`Goose' is far from cooked

Ravens' Siragusa, 32, plays through injuries, anchors defensive line

November 05, 1999|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa already has life after football planned.

Siragusa estimates he has a minimum of two more good years of football left before he joins the media in a full-time capacity. He is doing that part-time now with his one-hour radio show, as well as a short segment on a Ravens pre-game television show.

Siragusa said he expects to hook up with a major network to broadcast games in the future. For the present, Siragusa, 32, is again battling a nagging injury, this time to his thigh, and is listed as probable for Sunday's game against the Browns in Cleveland.

The injuries over his 10-year career that have forced him to periodically miss games will not, according to Siragusa, cause him to want to leave football before he is ready.

This season, he missed the games against the Browns and the Atlanta Falcons after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Sept. 25. Most of Siragusa's injury problems can be blamed on playing defensive tackle, one of the most physical positions in the game.

"After 10 years in the league, you get banged up here and there, people start paying a little bit more attention, saying, `Oh, it's the age,' " Siragusa said. "All through my career, I've missed a game here or a game there. I think that is all a part of the role of a defensive tackle.

"I still think when a guy comes back from surgery and plays, only missing two games where I could have easily sat out for four to six weeks, that shows that I'm still hungry, still want to play, and can recover. Injuries are going to happen; it is how you come back from them that counts."

And, as Siragusa puts it, he is still having fun playing. In fact, he said he's having more fun playing with this defense than any other.

Siragusa said this is the best defense he has ever been a part of, and this year, he knows exactly what his role is in it. He is in there to stop the run and provide leadership to the younger defensive tackles.

He has 26 tackles this season after recording 68 and 44 the previous two years, respectively. Siragusa, 6 feet 3, 320 pounds, also has had to serve as a mentor of sorts to second-year players Lional Dalton and Martin Chase.

"He's been a great leader for us," coach Brian Billick said. "He has worked real hard to tie together the young and old. We are so very young. A lot of guys have a lot to learn, how to carry themselves in practice on and off the field.

"You don't always recognize the contribution these guys do."

Billick lumped Siragusa and fellow starting tackle Larry Webster into the same category concerning statistics. Billick's message: Don't look at the numbers to measure their worth.

Webster isn't looking. He knows that he and Siragusa have been one of the main reasons the Ravens have not allowed a 100-yard rusher this season.

"I wanted to come in here and blend in with Goose and get on the same page," said Webster, who replaced departed free agent James Jones as the starter. "Thus far, we've been on the same page and stopping teams against the run. We've plugged up holes and let Ray [Lewis], Jamie Sharper and Peter [Boulware] do their jobs."

Siragusa said he wants to finish his career in Baltimore. He has one year left on his contract and is looking to sign an extension at the end of the season because he sees a team that is capable of getting him back to the AFC championship game. He played for the conference title with the Indianapolis Colts in the 1995 season.

Siragusa spent his first seven seasons with the Colts before signing with the Ravens in 1997.

"When I went to the playoffs a couple of times, we had teams that aren't even half as talented at this team," said Siragusa, who signed with the Colts as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Pittsburgh. "All of a sudden, halfway through the season, it clicks and you are on a roll."

He expects the Ravens to come together over the next few seasons, which would probably mark the end of his playing career and maybe get him back to the playoffs before he starts his second career with the broadcast media.

"I like how you are still involved in the game, you can voice your opinion and still have fun," Siragusa said of a potential broadcasting career. "And you'll feel a lot better on Mondays."

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