Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Ravens Get BUSY as "Offseason" Begins

July 26, 2011

Holy flying purple birds! The Ravens jumped into the truncated NFL offseason with both feet on Monday evening, making nearly an entire typical offseason’s worth of moves in a single night. In a day that many in Baltimore will forever remember as “Black Monday,” the Ravens cut ties with some old beloved favorites, reminding us all once again – as if we’d forgotten after 130+ days of labor negotiations – that the NFL is a business first and foremost.

Long-time Ravens Todd Heap (with the team since 2001), Kelly Gregg (2001), Derrick Mason (2005), and Willis McGahee (2007) were informed by Ozzie Newsome of their respective releases on Monday. The cuts came as a shock to many of the purple & black faithful, as these names account for a significant percentage of the jerseys you’d see scattered across M&T Bank Stadium on any given Sunday over the past 5-10 years.

There is no room for sentimentality as the NFL returns to the salary cap era after the “Wild West” uncapped 2010 season, and many Ravens fans find themselves having a hard time dealing with some of these latest roster moves. A sampling of the reactions on Facebook and Twitter finds a great number of fans questioning Ozzie, expressing sadness like they’ve lost a loved one, and even wishing the lockout was still on.

While I can relate to the emotion – trust me, I can – everyone needs to take a deep breath and just RELAX for a few minutes. The compressed timing of all of these moves – all were announced within about a two hour period – certainly added to the feeling of overwhelm and grief that so many of you are feeling. In a typical offseason, we’d have had weeks or even months to deal with these cuts as they came individually over a much, much longer span of time. Losing those four guys, who have contributed so much to our team over the years, in one fell swoop, is indeed a lot to handle.


First off, reports are that the team will try to bring back Mason and Heap at lower cap numbers.

Secondly, Ozzie knows what he is doing. The Ravens were, by all indications, the most active team on Monday. There is no question that there is a hard blueprint in place at the Castle for exactly what needs to be done, and that blueprint is being executed. The team’s priorities are resigning guard/tackle Marshal Yanda, signing Haloti Ngata to a long-term contract, and getting some pass rush help – all priorities that had no prayer with the team bumping up against the salary cap before this purge.

Reports were swirling Monday (prior to the cuts) that the Ravens were already being priced out of the Yanda sweepstakes, with the deep-pocketed Washington Redskins champing at the bit to get to the big farm boy. Suddenly, seeing #73 on September 11 isn’t nearly as far-fetched of a proposition as it was just a few hours ago. The Ravens now have the room that they need to at least sit at the table with Yanda and his agent and offer a market-worthy deal. Whether or not Marshal stays obviously remains to be seen. But again, we have a better chance now than we did with all of those costly veterans on the roster.

In addition to Yanda, the Ravens can now think about pursuing some other free agents, such as Minnesota Vikings defensive end Ray Edwards, New York Giants DE Mathias Kiwanuka, or Tennessee Titans DE Justin Babin. Some names of wide receivers have been floating around as well, including former Viking Sidney Rice and potential cut victim Carolina Panther Steve Smith.

The team says that they informed quarterback Joe Flacco of the impending cuts of Heap and Mason prior to the news breaking, so as to not catch him off guard. Probably a good idea, considering the QB is likely breathing heavily into a paper bag as we speak, facing the prospect of having lost his top two security valves in the offense. Joe, like the thousands of fans with Mason and Heap jerseys, will need to adjust quickly.

Some are dreaming that the Ravens are cutting costs in order to pursue a full-court press on Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, but I just don’t see that happening. He’ll still cost too much. Unless they lose just about everybody else they hope to resign, including Yanda and others.

Now, it wasn’t all gloom and doom on Monday. The Ravens were also active in signing some undrafted free agents – again, Ozzie has a plan.

First up was former Boston College Linebacker Mark Herzlich. Herzlich deserves a post all to himself, but for now you’ll remember him as the BC linebacker who won ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2008, then was diagnosed with cancer and missed the entire 2009 season. Now cancer-free, Herzlich could be lining up next to Ray Lewis this fall.

