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It's what wasn't said that tells true story of McNair's coronation


On the day the Ravens became a contender again, the phones at radio stations rang off the hook, office productivity screeched to a halt and fans began making postseason plans.

There was certainly a lot that was said yesterday, particularly at the afternoon news conference announcing the Ravens' trade for quarterback Steve McNair. But there was just as much that was left unsaid. Fortunately, my tape recorder picked up both:

What was said: "I know what this team is capable of doing. The defense is already spoken for. They have a great defense. And now they just need some leadership offensively, and I'm willing to bring that." - Steve McNair, new starting quarterback

Left unsaid: "In fact, I'll bring whatever you guys want - leadership, a shovel, some sugar? - if this team will just let me in their workout room."

What was said: "Whether this trade happened or not happened, [the Ravens were] still getting prepared for the 2006 season." - Ozzie Newsome, general manager

Left unsaid: "In fact, we'd already started discussing what we'd do with the No. 1 pick of the 2007 draft. Guess we don't have to worry about that now."

What was said: "One of the comfort zones I do have is watching Steve's career over the last 10, 11, now 12 seasons, he's been through a number of different systems." - Brian Billick, coach

Left unsaid: " ... like the system at Nashville General, the system at University Medical Center, the system at the Nashville Rehabilitation Hospital ... "

What was said: "I gained even more appreciation for Steve during this time. We have a pretty good system in the National Football League but there are some flaws in it, and he got caught up in that system a little bit." - Newsome

Left unsaid: "And by 'caught up,' of course I mean 'screwed by.' "

What was said: Asked whether the Titans could've handled the past couple of months differently: "It was a crazy situation. ... Maybe they could've, maybe not." - McNair

Left unsaid: "They could have."

What was said: "He's one of the elite quarterbacks in this game. His record speaks for itself." - Billick

Left unsaid: "And based on his record, it's clear why we're all so happy and why the doctors and specialists throughout the Baltimore area are starting to hunt for bigger houses."

What was said: [Kyle Boller was unavailable to comment. He was "getting treatment."]

Left unsaid: Getting treatment? He either hit happy hour early or the Ravens finally paired him with a good head doc.

What was said: "When you play this game a long time ... and you haven't accomplished all of the things you want to accomplish, you try to find that missing piece." - McNair

Left unsaid: " ... and that missing piece is my left knee. Seriously, I haven't felt any sensation down there since 1997."

What was said: "It's all about chemistry." - McNair

Left unsaid: "Wait, that's not what I meant ... "

What was said: "It's all about execution." - McNair

Left unsaid: "Nah, that doesn't sound right either ... "

What was said: "It's all about believing in each other."

Left unsaid: "Yeah, that's the ticket. Believe in each other!"

What was said: "All those [individual] awards don't mean anything unless you go to the 'ship.' " - McNair

Left unsaid: "And no matter how much the Vikings wanted to sign me, I kept telling them that I didn't want to get on any boat."

What was said: "Back in the day, you would never have thought in your wildest dream that I'd be here." - McNair

Left unsaid: "And if you're a grown man and the wildest dream that you can come up with involves a football player, you need to seek some counseling."

What was said: "Off the field, it's all about friendship, about doing what's best for each other." - McNair

Left unsaid: "The Ravens didn't really commit 21 penalties in one game last year, did they?"

What was said: "We do have a lot of faith in Kyle Boller. But we made it very clear that if a certain level of productivity presented itself - and I think Steve McNair embodies that it's a slam-dunk - that we're not going to bypass that at any position. - Billick

Left unsaid: "Kyle who?"

What was said: "Finally, the drama is over." - McNair

Left unsaid: "I'm glad to be with a team that is absolutely devoid of controversy. Goodbye, drama!"

What was said: "It's not a race. This is a marathon." - McNair

Left unsaid: "That's what I used to think. Now that I realize that it's actually a football game, I really like our chances at making the playoffs."

What was said: "I'm excited about what Steve represents, both offensively and for the team, as well. It's going to be an exciting time. It's going to be an exciting time for the fans and an exciting time for this team."

Left unsaid: Actually, Billick said it all right there.

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