Thomas, coach call reverse on media

November 29, 2007|By PETER SCHMUCK

Just when I thought I had things all figured out, I sat in for the Ravens' weekly opponent conference call, and now I'm more confused than ever.

Given the choice between dour New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and affable former Ravens linebacker Adalius Thomas, whom would you think spent a good part of the interview grouching at the Baltimore media?

It wasn't Belichick, who was absolutely charming - by Bill Belichick standards. He spoke respectfully about the Ravens, acted like they actually have a chance to win Monday night's game at M&T Bank Stadium (he must have some videotape we haven't seen) and even reminisced about his days growing up in Annapolis.

Thomas, however, still is smarting from the controversy that was sparked by his interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this season.

Lest anyone forget, Thomas inadvertently touched off a feud with Ray Lewis when he told Tim Layden of SI the Patriots are more team-oriented than the Ravens.

"People [in Baltimore] wanted the limelight, people sought out the limelight, starting with the head coach," Thomas said. "It was a star-studded system. Here it's about as different as you can get. Everybody here shies away from being the star guy. Nobody on this team beats his chest. They just all go about their business. And win."

Sounds about right to me, but Lewis took offense and called Thomas "a coward" and Thomas ripped back and, well, that's why it's so much fun to be a sports columnist.

So, yesterday, Thomas had the chance to put the thing to rest - as he already did for the Boston media - and chose instead to take a big misdirected swipe at the same people who spent the past six or seven years putting him on a pedestal.

"I'm not going down that road because you guys are going to make it into something that it's not, like it happened the first time," Thomas said, "because it was totally irrelevant - half the stuff that was on TV. That's your job, to put hype on the TV. That's what you all did."

Earth to Thomas: Sports Illustrated is published in New York, and Lewis made his "coward" comment on his weekly radio show. And, while we're on the subject, television people don't generally do conference calls, so there weren't any of them listening in either.

Belichick has become everybody's favorite NFL villain, what with Spygate, the way his team likes to run up the score on everybody and, of course, his frosty demeanor.

There's a part of me that respects his unrepentant surliness, so I was almost disappointed when he chose yesterday to open up on a surprising variety of subjects, even waxing nostalgic about childhood trips to Memorial Stadium to watch great Orioles and Colts teams.

(Of course, it's possible that was just his subtle way of rubbing our noses in the fact that the Orioles haven't won in a long time and the Colts skipped town, but I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt.)

"When you grow up, you kind of get weaned on those two sports, and that sticks with you for a lifetime, and it always will with me," he said. "It will be good to come back, but on the other hand, it's really a business trip, and we're really coming down there for one reason, and that's to try to play our best against the Ravens."

That's a frightening thought. If the Patriots could score 48 points six weeks ago against the then-undefeated Dallas Cowboys on the road, it's almost scary to think what they could do to the Ravens, who have just been spanked by a parade of lesser teams.

Belichick is not going to apologize for his team's potent offense, even though he has faced criticism for supposedly running up the score in several games this season.

"Every time we go out on the field offensively, we go out with the intent to score," he said. "That's why your offense goes on the field. So, our expectations are to score every time we get the ball. That's the only reason for them to go out there. We've done that more this year than in the past, which is good, but - believe it or not - we've always been trying to score."

He said that with just the right hint of sarcasm, as if it was such an obvious concept that even someone who has to watch the Ravens' offense every week could understand it.

Apparently, Belichick has a sense of humor, though you might never know it from his media persona.

"I guess," Thomas said. "I don't know how to describe him, but the way that you guys describe it on TV ... after you get to know him, he's nothing like that.`

If any of us were actually on TV, I bet we'd probably feel really bad about that.

Listen to Peter Schmuck on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon most Saturdays and Sundays.

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