EDIT: Despite reports last night, Herzlich apparently shunned the Ravens for the Giants. His bad.

Next, the Ravens inked former Miami Hurricane running back Damien Berry to a deal.

Depending on if the team goes out and signs any of the free agent running backs (Ricky Williams, Ronnie Brown, Reggie Bush, etc.), Berry will likely be competing with Jalen Parmele and seventh-round draft pick Anthony Allen for a special teams spot along with being the junk time runner. Based on that video, the kid has some talent, but we have to remember that there’s a reason he wasn’t drafted.

It’s a lot to deal with in one day,  I understand. One thing to keep in mind though, is that it’s better to get rid of players a year or two “early” than a year or two “late.” As much as we hate to admit it, there is a very successful franchise about four hours to our northwest who has made a habit of doing exactly that (swapping an aging, expensive Joey Porter for a young up-and-coming LaMarr Woodley, perhaps?).

Of course, there’s the possibility that all of these roster moves are just an elaborate ruse to trick former defensive coordinator Rex Ryan into cutting half of his team as he falls all over himself to sign each and every Raven that was cut today. Rex, as we all remember, is constructing Ravens-lite up there in New York, and he’ll surely be after the services of Gregg and likely Heap at the very least.

There will undoubtedly be more moves on the way, Ravens fans, so if you’re one of those who feel like they had to say goodbye to some old friends yesterday, steel yourselves now. Guys like Dominique Foxworth, Brendon Ayanbedejo, and other vets will be looking over their shoulders constantly in the upcoming hours and days.

Welcome back, football. We’ve missed you.

THE LOCKOUT IS OVER!!! Celebrate with Goob

July 25, 2011

Finally, our long NFL nightmare is over. After months and months of negotiations, annoying legal-jargon filled diatribes on our favorite sports websites, and posturing and hand-wringing by both sides, the NFL owners and players at long last agreed to a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) that will ensure no football is missed in 2011 (save for the annual Hall of Fame preseason game).

Join Goob as he celebrates the great news of the return of Ravens football, and discusses what the team needs to do now that they are allowed to contact free agents – both their own and those of other teams.

Special Announcement: Partnership with

July 24, 2011

We are extremely proud to announce that this season B’More Birds’ Nest will be partnering with the site that is unquestionably the premier destination for Ravens fans on the web, Ravens 24×7 (

If you’re a Ravens fan and you have a computer, there is little doubt that you are familiar with Tony Lombardi’s Ravens24x7. The site has been providing unmatched Ravens coverage for many years, boasting an impressive stable of writers including Tony, Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post, Matt Jergensen of Ravens Gab, former Raven Wally Williams, and others. One of my favorite columns anywhere on the web is 24×7’s “Filmstudy,” by Ken McKusick. This piece should be required post-game reading for any real Ravens fan.

This year, Tony has launched a new section of Ravens24x7, RaveOnTV.

That’s where we come in.

This season, GOOBVISION – featuring, of course, the 2010 DirectTV Ultimate Displaced Fan, Goob – will be seen not only here at B’More Birds’ Nest, but also over at RaveOnTV. So don’t be confused when you see the Ravens24x7 intro and outro on Goob’s videos. Aside from those two changes, everything else will be the same.

Those of you that are used to seeing Goob’s craziness here at the Nest will still be able to do so – the videos will post here just as they always have. By cross-posting at RaveOnTV, though, we will be able to reach an entire new audience of Ravens fans who haven’t had the perverse pleasure of watching Goob….well,be Goob.

We are very excited for this opportunity, and we promise to continue to bring you the same kind of quality, goofy, eccentric, and even- sometimes- insightful videos that we did last season. Most importantly, Goob will continue to provide a true fan’s perspective on all the purple happenings.

We look forward to this season, and hope you’ll be here to enjoy the ride with us.

Go Ravens.

John Harbaugh Rips 'Da Bears

July 19, 2011

Remember back in April at the NFL Draft when the Ravens basically had to skip their turn during the televised first round? They were scheduled to pick at #26 and we all waited with bated breath while the clock…ran out. Then suddenly it wasn’t their pick any more, and they were picking 27th.

