Boller fires back at Sharpe

Still stung by criticism from ex-Raven, QB says: `It means nothing to me'

November 17, 2005|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,SUN REPORTER

Of all the vicious hits sustained by Kyle Boller, there's one that is still bothering the Ravens' quarterback: the scathing verbal jab by Shannon Sharpe.

The usually easygoing Boller bristled yesterday at the criticism by Sharpe, who said Monday that he was "convinced that Kyle Boller can't play."

"What does what he has to say mean to me? It means nothing to me," Boller said. "It's pretty easy sitting behind a chair, saying this and saying that."

Boller, who missed seven games with a toe injury, had a rocky return Sunday in a 30-3 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, completing 19 of 33 passes and throwing three interceptions.

On his radio show Monday, Sharpe made the point that Boller "plays just good enough to get him cut and [the coach] fired - which is a lose-lose situation."

Sharpe, a former All-Pro tight end, won three Super Bowls in his career, including one with the Ravens after the 2000 season. He is still considered a close friend of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.

"There's going to be criticism," Boller said. "I can go down the list of great quarterbacks that have gotten booed. If they let that stuff bother them ... look where they're at now. Yeah, I know the mistakes I made. Obviously, he wants to point it out."

In three seasons, Boller is 14-13 as a starter and has a passer rating of 66.3. He has completed 55 percent of his passes, throwing 20 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Boller has produced just one 300-yard passing game and has been held under 150 yards 15 times. The second half of this season is considered a critical one for Boller. Coach Brian Billick said it was a "priority" for the Ravens not to enter next season with a question mark at the quarterback position.

"I've got my teammates behind me," Boller said. "I need to listen to those people. It doesn't matter what Shannon Sharpe says. That doesn't mean anything to me."

The Ravens have put pressure on Boller from the beginning. After drafting him 19th overall in 2003, Billick named him the starter immediately rather than allowing him to learn from the sideline as a rookie.

But even Billick seemed concerned about his quarterback's psyche yesterday.

"He's a tough kid, [but] it is a lot," Billick said. "You can only hold so much of it at arm's length. [The media can] get cranked up pretty good sometimes and quite frankly, you make it a little personal. `Nothing personal, just business' is hard to understand sometimes for a 24-year-old."

jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

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