Sanders starts out as No. 2 for Ravens, but he's still The Guy to watch

September 02, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

THE NEON nickel back cruised through his first workout at the Ravens' training complex yesterday and then promptly dragged the team into a new locker-room leadership controversy.

Deion Sanders confirmed that he is not The Man - an issue that we settled in yesterday's paper - and then shocked the sold-out afternoon news conference with the revelation that he might not even be The Guy.

"You always said I was The Guy," Sanders said. "I never said I was The Guy. You told me I was The Guy. I just went along with it.

"I don't know who nominates The Guy as The Guy. I never think about that nonsense. I just play the game of football."

Well, that's not entirely true. It's no coincidence that Deion spells his name with an "I." He was the one who named himself "Prime Time," and he took mild offense when someone at yesterday's news conference used the past tense to describe him that way.

"When did I stop being `Prime Time'?" he said. "Did somebody not give me the memo?"

So maybe Deion is The Guy and Ray Lewis is The Man, which would be the perfect compromise.

During the final practice before tonight's exhibition game against the New York Giants at the Meadowlands, Lewis wore No. 1 on his jersey and Deion wore No. 2, but they apparently were not making a statement about the Ravens' pecking order.

Lewis always wears No. 1 in the last practice before an exhibition game, and Sanders wore No. 2 in college.

Though Sanders raised some eyebrows with his flamboyant on-field behavior during the prime of his football career, he wasted no time sidestepping comparisons with obnoxious Eagles receiver Terrell Owens.

"I never pulled out a telephone," he said. "I never signed a football. I never spiked a ball in anybody's face. I was just happy to score, and that's what I was celebrating."

In short, Deion is not only old, he's been away so long that he's now considered old school.

When Ravens linebacker Cornell Brown wondered Tuesday if The Man might really be the guy who signs the checks, I mistakenly assumed that he was referring to owner Steve Bisciotti.

The guy who actually signs the checks in the Ravens organization is senior director of finance Jeff Goering (see photo), who probably is wondering how his name ever found its way into this totally contrived controversy.

Sorry to hear that the NCAA rebuffed a proposal by ABC to add a fifth BCS bowl game a week after the New Year's bowls to determine the national champion. Sounds like a perfect compromise between the flawed BCS system and a multi-tiered playoff format.

"What ultimately was decided wasn't the format TV would have picked," said ABC senior vice president of programming Loren Matthews.

Can't blame the NCAA for being skeptical. Fox originally proposed a reality show in which the two top teams in the final Associated Press poll live together in a beach condo and perform a variety of dangerous stunts to determine who will be the national champ.

My heart aches for the New York Yankees, who suffered the worst loss in franchise history when they were eviscerated by the Cleveland Indians, 22-0, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium.

Dave Ginsburg, who covers Baltimore sports for the Associated Press, felt the same way.

"But I think it was bush that the Indians went for two after the third touchdown," Ginsburg said.

Final thought: Speaking of reality shows, get ready for Extreme Baseball Team Makeover, which will be filmed this winter at Camden Yards.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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