GRAPEVINE: Torrey Smith to donate a dread for every TD?

Lombardi's Way GRAPEVINE: Torrey Smith to donate a dread for every TD?

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Ravens fans have grown frustrated with the team’s inability to make much of an impact during the free agency signing period. Some have even taken to criticizing one of the league’s best GM’s, Ozzie Newsome. What fans aren’t aware of is that there’s more to the Ravens’ penny-pinching than limited cap space.

Word is the club’s cash flow has slowed to a drip. Insiders have suggested that while the team’s stadium deal was once a very good one, by today’s standards it’s a bit obsolete and there is talk of building a new stadium sometime within the next 5 years. Possible locations include Columbia and Severna Park.

The limited cash also threatens the Ravens’ chances to sign Lardarius Webb to an extension this year. That makes Webb vulnerable, particularly to teams that have two first round picks. Some have suggested that the Patriots will make a play for Webb while others think the Bengals might throw their tiger helmet in the ring. However, we’re hearing that the Browns with the 4th and 22nd overall picks are quietly making a play for Webb who has strong family ties in the Columbus, OH area.

The Ravens quest to find a replacement for Ben Grubbs may be taking a complete detour. A league source has indicated that Commissioner Roger Goodell is extremely perturbed by the Saints’ appeals of the punishments levied following the aftermath of Bounty Gate and those appeals could result in even more action by The Commish.

In the opinion of one insider Goodell could unwind all free agent signing made by the Saints including the team’s signing of Ben Grubbs. If that happens Grubbs’ agent Pat Dye has hinted that the move could bring him right back to Baltimore to accept the deal that Ozzie Newsome extended a few weeks ago. That deal is said to be on par with the one Marshal Yanda signed in 2011.

John Harbaugh over the years here in Baltimore has become quite surly towards the media. His responses have been described as calculated, guarded, condescending and oftentimes insulting when addressing reporters. However, when addressing fans during paid public speaking engagements Harbaugh is energetic, motivating, approachable and candid. The disparity in his approach to these audiences is something Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti apparently expected and represents a violation of the terms of Harbaugh’s contract extension.

So what does it mean?

It means that if Bisciotti chooses to fire Harbaugh for any reason he is not responsible for the balance of the lucrative extension.

The NFL schedule will soon be announced and word has leaked out that the Ravens will open the season on the road against the Steelers on Monday Night Football. Sources in Pittsburgh have indicated that the Steelers plan to host a ceremony prior to the game renaming the stadium Hines Field. Hines Ward is expected to make a speech at halftime of the prime time affair.

Each June for the past several years Ocean City, Maryland has played host to what has been described as a Ravens Convention. The long weekend hardly qualifies as a “convention” per se. For those who have attended it’s rather obvious that the long weekend is really just a celebration of the Ravens, their fans and the friendships that are the byproduct of having an NFL team. It really is a fun weekend for the Ravens faithful.

However, that fun could turn a bit in 2012.

Ocean City is in many ways a melting pot for the NFL. It is home to many Redskins, Eagles and Steelers fans as well as Ravens fans and this year we’re told the Steelers’ contingent plans to be heard. Many have reserved hotel rooms near the finish line of the parade where they allegedly plan to blast the dreaded Steelers fight song, “Here We Go” as contestants in the parade strut their respective floats in front of the judges.

Get your video cameras ready. THIS should be interesting.

Remember when the Bengals’ Adam Jones tackled Torrey Smith by his dreads? Well to make such a tackle in 2012 could prove to be more difficult if Smith has a successful season. For every touchdown that the soon-to-be second year player scores, Smith will cut a dread and donate it to charity. The charity will then frame the dread and offer it as an auction item to fans and collectors.

Nike is taking over for Reebok as the official uniform provider for the NFL and word is the changes for the Ravens are a bit more than subtle. While the popular bird adorning the side of the current helmet will still be remain a staple, the helmet for home games will be white instead of black and the alternate uniform, traditionally the black jersey, will feature the gold color found in the team’s logo. The Ravens are welcoming the idea because it is nearly an organizational consensus that apparel sales need a stimulus to help the club’s strained cash flow.

Speaking of interesting, the Ravens could use the retired cap reserve set aside for Ricky Williams to loosen spending a tad. Some believe that Williams will still be back once training camp starts but is he needed? Anthony Allen is thought to be the next man up by most should the Ravens close the book on Williams – but not so fast. Those close to former Miami Hurricane Damien Berry have shared that the 2011 practice squad player is in tremendous shape and has been clocked at 4.37 in the 40 – pretty impressive for a 5’10” back sporting a ripped 225 pound frame.

And while we’re on the topic of frames, Ray Lewis’ plans for an entertainment center in Hunt Valley which was to include state-of-the-art bowling lanes have been scrapped. Lewis has now re-directed his post football career ambitions to a more natural fit – a motivational speaking agency to be called The Bottom Line. Besides Lewis others who are said to be involved as speakers for the agency include: Shannon Sharpe, Rod Woodson, Warren Sapp, Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Rex Ryan and Tim Tebow.

Back to M&T Bank Stadium for a moment, don’t be surprised if the Maryland Stadium Authority, influenced by strong overtures from Governor Martin O’Malley, starts charging fees for any tailgaters utilizing grills. The fees are said to vary depending on the size of the grill and the amount of time the grill is used. Look for fees ranging from $10 to $50 per game. Also as part of an effort to create more value for their corporate sponsorship with Miller/Coors, beer consumption in the tailgate lots will be limited to only Miller or Coors brands. Any other brands could be confiscated. 24×7 koozie anyone?

On a brighter note, we’re hearing that beer sales will now extend into the fourth quarter during games at M&T. The Talon Club located near the northwest corner of the lower concourse will be featuring 2-for-1 specials for every Ravens touchdown scored in the fourth quarter.

To help repair the strained relationship between the front offices of the Ravens and Orioles, the Birds will host a Ravens Night at OPACY during which Buck Showalter’s gang will change the orange trim on their uniform, socks and hats to purple. Expect premium seat pricing like that which Orioles fans have become accustomed to for Red Sox and Yankees games at The Yard.

And finally today is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when many people play all kinds of jokes and foolishness. The day is marked by the commission of good-humored or otherwise funny jokes, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates and Ravens fans. Happy April Fools’ Day!


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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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