be an award of distinction for unique and exemplary accomplishments.  It should represent greatness in achievement. It should acknowledge uncommon feats.

Now the first thing you need to do while gauging the worthiness of current and even future inductees is cast aside the notion that the measuring stick for the Ravens Ring of Honor is Earnest Byner.  That’s a joke – an egregious error on the part of Art Modell who immediately cheapened the distinction for all Ring inductees. 

So let’s just kick his induction to the curb and call it a momentary lapse of reasoning. Art should have just given the man best known for “The Fumble” a company watch for years of service instead of that plaque.

The members of the Baltimore Colts in the Ravens Ring…they don’t belong there either.  Great guys, great accomplishments – not Ravens, sorry!  Maybe they should have designed wall plaques for the honored former Colts and hung them around Unitas Plaza.  They were Colts after all, not Ravens and they don’t belong in the Ravens’ Ring – period, end of story!

Michael McCrary…terrific work effort, an overachiever and a Baltimore blue-collar guy and I love him on my team any day of the week and three times on Sunday. But was he great? Do two Pro Bowl seasons qualify you as uncommon? If it were up to me, I’d take a screw gun to the plaque and bring it down too!

Four-time Pro Bowler Peter Boulware was a terrific player and an exemplary man off the field and in the community. Tough call here but I’m still going to say no. Fifty-eight, c’mon down!

 Art Modell is in the Ring and deservedly so.  He belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame so the Ring is a given.

Jon Ogden – no brainer. He should have been the standard upon which all future nominees would be measured.

Ozzie Newsome?

Make it three!

Brian Billick…interesting debate here but I say thumbs down as a Ring inductee.  Billick did an outstanding job in 2000 by keeping his team together and avoiding an implosion after 21 consecutive quarters without scoring a touchdown on their way to a World Championship. 

But what did he do before or since that is so distinguished?  Does riding the coattails of an amazing defense qualify as excellence? What about wasting several years of standout defensive play with substandard offensive play?

Am I glad Billick came along?

Absolutely!

He brought attitude and resolve to a franchise that sorely needed it at the time but does that make him great?

Nope!

How does a coach who is fired with four years remaining on a five year contract deserve to be in the Ring of Honor?

Jamal Lewis.  I say pass…too much drama, a relative train-wreck off the field and he’s done nothing but trash the organization since he’s been gone. Maybe his trucking company can haul away all these unnecessary plaques.

Chris McAlister…c’mon man! 

Without question CMac was a great talent.

Also without question he was a classic underachiever and hardly a model citizen.

How did McAlister distinguish himself, as the Ravens resident party boy?

Recently NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked about off-the-field behavior and if that should factor into the voting for Hall of Fame candidates.

"I do believe that it’s more than just how you conduct yourself on the field," Goodell said.  "I believe very firmly that it’s how you conduct yourself on and off the field as a member of the National Football League.  That’s part of your contribution to the game."

Upon hearing this many criticized Goodell, mistaking his opinion for initiating a movement to exact such a change.

"These are decisions the Hall of Fame is going to have to make, not me," Goodell said.  "But if you ask me a specific question, ‘Is it just their contributions on the field and their statistics?’  I don’t think that’s the case.  I think it’s about what you contribute to the game of football."

Put me in Roger’s corner. The same thought process should be embraced by the Ravens when considering ROH inductees.

You know when you stop and think about it, there should be Arthur B., Ozzie and J.O. for now and that’s it!  

Ray Lewis and Matt Stover, when their numbers are called – automatic inductees!

The same can be said for Ed Reed.

After that, time will tell.

Until then, let’s remember what the words “honor” and “distinction” really mean and that inductees should stand the test of time.

Otherwise they better start making those plaques a lot smaller for the ring because it’s going to get crowded up there. 

 

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24×7 Networks, LLC’s founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) 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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