Against the Ravens, our kicking game is up and it's good

November 17, 2005|By KEVIN COWHERD

It's nice to see that the great American tradition of kicking 'em when they're down is still alive and well.

Let's see, in the last few months alone we kicked Ed Norris, Tom DeLay, Rafael Palmeiro and Judith Miller when they were down.

We kicked Michael Brown and FEMA when Hurricane Katrina turned New Orleans into a giant mud puddle, and we kicked the French when their cities exploded in rioting.

Wait a sec, I just thought of something.

Serial potpourri-arranger and ex-con Martha Stewart just had her TV show canceled, that dreadful Apprentice knockoff thing.

So now we can start kicking her when she's down all over again. Hot damn!

Is this a great country or what?

Of course, in this town, we don't need new people to kick when they're down, since we're kind of busy kicking the Ravens right now.

Oh, yeah, as you may have heard, the Ravens are down.

No, check that.

The Ravens aren't just down. They're burrowed halfway to the Earth's core by now.

Their record is 2-7 and their coach, Brian Billick, is on the hot seat and the word is that half the team could be working at a Denny's once this miserable season ends.

That can't come soon enough for many of the players, considering all the fun they're getting out of life right now.

Think about it: They get booed by their fans at home games. They get blasted on sports talk radio. They get ripped in the newspapers.

They get hammered on ESPN's SportsCenter and all those snarky NFL pre-game shows where the host and a bunch of wise-guy ex-players sit around and "analyze" which team is going to have a big day and win, and which is going to choke like a dog and lose.

Guess which way the voting on the Ravens is going?

On top of that, people talk about the team's struggling young quarterback, Kyle Boller, in terms normally reserved for war criminals.

(Look up the word "beleaguered" and you won't just find Boller's picture; you'll find a two-hour documentary on his life.)

Hoo, boy. You don't think the Ravens are down?

Are you kidding?

Avian flu is doing better in the polls right now.

One thing that's fascinating to watch is the media's obsession with finding out why the Ravens are going down the tubes this season.

In interview after interview, Billick and his players are always asked a variation on the question: Why do you guys stink? Oh, usually it's worded more delicately, as in "What went wrong out there today?" or "What do you guys have to do to turn this around?"

And in interview after interview, Billick and his players shrug and answer with a variation of: "Well, it's not just one thing. It's a bunch of things."

Which, of course, is another way of saying: "We have no freaking clue. Now leave us alone."

Because the truth is, if the Ravens knew what they were doing wrong, they'd do something about it.

That's human nature, isn't it?

If you're out there every Sunday getting your brains beat out and your game plan isn't working, you try to fix it so it does work. But what happens when you don't know how to fix it?

Ladies and gentlemen, may we present - ta-da! - the 2005 Ravens!

Which, at least to me, puts an end to the mystery of why they stink.

They stink because, well, they stink.

Anyway, if you think people in this town have fun kicking the Ravens when they're down, you should see the fun the rest of the country is having.

Let's face it, the Ravens have always been the team other NFL fans love to hate.

That's because the Ravens have always been perceived as arrogant, with a roster that looked like it was culled from a prison exercise yard.

Other NFL fans never went for that crazy, look-at-me, pre-game dance Ray Lewis does, the one where he twitches and jerks like a man atop a downed power line.

They never went for all the trash-talking and preening and muscleman poses each time a Raven made a tackle or caught a pass.

They never went for what they thought of as Billick's endless why-is-my-team-always-getting-hosed? posturing.

So they're thoroughly enjoying the whole crash-and-burn the Ravens are doing.

And they're getting their kicks in, too, just like everyone in this town.

The whole thing has been amazing to watch, all right.

Amazing, and more than a little frightening.

No wonder Martha Stewart doesn't go out as much as she used to.

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