Q&A with Mike Preston

Q and A with ...

Sun columnist answers readers' questions about the Ravens


Bill, Salisbury: Thank God I was wrong about the Ravens not winning a game. But just how encouraged should we be that the Ravens managed to beat a team with a third-string quarterback and only scored 13 points doing it?

Mike Preston: Come on, Bill. How can you not be encouraged? The Ravens scored 13 points on a handicapped football team. Wow. Ooooh. Ahhhh. Look out Steelers, Bengals and Patriots.

You've got to take the Brian Billick approach. As far as he is concerned, the Ravens are 1-0, baby. It was good that the team finally won a game, any game. Overall, it was disappointing. The Ravens had two weeks to prepare, and this is the best they can come up with. There is no offensive cohesion. The Ravens ran the ball against the Jets, but only averaged 2.6 yards a carry against one of the worst run defenses in the league. Early impressions of the Ravens are they'll win between seven to nine games. Because the league is so weak (parity), they'll be in playoff contention, but unless we start seeing significant improvement, they're just an average football team. Of course, you can put on the purple sunglasses, drink the purple wine and say they're in first place and undefeated.

The Ravens, though, do have a secret weapon. It's me. I got a lot of credit for the Jets' win because my criticism of the offensive line, and general team play inspired them. I almost wanted to cry. I felt like part of the team. I thought Anthony Wright was going to high-five me. Deion Sanders actually asked the Lord to continue to bless me. Samari Rolle said, "So you're Mike Preston?" I was going to start signing autographs. For the first time, this former, Towson University wannabe felt like part of an NFL club. Now, I want my money for being a motivational expert. If that doesn't happen, at least give me a damn game ball.

Raving, Lompoc, Calif.: What is the deal with Ricard? You claim he was never hurt yet the Ravens claim he was injured for the first two games and then re-injured himself again this past week. Are we supposed to believe you or the organization? Please clue me in on why the Ravens would create an injury for him when he is really 100 percent?

Mike Preston: Let me give you a little history here. A couple of years ago I wrote that right offensive tackle Orlando Brown and offensive line coach Jim Colletto had a loud argument in the locker room after the Miami game. The Ravens denied it. Weeks later, both Colletto and Brown publicly admitted it, and joked about it.

Last year, I wrote the Ravens had chemistry problems in the locker room. Billick denied it during the regular season, but since has publicly acknowledged there were problems.

In the preseason, I wrote running back Jamal Lewis didn't want to play in a preseason game because of stalled contract negotiations. The Ravens said it wasn't true. Two days later, Lewis blasted the team publicly for failing to negotiate with his agent.

I wrote Billick and offensive coordinator Jim Fassel had a loud altercation earlier this season. Billick denied it even though there is physical proof that it happened. (Hint: Is it live or is it Memorex?)

So when the Ravens don't put Ricard on the injury list but say he is injured, and then Ricard not once, but twice denies it, what would you do? You let both sides say whatever they want, and let the readers decide. I don't think the Ravens were happy with the way Ricard practiced in the preseason, and the injury allowed them an excuse to try to become more balanced and throw the football instead of becoming a run-oriented team. Ricard, though injured, could have played. He wasn't happy with the situation and neither was halfback Jamal Lewis.

The bottom line with the Ravens is that they're a PR machine and they're going to deny a lot of things if it makes the organization look bad. Billick and the Ravens PR staff know me very well. We fight, but we respect each other. I know how the spin works, but they know I'm not just "throwing it out there." Their first question isn't, 'Is it true?' but 'Who leaked it to him?'

It drives the Ravens nutty trying to find out who leaks information, so much in fact, that Billick often puts my picture and stories up in power point presentations during team meetings. It got so bad one year that former Ravens defensive end Rob Burnett jokingly nicknamed me "Osama Bin Laden." Billick knows it won't work, but it might diminish some information coming out of the complex.

Regardless, it hasn't affected my relationships with players like Jamal and Ray Lewis, Adalius Thomas, Peter Boulware, Chris McAlister, Jonathan Ogden, Orlando Brown, Edwin Mulitalo, or former players like Burnett, Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, Michael McCrary or Wally Williams.

They know I'm going to write whatever I feel about any issue. I'm going to challenge Billick and criticize anyone if they aren't playing well. Most importantly, they know that I cannot be manipulated by the organization, its owner, coach or PR staff.

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