10:04 AM EDT, March 20, 2013
What is wrong with this town? I know there are tons of people out there in Baltimore who are as angry at what just happened to our Super Bowl team as I am, but where is their voice?
The word "fan" is short for "fanatic." Where are the fanatics who will speak up? I listen to the sports talk shows all the time. I hear caller after caller saying stupid stuff like, "I'm excited about the new guys they're going to bring in." And the line you always hear. "In Ozzie we trust." On the dollar bill it says In God we Trust. General Manager Ozzie Newsome is not a God. He is a man, and I do not pray to men. Men make mistakes. He just made a boatload of them and took a team with a swagger and made it into an expansion team. We have become football's Florida Marlins, who won everything then scrapped their team and started over.
This is no disrespect to the superstars we still have. I love Ray Rice. The rookie Bernard Pierce is going to be a great one. Haloti Ngata, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Joe Flacco. You are all very talented football players, and I'm so happy we still have you.
But this reverence to John Harbaugh and Ozzie Newsome? The last I heard, Ozzie Newsome was still a man, and John Harbaugh was a special teams coach turned head coach who brought us to post-season play five years in a row and now a Super Bowl. However, our success in the immediate future stops there. Mr. Harbaugh has decided to get rid of the people that speak up too loudly, that have arguments in the middle of a locker room. I thought this was football, where you actually tackle people. John Harbaugh can't stand some yelling and screaming?
You hear it all over, the locker room will now implode. Without Ray Lewis to hold everyone's hand, who will control the players? Control the players? These are grown men. This isn't the army. This is football, Mr. Harbaugh. You do not need to rule the locker room with an iron fist.
The fans keep calling up and showing some unfounded optimism. We just lost our swagger. We just got rid of most of the hard hitting people: Bernard Pollard, the "bone crusher"; Dannell Ellerbie, who took over as middle linebacker when everyone was running all over us and solidified the defense. What's the matter, Mr. Harbaugh? You didn't like his long hair?
Anquan Boldin was the toughest of the receivers. How was he a troublemaker? He barely said a word. All he did was win us the Super Bowl with a couple of his catches and his toughness when he takes the ball away from defenders. And this is the guy we asked to take a $2 million pay cut? Why? He is a tremendous blocker, a fantastic receiver. People complain that he didn't catch enough balls early in the season. That's because Cam Cameron, who is no longer there for good reason, didn't design the plays around him. The knock on him is he doesn't get enough separation. Anquan doesn't need separation. Throw the ball near him and he'll catch it and stop the other guy from getting it.
We asked him to take a $2 million dollar cut then gave $2 million to David Reed, who lost his job as kick returner because he couldn't hold onto the ball. Huh? We cut the guy who led the Ravens in tackles, Bernard Pollard, who cost us a whopping $1 million in cap space. The way I heard it, it was because he argued at a couple of meetings, the equipment guy got upset, John Harbaugh's ego got ruffled, and the defense coach complained because Mr. Pollard talked too loud. I heard one talk show host say that when Mr. Pollard argued at a meeting, that was the last straw. The last straw? This is the guy who led us in tackles. If he wasn't tremendous on the pass but fantastic on the run, so what? We gave him an extension. He saved games. He frightened offenses.
This whole decimation of a great team makes no sense. It's all about ego, John Harbaugh's and Ozzie Newsome's, two men that are fallible and proved it big time during the last couple of weeks. I am not going to out any of the sports talk show hosts because I like the guys. But what are they afraid of? Why do Big Bad John Harbaugh and Ozzie the Great carry so much power in this town? Two sports guys, Ed Norris and Rob Long, I will commend though because they speak their mind.
We all know that Sun columnist Mike Preston is the one who grades the players every week and gives them all a report card. Then, I read an article by Mr. Preston that made my skin crawl — "Ravens haven't missed out on much this offseason" (March 15). Mike, I give you an F on your article.
Mr. Preston writes that the Ravens didn't make any mistakes with the players they let go or didn't re-sign. He said that twice. Then he said "The Ravens don't make mistakes." Excuse me? Is Sergio Kindle on our line? Did Elvis Grbac leave the building when he was with the last head coach? Wasn't it on Ozzie's shift that we picked up Mr. Grbac? Besides desperately needing a vowel in his name, Elvis was awful. Terrence Cody doesn't seem to be taking the NFL by storm. Did Kyle Boller match up well with Peyton Manning? Need I go on?
"The Ravens don't make mistakes." Mike Preston, did you bump your head? You're fond of saying Ed Reed has lost a step, Ray Lewis lost several steps. Well, the front office in the Castle just lost lots of steps, and my respect for Mr. Preston lost a step in that article. John Harbaugh has no power over me, so I have no problem speaking up. And I have no problem saying Ozzie Newsome is no God. He has built this franchise, and when he made good moves like letting Todd Heap and Derrick Mason go, I said so, but when he makes horrible moves like scrapping our Super Bowl team, I will say so as well. The last I heard, this is America where you're allowed to speak your mind, whether you're a football player in the locker room or a sports talk show host.
The city is aghast. Our defense has lost at least one safety, probably two, our most dependable receiver, our leading tackler, our middle linebacker, a great pass rusher in Paul Kruger, and Cary Williams, a cornerback. I expected us to lose Mr. Kruger and Mr. Williams, but they've taken away the heart and soul of our team. And apparently, the Ravens talked to James Harrison, who has the worst attitude of anyone I can remember and who parallels Hines Ward in nastiness. Who's next, Plaxico Burress?
Bernard Pollard, you're my hero, and you can speak up in my locker room any time you want to. Anquan Boldin, I admire your toughness, your amazing ability to catch, and I am going to miss you. I don't have $2,000 to spare, but if I had $2 million I would give it to you myself.
And where oh where is the signing of Vonta Leach? The talk around town is that we've now shifted to an offense minded-team. Yet the "brain" trust in the castle hasn't signed the best blocker in football, who will help our $20 million dollar a year man, and do wonders to make sure Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce do well.
This isn't some master plan. This is just two guys who got what they want, a Super Bowl, and now just want players who say the right things, who don't cause any waves, who talk nice. Is this football or the United Nations? Steve Bisciotti, the best owner in football, how did you let this happen?
Well, Mike Preston, I hope the bump on your head heals and you get back to speaking your mind. I hope the sports shows have more people like Ed Norris and Rob Long with guts, who are willing to say when people at the Castle screw up. Me, I'm just a fan, but I'm sure I speak for a lot of people in Baltimore.
Richard Siegel, Owings Mills
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