With Father's Day on Sunday, The Baltimore Sun surveyed local athletes, from Orioles and Ravens to Terps and Greyhounds, for cherished memories of their dads. The remembrances are as unique as the relationships they spring from, but in each there are virtues of fatherhood: love, patience, pride. And because these are athletes, after all, there are sports.
With every cut he made, every stride he took and every stopwatch click he heard at Maryland's pro day Wednesday, Andrew Zeller knew he had much at stake. The former Terps offensive lineman didn't get an invitation to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., in February, so the breezy afternoon at Maryland Stadium served as his best chance to make an impression on the NFL scouts in attendance. While Yannick Ngakoue, Quinton Jefferson and Sean Davis were able to pick and choose their workouts with combine performances to fall back on, Zeller and the six other combine non-invitees participating in pro day had to make the most of their one opportunity that could lead to a phone call later in April and the chance to earn a roster spot with a team.
On a day where money changed hands at a dizzying rate both before and after the free-agent market opened at 4 p.m., the Ravens stayed mostly quiet, but set themselves up to make moves in the days ahead.
A day before the free-agent market officially opens and just hours after learning that Kelechi Osemele was unofficially headed to the Oakland Raiders on a record-breaking contract, the Ravens reached a tentative agreement with tight end Benjamin Watson on a two-year deal. The 12-year veteran had 74 catches for 825 yards and six touchdowns last year for the New Orleans Saints.
One-time teammates at Ohio State, Joey Bosa and Noah Spence are now viewed as the top two edge rushers in April's draft, and either of them could be a solution in the Ravens' quest to jump-start a pass rush that did too little and was often far too late during a disappointing 2015 season.
To make up ground in the AFC North as well as the conference, the Ravens need to have a quality draft because they might not have enough salary cap room to bring in high-profile free agents. The team's draft record has been disappointing since the late 2000s when the Ravens selected players who made an immediate impact, like guards Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda in 2007 and quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice in 2008.
When Darius Kilgo was drafted by the Denver Broncos last May, he got the standard phone calls from the team¿s coach, Gary Kubiak, and the general manager, John Elway. But his phone lit up with another text from an unexpected source that day: Broncos future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning. It was a bit of a surprise for the sixth-round pick who wasn¿t even invited to the NFL scouting combine after his career as a defensive lineman at Maryland ended.
The Broncos gave up 296 points during the regular season and 44 points during their three postseason games. That's an average of 17.9 points per game, which is pretty good until you compare it the two teams during the 16-game era that are generally left standing during any debate about the best defensive units — the 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2000 Ravens.
Bottom line, CBS Sports did a good job Sunday night. Super Bowls are such crazed spectacles, and social media is so snark-infested these days, that any broadcast team which gets through one without becoming the story in a bad way should consider itself a winner.
Maryland coach DJ Durkin was born on Jan. 15, 1978, which happened to be Super Bowl Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys beat Denver, 27-10, in Super Bowl XII at the Superdome in New Orleans, La., behind a staunch defensive effort. One of the most valuable players of that game? Maryland great Randy White.
Shaquil Barrett left Baltimore as a 15-year-old, seeking structure and motivation, and wanting to avoid getting caught in a trap that had ensnared so many teenagers around him. He has since been to many places in between. His latest stop might be the most improbable one of them all. Barrett, a reserve outside linebacker and special teams standout for the Denver Broncos, will play in Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.