Marion flunks Ravens' physical Club to get 2nd opinion on free agent's shoulder

March 21, 1997|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

The Ravens' plans to overhaul their defense suffered a temporary if not permanent setback yesterday when safety Brock Marion failed to pass the team's physical because of a shoulder injury he suffered last season with the Dallas Cowboys.

The news came at a midday news conference where there was supposed to have been an announcement that Marion, 26, had become the newest Raven by signing a four-year contract. Instead, Ravens officials tried to put a positive spin on the surprising development.

But this was clearly a setback for the Ravens, who were counting on Marion to call the coverages in the secondary this season.

"We're probably going to send him to Cleveland tomorrow [today] to get a second opinion," said Ravens trainer Bill Tessendorf. "There in Cleveland we'll be able to put everything together, like film before the injury and reports on his rehabilitation. We want to make sure everything is copacetic, but this might be a very serious thing. The injury is not fully healed."

The Ravens have a number of options, including voiding the deal. But the team probably will work out an agreement with Marion's agent similar to the one it has with tight end Eric Green.

Green is rehabilitating a knee injury, and if it is healed to the satisfaction of the team by a specific date before training camp, the club will re-sign him.

In the case of Marion, he will be seen by Dr. John Bergfeld in Cleveland today and could seek a third opinion from an independent doctor before trying to work out an agreement with the Ravens. Bergfeld was the Cleveland Browns' team doctor for years and traveled with the Ravens last season.

According to a league source, Marion had flunked another team's physical two weeks ago and the team recommended that he get a pin in the shoulder. It would take six to eight weeks to rehabilitate the shoulder blade.

"Our doctors in Dallas gave us the green light as far as his shoulder," said Jordan Woy, Marion's agent. "The injury is something new from what we've been told. At this point, we're trying to work things out. The Ravens say we're going to keep moving forward."

Ravens owner Art Modell said: "The problems arose out of a deeper examination. We're going to handle this carefully and even though we have an agreement, a contract will not be signed until we get more evaluations. We're confident he'll be with us when the season starts."

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda was just as optimistic. "I don't believe there is a deep concern, I really don't," Marchibroda said. "We'll get the second opinion and once that's in I feel as though he'll be ready by training camp."

Marion first suffered the injury, a fractured left shoulder blade, on the final play of the first half on Nov. 10 in the Cowboys' 20-17 overtime win against San Francisco.

Marion initially was expected to miss two to three weeks, but ended up missing the final six weeks of the regular season after it was learned that the shoulder blade had been fractured in two places. Marion had three options for treatment, including surgery and then letting it heal naturally; have surgery to insert a pin in the shoulder; or simply rest and wait for the injury to heal.

Marion decided to rest.

He arrived in Baltimore on Wednesday night and took his physical yesterday morning. He learned that he had failed the examination only five to 10 minutes before the news conference.

"The shoulder feels good to me, it's fine," Marion said. "I'm concerned about what is going on, but I believe it will all work out. From the X-rays taken in Dallas, all reports were that the injury had healed. I haven't had many restrictions."

The Ravens rated Marion the top safety available in the free-agent market. Seven teams were interested in Marion before the Ravens were able to reach agreement with him late Tuesday afternoon.

Marion started 10 games for the Cowboys last season, finishing with 77 tackles. He led the team with six interceptions in 1995.

He is on the verge of going from a team that has won two of the last three Super Bowls to one that has won nine games in two seasons.

"This organization gives me a chance to be a leader," Marion said. "In Dallas, I was overshadowed by a lot of people. Now I ZTC have a chance to shine."

Maybe.

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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