Dissed by the ex-GM on FM

Lombardi's Way Dissed by the ex-GM on FM

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When I first started Ravens24x7.com back in 2003 I honestly didn’t know where it might go. It began as a hobby and provided me with a forum to express my thoughts about the Baltimore Ravens.

Somewhere along the line the site started to create a little bit of a buzz and I was asked to join Bob Haynie on air when he manned the 10-2 slot on WNST. The appearance on Bob’s show led to more including a couple of in studio visits. I will be forever grateful to Bob for his willingness to give a mic to a guy who was rather green on air.

The exposure had a positive influence on our site’s traffic, so much so that we explored a show of our own as a brokered programmer. Essentially we paid for a time slot and offset those costs with ad revenue. Our show GAMETIME had a 5-year run, bouncing around a few stations (ESPN 1300, WCBM, FOX 1370 and WNST) to find the best fit and time slots from the slim pickings offered to us.

The experience provided opportunities to do things that I never dreamed of and contributed greatly to the relevance of Ravens24x7.com. It also allowed me to get to know many in the world of local sports media. The personalities of the beat writers, columnists and on air talent are varied and eclectic.

Many times the journalist you think you know from their work is hardly the way they are when not writing or talking about sports. I could go on about those personalities and perhaps one day I will. But for now I’ll zero in on Rob Long’s sidekick at 105.7 The Fan, Vinny Cerrato who yesterday chose to smear me along with Kevin Byrne and John Harbaugh.

My earliest recollections of Cerrato go back to his days with the San Francisco 49ers. When the Colts left Baltimore I adopted the Niners as my team until the Ravens came along. Cerrato arrived in San Francisco by way of Notre Dame where he was the Recruiting Coordinator for Lou Holtz.

A couple of guys who covered Cerrato during his career have shared under the condition of anonymity that Holtz forced Cerrato out, fearing that some recruiting shenanigans could come back to bite the Golden Domers.

Legend has it that Holtz enjoyed a fine relationship with the Niners’ Carmen Policy and that paved the way for Cerrato’s graceful exit into a sweet spot as San Francisco’s Director of College Scouting in 1991.

Cerrato eventually moved on to be the Director of Player Personnel for the Washington Redskins for 10 seasons between the years of 1999 – 2009. He was fired from that position prior to the 2002 campaign, the loser in a power struggle with Marty Schottenheimer. Cerrato returned to the position in 2003 when Schottenheimer left after just one season as the Redskins skipper.

During Cerrato’s time as owner Dan Snyder’s sidekick the Redskins were 73-90 including three playoff appearances (all losses).

Fast forward a few years to Cerrato being hired by CBS’ 105.7 The Fan and partnered with the talented and underrated Ken Weinman. The move initially seemed like a stroke of genius. Regardless of the train wreck of a career as an NFL GM, Cerrato could provide a new perspective on sports talk – that through the eyes of a former league exec. It was an interesting and refreshing vantage point.

However rumors soon surfaced that Cerrato wasn’t too fond of Weinman who was eventually bumped aside for Rob Long. That development surprised no one who has followed Cerrato’s career. Whether at Notre Dame, San Francisco or Washington, a disingenuous shadow of slickness (go ahead and start Googling) seems to be a common denominator. Think Jay Mohr’s character, Bob Sugar in the movie Jerry McGuire.

Today he and Long seem to enjoy a pretty decent on air kinship even though it isn’t hard to imagine Long wincing in agony upon hearing some of the things that spew from Cerrato, ranging from biting and oftentimes off-the-mark criticisms of players (Joe Flacco’s intelligence among them) and front office execs around the league, not to mention a rather obvious deficiency in baseball IQ.

But Long being the pro that he is makes it work.

That is until yesterday when Cerrato and Long kicked around the topic of Kubiak-Gate – again!

Cerrato is in Mike Preston’s corner on this overly debated topic and seems to think Ravens PR head honcho Kevin Byrne is spin doctoring (that’s putting it mildly) to cover for what Preston and Cerrato believe was John Harbaugh’s “non-factor” status in the hiring process.

Initially I held a similarly strong opinion on the topic but was later corrected by a source within the organization whose name is not Kevin Byrne.

Apparently a caller to the Vinny and Rob Show pointed out my column in which I retracted my initial opinion. Cerrato completely dismissed it and stopped just short of calling me a kiss-ass, opting instead for Ravens yes-man, after which he proceeded to mock me by imitating a crying baby.

Some of you may agree. Some of you may not.

But why would I be a “yes-man”? I’m not financially tied to the Ravens like The Sun or WBAL. Therefore the Ravens have no leverage and I have no reason to kowtow to their whims.

I have been very critical of John Harbaugh and I was again in my initial opining on Kubiak-Gate. But I was wrong, explained why I was wrong and then apologized. If that’s the definition of a “yes-man”, ok well I guess I can accept that.

But from where I come from, it’s ok to admit to mistakes and learn from them. Humility isn’t an undesirable quality.

Instead Cerrato and Preston are too proud, stubborn, slightly shallow or some combination thereof and can’t help but to escalate their commitment to misguided beliefs about Kubiak-Gate. Cerrato did it on his show and Preston did it on 105.7’s Norris & Davis Show.

Why do you think they continue to beat a horse that’s deader than Cerrato’s career in DC?

I debated whether or not to write this piece but opted to do so because Cerrato’s words broadcasted to the big audience that 105.7 projects to aren’t fair to my colleagues and our customers. We all work far too hard to just roll over on his slanderous commentary.

Integrity is important to us and I just wanted to set the record straight.

Thanks for listening.

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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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