There was supposed to be a feature on Mark Clayton later this week in the Baltimore Sun. The story was about Clayton looking back on his first five years with the Ravens.
The story became moot when the Ravens signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh Monday and traded Clayton to the St. Louis Rams.
"You come in and you want all these things, you desire all these things, especially at receiver – catches and yards and touchdowns and all that stuff," Clayton, the team's top draft choice out of Oklahoma in 2005, said recently.
Clayton paused, and laughed quietly, almost to himself.
"It's different," he said of the way things turned out. "It's not what you thought it would be."
Nor is it the way the Ravens thought it would turn out when they drafted Clayton, or later when he caught 67 passes for 939 yards and five touchdowns in 2006. His numbers slipped amid nagging injuries and – at least for the 2007 season – a divorce that disrupted his personal life and impacted his performance.
"The way you deal with stuff off the field and then you have to come in and just try to focus on what you have to focus on, it's not easy," he said. "I am so grateful to God to do that, to be a pro, to prepare, and every time I was called on to do my job, I was able to do that."
Publicly, the Ravens said that Clayton's inconsistencies were the result of injuries.
"When he's out there and he's healthy, he's a very consistent guy," Ravens receivers coach Jim Hostler said a couple of weeks ago. "He's one of my smartest guys. He knows all three positions. He understands the big picture."
Clayton's strong faith has carried him throughout his career, and believed his success was as much God's plan as Cam Cameron's.
"I've been placed here to do this," he said. "When you know that, you handle it accordingly."
Clayton finished last season with 34 catches, a career low, with 480 yards, only nine yards better than when he was a rookie. What Ravens fans will remember from Clayton's five years in Baltimore was the big fourth down pass he dropped last year in Foxboro.
Clayton said he put that dropped pass behind him rather quickly.
"I've always been that way. It's just football. It's entertainment, it's fun. You have to take the good with the bad," Clayton said. You don't like losing, but it's going to happen at some point and when it does, you're going to have to respond to that. I didn't feel good feel about, but I know I gave it my best and next week is coming."
You have to feel bad for a guy like Clayton getting traded from a Super Bowl contender to a losing team trying to rebuild around a rookie quarterback. At least Clayton has been through that before, and Sam Bradford showed some of his talents last week against the Ravens.
One thing I know: the Rams are getting a class act.