'Disgraced' Modell gives a challenge Ravens' pride at stake, owner says

demands 2nd-half commitment

45-19 loss a lTC 'horror show'

Marchibroda status appears unchanged

November 03, 1998|By Mike Preston | Mike Preston,SUN STAFF

Ravens owner Art Modell said yesterday that he was !c embarrassed, angry and his family disgraced after his team's 45-19 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, and he challenged the coaches and players to be accountable for the second half of the season.

Modell would not comment on coach Ted Marchibroda's status, but team sources said Modell would not make a change before the season ended, unless the Ravens totally collapsed in the eight remaining games. In his third Ravens season, Marchibroda is 12-27-1, and the team is 1-3 at its new, $223 million stadium.

Modell and his wife, Pat, watched Sunday's game from a private suite in the new stadium as the Ravens committed five turnovers, four of which led to 24 Jacksonville points. The Ravens trailed 42-13 at the half and didn't score in the third quarter.

"I have never been as embarrassed or as disgraced as I was last night," said Modell. "It was a horror show, and neither my family or I will tolerate losing, especially in that manner. Our fans deserve much more than they are getting right now.

"My family is accountable, but so is every staff member, player and coach over the next eight weeks," said Modell. "I challenge them all to work and disregard such things as contracts, extensions, bonuses and salaries [and] play for pride. That is the greatest motivator of players and coaches in this league, to have pride in one's performance. That's what this league was built on. For those people who do not have that pride, they will not be here next season."

Modell and the front office had high, but reasonable expectations for the 1998 team. The Ravens lost five games by a total of 11 points in 1997, and the team thought bringing in veterans such as quarterback Jim Harbaugh, fullback Roosevelt Potts, cornerback Rod Woodson and running back Errict Rhett would put the Ravens in the postseason.

But they have struggled throughout the first half of the season, especially on offense, where they have switched starting quarterbacks and running backs and their line hasn't come close to fulfilling expectations as one of the best in the league. The secondary has been shaky and the special teams play horrendous.

The low points have been a season-opening home loss to Pittsburgh, a 12-8 loss to Tennessee and Sunday's humiliating rout by Jacksonville.

Since he purchased the Browns/Ravens 37 years ago, Modell has had only 12 losing seasons, two of them in Baltimore.

"We came here as a winning, profitable and reputable organization, and our history shows that we will not tolerate losing," said Modell. "The fans here have had a great interest in us from Day One, and that commitment was shown through the PSL and ticket sales. We have not given our fans what they have bought and paid for. We didn't move here to accept losing in that beautiful new stadium.

"I thought we had the potential to turn it around this year, but I can't explain what has happened," said Modell. "But I guarantee I will, and the proper changes will be made so this will not happen again."

Marchibroda confirmed that he had spoken with Modell yesterday morning, but would not go into specifics. He still seemed optimistic and not overly concerned about rumors that he was going to be replaced at the end of the season.

The Ravens were booed repeatedly in the first three quarters of Sunday's game, and most of the crowd of 68,915 had left by midway in the fourth quarter.

"That's certainly understandable. We gave up 42 points in the first half. That's not going to happen every Sunday," said Marchibroda. "It's good for fans to be like that, because they are concerned about their team. But one of the things that hurt about yesterday's game was to play like we did in our house. We never gave ourselves a chance to win. We were out of it too early, too quickly.

"But our ballclub hustled, and we gave effort throughout the ballgame," said Marchibroda, whose team has lost four straight. "As long as we're giving effort, we have a chance to win. We need a big win to come out of this.

"We're playing a pretty tough schedule, and I'd love to play this football team against last year's schedule. We've had Pittsburgh twice, Jacksonville twice, Green Bay and a Tennessee team that a lot of people didn't think could play in the first eight games. Maybe sometimes the cards aren't dealt right."

There have been few Ravens, privately or publicly, who say that the players have quit playing for Marchibroda. "This is a learning experience for some players, no doubt," said tight end Eric Green. "We're definitely not giving up on our season. We've got to keep plugging away. Nothing is going to happen for us until we start executing at 100 percent.

"I'm not going to make that decision," said Green about Marchibroda's status. "He has prepared us to the best of his capabilities, and he had a great game plan for this game [Jacksonville]."

Maybe Harbaugh summed up the team's as well as Marchibroda's situation best.

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