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Sunday, March 9, 2014
Unfair to put 'bad boys' label on Ravens?

By Jamison Hensley


Another arrest, another black mark on the Baltimore Ravens' image.

The arrest of backup offensive lineman Jah Reid on two misdemeanor battery charges was the third involving a Ravens player in 22 days. That is nearly one per week since the middle of February.

Embarrassing? Without question. Have the Ravens become the NFL's bad boys again? You could make that argument.

All you have to do is bring up Ray Rice's TMZ video and the mug shots for Reid and wide receiver Deonte Thompson. Some will say it's unfair to put that label on the Ravens because two of the three players are backups and might not be on the team when the 2014 season kicks off. But the casual football fan will remember "three Ravens arrested in less than a month" and not the names of those players.

The Ravens have made significant strides to repair their image since the days of Ray Lewis pleading guilty to a obstruction of justice charge in a double murder and Jamal Lewis going to jail on a federal drug charge. I remember going to games in 2005 and seeing fans at opposing stadiums wearing orange jump suits with the name "Lewis" on back of them.

Coach John Harbaugh made it a focus to make over the Ravens' bad boy persona, even going as far as shelving the all-black uniforms to avoid "playing into everyone's stereotypical thinking." In Harbaugh's first six seasons, only four Ravens had been arrested. None were starters, and linebacker Rolando McClain was arrested before even putting on a Ravens uniform.

Even though there has been a spike in arrests, it's hard to blame Harbaugh, because he can't be following 53 players to Atlantic City or Florida. It's also difficult to blame the Ravens, because Rice, Thompson and Reid had never been arrested before in their NFL careers. It's not like you can accuse the Ravens of keeping repeat offenders.

But it's hard to alter the national perception when the headlines have been about another Ravens player arrested. Bad news is bad news. This was already going to be a challenging offseason for the Ravens, who were coming off their first non-winning season under Harbaugh. The Ravens have to rebuild their offense, part of their front seven on defense, and now their image.

The Ravens were atop the football world a year ago as Super Bowl champions. Now, it feels like their image is at the bottom of it.