BALTIMORE -- In becoming the latest player to see his name put in the Baltimore Ravens' Ring of Honor on Sunday, former tight end Todd Heap was overcome by nostalgia when he heard the crowd chant his name once more.
"It was emotional," Heap said after his induction. "I was here for 10 years -- pretty much all of my adult life was spent here in Baltimore and this organization. I look up and see my name up there, and I'm like, 'Wow, there are a lot of people behind that name. There are a lot of people that made it possible.' That's what I think of. I think of all those guys over the years, so many of them that were just inspirational to me, that gave me words of wisdom or that I was able to just watch and appreciate how they did things."
Four former teammates were on the field for Heap's ceremony: offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, defensive end Michael McCrary, outside linebacker Peter Boulware and kicker Matt Stover. It would've been a bigger gathering if the Ravens had lined up all the quarterbacks who threw passes to Heap during his time in Baltimore.
As the Ravens put up 38 points on the Carolina Panthers Sunday, I wonder how many people thought about how Heap would've fared in an offense like this one. During his time with the Ravens from 2001-10, Heap's 467 catches and 5,492 receiving yards ranked as the fifth most among NFL tight ends over that span.
Those numbers are more impressive when you put them in context. Only twice during Heap's 10 seasons did the Ravens rank in the top half of the NFL in passing, and they never ranked higher than 11th. That shows how few legitimate targets they had around Heap.
Heap never had the luxury of stability at the quarterback position until the end of his career with Joe Flacco. During Heap's 10 seasons, the Ravens started nine quarterbacks: Elvis Grbac, Randall Cunningham, Chris Redman, Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair, Troy Smith and Flacco.
Heap currently ranks 10th all time in NFL career receptions for tight ends with 499. But he came into the league as the Ravens' first-round draft pick in 2001 with simple goals.
"I wanted to be the best I could be, but at the same time I was just trying to make a name for myself [and] become a starter in the NFL," Heap said. "When I came into that veteran team in 2001, with all of those Hall of Fame guys, I was like, 'If I can come in here and compete with those guys, I'll be doing all right.'"