Boller's sterling performance compels debaters to rehuddle

December 21, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

It was great fun watching Kyle Boller pick apart the Green Bay Packers and their top-ranked pass defense on Monday Night Football. He's a nice kid, and it was good to see him with a smile on his face for a change.

Now, let's try to make some sense out of this.

The Ravens are wrapping up a horribly disappointing season in which Boller's status as the team's field leader has been thrown so far up in the air that they could slap a Goodyear sign on it and send it to cover the Rose Bowl.

So, if you're Brian Billick or Ozzie Newsome or even Steve Bisciotti, what do you do now that young Kyle has jacked up the biggest game of his career?

That's probably not a tough question for all the Boller and Billick haters out there - and I get enough letters full of purple-tinged anger and anguish to know there are plenty of you. The coach has to go, and his bright-eyed protege has to be either pushed down the depth chart or thrown under the team bus.

I'm not so sure.

Though it's fair to wonder if Boller's MNF coming-out party was an anomaly, it might also be fair to conclude that he is just starting to get his feet planted after spending so much of the season on the sidelines. Either way, he put all that previously untapped potential on display for a national television audience and reopened the debate over what to do with him next year.

There's still some football to play, but I think he did enough to change the 2006 equation, at least in a subtle way. I still feel that the Ravens must go out and find a dependable veteran quarterback (Jon Kitna?) to protect them from a repeat of this discouraging season, but I'm no longer so sure that Boller is a lost cause.

Maybe that seems like a knee-jerk reaction after just one good game, but because the Ravens probably won't draft high enough to make a run at Matt Leinart, it might be a mistake to throw the baby quarterback out with the bathwater.

Nothing gets past Todd Heap if this exchange with reporters on Monday night was any indication.

"I don't remember the last time we scored 48 points," he said. "I'm not sure we ever have."

When someone confirmed that the Ravens had never before scored that many points in a game, Heap quickly connected the dots.

"I guess that explains why I don't remember it ever happening."

The Miguel Tejada controversy appears to have cooled, and I don't think that his image with Orioles fans has been seriously damaged. Based on the comments of several other Orioles players, Tejada probably was speaking for a lot of his teammates - and a large percentage of the team's fan base - when he expressed frustration at the lack of progress that the front office has made in improving the team during his first two years in Baltimore.

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that the Orioles will make a big deal to address some of those concerns over the next couple of weeks.

Philadelphia 76ers president Billy King might want to rethink his recent explanation for a surprising drop in attendance at the Wachovia Center.

"I think with the economy and maybe the charity giving with [Hurricane] Katrina, a lot of people's excess money may not be there," King told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "But I think, with this city, historically after the Eagles' season, a lot more people come out to games."

Meanwhile, the lockout-ravaged Philadelphia Flyers sell out almost every game at the same facility, which means that either King is way off base or hockey fans just don't care as much as NBA fans about disaster relief.

Do you think they're ever going to finalize the deal to build the Anacostia waterfront ballpark in Washington?

The District probably is too far into the project to back away from it now, but when Mayor Anthony A. Williams asked the D.C. Council to postpone yesterday's vote on the new stadium lease agreement - reportedly because of lack of support - I'm sure some people in Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., could feel their ears burning.

The deal will probably get done, but the projected cost of the stadium is getting ready to push $700 million ... and every increase seems to strengthen anti-stadium sentiment on the council.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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