'Heat' Blackshear too hot for foes to handle Along with wrestling tag, guard pins down respect

To compare someone to a professional wrestling character these days might compel that person to violence.

But tell Ravens right guard Jeff Blackshear -- all 6 feet 6 and 323 pounds of him -- that he's one-half of "Harlem Heat" and he just shrugs.


Blackshear and left guard Orlando Brown earned the nickname -- after the tag team on TNT's "Monday Nitro" -- through their intimidating style of play.

"That's something that J. J. [defensive tackle James Jones] came up with," Blackshear said. "We're always the ones who smack other people around, we're the ones who start fights."


Blackshear, in his second season with the Ravens, has established himself as a player that defensive linemen don't look forward to playing.

Fellow offensive lineman Wally Williams described one of his favorite on-field moments with Blackshear, when "Big Black" dominated Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Eric Swann.

"This was a series where we were running the ball well and [Blackshear] got up under Eric Swann's skin," Williams said. "After a while he and Swann were face-to-face and he just threw Swann to the ground."

During this time, Williams said that Blackshear wanted to make Swann submit, yelling at him, "You know I'm a good player," as the Ravens moved up the field.

Blackshear said that he doesn't enjoy speaking with reporters and can do without the attention, but a barely perceptible smile creeps up on his face when the story comes up, even though the Cardinals won that game.

"It was just one of those things where I've seen him jam a lot of guards, and he'd get into it with them," Blackshear said. "I was letting him know that I wasn't having any of it. I was in his face all day.

"You have to be that way playing football, because if you don't, a lot of guys will step on you."

Drafted in the eighth round by Seattle in 1993, the Northeast Louisiana product started all of the Seahawks' games in 1994, but fell out of favor after an extended holdout before the 1995 season.


Assistant head coach Kirk Ferentz said the Ravens traded for him anyway, "convinced that he was a good prospect" to replace Bob Dahl, who left via free agency.

Ferentz praised the durability of Blackshear, who has yet to miss a game with the Ravens. Fellow lineman Sale Isaia said the worst injury he has seen Blackshear suffer is a sprained wrist from punching a defensive lineman.

"Football is a rough game," Ferentz said. "There's a lot more to football than being rough and physical, but that's a good starting point."

Hurt Burnett miffed at Oiler

Left defensive end Rob Burnett, sporting a swollen left ankle and walking tenderly yesterday, voiced his displeasure with Tennessee Oilers tight end Michael Roan.

Burnett went down in the first quarter of Sunday's 21-19 victory, on a play in which he beat Roan off the line of scrimmage, then got chopped down from behind on Roan's cut block.


Several plays later, Burnett left the game. He was taken to the locker room for X-rays that revealed an ankle contusion. Burnett did not play the rest of the game, and said he was questionable for Sunday's season finale.

"He [Roan] came up to me before the next play and said, 'I'm sorry,' " said Burnett, who said he responded with an expletive. "It took everything I had not to jump the guy."

Looking ahead to next year, when the Ravens will play their AFC Central rivals twice, Burnett said, "I'm a firm believer in the way things come back to haunt you."

Singleton leaves hospital

Kick return man Nate Singleton was released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, the morning after dislocating his left hip while trying to secure Tennessee's onside kick.

Singleton, who will not begin his rehabilitation for about six weeks, said he got hurt on the initial hit, then lost the ball as he tried to push some players off of him.


"I had the ball tucked and locked away for about 30 seconds. Then, I just felt excruciating pain, and I had to let [the ball] go," said Singleton, who was on crutches. "They [team doctors] told me there's a 10 percent chance that the worst will happen [a career-ending injury] and a 90 percent chance that everything is going to be fine."

Byner: Next year is his last

Running back Earnest Byner, 35, who is signed through next year, said the 1998 season will be his last, and he would like to spend it with the Ravens.

"As long as [the Ravens] will have me, it's my desire to be here and see this team mature. I think next year will be the year for that," Byner said. "I still relish the opportunity to go out and make plays. Also, being able to see the young guys step up. It will be exciting to see what Jay [Graham] can do with a full year."

Extra-special tie

The news flash hit the Ravens' locker room like a thunderbolt. After 15 games, second-year cornerback Donny Brady finally has caught veteran safety Bennie Thompson in special teams tackles. They are tied with 18.


"Bennie gets double-teamed every week, and that helps everyone else out. He still beats some of those double teams, too," Brady said. "If we could all play like Bennie does, we'd have the best special teams in the league."

After getting pounded by a slew of double and occasional triple teams by the Oilers, Thompson said, "I can't even work out today, I'm so beat up. If it takes two or three guys to block me, somebody else better make the play, right?"

Thompson, an unrestricted free agent after this season, said he wants to remain with the Ravens. "I want to come back, but it's still a business," said Thompson, an eight-year veteran who made $290,000 this year. He will turn 35 on Feb. 10.

Et cetera

Defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, who missed Sunday's game after hand surgery, said he might play against Cincinnati. "It's killing me right now. I couldn't play today." Despite missing five starts with injuries, Ravens receiver/returner Jermaine Lewis ranks fifth in the NFL with 1,884 all-purpose yards. In their past four games, the Ravens have recorded a plus-7 in turnover ratio. The Quarterback Club of Baltimore named middle linebacker Ray Lewis as 1997 Toyota Ravens Player of the Year.

Pub Date: 12/16/97