Let's hear a whistle for band interference

October 22, 2005|By GREGORY KANE

Are there some double standards going on in the media?

Lordy, what am I saying? We're the media. We're no different from anybody else. Of course we practice double standards.

And if there is such a thing as a double standards police to hold us all accountable, they'd no doubt be asking why all those folks upset at the conduct of some Baltimore Ravens players in the game with the Detroit Lions, haven't talked about the conduct of some Cleveland Browns players on Sunday.

Granted, what the Browns' players allegedly did took place before the game. But the issue is player conduct. So when it happened shouldn't be an issue. That it happened, if it did indeed happen, should be an issue.

The word I get from a source is that the Baltimore Ravens band had to take the field at the stadium to get ready to play the national anthem. The band has to play the national anthem in time for the kickoff.

The Ravens players - those childish, spoiled guys with no self-control we media types have been telling you about lately - left the field. Browns players did not. When band members took the field to warm up for their routine, the Browns still didn't move. At least one of them allegedly jostled at least one band member.

That's the story I got. If true, it raises several questions. Not the least of them is this:

Where are the fines, dadgum it?

If fines are good enough for Terrell Suggs and B.J. Ward - both ejected from the Lions game for bumping into officials (which was not entirely unreasonable, since the officials seemed to be playing for Detroit) - it should be good enough for players who jostle band members.

Am I being too sensitive? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill? Possibly.

But when it comes to Baltimore's professional football teams, I'm not the reasonable, calm, lovable guy everybody within a 3,000-mile radius knows I am.

When it comes to pro football teams in this town I become, well ... different.

It was only several years ago that I abandoned forever the idea of having bumper stickers made that would have read, "Honk If You Think Earl Morrall Tanked Super Bowl III."

I'm sorry I ever considered that. I was wrong. Morrall did NOT tank Super Bowl III.

I think.

I still want the tax returns audited of every official on the field during the 1965 play-off game between the Baltimore Colts and the Green Bay Packers for the Western Conference title. Baltimoreans who saw that game know what I'm talking about.

The refs signaling good a Packers' game-winning field goal that clearly missed. Colts tackle Billy Ray Smith using a forearm to knock down Packers quarterback Zeke Bratkowski for a sack and getting called for a face mask penalty.

Smith clearly did NOT grab Bratkowski's face mask. He used a forearm to the head to knock Bratkowski down, which was perfectly legal in the 1965 National Football League.

But what did the ref do once he learned Smith didn't grab Bratkowski's face mask? Why, change the call to unnecessary roughness, of course. I figure I'm justified in wanting those officials audited, if they're still alive.

Can you see now why memories of that game flashed back to me during the Ravens-Lions debacle? It was a debacle that the Ravens clearly had a part in, but let's not leave out poor officiating. Come on: defensive linemen getting called for holding offensive linemen? Twice? On the same drive?

But don't expect NFL officials to discipline officials for making calls that clearly belong in another football universe. Let's just hope they come down on the guilty Browns players for what happened this past Sunday. Ravens spokesman Kevin Byrne gave a nutshell account of the events, which pretty much confirms the story I got.

"We have reports from band members of Browns players yelling and cursing at band members," Byrne said. "There is a report that at least one band member was bumped by a player with his shoulder pad. The league is aware of it. We're sending them a tape."

Ken Mather, the manager of publicity and media relations for the Cleveland Browns, said "We are aware of [the alleged incident]. The league is looking into it, and we refer all comment to the league at this point."

Byrne said the league provides a timesheet that tells players from both teams when they have to stop their warm-ups and get off the field.

"The teams MUST get off the field," Byrne said. "The Browns did not get off the field, according to the timesheet."

That seems like reason enough to hand out some fines. Let's hope the Browns player who allegedly jostled the band member gets a really fat one.

And let's hope that, at least for a while, we media types can kick around NFL players NOT wearing a Ravens uniform.

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