I’m sure that most of you reading this have worked for a company where you’ve developed deep-rooted working and personal relationships with colleagues; where you’ve embraced the culture of said company to the point that it has in some way shaped your values and accelerated your professional advancement. And sometimes, such things even happen in the NFL. Just ask Co Cap, Anthony Levine, Sr.
“My goal was to make it to the NFL.. not knowing that I’d play in the best organization in the world.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 26, 2022
Levine’s sincerity is genuine and it speaks to a culture that places value on the human element of the NFL. This is the result a consistent message delivered over years in an environment rich in continuity. The players and their families for that matter, aren’t simply pawns in an elaborate scheme that prioritizes winning at all costs. This is why players will choose Baltimore over Pittsburgh or other franchises (see Justin Houston). That said, the intangible values can diminish in importance if consistent winning escapes the franchise’s grasps.
But as for Co Cap, he was a Raven through and through. He probably always will be. Anthony is the consummate company man and his legacy in Baltimore, particularly amongst his teammates, will live on and hopefully set an example for future generations of important role players who embrace the concept of team.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) January 26, 2022
1 of the most genuine people Ive gotten to know during my time w/ the Ravens. Not every player learns my name or acknowledges me. From day 1 @ALevine41 always went out of his way to not only say hi but have real conversations. I respect the hell out of you dawg. Happy Retirement pic.twitter.com/UqBuLUsobF
— Shawn Hubbard (@shawn_hubbard) January 26, 2022
Thanks for setting the bar Co Cap!
And how about this message from The General from this post on our Facebook page, Ravens247
Back in 2014, Mike MacDonald was a coaching intern for the Ravens. Less than 8 seasons later the 34-year-old Boston native is being considered for the Ravens open Defensive Coordinator position. MacDonald was a defensive assistant in 2015-16, secondary coach in 2017 and linebackers coach from 2018 to 2020. He left the Ravens to join John Harbaugh’s brother Jim at the University of Michigan as the Wolverines DC. One could argue that MacDonald has been groomed for this opportunity in Baltimore. Yet I can’t fight this feeling that he’s just not ready to step into a role that was occupied in the past by the likes of Marvin Lewis, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan, Chuck Pagano and Wink Martindale.
Is one season as defensive coordinator at Michigan enough grooming?
— TheWolverine.com (@TheWolverineOn3) January 26, 2022
Coaches who have/will formally interview for Ravens DC job: Ravens DL coach Anthony Weaver, Ravens pass game coordinator Chris Hewitt, Michigan DC Mike Macdonald, Jags DC Joe Cullen, Saints DBs coach Kris Richard, Cowboys DBs coach Joe Whitt Jr., Bucs ILBs coach Mike Caldwell
— Jeff Zrebiec (@jeffzrebiec) January 27, 2022
The tweets above wreak of inconsistencies. The Ravens haven’t made any public comments (a trend as of late) yet sources with ties to the university seem willing to accept and report MacDonald’s departure. Meanwhile the Ravens, through beat reporters like Jeff Zrebiec, want it to be known that they have not officially extended an offer to MacDonald.
So which is it?
Did Michigan prematurely leak the news or did the Ravens promise interviews to others and are now just going through the motions with the candidates that Zrebiec identifies above? And if it’s the latter, how might that affect the Ravens job pursuit of other coaching candidates in the future?
Whatever the case, it’s a clumsy handling of the situation that is unlikely to leave anyone at The Castle smiling. And given MacDonald’s inexperience, I wonder the same for Ravens fans in 2022 if the one-year Wolverine is returning to Charm City.
But before we leave the topic of Young MacDonald, here’s an endorsement from one of college football’s top defenders during the 2021 season, Aidan Hutchinson.
Here’s potential No. 1 pick Aidan Hutchinson on how Mike Macdonald changed his career after taking over at Michigan.
— Jonas Shaffer (@jonas_shaffer) January 26, 2022
Goodbye Big Ben
I have to admit, when Ben Roethlisberger had his abbreviated retirement tour this past season, I wasn’t buying it. Maybe I’m tainted by his retirement overtures in the past – a little bit of “The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf’” at work. Now, with the video below, the retirement actually seems official, provided of course he’s not a fan of the Rolling Stones or Sugar Ray Leonard. Then it could be one of a few retirements.
