Garceau, Matte given bush-league sign-off

December 10, 2005|By MIKE PRESTON

Veterans Scott Garceau and Tom Matte have been ushered out as the radio broadcast team of the Ravens, but their dismissal should have been handled in a more professional manner.

The Ravens are expected to announce shortly after the season that they are changing flagship stations from Infinity-owned WJFK (1300 AM) to WBAL (1090 AM) and 98 Rock (WIYY, 97.9 FM). It's more than likely Gerry Sandusky will do the play-by-play and Stan White will be the analyst.

No problem there because Sandusky is excellent.

The Ravens had been negotiating with their apparent new station for weeks, but both Garceau and Matte were notified by a WBAL official that their services were no longer needed. That's right. No phone calls from WJFK, and none from the Ravens.

The official from WBAL called both eight days ago after learning that The Sun was preparing to run a story. Neither Matte nor Garceau wanted to comment, but they don't need to.

Regardless if you liked or disliked them on the air, Matte and Garceau are good-natured, decent men who are well-liked in the community and have devoted their lives to promoting and broadcasting pro football in Baltimore. They have been together for 25 years going back to the old Baltimore Colts, Stars, CFL Stallions and Ravens.

When the Ravens came to town 10 years ago from Cleveland to a lukewarm reception, Matte and Garceau spoke often at numerous Ravens Roosts and Nests to promote the new team. Matte had played a part in trying to bring football back to Baltimore since the Colts left town after the 1983 season. He was largely responsible for the new playing surface at Memorial Stadium before the Stallions came to town. Matte also brought a lot of advertising to WJFK because of his many business connections.

For a decade, they have been a strong voice of the Ravens. But yet the Ravens didn't feel they owed Matte or Garceau one phone call.

It was bush league.

A lot has been said about the heated interview Comcast SportsNet's Sage Steele had with coach Brian Billick after the Ravens' victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. It was obvious that Billick's intent was to embarrass Steele over comments she made about quarterback Kyle Boller on a local talk radio show.

Imagine if Billick fought with everyone in this city who has criticized Boller. Apparently, the intimidation didn't work.

Steele was greeted by an ovation from a lot of players in the locker room Wednesday, her first day back there after the exchange. There were also some high-fives delivered, and some chest bumps among the players. Some players said that Steele had said some things on the air they wanted to say but couldn't.

Steele got a lot of positive comments from players, and according to team sources, from several assistant coaches as well.

Uh, oh. The locker room scene is very telling.

The coach's behavior has been accepted by the organization, just another tactic of intimidation from a person who wants total control. But wouldn't that behavior be more appropriate toward his team, which is one of the league leaders in penalties?

Returner B.J. Sams almost cost the Ravens the game against the Texans when he decided to fair-catch a kickoff deep in Ravens territory instead of returning it. He had about 15 to 20 yards of running room before the Texans would converge.

Sams has been shaky returning punts and kickoffs during the past two seasons, but this time, according to several players, he was ordered by special teams coach Gary Zauner to fair-catch, regardless. It's fair to put some blame on Sams for the bonehead play, but Zauner shouldn't get away unscathed, either. He gave the order, and Sams just followed it.

Regardless of running back Jamal Lewis' production during the last month of the season, the Ravens' current plans are to designate him the franchise player and then seek a possible trade. A team would have to give up as many as two first-round picks for Lewis but could surrender less if it reaches an agreement with the Ravens.

Several teams have inquired about Lewis, who seems intent on talking his way out of Baltimore. As for backup Chester Taylor, he's not the long-term answer, not in this offense, anyway. If Taylor becomes the featured back, the Ravens need to have a more diverse offense, one in which the running back becomes more of a weapon as a pass catcher out of the backfield.

If the Ravens stay in the current system with Taylor as the featured runner, he'd wear down by the final quarter of the season.

Maybe you can figure this one out:

Chris McAlister and Samari Rolle are two of the best cornerbacks in the league. Safety Ed Reed was the NFL Defensive Player of the Year last season. Nickel back Dale Carter was one the best cornerbacks to play in the game in the past decade, and fellow nickel back Deion Sanders is headed to the Hall of Fame.

Yet, the Ravens' defensive backs have only two interceptions in 11 games. You can attribute some of that to Reed's absence with a high ankle sprain, but someone isn't teaching these guys about being aggressive and forcing turnovers. No names this week, but go back and look at last week's column.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

Ravens @Broncos Tomorrow, 4:15 p.m., chs. 13, 9, 1300 AM, 102.7 FM Line: Broncos by 14

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