Fire up the blimp

reborn Ravens are Jacksonville-bound in February

September 20, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

IN CASE ANYONE might be looking for me, I'll be at the Marriott in Jacksonville in early February. The Ravens are a dead lock to go to the Super Bowl, and I'm not waiting around until all the good rooms are gone.

Sure, there were a few anxious moments last week, when Brian Billick had to grab me by the collar and tell me that winners never quit and quitters never win and to stop worrying about Kyle Boller and quit ripping Eagles fans (because they can't take it) and, well, you get the picture.

The Ravens may have looked like roadkill in Cleveland, but didn't the Patriots lose their opener last year like 31-0? Didn't the Eagles lose their first two games before marching all the way to the NFC championship game? Doesn't every great season start with some discouraging speed bump that allows the players to gloat that "no one gave us a chance" while they're drinking champagne out of the championship trophy?

Don't know about you, but I'll never doubt Coach Billick again.

Boller looked like Brett Favre in yesterday's 30-13 victory over the Steelers, which was quite a switch from the Tony Banks imitation he was doing against the Browns in the opener. If he can keep hitting the medium routes, there's no reason I won't be relaxing on Amelia Island for a couple of weeks leading up to Super Bowl XXXIX.

It won't be my first Super Bowl, of course, but it should be more fun this year. I was in Tampa the last time the Ravens were in the big game, but I was so far down The Sun's depth chart I got blimp duty. True story. I did an article from the Budweiser blimp, but the next time I want to write about a big bag of gas that's sponsored by a beer company, I'll just hang out with John Madden.

Boller's first drive was particularly impressive, because he broke off a couple of big runs and overcame two major penalties to lead the Ravens to their first touchdown of the regular season.

The Ravens started at their own 10, but it was a 115-yard drive if you factor in a 15-yard assessment for unsportsmanlike conduct and a 10-yard holding call. The Steelers were on their heels for the rest of the first half.

The Ravens were steamed at Steelers linebacker Joey Porter for knocking down an injured Todd Heap at the line of scrimmage at the end of the first half, but what exactly was Porter supposed to do? Heap injured his leg on the previous play and hobbled back to the line of scrimmage so Boller could spike the ball and stop the clock. Porter really had no choice but to treat him like he was a healthy player, and explained later he thought Heap might have been faking the injury to set up a play in the end zone. Stranger things have happened.

It could be a tough week in Washington, and not just because the Redskins got their helmets handed to them by the lowly New York Giants. There is a chance Major League Baseball's relocation committee will make its long-awaited recommendation to commissioner Bud Selig on the next permanent home of the Montreal Expos, and it doesn't look like the team will be landing in the District.

Baseball chief operating officer Bob DuPuy said last week the troublesome outcome of the D.C. City Council primary would not necessarily affect Washington's offer to build a publicly financed stadium, but no one in baseball's central office really knows for sure.

That means baseball will either have to delay the decision (which wouldn't be a major shock to me, of course) or opt for the safest deal, which is in Northern Virginia.

There have been several stories in the Washington papers claiming baseball is far along in negotiations with Orioles owner Peter Angelos to assure that the Orioles are compensated for the broadcast and ticket revenue the team figures to lose if a second team moves into the region.

Angelos, grilled on the subject in a pair of telephone interviews with The Sun last week, insisted he has not heard a word from MLB about indemnification. But a high-ranking major league official said Thursday baseball is confident it could work out a broadcast arrangement that would address Angelos' concerns.

Readers can contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

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