— BigBen7.com (@_BigBen7) January 27, 2022
Ben was once a lightning rod for controversy throughout his career and as such, he was a target for Ravens fans. He had the crotch rocket accident back in 2006. Later he had sexual allegations made against him in Lake Tahoe (2008) and Georgia (2010). Then there was this scathing feature story about his off-the-field behaviors published by Sports Illustrated in May of 2010 that painted him as an unsavory person with an extreme sense of entitlement – another untouchable amongst the field of celebrated professional athletes.
Perhaps time has mellowed Roethlisberger. Perhaps he has atoned and his alleged faith isn’t just a PR stunt. Maybe he’s sincere and I’ll accept that for now. I’ll also have to accept that the AFC North and the Ravens rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers may never be the same without the native of Lima, OH.
As The Ravens Turn
Last week the reliable Barstool Banks recently insinuated in an article that the Ravens have some things going on behind the scenes that would make your head spin. He wasn’t specific and I’m beginning to understand why. During the past week, I’ve had a few things shared with me that at this point, I’ll file under “educated speculation”. And at the center of much of it is Lamar Jackson.
Lamar has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air since his arrival in Baltimore. He’s been an outstanding player, great teammate, selfless and accountable. But some things don’t add up including Lamar’s late season regression, the lack of any contractual movement and, despite the criticisms, the decision to retain Greg Roman as the team’s OC.
Rumors have recently surfaced that the Ravens 1) may consider a potential trade for Lamar and, 2) that some of his off-the-field behaviors may have contributed to the former MVP’s disappointing 2021. But they are just that – rumors. So I get why Banks was measured in his recent article. That said, the Lamar contract situation deserves close attention. Any unusual developments could be signs that there’s merit to the educated speculation.
Perhaps the Ravens brass only has themselves to blame for this. According to the NFL Media Access Policy:
Every team is required to 1) make players available for interviews the day after the season ends and 2) hold a news conference during the week following the end of its season with its head coach, and/or chief executive, and/or club president, and/or general manager. The purpose is to serve fan interest in the conclusion of the team’s season.
As for 1),
As for 2), we’re all still waiting, 18 days later, and counting.
We’re all well aware of the Ravens reliance upon analytics as a decision-making tool. We’re painfully aware of how analytics persuaded John Harbaugh to green light two-point conversion attempts late in a few games, the failure of which arguably diminishing his team’s chance for success and a win, AND…a chance at a playoff berth.
I’m not among the staunch opponents of Harbaugh’s two-point attempts, although I did disagree with two of the XP2 tries. I’m more of a critic of the execution of the attempts. Comparatively speaking, the Ravens threw down their two-point attempt card eight times in 2021, converting two (25%). Teams that went for the deuce more than the Ravens include the Chargers (7 of 11), Cowboys (6 of 10) and the Jets (4 of 9). The Ravens 25% conversion rate ranking was good for 25th in the league, tied with the Cardinals and WFT.
4th Quarter Scoring
I’ve been among those who believe that the Ravens were rather weak when it comes to holding fourth quarter leads, and it seems to have been going on for a few years. Maybe those blown leads occur during the most dramatic game-endings and therefore blown leads feel like the norm. So I did a little digging regarding fourth quarter scoring, both offensively and defensively.
On offense, per TeamRankings.com, the Ravens ranked 8th (8.0 points) in 2021, compared to 27th in 2020 (5.9 points). On the defensive side, the Ravens fourth quarter scoring defense this season came in at 23rd (7.5 points) compared to 2020 when they ranked 12th (6.0 points).
We know that the fourth quarter in Kansas City was an offensive free-for-all with 25 points scored in the final 1:54 of regulation. And while that seems insane, the insanity was even greater 8 seasons earlier in Baltimore on December 8, 2013.
Funny Money (Championship Sunday)
ICYMI, prior to the Wild Card Round I filled my wallet with an imaginary $1,000. After the WC weekend, I was down to $940. The Divisional Round destroyed me. Last week I lost $580 and now I’m down to $360. I have to stay alive for the Super Bowl so I’ll curb the (lack of) enthusiasm this week, just in case my streak of bad luck continues.
