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Savran: There is a lot not to like about these Baltimore Ravens

Sunday, January 28, 2001

W hen all else fails, blame the media. This, obviously, is an intergral component of the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl game plan. Literally minutes after the wheels of their chartered airplane touched down -- something their offense seldom accomplishes -- Coach Brian Billick began the assault.

 
 

Stan Savran is the co-host of SportsBeat on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

   
 

Evidently, the task of winning the NFL championship isn't enough for him. He feels the need to be the conscience of the sporting nation, its voice of reason and fair play. He scolded the media for perceived transgressions surrounding the Ray Lewis issue.

And, more transparently and even more arrogantly, he somehow believed he had the clout to intimidate the gathered press into not asking Lewis about his involvement in the double murder case in Atlanta one year ago.

Of course, his miserable attempt failed miserably. In fact, it had just the opposite effect.

Billick should be reminded, or notified, that the charges against Lewis were reduced to misdemeanors only in exchange for his testimony -- not based on the evidence compiled against him.

Generally, the authorities aren't inclined to offer eradication or reduction of charges unless they have a basis on which to prosecute. Lewis admitted he wasn't forthright with the police, therefore, he was guilty of obstruction of justice. So please, let's not have a football coach lecturing us on the machinations of the judicial system, nor on how his poor jailbird linebacker was prosecuted unjustly and persecuted unfairly.

This is the same Brian Billick who ripped into the media for pointing out that his offense went more than a month without scoring a touchdown, a fact made more delicious by the fact Billick is an alleged offensive guru. Was that the media huddled up in the purple and white, unable to find the end zone without a Trip Tik? By talking about it and writing about it, did the media fabricate the facts, or merely report them? Billick got hot, something his offense could never do. A jerk in coach's clothing.

It's getting easier by the minute to dislike the Baltimore Ravens.

Of course, to dislike this franchise one needs to go no lower on the perch than its owner. I will join the paranoid pair, Billick and Lewis, in chastising the national media for its portrayal of Art Modell as some sort of lovable loser.

The journalistic embarrassment that was CBS' coverage of the AFC championship postgame might be trumped in the aftermath of a Baltimore Super Bowl victory. One can hear the staff of 60 Minutes groaning.

The fact that Modell's heinous move of the Cleveland Browns wasn't even mentioned by CBS or the national media was a travesty. That his team was going to the Super Bowl wasn't the story. That it was representing Baltimore, and not Cleveland, was.

For Modell to thank his "friends" in Cleveland (you can count them on one hand) and to tell them it was strictly a financial decision, defined and even stretched the limits of chutzpah. The facts are these: Modell moved the team to Baltimore, where they built a new stadium on which he pays no rent. Not one penny. He gets every single dollar of revenue from the luxury suites.

Despite all this windfall profit, he still had to sell 50 percent of the team last year to stay afloat. Which means that even if Cleveland had built him the new stadium he said he so desperately needed, with the same revenue trappings he got in Baltimore, he still would have been aboard the financial equivalent of the Titanic.

So don't tell me it was strictly a financial decision.

Too many decisions in the NFL nowadays are based solely on money. The people who founded this league understood that the emotional bond between team and city was paramount. Dan Rooney and Ralph Wilson understood that when they voted against Modell's move, knowing it would shatter an entire region.

Showing what kind of person he is, Modell has never forgiven either man for doing what was right. He seems to believe that since Cleveland has gotten a team with orange helmets back, all is forgiven. It is not.

There's an awful lot to dislike about the Baltimore Ravens, and I haven't even mentioned Shannon Sharpe! How much dislike?

Enough to make a guy actually root for a New York team, that's how much.

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