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Michael McCrary: Hyperactive as a child, he puts his restlessness to reckless use for the Ravens' defense.

Giants Rush Offense vs. Ravens Rush Defense

Super Bowl Xxxv

January 23, 2001|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - Get your motor running?

Michael McCrary's never stops.

Like most of the Ravens, the dangerous defensive end gives back to the community, but how many of his teammates have participated in the "Polar Bear Plunge"? That dip into the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay benefits the Maryland Special Olympics, one of McCrary's favorite causes.

McCrary has gotten his goose bumps off Sandy Point State Park the past three years, but he won't make this winter's event, which is scheduled for Sunday. He'll play in the first Super Bowl he will ever watch, because sitting in one place for three hours has never been the 30-year-old's notion of a good time.

"I think that's partly genetic and partly my upbringing," McCrary said. "I come from a very athletic family, on both my mother's and father's side. I was hyperactive when I was younger, constantly moving. My parents instilled in me the belief that anytime you're on the field, give it all you have. Then, you can never be disappointed in your performance. I can truly say that every time I've been on the field, I've given everything I had."

McCrary said his mother ignored teachers who wanted to medicate her son, and instead transferred him. Finding activities that captured his interest was a challenge. Mc- Crary endured one season of Little League baseball, and figures the only reason he will take up golf is to quiet his father.

"My father loves golf, so I have to play in order to one day beat him so he'll stop talking me to death," McCrary said. "Baseball was definitely too slow, too boring. One season was all I needed."

McCrary's high school career in northern Virginia was cut short by a broken arm. He left Wake Forest as its all-time leader in sacks, but the 1993 NFL draft did not portend stardom. He was taken in the seventh round by Seattle, and was a reserve in his first three seasons with the Seahawks.

After a breakthrough season, McCrary was among the free-agent signings - Tony Siragusa and Keith Washington were the others - who bolstered what had been a sorry Ravens line. From November 1996 through last season, McCrary was the most effective end in the NFL, but though his sacks went down this season, defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis said he's never been more effective.

McCrary made it to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons, when he totaled 26 sacks. Through this season's first eight games, he had only 1.5 (he finished with 6.5), but his range is one reason it has become futile to run against the Ravens. McCrary's 103 tackles were bettered only by middle linebacker Ray Lewis, the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.

McCrary, 6 feet 4 and 270 pounds, with an enviously low percentage of body fat, has always been well-conditioned to make the most of December. In the regular-season finale against the New York Jets, McCrary recorded the Ravens' only safety of the season. He had a game for the ages on the last day of the year, busting loose for three sacks in the wild-card rout of the Denver Broncos.

McCrary would have thrived in pro football's two-way days, but has learned to curb his restlessness when the offense has the ball.

"I've learned," McCrary said. "In years past, I used to pace the sideline, but now I've learned to rest my legs, just suck up my oxygen and let the offense do their work. I'm starting to enjoy the offense now, so sometimes I'll watch them."

Was it hard to follow the offense during its five-game touchdown drought?

"I didn't watch them in October," McCrary said.

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