On, off field, McCrary is out of this world

November 10, 1998|By Ken Rosenthal

The Ravens' media guide says that Michael McCrary was born in Vienna, Va. It doesn't say whether he is of this Earth.

"I don't care what planet he thinks he's from, what kind of alien he is," Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa said yesterday. "He should just keep doing the things he's doing."

Someone call Hollywood. Someone call Mars.

"My Defensive End the Alien," is in production.

"Goose is always making up something to say," McCrary said. "I'm not even going to respond to that. You're not going to get me in the newspapers talking about being from another planet."

But is he?

"Can't tell you," McCrary said.

Is he?

"He might be," offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "He ain't all there sometimes."

Is he?

"Mike ain't from another planet, he just thinks a little different," defensive tackle James Jones said. "Some of the things he says, you'll be like, 'Mike, where's that coming from?' You want to say he's kidding, then you say, 'Is he kidding, or is he for real?' "

Take yesterday, for instance. Asked what he wanted for Christmas, McCrary replied, "a tank." In fact, he said he has one all picked out. It's in the Neiman Marcus catalog, listing for approximately $40,000.

"I'd bring it to games," McCrary said, a glint in his eye. "They'd know you're coming for battle then. Coming up in a tank, they'd know, McCrary's ready. He's ready for war."

He's always ready, every snap, every practice, every game. Doesn't matter if he's going for a sack, chasing down a run, trying to block a field goal. McCrary never stops.

His four sacks in Sunday's 13-10 victory over Oakland gave him 12 1/2 for the season, just one-half behind Carolina's Kevin Greene for the NFL lead. His 33 sacks in 31 games since Nov. 10, 1996, are the most in the NFL.

"His tenacity reminds of Marchetti," former Baltimore Colt Ordell Braase said yesterday, referring to his fellow defensive end, Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti. "He could have played with us, very easily."

Braase was a Colt from 1957 to '68. Former defensive tackle Joe Ehrmann, a member of the "Sack Pack" in the '70s, is just as high on McCrary.

"He's one of those guys who walks around and is kind of like a mirror -- you look at him, and it reflects what you do, forces you to raise your level of play and commitment," Ehrmann said.

"As an old defensive lineman, I just love watching him. He never takes a play off. Their whole defensive line, it's great. All of those guys are throwbacks. They're fun to watch."

But none is more fun than McCrary, who took advantage of rookie tackle Mo Collins on Sunday, but also fought through double- and triple-teams in his relentless pursuit of Raiders quarterback Donald Hollas.

To think, the Ravens were lucky to get him in 1997. They sought to re-sign Anthony Pleasant and also pursued Michael Bankston, fearing McCrary would be too expensive coming off a 13 1/2 -sack season.

Philadelphia and Miami were among the teams that McCrary visited, but the increase in the salary cap was so small, he didn't get the offers he wanted, Ravens vice president of player personnel Ozzie Newsome said.

"By chance, his agent called me about somebody else," Newsome said. "I asked him about McCrary, what he thought the money was. Once he gave me a range, we went into two or three days of negotiations, and got it done."

The Ravens had money to spend after losing free-agent center Steve Everitt. They promised McCrary they would play a 4-3 defense and drafted Peter Boulware to play linebacker. Two years later, they're tied for fifth in the NFL with 30 sacks.

Tom Flores, McCrary's former coach in Seattle, spoke with Newsome on Sunday as a member of the Raiders' broadcast team. "He practiced so hard, players would always complain," Flores told Newsome. "But I'd say, 'Hey, he's just playing football.' "

"I don't go against him too much now, thank goodness," Ogden said, smiling. "But in camp, he was a pain in the butt. You don't know what he's going to do. He's got a lot of moves. And he never stops hustling."

Back in camp, linebacker Ray Lewis said that McCrary plays at such a frenetic pace, he sometimes blows assignments. McCrary denied that, claiming Lewis was "confused." Jones rose to McCrary's defense with a chuckle, saying, "he's come a long way as far as doing what he's supposed to do."

Defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis agreed.

"At times, he gets into maybe more of a personal battle than executing his job, but that was more last year," Lewis said. "You've got to have 11 guys playing together. Mac has learned to understand the responsibility of playing his position."

"Even if he does miss assignments, who cares?" cornerback Rod Woodson asked. "He's making things happen."

He comes from another time, another place.

Maybe he arrived by spaceship. But now he wants a tank.

"I don't like people on my property, and I can just scare them off if they see this big tank coming at them," McCrary reasoned. "I wouldn't shoot it. I would just aim it at them. They would have to question whether it was loaded and there was a psychotic individual in it."

Is he?

Let's not ask.

Pub Date: 11/10/98

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