The Ravens still got their man in Colorado CB Jimmy Smith, but the fiasco left Ozzie Newsome and Co. with the proverbial pie all over their faces.

As it turned out, a miscommunication with the Chicago Bears, and a potential trade gone awry were the culprits.  The Bears came out and apologized, taking full responsibility for the situation. Still, it could have very easily cost the Ravens dearly, and owner Steve Bisciotti came out and basically said that he thought the Bears should face league reprimand.

“I’m disappointed in the Bears and the McCaskeys [the Bears’ owners]. It is in my opinion a deviation from their great legacy. They concluded that their heartfelt and admirable apology was sufficient for our loss. All of us at the Ravens strongly disagree … probably end of story.”

Most of us had pretty much forgotten about this story over the past three months.

John Harbaugh though, apparently has not.

Appearing on ESPN 1000 radio today, Harbaugh went off on the Bears:

“It was disappointing,” Harbaugh said. “They can get mad at me if they want, but I’m not buying the mistake thing. It wasn’t a mistake. They knew what they were doing.

“They put their guy on the phone. They agreed to a pick. They got their guy on the phone. They recognized he wasn’t getting calls from the team behind them, and they basically stalled for over a minute, telling us they had called the trade in. They hadn’t called the trade in. They said it was a mistake. Those guys have been doing it for a long time, c’mon.”

“You communicate back and forth. And someone’s responsible for calling a trade in,” Harbaugh said Tuesday. “There’s no way to not get that done. We saw on TV that they had their guy on the phone and he was who they were talking to, and then they drafted him.

“So they basically just stole two spots from us, and that’s not OK. That’s not something … it’s not ethical, it’s not right. And I personally agree with our owner Steve Bisciotti that they should have been held accountable for it. But also it is what it is, they didn’t do anything illegal. We were just disappointed with it.”

“Of course,” Harbaugh said, when asked whether the Ravens would be reluctant to deal with the Bears in trade matters moving forward. “How do you know that they actually called a trade in? I know one thing, we’ll be a lot more careful with all of our… we basically just took them at their word, and obviously that was a mistake.”

While it would make for good TV, the Ravens and Bears do not meet again on the gridiron (barring a Super Bowl match up) until 2013 (under current scheduling guidelines anyway – I suppose that could all change under this new agreement that is about to be signed?)

O's Extend J.J. Hardy for Three Years

July 19, 2011

In a related story, J.J. Hardy has been committed to a mental institution.

Why a guy with Hardy’s skills, who could have tested the free agent waters after the season and likely signed a very lucrative contract with a team that has a chance to win this century would re-up with the Baltimore Orioles organization has me seriously questioning the guy’s sanity.

Regardless, Hardy likes it here for some reason, so he and the team agreed to a new $22 million contract that will keep the shortstop here through 2014.

At his press conference, Hardy acknowledged that Baltimore is where he wants to be:

“I’m also very excited,” he said. “From Day One in spring training I’ve really felt comfortable in this clubhouse, all the coaches, players. Everyone’s really made me feel comfortable and I’ve really enjoyed my time here.”

Hardy’s injury history is a bit of a concern – he has played over 150 games just once in his 6 years in the bigs – but the O’s were willing to overlook that in the hopes of solidifying the shortstop position until 2010 #1 draft pick Manny Machado is ready to take over.

J.J. is on pace for one of his best statistical seasons, hitting .281/.336/.500 with 14 dingers and 37 RBI in 287 plate appearances so far this season. In 2008 with Milwaukee, he put up a .283/.343/.478 line with 24 and 74.

He leads O’s regulars in slugging and OPS and is third on the team in average and HR. While I still have to really wonder what he’s thinking by wanting to stay in B’More, the fact is that the O’s could do a A LOT worse than Hardy at SS (remember Cesar Isturiz, anybody?)

With Hardy, Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters, and Zach Britton, the O’s have a decent core to build around for the next few years. With any luck, Brian Matusz will get his act back together and be pitching at a high level again soon. With a lot more luck, perhaps Chris Tillman will do the same.

