Hey, Ravens, let's just not talk about it

November 02, 1998|By Ken Rosenthal

"This is going to be an outstanding football team in 1998," Ravens owner Art Modell promised in March.

Modell was sitting in his Charles Street office, gushing about the new four horsemen -- Jim Harbaugh, Roosevelt Potts, Errict Rhett and Rod Woodson.

"You're going to sit here a year from now and say, 'Art, you were right. Everything you said, you were right,' " Modell told his favorite columnist.

And if he was wrong?

"If I'm wrong, I'll be a guest columnist," Modell said.

Well, eight months later, the verdict is in.

Art was wrong, and I could use a day off.

He can take over any Sunday from now until the end of the season, so I can get a break from watching his sorry team play.

In fact, Art, I need you to cover the Oakland game, because for this week only, I'm not talking to anyone associated with your team.

I need to focus. I've been writing poorly of late. I need to simplify things, avoid boring player quotes, get back to nouns and verbs.

"Easy, boy, easy," one Raven warned after yesterday's 45-19 loss to Jacksonville, knowing that I tend to react heatedly to such embarrassments.

I offered no response.

The Ravens had their boycott; now, I'll have mine.

Modell looked speechless himself every time CBS showed him in his private box yesterday.

Judging by his frown, he was A) suffering from indigestion; B) watching PSL holders flee the stadium; or C) set to fire his coach.

Modell declined to comment last night.

Still, the announcement could come today, and should come today, if for no other reason than to spare Ted Marchibroda any further humiliation.

This bears repeating: Marchibroda is one of the finest men you'll ever meet. This, too, bears repeating: The Ravens need a new coach.

I will visit the Owings Mills complex today only if Modell ends this sad death watch.

Otherwise, it's on with the boycott.

The Ravens generally are media-friendly, from Modell down to the players. But two can play this silly game.

If any players want to talk about the coaching staff's flawless game plan, they can go find another newspaper reporter.

If Eric Green wants to offer a second round of mea culpas, he can pour his heart out to a sympathetic TV type.

If DeRon Jenkins wants to explain how Jimmy Smith torched him down the sideline, someone will have a microphone waiting.

"I had to guard Jimmy Smith and Keenan McCardell in Jacksonville why didn't they exploit me?" Jenkins said on Oct. 7. "The media feeds off negative things, and I'm not going to upset myself with negative thoughts."

The media, the media, the media.

I picked the Ravens to finish 8-8; now they're 2-6. If you ask me, I'm their best friend.

A media boycott to rally the troops is the most tired ploy in an NFL coach's handbook. It is also a desperate ploy, and Marchibroda was desperate yesterday.

He had a healthy Jim Harbaugh at quarterback. He had a healthy Green at tight end. He had a happier Wally Williams at center.

He had no excuses, in other words.

And his team trailed at halftime, 42-13.

That's right, the Jaguars scored one fewer point in the first half than the Ravens' combined total in the past four games.

Oh, what a weekend it was at the Later To Be Named Stadium -- the Ravens and Maryland Terrapins got trounced by a combined score of 76-33.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening fared only slightly better -- the Redskins' victory yesterday left the state's two NFL entries 3-13 entering tomorrow's election. That's nearly $100 million a win in public funds, for those keeping score.

Glendening, Sauerbrey.

Ravens, Redskins.

Such fine choices in this state.

Speaking of the Redskins, isn't it interesting that Norv Turner got his act together so quickly upon learning that Orioles owner Peter Angelos might buy his franchise?

Angelos ran off Davey Johnson after back-to-back trips to the AL Championship Series. He would dispense with a 1-7 coach faster than you can say "Loujohn" -- the new name for Raljon, Md., after Angelos buys the 'Skins and names the town after his sons.

But I digress.

The Ravens are 1-3 at their new stadium. They're 2-9 in their last 11 games in the AFC Central. They're 12-27-1 since coming to Baltimore, the worst record in the NFL in that span.

A victory yesterday, and they could have banned the media for another week, with their fans cheering as they locked the doors.

But there was no victory, and now Art Modell owes me a column.

Whenever you're ready, Art.

People who break their promises, it drives me crazy.

Pub Date: 11/02/98

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