His name seemed a fitting allusion to what he did on the field. For two years, fullback Sam Gash cleared paths for Ravens running backs, bulldozed would-be tacklers and sprang Jamal Lewis and Terry Allen for sometimes hefty chunks of yardage.
Gash was a grunt, a bodyguard, a blocker whose dominant play helped the Ravens win the Super Bowl in January 2001.
In three seasons with the team, the fullback carried the ball a total of four times. But it was the road less traveled that earned the two-time Pro Bowl pick the championship ring he slips onto his scarred left hand on Sundays in the fall.
"I wear it to show people something of which I am very, very proud," said Gash, 38, an assistant special teams coach with the Detroit Lions. "That season was the culmination of my career.
"I was a complementary player, a battering ram. I knew it, accepted it and appreciated it. I took joy in blocking a guy, creating a crack in the defense and watching Jamal run past for 15 yards. For me, that was like scoring a touchdown."
In the Super Bowl, a 34-7 rout of the New York Giants, Gash threw blocks that cleared two Lewises - Jamal and Jermaine - for TDs.
"The camaraderie on that team was special," Gash said. "Every Thursday, the running backs would meet at Jamal's house - without the coaches - to watch tapes for our next game. Jamal would cater it and we'd sit there for hours, talking about what we were going to do."
Gash retired in 2003. He said his selfless play has resulted in 19 orthopedic operations on ankles, wrists, knees and fingers. He was one of the few NFL players to wear a neck roll - "people laughed at me for wearing it," he said -but it saved him from back and neck problems.
An injury to his ring finger six years ago led Gash to order an oversized Super Bowl band. Since then, the swelling has subsided, prompting him to wrap string around the ring to keep it from slipping off his finger.
"I don't cover up any of the diamonds, though," he said.
• With the Ravens: 2000-02.
• Other teams: New England Patriots, 1992-97; Buffalo Bills 1998-99, 2003
• Current job: Assistant special teams coach with the Detroit Lions.
• Career statistics: 121 carries for 327 yards and two TDs; 169 receptions for 1,347 yards and 13 TDs.
• Fun fact: Never lost a fumble during his pro career.
• College: Penn State, with a degree in liberal arts with an emphasis in speech communication, marketing and management.
• Family: He and his wife, Alicia, have a daughter, Samantha, and three sons, Kolby, Elijah and Isaiah.
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