Justin Tucker once opened a postgame news conference with an up-dog joke. He has done impressions of Matthew McConaughey, Donald J. Trump and Christopher Walken. Twice in a three-minute span Wednesday, he invoked Rodney Dangerfield.
But perhaps the Ravens kicker’s longest-running joke doesn’t go anywhere. It might just take a pair of bolt cutters to remove it altogether.
When the team opened its revamped locker room to the media for the first time around the start of the regular season, one decorative flourish stood out: the locked-up steel chain on wide receiver Michael Crabtree’s locker.
Crabtree, who’s often reluctant to talk to reporters, was asked about the chain for the first time at the Ravens’ news conference Wednesday. The free-agent signing identified Tucker as the mastermind. But Tucker pointed to another player as the inspiration.
“I don't want to necessarily point out one person that would be the reason for the chain on Crab's locker, but, yeah, it's Aqib Talib,” he said. “We know that they have a little bit of history.”
Ahead of the Ravens’ joint practices in Owings Mills with Talib and the Los Angeles Rams in early August, Tucker took a chain out of the Ravens’ weight room and affixed it to Crabtree’s locker. It was a chain, after all — a much smaller one, suitable for neckwear — that the cornerback had ripped right off the then-Oakland Raiders receiver’s neck each of the previous two seasons.
A month into the regular season, Tucker’s sight gag is still as reliable as his right leg.
“I just wanted to be a good teammate and help Crab achieve that mentality that we know he's capable of achieving,” Tucker said. “He's a guy who can flip a switch, and sometimes you just got to see the chain in the locker. Like, I'll look over there now and I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, I'm ready to go.' ”
Sheepishly, Tucker said, “I don't think I'm that funny most of the time,” but he at least has Crabtree’s approval. The wide receiver said the “majority” of the Pro Bowl kicker’s jokes are funny. Which is at least more respect than Dangerfield claimed he ever got.
“All you need is that one semi-audible Kawhi laugh,” Tucker said, referring to Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard’s recent awkward, stilted, not-quite-human laugh. “And you know, that just gives me great satisfaction.”