The Super Bowl is over, the players are off for a couple of months, coaching staffs are busy evaluating draft picks, the front office is plotting roster moves, and we Ravens fans are left to ruminate on WHAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN. It’s time to do a little spring cleaning, to empty the in-box of NFL tidbits, odds n’ ends, and quirky football news from around the NFL.
So without further ado….
Talking Heads: I sometimes listen to ESPN’s Mike & Mike in Morning on my work computer. OK, I have poor radio listening habits. In the past season the duo of Mike (the Twerp) Greenberg and Mike (the Twinkie) Golic were unfailingly accurate in picking the winner of Ravens games that were anointed by the duo as “Stone Cold, Lead-Pipe Locks.” It was a simple inverse proportion. When Mike and Mike picked the Ravens to lose, they won – every time. So you know what happened on the Friday before the Conference Championship game. Picking the conference winners, Greenberg, for the first time all year, picked the Ravens to cover and win. Idiot!
We’re Nasty: Well, at least according to the Bleacher Report. BR.com is one of the more hip, entertaining, and informative sports sites on the web. Their content seemingly changes hourly and they run some interesting posts with a lot of pictorial content. Here’s what they consider to be the 10 Meanest Fan bases in the NFL.
Ravens’ fans were ranked 9th due to the “special vitriol” we hold for fans of the Indianapolis Colts. (Note: actually I think we’re pretty nice to visiting fans, Squealers fanatics excluded). To no one’s surprise, the Eagles’ fans top the list at #1 followed by the Raiders’ fans at #2. Others who made the list were fans of the Patriots, Steelers, and Cowboys, both New York clubs, and the Seahawks, reputed to be the loudest in the league. Missing from the list were Cleveland Browns fans who, I can assure readers of this blog, hate the Ravens and their fans with bile unmatched by anyone. If fact, they hate everybody. In their defense they do watch football in the Factory of Football Sadness.
While on the subject of the Mistake on the Lake…
Grossed Out: Unnoticed in these parts due to the Ravens post season, long-time Cleveland Browns beat writer and Art Modell arch-enemy Tony Grossi lost his job at the Plain Dealer after a private tweet meant for a colleague inadvertently went viral. Grossi had typed a message that called Browns owner Randy Lerner “a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.” But instead of just sending the message only to his intended recipient, he hit the wrong button and sent it out to his thousands of Twitter followers, which lead to wide-world exposure. It didn’t take long for the editors at the P.D. to react.
It’s no secret that the primary reason that Art Modell is not in the Hall of Fame is because of Grossi’s incessant anti-Modell politicking among his fellow HOF voters. His antipathy to Art actually predates the Browns move to Baltimore by a good 5 years. He was dropped from Browns coverage in 1990 for getting into a war of words with the then-Browns owner, and wasn’t restored to the beat until the club came back into the league in 1999. But it was the club’s move from Cleveland to Baltimore that gave his anti-Modell posture status and credibility. Grossi is still employed at the P.D., but has lost his gig as the main Browns beat writer and has been “reassigned to another position in the sports department.”
The Baltimore Ravens web site reports that, consequently, Grossi has lost his HOF voter credentials. Maybe now Modell has a fighting chance of getting to Canton while he’s still alive.
No Price Hike: In my last column, I predicted that a ticket price increase was a slam dunk, given that the Ravens have raised ticket prices every year, on the odd year, since 2001. They would not have been alone…the Lions, Packers, Texans, and Titans have all announced price hikes for 2012. But, much to the delight of season ticket holders, club president Dick Cass announced that the Ravens would hold the fort on ticket costs due to the still struggling economy and its effects on the season ticket fan base. Another classy move by a very classy organization.
Occupy Dallas! Upset over Jerry Jones’ refusal to resign as general manager and hire someone who knows what he’s doing, the Dallas Morning News reported that some Cowboys fans started an “Occupy Valley Ranch” protest, asking Blue Star fans to picket team headquarters, boycott both games and the new stadium until Jones hires a qualified, for-real general manager.
Jets, Jets, Jets! Dateline, August 26, 2011. New York Daily News: “Rex Ryan reiterates Jets are best football team in New York, says MetLife Stadium is Jets’ home.” Dateline, February 6, 2012. “NY Giants beat New England Patriots to Win Super Bowl XLVI.” Watching the season-long decline and fall of the New York Jets and the never-ending soap opera of boasts, benchings, finger-pointing, quarterback-outing, (not to mention watching their cross-town rivals win the Super Bowl,) does anyone in Baltimore still not understand why Ryan was not selected to be the Ravens head coach?
Just Win Baby, or Else: Eleven head coaching changes were made in 2009. After this year’s termination carnage that cost 7 coaches their jobs, only 2 head coaches remain in the positions they were hired into in ’09 – and both have ties to Baltimore – the Jets’ Rex Ryan and Lions’ Jim Schwartz. And after the 2011 season, only one of those two is not on thin ice.
Congrats to Jim Harbaugh for winning Coach of the Year Honors. He restored respectability to one of the league’s iconic franchises and his 49ers nearly made the Super Bowl. But for me, the choice is Baltimore native and Mt. St. Joe grad Jim Schwartz. Harbaugh already had the pieces in place when he got there; they were just being mismanaged by Mike Singletary. Schwartz had NOTHING when he landed in Detroit. He and the Lions front office built that team from the ground up and have made the NFC North competitive once more.
More Awards: Congratulations are in order to Terrell Suggs for being named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Yes, I agree with those who say that, statistically, Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings had a better year. But you know what? That’s what happens when the best player is on a 3-13 team that sucked versus one that played extremely well for a 13-5 team that was one win from the Super Bowl. History is always written by the victors. And they get the awards, too.
And speaking of Number 55…..
The level of debate on ESPN2′s First Take usually ranges somewhere between the reasoned and the ridiculous. The only consistent thing about the show is the supersonic decibel level. Profootballtalk.com reported that Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs gained lots of new fans for calling out Talking Head Skip Bayless on the day after the Conference Championship game. Known for baiting his guests (and little else), Bayless tried to provoke Suggs into ranting that the Patriots received a little “home cooking” from the officials. Suggs not only wouldn’t bite, he let Bayless have it right in the kisser….. “Stop that. I know what you’re doing,” Suggs said. “Once again, stop it. Be an analyst. Don’t be a douche bag. You know what I meant.”
T-Sizzle: NFL Defensive Player of the Year and American Hero.
Note: Additional content courtesy of the Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Ravens.com, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Bleacher Report.com, and ProFootballTalk.com