Hoard takes his release in stride 1990 pick lost place in offensive scheme

September 25, 1996|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

Leroy Hoard took the bad news with a smile. Uncertainty finally had given way to reality, and after the Ravens cut Hoard yesterday to create salary-cap room to sign running back Bam Morris and tight end Eric Green, Hoard said he was glad his fate had been decided.

"It seemed bleak two or three weeks ago. Now, I'm happy that it's over with," said Hoard, as he left the team's Owings Mills complex. "I've had worse things happen to me, and I'll have worse things happen to me besides getting released by the Baltimore Ravens. It's not the end of the world. I love playing football, and I'm going to play it some more. Whining about this is not going to get me anywhere."

After hearing the news from coach Ted Marchibroda and vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome, Hoard said goodbye to the coaching and front-office staffs before walking away from the organization that drafted him in 1990.

As a second-round pick out of Michigan, Hoard, a 5-foot-11, 225-pound running back, rushed for 2,203 yards, had 1,849 receiving yards and scored 24 touchdowns in six seasons with the Cleveland Browns.

Hoard came into his own as a runner in 1994, when he made the Pro Bowl after rushing for 890 yards and five touchdowns. Last season, he tailed off, rushing for 547 yards in 12 games before his season was cut short by broken ribs. Hoard failed to score a touchdown for the first season in his career.

He entered the Ravens' training camp as their No. 1 back, but began to fall out of favor with Marchibroda when he ran poorly for much of the preseason. By the season opener, he had lost his starting job to Earnest Byner. During the first three games, except for a strong second half in the Ravens' 31-17 loss at Pittsburgh, Hoard virtually disappeared from the offense. He did not touch the ball against the Houston Oilers on Sept. 15. He has rushed 15 times for 61 yards for the season.

"Game 3 is the one that convinced me that there was a problem," said Stephen Zucker, Hoard's agent. "You don't make $1.5 million if the coach doesn't like you."

Half of Hoard's salary was guaranteed after he made the team's opening day roster, meaning the Ravens are saving $750,000 by cutting him.

"You can find a reason to cut anybody in this league," said Hoard, who expects to be back in the NFL soon. "You don't have control over most of the things in this game. So while you're here, you might as well enjoy it."

Said team owner Art Modell: "Leroy leaves here with best wishes. He's an outstanding young man who played some good football for us."

Pub Date: 9/25/96

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