I’ll save the rest of my pessimistic snark for another time.

For now, YAY J.J.!!!

And hey, at least the ladies in town are happy about this one, right @Mishel1824?

Joe Flacco Gets Hitched

June 27, 2011

Over the weekend, reports surfaced that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco married his longtime girlfriend, Dana Grady. The two have been dating since Joe’s senior year at Audobon High School in New Jersey.

Flacco’s male and female fans alike are probably clamoring to see a photo of the new Mrs. Unibrow today, as Joe and Dana’s relationship has been 100% out of the public eye.

In fact, some internet sleuthing reveals that the only known (suspected?) photo of Dana is this one, taken at the Ravens Halloween party last year at Arundel Mills Mall, where Joe and Dana showed up as “The Situation” and “Snookie” from the MTV show “Jersey Shore.”

Supposedly, that’s Dana.

Way to go, Joe.

Now we only wonder how long it will be until a bunch of these start coming along:

Ravens Cancel Westminster Training Camp

June 22, 2011

For the first time since the team came into existence in 1996, the Baltimore Ravens will not be holding training camp at McDaniel (formerly Western Maryland) College.

Here is the statement from the team:

Because of the uncertainty as to when the NFL lockout will end, the Baltimore Ravens will move their 2011 training camp from McDaniel College to their year-round facility in Owings Mills.

Last summer, over 110,000 fans attended the open practice sessions at McDaniel, the Ravens’ training camp home since the franchise started in 1996.

“We’re disappointed we won’t be back at McDaniel and in Westminster this summer. We delayed the decision as long as we could,” Bob Eller, the Ravens’ vice president of operations, said. “There are logistics that needed to be addressed now, including McDaniel’s schedule, the hotel, the fields and other Ravens football functions. Right now, we don’t know dates for camp, and we’ve been forced to make other plans.

“One of the main issues we have is the time it takes to move our entire football operation to Westminster and then bring it back to Owings Mills. Those are days we can’t afford to lose as our team prepares for the season in what has become a condensed time period,” Eller explained.

The Ravens have spent all 15 of their training camps in Westminster. “We’ll miss being there, working with the college and the Best Western hotel. They have been very patient with us through this process,” Eller added. “We’ll also miss the interaction with the fans, which is a huge part of our camp experience.”

“We’ve appreciated the Ravens keeping us in the loop through this process,” Ethan Seidel, McDaniel College’s vice president of administration and finance, said. “We’ve had ongoing discussions internally and with the Ravens, knowing that the closer we got to a regular training camp start date, the less likely it would be logistically feasible to pull it off this year. We’re certainly not surprised by this and have been prepared for this scenario. When the NFL has its new agreement, we look forward to speaking with the Ravens about continuing our partnership with them.”

The Ravens’ lease agreement with Baltimore County does not allow for fans to attend practices in Owings Mills. “We don’t have the parking space for the fans, and the roads could not safely handle the type of crowds we attract,” team president Dick Cass explained.

Cass noted that the team has already begun discussions with McDaniel College to return to Westminster for future Ravens training camps. “We hope to have a full NFL season in 2011, but the current timing compelled us to make this decision. We waited as long as we could, but we’re beyond the dates when we could efficiently prepare for the move to McDaniel for a normal training camp start. We do fully anticipate, however, to be back at McDaniel next summer,” Cass said.

Once a new collective bargaining agreement between the franchises and the players is reached, the Ravens will announce practice schedules. “We will make every effort to have one or more practices at M&T Bank Stadium once we can determine our camp schedule. And, these sessions at M&T will be free and open to the general public,” Cass added.

This is very disappointing to the tens of thousands of Ravens fans who annually make the trip out west to watch the team practice during the sweltering summer months. With the Orioles – though improved – again languishing in last place in the American League East, it’s even more depressing to not have the sessions at McDaniel to look forward to, as they had become a welcome annual distraction from the mediocrity of the local baseball team.

