STREET TALK: Unitas Plaza is Wrong For Lewis Statue

Lombardi's Way STREET TALK: Unitas Plaza is Wrong For Lewis Statue

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The backlash over the Ray Rice suspension just won’t go away and with each new visit that Rice makes in each new town since the altercation in Atlantic City, the possibility of new and/or sustained vitriol directed towards the Ravens running back exists.

His first game back from the two-game suspension will be a road trip to Cleveland, a sports town with football fans who throw bottles on the field to force the end of a game and tackle 8-year-old boys wearing visiting colors.

Imagine the warm reception that Rice will receive in the Factory of Sadness, particularly if the Ravens win and No. 27 is a factor.

There is one man who has the power to at least slow down the groundswell of anti-Rice sentiment – Roger Goodell.

Goodell should make a clear and concise public statement (something NFL vice president of labor policy and government affairs Adolpho Birch epically failed to do) about the penalty and why in his opinion, based on all of the evidence that he has been privy to, the punishment fits the crime.

The official statement just doesn’t cut it!

Speaking of crimes and Ray Rice, apparently the head honchos at ESPN believe Stephen A. Smith was at least guilty of an infraction that deserves a timeout.

The worldwide leader’s president John Skipper (how appropriate) has suspended Smith until August 6 in part for the following statement concerning the Ray Rice situation:

“What I’ve tried to employ the female members of my family — some of who you all met and talked to and what have you — is that … let’s make sure we don’t do anything to provoke wrong actions, because if I come — or somebody else come, whether it’s law enforcement officials, your brother or the fellas that you know — if we come after somebody has put their hands on you, it doesn’t negate the fact that they already put their hands on you.”

Admittedly Smith’s choice of words was way off but if you’ve watched this man in the past and then read between the lines he simply seems to be encouraging women to at all costs, avoid escalating confrontations whenever possible.

Smith apologized repeatedly during the days following the verbal blunder to everyone and anyone who might have been offended by his words. But apparently it wasn’t enough for ESPN’s ivory tower.

Chances are the suspension is motivated by something other than the network’s values – like say a ticked off sponsor who strokes ESPN a regular check?

It will be interesting to see how Smith’s colleagues respond to the suspension, not so much to its merits but how it may stifle opinions in the future.

Scratch Eric Winston off your list of possible veteran right tackles for the Ravens. Winston is coming off a very subpar season in Arizona in 2013 when he ranked 69th of 76 Tackles graded by Pro Football Focus.

The Ravens had some concerns about Winston’s commitment to football now that he is president of the NFLPA.

Sometimes you just need to see if the younger guys can step up and so far during camp Ricky Wagner has done exactly that. So far…

Lardarius Webb has missed some time this training camp due to a back ailment that doesn’t appear to be very serious according to The Sun’s Aaron Wilson. That said, the depth (or lack thereof) at cornerback has to be concerning to the Ravens.

Webb has a history of injuries and his style of play invites more of the same. Pound for pound he may be the team’s finest tackler and is among the best at his position despite his lanky 182-pound frame.

Opposite Webb is Jimmy Smith who has missed 9 of a possible 48 regular season games during his 3-year career.

Expect the Ravens to make a move for a corner even if Asa Jackson continues to perform well and Chykie Brown snaps out of his training camp funk.

bronze-goat (1)We’ll soon get a chance to look at some game action from backup quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor and Keith Wenning. Taylor is who he is, and that is essentially the same player we’ve seen since he arrived in 2011. Wenning is a heady quarterback with good feet who lacks prototypical NFL arm strength. That said the coaches seem to like him.

This is just a hunch but the bet here is that the Ravens backup QB is not yet on the roster and Wenning will suffer a mysterious “injury” that lands him on IR.

Given the talent on the team’s roster it is unlikely that they’ll sacrifice a solid position player to keep Taylor as the 3rd QB.

The Ray Lewis statue will sit beside that of Johnny Unitas’ in Unitas Plaza at the northern entrance to M&T Bank Stadium.

That’s a mistake!

Ray is deserving of the statue and it should be featured in a prominent spot. And yes under different circumstances he belongs next to Unitas.

But that stadium entrance is a cluster already and adding another towering statue next to the existing one will only put more pressure on an already challenged queuing system outside of Gate A.

Why not find a home for Ray’s statue along Ravens Walk?

Lastly, I had to laugh at the ad on 105.7 The Fan promoting the Vinny & Rob Show. In the ad a caller asks Vinny Cerrato if he would consider another GM job in the NFL. Cerrato’s response, “If it’s the right job.”

I couldn’t help but think of Lloyd Christmas in Dumb & Dumber

Should Ray Lewis' statue be placed alongside Johnny Unitas' in Unitas Plaza?

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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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