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Players focus on Manning, not Unitas

The Baltimore Sun

From the practice field to the meeting rooms, the Ravens have their minds set on the Colts ... the ones from Indianapolis and not the ones who played in Baltimore.

While some fans still fume over the thought of the Colts' relocation, Ravens players have not mentioned it among themselves.

It's like that part of Baltimore football history is truly history. At least for the Ravens players.

"A lot of these guys think that the Colts were always in Indiana," wide receiver Derrick Mason said.

Mason estimated that 80 percent of the Ravens players aren't aware of this painful piece of Baltimore's past, and he's probably not too far off. More than half of the Ravens' 53-man roster (28 players) were younger than 3 when the Mayflower vans pulled out of the area in March 1984.

In fact, more than one-quarter of the team (15 players) wasn't alive at the time. Starting quarterback Joe Flacco was born 10 months after owner Robert Irsay moved the Colts.

Backup running back Ray Rice, who grew up in New York, had never heard of the Colts playing in Baltimore until he played here himself.

"I knew the Ravens were a new team," he said, "and when I heard about the Baltimore Colts, I thought it was interesting."

Unlike Rice, running back Le'Ron McClain said he knew that the Colts came from here.

When pressed to name a Baltimore Colt, McClain paused a few seconds.

"Did Unitas play for them?" McClain asked.

That would be the same John Unitas who has a 9-foot bronze statue outside of M&T; Bank Stadium.

So, is there anyone else?

"That's it," McClain said.

While the players have limited knowledge of the old Colts, none showed any disrespect toward them.

These players are just from a different time, a different era.

When they see the blue horseshoes, they don't think of Raymond Berry, Art Donovan, John Mackey and Lenny Moore.

"When I think of the Colts, I think of Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison," McClain said.

Two seasons ago, the players couldn't avoid this part of the city's football heritage. When the Colts played the Ravens in the playoffs, players couldn't walk into the locker room without being asked about it by a reporter.

But the players believe there's less interest with the media because it's that way with the fans. Mason said he didn't receive one call on his weekly radio show about the fans' hatred of the Colts.

"Right now, I don't think it's as big," Mason said. "It's not a rivalry between the teams."

youth is served

There are 15 Ravens who weren't born when the Colts moved from Baltimore in March 1984:

* Antwan Barnes, LB * Oniel Cousins, OT

* Lamar Divens, DT * Joe Flacco, QB

* Jared Gaither, OT * Tavares Gooden, LB

* Derrick Martin, CB * Jameel McClain, LB

* Le'Ron McClain, RB * Haruki Nakamura, S

* Ray Rice, RB * Marcus Smith, WR

* Troy Smith, QB * Marshal Yanda, G

* Tom Zbikowski, S

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