Identity of `The Man' remains hazy, but Ravens' generosity crystal clear

September 08, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

I STOPPED BY the Ravens complex yesterday and - for a few heady moments - thought I had finally stumbled upon the answer to a question that has beguiled me since I began stealing ice cream from the media workroom last August.

Maybe you remember how I launched an investigation to determine "Who's the Man?" in the Ravens' organization - an investigation that pointed to superstar Ray Lewis, but never reached a definitive conclusion.

Well, I thought I had my answer after the Ravens players got together over the past week and raised $165,000 for hurricane relief.

Deion Sanders, one of the original suspects in my 2004 search, held a news conference and challenged every NFL player to donate at least $1,000 to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Then, Ed Reed, Alan Ricard and Jamal Lewis spearheaded the payroll deduction effort in the Ravens' locker room that raised the aforementioned $165,000.

Since Sanders and Jamal Lewis already were candidates to be "The Man," the addition of two team leaders only figured to create more confusion, until owner Steve Bisciotti stepped forward and matched the players' contributions.


That's right. The Ravens matched all player donations dollar-for-dollar, and the Steve and Renee Bisciotti Foundation matched the $165,000 again. That pretty much settled the whole "The Man" issue in my mind, even though Bisciotti insisted to me last year that he is not "The Man."

"I can't be the man," the new owner said last August. "I don't even have a checkbook."

Well, apparently that was not entirely true, because he just wrote a couple of very big checks to help some very needy people. So, the issue is settled, right?

Not so fast.

Just when I was ready to declare my yearlong search for "The Man" to be at an end, the Ravens announced that former owner Art Modell had also stepped up to match the $165,000 players contribution (through the Art and Pat Modell Foundation), and I was right back where I started.

I'm still not entirely certain who "The Man" is, but I'm sure of one thing. That $165,000 turned into $660,000 faster than you can say "Who isn't The Man in the Ravens organization?" and it doesn't stop there.

The Ravens originally caught some flak when they announced they would match just $25,000 of the money raised outside M&T Bank Stadium before Sunday's regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, but they also have rectified that situation in a big way.

The team now has said it will match every dime contributed by ticket-holders on Sunday and will even go a step further. The Ravens will accept personal checks by mail from Ravens fans who are on the team's season-ticket rolls and match them dollar-for-dollar.

And you thought purple and green didn't go together.

Major League Baseball designated yesterday as Hurricane Relief Day, instructing all 15 home teams to conduct fund-raisers. Orioles players and wives worked the gates, the parking lots and the stands before the game.

MLB will match the first $1 million contributed at the 15 parks, and Orioles sponsors donated the rotational advertising behind home plate to display the Red Cross' 1-800-HELP-NOW donation hotline. The Orioles have not announced how much they will contribute because owner Peter Angelos has been traveling this week in Europe.

Here's a modest proposal. Because the Orioles probably are going to lose the upcoming grievance over Sidney Ponson's remaining $10 million in salary, I think the team and Sidney ought to take the high road and reach a compromise that's good for everybody.

How about this: The Orioles agree to pay Ponson the $3 million in deferred compensation that remained on his contract upon the completion of an extensive alcohol rehabilitation program and the two parties agree to jointly contribute $5 million to hurricane relief.

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