On Raiders, nothing to speak of at moment

Unfamiliar with Oakland, Ravens exercise some restraint on trash-talking

January 09, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

A few of the Ravens' players strolled through the locker room yesterday, carrying videotapes and no apparent fighting words ... at least for now.

Unlike the situation last week with the AFC Central rival Tennessee Titans, the Ravens don't have a running dialogue with the Oakland Raiders. Instead of starting verbal warfare with the Raiders, the players seemed more intent on dissecting film of their opponent for the AFC championship game.

Does that unfamiliarity mean the once-brash Ravens will be giving Oakland the silent treatment this week?

"It will be more low key because we don't know them," weak-side linebacker Jamie Sharper said. "Once we get on the field and the nature of the game comes around, guys will start talking."

Last week's bold talk started with receiver Patrick Johnson calling the Titans "all hype" and peaked with cornerback Chris McAlister saying Tennessee running back Eddie George folded up "like a baby" on a hit by Ray Lewis in the November game. In between, there was constant chest-thumping by the Ravens about having the better defense.

After the Ravens' 24-10 win Sunday at Tennessee, owner Art Modell said he didn't like what he had heard and promised it would not surface this week. In fact, Modell attended coach Brian Billick's weekly news conference for the first time yesterday, with a center-row seat.

"As you can tell, I brought my muzzle with me," Billick said.

Besides McAlister's remarks, Billick said his team's comments were misconstrued by the Titans. And Billick did not find any reason to issue a gag order on his players, who had off yesterday and today.

When the players report for practice tomorrow, it will be interesting to hear if their usual chatter returns.

"If you listen to the rest of the guys during the week, it was confidence in their abilities," Billick said. "Going against the odds, you have to take that mentality on the road. It's us against the world, even if it's fabricated a little bit."

The national media have latched onto the Ravens living up to their sound bytes.

The New York Post's headline yesterday was "Billick's boys back up banter," and the one in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times read, "Ravens talk good game and play better one." But Billick doesn't want his team to be labeled as a bunch of trash-talkers.

"If that's their perspective, that's fine," Billick said. "As I said, those who were here [last week], I believe saw confidence in themselves. I'm not sure they would label it as trash talk. And if not, they need to find a better euphemism."

The players, though, see a trash-talking reputation better than no national image at all.

The national media "doesn't know anything about the Ravens; they don't know what we've been through the last three or four years," Sharper said. "We're just going to take the spotlight and grab it."

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