December 31, 2000
FOOTBALL is fast eclipsing baseball as the talk of this town. In elevators, at water coolers, at bus stops and on talk radio, the Ravens, not the Orioles, are the rage. And why not? This afternoon, our Ravens play host at PSINet Stadium to the first National Football League playoff in this town since Dec. 24, 1977. It's been a l-o-n-g wait. The Baltimore Colts lost that playoff game 23 years ago to the Oakland Raiders in a heartbreaking sudden-death finish. An even worse blow came on a snowy night in March, 1984 when owner Robert Irsay made an unseemly midnight moving-van exit with the team's belongings, stripping the city of its beloved Colts.
February 2, 2000
Maybe you're surprised at the severity of the crime, or that one of the Ravens' best and most popular players was involved. But if you're really surprised by the news that Ray Lewis has been charged in a double murder, your head has been in the sand for a long time. This is the National Felony League, er, the National Football League, where player-related crimes and off-field violence have become as routine as touchdowns and tackles. Sports pages are full of it, fans are sick of it, front offices are terrified of it and there's no end in sight.
January 30, 2000
THIS IS TO announce, with proper dignity and respect for the occasion, the end of all guilt when it comes to Baltimore and the National Football League. Anger and disgust, we hold onto. Contempt, absolutely. But any lingering guilt concerning that business with the Browns of Cleveland and the alleged sanctity of tradition in pro football is declared officially kaput as of today. On this Super Bowl Sunday, four years after the arrival of the Baltimore Ravens, it is enough. Sorry, Cleveland.
September 22, 1997
Ten days ago, I didn't know much about football. I didn't know that offense sells tickets and defense wins championships. I didn't know that the tight end is both a blocker and a receiver. I didn't know that Scallops Parisian is a rich blend of scallops in a cream sauce with shallots, mushrooms and bouquet garni.Now, thanks to the National Football League, I know all of this. At least, I think I do. To be honest, I'm still not sure what bouquet garni is. But as former New York Jet Ken Schroy told me during Football 101, a clinic for women at the Meadowlands in New Jersey:"Football is life.
November 6, 1995
Clevelanders may be about to learn the cruel lessons of Baltimore, circa 1984: Despite years of support, there is very little anyone can do to prevent a football team from leaving town.Cities from Oakland, Calif., to Baltimore have tried various legal tactics to keep their teams from moving, but with little success. And the authority of the National Football League has diminished with the abandonment of the Los Angeles market, according to legal experts."Cleveland doesn't have much. They are victims of a monopoly exercising monopolistic powers sanctioned by Congress," said Stephen Ross, a law professor and antitrust expert at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
January 30, 1995
NFL nonsenseHere are a few random thoughts after the last round of National Football League nonsense:When watching high-ranking government and business people attempt to obtain an NFL franchise, does anybody except me think of "Peanuts" characters Charlie Brown and Lucy in the annual "kick the football" classic?Do we really want to obligate ourselves to guarantee skybox sales, etc., like those granted by St. Louis to a team with the worst record in organized sports?Will we be satisfied with entertainment quality exemplified by the mismatched play and uneven officiating shown in the first couple of rounds of NFL playoffs?