The Ravens in a fight to merciful death

October 02, 1997|By KEVIN COWHERD

SAN DIEGO — If Dr. Jack Kevorkian were a sportswriter. . .

SAN DIEGO -- IN A HUMILIATING, degrading performance that left them reeling and questioning their self-worth, the Baltimore Ravens were crushed, 21-17, by the San Diego Chargers Sunday.

How does a team come back from such an enervating, spirit-sapping loss?

How do 46 men in such obscene, gut-wrenching pain drag themselves out of bed this morning and go about a job they're so obviously unqualified to perform?

What, one must ask, is the point of going on?

"They whipped our butts in every phase of the game," said Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda, pallid and exhausted, his speech slurred, no doubt, by the haze of powerful anti-depressants.

Linebacker Ray Lewis slumped in front of his locker, a towel draped over his head in the eerie fashion of a Somalian penso (or death mask).

"We just didn't get the job done," said Lewis, sounding like a man who wanted nothing more than to slip into his garage with a length of rubber tubing, run it from the exhaust pipe of his idling Mercedes to a crack in the driver's side window, and inhale greedily amid the butter-soft Corinthian leather.

The game began under a dreary, dishwater-gray sky, low-hanging clouds floating ominously over Qualcomm Stadium, a dank, aging rathole with all the charm of a Trailways station.

The Chargers took a 14-3 lead on touchdown passes from Stan Humphries to Tony Martin as 54,000 pig-faced fans squealed in delight at the abject demeaning of a once-proud Ravens franchise, a franchise now associated with so much that is evil in sports: the lure of the Almighty Buck, the Betrayal of Cleveland, a tawdry Personal Seat License Scam that is the equivalent of Art Modell holding a 9mm to the temple of every innocent, hard-working football fan in this city.

Oh, the horror!

Oh, the brutishness, the squalor!

How does someone like Ravens cornerback Donny Brady bounce back from a series of blown coverages that will surely earn him the nickname "Toast" for the many times he was burned?

The short answer: He doesn't bounce back.

Instead, he's left a withered husk of a man, haunted and taken to drink, a life in utter ruin until one day he purposefully steps off a curb into the path of a speeding Jeep Cherokee driven by a jittery stockbroker slurping a 20-ounce Dunkin' Donuts coffee on his way to work.

Only then will Donny Brady's pain be eased.

Forever and ever.


And what of rookie Tyrell Peters' bonehead play, an illegal block that negated a 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Jermaine Lewis?

Or guard Leo Goeas' holding penalty after quarterback Vinny Testaverde, generally as mobile as the Washington Monument, scrambled to the Chargers 13-yard line?

Both men will wrestle with the screaming demons inside them, and each night before bed, they will stare into the mirror and think: "I have failed! I have failed!"

My God, the words might as well be spray-painted across the glass in 8-inch-high letters!

Isn't it better to leave this vale of tears now?

How can any man endure this anguish for long before he seeks refuge in a place of eternal peace and tranquillity?

Up next for the Ravens: the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers, merciless, jackbooted thugs who will win the AFC Central as surely as a sickly sun will rise over this depressing planet tomorrow.

The line: Steelers favored by two, although anyone with an ounce of football savvy knows they'll stomp the Ravens like a gang of crowbar-wielding Teamsters wading onto a loading dock filled with scabs.

Oh, yes, there will be pain at Memorial Stadium this weekend, horrible, unendurable pain as one blood-soaked Raven after another is dragged off the field to the mocking laughter of so-called "fans."

Fans who, truth to tell, would stub out their cigarettes in your hollow eye socket if they stumbled upon your corpse.

Again, one must ask: What is the point of going on?

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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