Rison's set to touch down Coming to town soon, receiver looks forward to new coach, new role

April 10, 1996|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Baltimore beware, Andre Rison is coming to town.

"Tell Baltimore to watch out. 'Dre is on his way, and the NFL is going to have hell to pay against the Ravens," said Rison, laughing. "I'll be there in a few weeks searching for a place to live."

It has been nearly four months since one of the Ravens' most recognizeable players put on a football uniform. Rison has been relatively quiet about the team's move from Cleveland, but yesterday the controversial and talented wide receiver talked about his new team, new home, new coach and his off-season ventures.

"Basically, I've been laying low, preparing for the season," said Rison, 29. "Moving to Baltimore was something I looked forward to since I first heard about the possibility of it happening. I haven't been this excited since my rookie year."

Rison has spent a great portion of the off-season working with his record company. He prefers gangster funk and street-violence artists, and he is no novice.

Rison is a big man in La-La Land, recently having attended the Grammys and the "hippest trip in America," the Soul Train Music Awards.

"I know a lot of people," said Rison. "I hung out and kicked it with a few friends like [rap singer] Bobby Brown. I had a great time."

Rison also has spent a lot of time playing basketball in Atlanta. He isn't a firm believer in running or weightlifting.

"I love ball," said Rison, a former point guard at Michigan State. "That's all I do during the off-season. It helps your awareness and quickness. Players tend to get away from that after the season.

"As a matter of fact, I don't even catch a football until summer practice begins. I don't want to take any chances of hurting these hands."

Only Sterling Sharpe (501) had more receptions than Rison in their first six seasons. Before last season, his first with the Browns, Rison had 475 career catches for 6,455 yards, most of those in the Atlanta Falcons' run-and-shoot offense.

But former coach Bill Belichick slowed Rison down. In the Browns' conservative, two-tight end offense, Rison caught a career-low 47 passes for 701 yards.

He expects to be revitalized under new coach Ted Marchibroda. Rison could be used the way Andre Reed was when Marchibroda was the Buffalo Bills' offensive coordinator in the late 1980s and early '90s.

Rison could line up in the slot, and create mismatches.

"I had no problems with Bill, and he didn't have any with me," Rison said. "We got along very well, but I just don't think he used me like he should have in the offense."

"I look forward to playing under Coach Marchibroda. I always knew a better day would come. You get what you pray for."

Rison expects a better team in Baltimore than the one that played in Cleveland last season. He even is willing to renegotiate his five-year, $17 million contract to help the team sign more quality players.

"Last year a lot of things happened and it steamrollered," said Rison, the league's highest-paid receiver. "I think we're a much better team than that.

"No one with the team has asked me about redoing my contract, but I would if it helped us win some games, or go to the playoffs. I don't know a thing about Baltimore, but I hear it's a great town with a winning tradition."

Pub Date: 4/10/96

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