The fact that the team will hold the majority of their “training camp” at the facility in Owings Mills, with just one or two dates at M&T Bank Stadium that will be open to the public, is a huge kick in the proverbial groin to the football-loving hordes around here. Throw in the financial impact to McDaniel College and the entire city of Westminster, and this whole scenario is just very, very bad.

Let’s hope this lockout comes to an end real soon here, so depressing bad-news posts like this don’t become a regular thing.

Vlad Draws a Walk!

May 4, 2011

Quite an anomaly in last night’s Oriole game. No, Nick Markakis didn’t hit a home run, unfortunately.  What did happen though, was even more surprising.

That’s right, leading off the top of the 6th inning, Vlad Guerrero…walked.

It was Vlad’s first base on balls this season and it came in his 116th at bat, a Birdland record to begin a season.

A few batters later, Vlad would come around to score after ill-advisedly taking off like a bat out of hell from second base on Adam Jones’ bloop single that barely cleared Royals’ second baseman Dusty Getz’s glove.  Vlad lucked out, but was just inches from being doubled up had Getz reached just a fingertip further.

Despite Vlad’s “efforts,” the O’s dropped this one in 10 innings to Kansas City, 6-5.

Yes, they lost to the damn Royals.  And no, I don’t care that KC is 16-13 and has 13 home wins, tied with Cleveland for the most in the AL.  They’re still the Royals, one of the most forgotten franchises in sports.  Losing to them is unacceptable for a team trying to turn its fortunes around.

If the O’s can’t manage to rebound and take two of three at Kauffman Stadium before coming home to face the red hot Rays, then this entire road trip can be chalked up as one big steaming pile of FAIL.

Jake Arrietta and Chris Tillman take the hill Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon, respectively, for the Birds.

Goob Grades the Ravens' Draft

May 2, 2011

I know you’ve all missed Goob here during his 3-month hiatus since we went to Dallas for Super Bowl XLV. Well, fear not, because he’s back and ready to hand out his version of “grades” for the Ravens’ 2011 draft picks.

What do you think of the Ravens’ picks? Let us know in the comments.

Zibby Fails Drug Test, Will Appeal (Updated)

April 26, 2011

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski failed a drug test that he took before his most recent boxing match.

Former Notre Dame and current Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski was among five fighters suspended for failing a drug test after participating in Saturday’s boxing card at the WinStar Casino in Thackerville, Oklahoma, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The Chickasaw Nation Boxing Commission tested fighters before Friday’s fights and has suspended those testing positive for 45 days pending a second negative drug test. The drug in question is marijuana or, more specifically, THC.

Zbikowski’s manager, Chicago-area lawyer and boxing coach Mike Joyce, said that Zbikowski was scheduled to get a second test later today and was confident it would be negative.

“We’re appealing it,” Joyce told the Chicago Sun-Times. “After the fight, all the fighters tested were positive. They had you pee in a cup and put a strip of something in there. I’ve never seen results where you get them the day of the fight. It was like a home pregnancy test or something.”

I find it pretty hard to believe that Zibby was toking up at any point during his life, especially not as he was training to go into a boxing ring. That, in addition to the circumstantial evidence surrounding the failed test (five other fighters failing it, the incredibly quick turnaround time on the results), makes me confident that Zibby will be clean on his next test, which he will be taking soon as part of his appeal.

If he fails again, he could face penalty from the NFL as well.  Again though, I’m fairly certain that he’ll pass this next test.  Stay tuned.

Update: As expected, Zibby passed his follow-up drug test.  The results are being sent to the boxing commission. Via the Carroll County Times:

Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski tested negative for all illegal drugs during a drug test conducted Tuesday, according to his attorney and boxing manager.

Zbikowski was suspended for 45 days by the Oklahoma boxing commissioner after allegedly testing positive for marijuana at a boxing match conducted at an Indian casino Saturday.

“Yeah, we got a good result and he passed the second test,” Mike Joyce, Zbikowski’s lawyer and manager, told the Carroll County Times. “We’re passing along the results to the boxing commission so they can lift the suspension.Tom is still pretty shook up. Tom was quite shocked. He has taken hundreds of drug tests in the NCAA and the NFL and had never tested positive for any illegal substance.



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