Victory gives Modell settled feeling Six-month move complete after opening-day success

Ravens Notebook

September 03, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF Contributing writer Kevin Langbaum contributed to this article.

As he walked into Memorial Stadium before the Ravens officially returned Baltimore to the NFL ranks on Sunday, team owner Art Modell could not believe the big day finally had arrived.

Six months ago, when he first toured the team's training facility in Owings Mills, Modell began to move the team from Cleveland. Renovating the building was only the first of many projects that had to be completed before the first, regular-season kickoff.

"Walking into that stadium on Sunday had a profound effect on me. I can't believe we were able to accomplish so much. I felt like I'd been reborn," Modell said.

"We had to move the team, put together a marketing plan, sell tickets, print tickets, repair the Owings Mills facility, design uniforms, come up with a logo, conduct our first draft, install a new field at Memorial Stadium, have two minicamps, find a training camp site, have our training camp.

"I'd call people [in the organization] at midnight and get them on their personal lines. All of those 20-hour days for so many people. They worked themselves to the bone."

Beating the Raiders in front of 64,124 raucous fans capped the six-month ordeal for Modell, who watched the pre-game ceremony and game closely from his seat. He took in the sight of 40 former Baltimore Colts -- especially quarterback Johnny Unitas -- on the field before kickoff.

He cheered when quarterback Vinny Testaverde scored the first touchdown in Ravens history. He enjoyed watching coach Ted Marchibroda rip his offensive line on the sidelines early in the third quarter, then enjoyed watching the offense respond by running the Raiders ragged with their no-huddle attack.

And he didn't rest until Testaverde knelt down for the final time to seal the 19-14 victory.

Later that night, Modell ran into former Colts quarterback Bert Jones.

"I told Bert that a lot of people say Ted played a very important role in his development as a quarterback," Modell said. "Bert said, 'What are you talking about? He made me a quarterback. I had the tools, but he made me the player I was.' Bert couldn't sing Ted's praises loudly enough."

Don't count out Steelers

The Ravens are perfect at home for now, and their first road test this week comes against their old (or new?) rival in Pittsburgh. Since their quarterback situation is unsettled -- coach Bill Cowher is switching from Jim Miller to Mike Tomczak for Sunday's game -- and they have lost star linebacker Greg Lloyd for the season to a knee injury, are the Ravens catching the defending AFC champions at the right time?

Don't count on it, said Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. He coached linebackers in Pittsburgh for four years before coming to Baltimore in February.

"Trust me, they will batten down the hatches and grow closer. That's a team that understands adversity, and they'll get through it," Lewis said. "They're just going to plug other guys in. We lost one of our best players [cornerback Rod Woodson] in the first game last year, so they know what it's like. The people who

move into the lineup will play better. That's their mind-set. They don't flinch."

Although the loss of Lloyd is undoubtedly a help to the Ravens, his absence is hurtful to Lewis on a personal level. Lewis coached Lloyd as he matured into one of the elite linebackers in the NFL.

"He's special. Football and going out to be one of the very best is so important to him," Lewis said.

Lewis, who knows plenty about the Steelers' scheme, will impart that wisdom to Testaverde as the quarterback prepares for a team he had little luck with as a Cleveland Brown. Testaverde has beaten the Steelers once in seven tries since 1993.

"We can aid Vinny in his preparation during the week. I can explain some things he'll be looking at," Lewis said. "But I can't help him on Sunday. It's their home opener, and that's a tough place to play."

Pleasant to sit

Defensive end Anthony Pleasant, who sprained his right ankle early against the Raiders, is not expected to practice tomorrow, when the players come back from a day off.

Sympathy for Cleveland

Center Steve Everitt, who wore a Cleveland Browns bandanna during a preseason game to show his respect for Cleveland, still was thinking about the people in Cleveland, even during Sunday's excitement.

"It's got to be tough for them," he said. "These people [in Baltimore] deserve this. I'm happy for them. But as much as I'm happy for them, I'm sad for the people in Cleveland. They're going through what people here went through for 13 years. It's sickening that there's nothing going on in Cleveland this fall."

Pub Date: 9/03/96

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