Ramsey move makes this the time to jump on Ravens bandwagon

September 14, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

IT HAS already been another tough week in the Redskins wing of the palatial Schmuck Estate, where the demotion of quarterback Patrick Ramsey was met with a level of outrage normally reserved for lame-duck parental discipline or a sudden rise in the price of Coors Light.

"If you don't crush Joe Gibbs for this, I'm never going to speak to you again," said the resident Redskins fan.

I shudder to think what life might be like without the daily lectures on the superiority of Dave Matthews over Bruce Springsteen (I repeat, where did I go wrong?) and - until Monday - the regular recitation of the top 100 reasons why Ramsey was better than Mark Brunell, not to mention Kyle Boller, Tom Brady and every quarterback currently enshrined in Canton.

Still, the announcement Monday that Ramsey's tenure as the 2005 starter had lasted - I think - about 27 minutes did leave me wondering why Gibbs had gone even this long with his little Patrick-is-my-quarterback charade. The only people who were surprised by the decision were Ramsey and the Hog-ette wannabe that keeps cleaning out my refrigerator.

It seemed obvious from early in training camp who the coaching staff wanted running the Redskins offense, even as everyone insisted that Ramsey had evolved into a Coach Gibbs kind of guy. The moment Brunell started to show that he had regained the strength in his throwing arm - which last year was deader than a party at Ray Frager's house - it was just a matter of time before Ramsey was back on the sidelines looking like a kid whose new bike had just been stolen.

This dawned on me a couple of weeks ago, when one of the Redskins receivers dropped a nice throw from Brunell and assistant head coach Joe Bugel started jumping up and down on the sidelines like somebody had just blown fourth-and-goal in the NFC championship game.

The resident Redskins fan considers this a gross miscarriage of justice, and I don't blame him, though I believe - like Gibbs - that the Redskins probably are a better team with a healthy Brunell behind center.

In an effort to create peace in our time, I suggested that this would be a perfect opportunity to switch allegiance to the Ravens and bring football harmony to our fractured household, but the olive branch was rejected faster than my VISA card at tuition time.

"If they trade for Patrick Ramsey," he said, "I might consider it."

In a crassly superficial attempt to prove that I am a multi-dimensional sports columnist, I attended the Washington Capitals Media Day on Monday at Piney Orchard in Odenton.

I'm glad I did, because the rebuilding Caps are chomping at the bit to get on the ice and win back the affection of hockey fans who are - and should be - disenchanted after the entire 2004-2005 season was wiped out by a labor dispute.

"I think the fan base is more important than ever," said defenseman Brendan Witt. "A lot of fans are upset. As a player, I'm upset. I never thought we'd burn a whole season of hockey. The league and the players are going to have to be more fan accessible."

The Caps began practicing Monday and play their first preseason game Friday night in Buffalo. The new season is a little more than three weeks away, but it's fair to ask whether anyone other than truly hardcore hockey fans are all that excited about it.

"Both sides let the fans down and let the game down," said Maryland-born Jeff Halpern. "It's not going to be easy to bring the fans back again. It could take a couple of years."

The sports fundraising effort for hurricane relief continues on many fronts, including this week's Constellation Energy Classic at the Hayfields Country Club in Hunt Valley.

The Champions Tour Wives Association will be selling bracelets to raise money for charities targeting needy women and children in the areas ravaged by Hurricane Katrina.

The group, which works independently of the Champions Tour charitable efforts in host communities, hopes to raise about $20,000 this weekend. Golf fans who can't attend the senior PGA event can also buy a "Be a Champion" bracelet by logging on to www.emarkitgolf.com.

"Our efforts have always been focused on benefiting women and children," said Sonja Bland. "If we gave the money to the Red Cross, we wouldn't feel like we were making as much of an impact as if we gave it to a women's shelter that would really feel the benefit of a $20,000 contribution."

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