Sunday at 3PM on CBS: Bengals (+7) at Chiefs, over/under at 54 ½
I hate the game. Can both teams lose? The winning quarterback will be jammed down our throats for two solid weeks. Pick your poison – Macaulay Culkin Burrow or Patrick Mahomes and his annoying family. Ugh! The horror.
By the time these teams take the field, only 4 weeks will have separated them. They met back on January 2 when Burrow chucked it around the yard for 446 yards, 4 TDs and a passer rating of 148.0. Meanwhile, Mahomes got off to a fast start but after the break, the Bengals held Pat to 50 yards passing and 3 points during the 34-31 Bengals win.
I’ll plunk down a Benjamin and take Who Dey and the 7.
Sunday at 6:30 on FOX: 49ers (+3 ½) at Rams, over/under at 46
San Francisco won both regular season meetings between these clubs. Whichever wins will get my support in Super Bowl 56. I look for a close game between these familiar foes and while I’m leaning towards the Niners in a mild upset, anytime I watched Jimmy Garoppolo I just wait for him to soil the bed. And now that I’m putting my fake money on him, you can count on it. I’ll put down $100 on the team by the bay to keep in within three.
Those Who Serve
I have immense respect for those who protect our country’s freedoms – the remarkable and courageous men and women of the Armed Forces. I share an equal amount of respect for those who try and keep us all from harm’s way on a local level – law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical service providers.
Recently Baltimore lost three firefighters: Lt. Paul Butrim, firefighter/paramedic Kelsey Sadler and EMT/firefighter Kenny Lacayo. A fourth, seriously injured EMT/firefighter John McMaster, has thankfully survived and was just released from the hospital. Butrim, Sadler and Lacayo chose to help others who couldn’t help themselves. They gave of their lives as if it was their mission to protect.
Here’s to their memories, to their ultimate sacrifices and to the family and friends that have survived these uncommonly selfless people. I pray you all find comfort in the time you spent with these heroes and the love you shared. May it lift you during this difficult time.
Sadly, four heroes have passed away in the line of duty right here in Charm City lately.
We’re hosting “Heroes Salute” to honor late Police Officer Keona Holley and late Baltimore City Fire Members Lt. Paul Butrim, Kelsey Sadler, & Kenneth Lacayo.
— Jimmy’s Famous Seafood (@JimmysSeafood) January 27, 2022
Last Sunday, Chesley Patterson, aka Chesco, the general manager at La Scala Ristorante Italiano, was shot dead just blocks from the Little Italy restaurant while leaving work and heading home. Chesco was a sweet guy and while I didn’t know him very well, he pretended that we did each time I visited La Scala.
Chesco greeted you with a big smile that he wore like a “Welcome” sign. He was determined to help make your La Scala experience the best it could be. His enthusiasm for life was infectious until some thug came along and raped the world of this amazing beacon of light – this ray of positivity in the world. May Chesco’s effervescence survive him. I hope all who knew him well, carry forward the blessing that he was part of their lives.
And may justice be served.
John Lennon wrote, recorded and mixed his new single ‘Instant Karma!’ all in one day. It ranks as one of the fastest-released songs in pop music history, recorded at London’s Abbey Road Studios and arriving in stores only ten days later.
This week’s Music Fanimal focus is The 8 Ohms Band. They are funky, rhythmic, eclectic and most of all FUN. In this episode we sit down with 3 Ohms, Kevin Basiliko, Kristin Alise and Marcus Zapanta. We learn of their influences that result in a unique blend of Horn Heavy Funk, Soul, Reggae, Hip Hop, Jazz & Go Go. The 8 Ohms Band is without a doubt a powerhouse lineup of players. More on The 8 Ohms Band can be seen HERE.
My Single Friend
My Single Friend somehow got into a spirited conversation with a girl at the bar about dating.
• MSF: Women always have the upper hand when dating.
• Girl: Really? How so?
• MSF: Well, when a man goes on a date, he wonders if he is going to get lucky… a woman already knows.
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