Media ban may be a violation Team held closed practices

Ravens notebook

NFL looking into situation

October 29, 1998|By Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht | Mike Preston and Gary Lambrecht,SUN STAFF

The Ravens may have violated league policy by only opening their locker room to the media for interviews once this week, according to an NFL spokesman.

The Ravens announced Tuesday that the team was closing the majority of practices to the media over the next three days and the media would be barred from the locker room except for a 30-minute session before today's practice. Usually, the locker room is open before and after each workout on Wednesday and Thursday and after Friday practices.

Leslie Hammond, the league's director of media services, would not comment on the league policy, but the media typically have access to team locker rooms three times a week. The Ravens are expected to return to their normal procedures next week.

"We are looking into this situation and will have a definite answer soon," said Hammond.

Ravens coach Ted Marchibroda said he was closing the locker room so his team could be focused and concentrate on this Sunday's game against Jacksonville.

When asked if he had become "Ted Parcells" after New York Jets coach Bill Parcells, who closes practices and limits interview sessions to the media, Marchibroda laughed. When asked if this was a ploy to get his team fired up and what would happen if it didn't work, Marchibroda said: "We'll worry about the next game next week."

But apparently, the move has drawn approval from players such as cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Corey Harris. Then there are players like right guard Jeff Blackshear and center Wally Williams, who have no feeling about the new policy at all.

"As the coach, you have to do what's best," said Harris. "I think it was a good decision. When you have as much talent as we do and you're not winning games, you have to analyze what's going on. If you have a product that's not selling, you find out why. Our lead man is doing what he has to do."

Said Blackshear: "I'm a professional football player. They pay me to come out and focus on my job each and every day. It doesn't matter who is here or who isn't here."

Williams said: "This is pro football. Some things come with the job. Criticism, media, money."

Sharper still starter

There had been speculation that the Ravens were going to bench weak-side linebacker Jamie Sharper, but the second-year player was running with the first team yesterday.

Sharper, the team's fifth-leading tackler with 37, had been under criticism, but it has become apparent that he is the type of player who is going to need a push now and then.

"He can play better," said Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis. "He is learning that he has to practice and play better each week and we'll keep pushing and pushing him to do that. Jamie is conscientious and he works hard, but he has to be more physical and we'll rep him to be more physical. He started off great, and played well. But as we got into the season and had less time to prepare and rep him, it has hurt him a little."

Futility by the numbers

Williams recalled the sense of optimism that gripped the team two months ago, as the Ravens wound up a 4-0 preseason and prepared for the season opener against Pittsburgh.

"We came into this season thinking we were a playoff-caliber team, and we still think that," Williams said. "We've put this pressure on ourselves."

The 2-5 Ravens couldn't have painted themselves into a tighter corner. They have basically been knocked out of the playoff picture before midseason.

Ten teams in the talent-laden AFC have winning records after seven weeks, leaving just five with losing marks. Of those five, only the 1-6 Indianapolis Colts have a record worse than the Ravens. At this rate, the Ravens need to go 7-2 over their last nine games to give themselves a shot at a wild-card berth. They have failed to win seven games in an entire season since moving from Cleveland in 1996.

Injury report

Tight end Eric Green practiced for the first time since rupturing an air sac in his chest in the first quarter against Tennessee on Oct. 11. Green worked with the first team and expects to resume a season that had gotten off to an excellent start.

"I'm itching for a win, the crowd noise, for the team to be successful," said Green, who has averaged 17.1 yards on 14 catches and is the only receiver other than Jermaine Lewis to catch a touchdown pass. The Ravens also have missed his 6-foot-5, 285-pound presence as a blocker.

Woodson (ankle) and defensive tackle Tony Siragusa (ankle) did not practice. Also, second-year running back Jay Graham will miss his second straight game with a knee injury.

Logo trial nears end

A $10 million lawsuit brought by Frederick Bouchat, who claims the Ravens stole his design for a team logo, went to the jury after lawyers for both sides presented closing arguments. The Ravens contend that the design was created by league artists at NFL Properties in New York without any input from Bouchat.

Next for Ravens

Opponent: Jacksonville Jaguars

Site: Ravens stadium

When: Sunday, 1: 01 p.m. jTC TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WLIF (101.9 FM)

Tickets: Sold out

Line: Jaguars by 3 1/2

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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