NFL Nation: Steve Bisciotti

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The apologetic letter by owner Steve Bisciotti is a step in the right direction for the Baltimore Ravens.

He acknowledged the Ravens made mistakes in how they handled the domestic violence incident with Ray Rice. He was critical of the organization for not pursuing the video more vigorously.

Rice
Rice
The only way the Ravens can truly move past this black mark on the franchise is by finally saying, "The Ravens messed up." Bisciotti took accountability for not getting his hands on the biggest piece of the Ray Rice puzzle. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could learn something from the letter.

"We did not do all we should have done and no amount of explanation can remedy that," Bisciotti said in the letter.

Bisciotti did attempt to provide full disclosure and did so in intricate detail. After writing "you deserve an explanation," Bisciotti followed that with 887 words of explanation.

The question that needed to be answered is how the Ravens never obtained the video of what happened in the elevator. Bisciotti explained that the team was denied a copy of the tape by the casino, the New Jersey State Police and the prosecutor's office.

Instead of saying the Ravens did all they could to get the video, Bisciotti explained how they stopped trying to seek a copy after the charges against Rice went from simple assault to aggravated assault. The team decided to let Rice's situation play out in court.

"We halted our fact-finding," Bisciotti wrote. "That was a mistake on our part."

Even after the Ravens did the right thing in releasing Rice, Bisciotti never said so. The tone of the letter was about not doing enough.

"Seeing that video changed everything. We should have seen it earlier," Bisciotti wrote. "We should have pursued our own investigation more vigorously. We didn’t and we were wrong."

Where Bisciotti and the Ravens fell short is how they communicated this message. Fans deserved more than a letter a full day after the Ravens released Rice. This should have been said in front of cameras as soon as Rice's release was announced, not written and handed out to season-ticket holders, suite owners and sponsors.

Still, the highest-ranking official on the Ravens came out and acknowledged that the franchise had erred. He takes responsibility for failing to get the most critical piece of evidence regarding Rice.

The Ravens aren't going to move past this embarrassing incident for some time. But Bisciotti started the process of going forward by taking accountability.

Ravens Camp Report: Day 14

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
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OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Baltimore Ravens training camp:
  • The play of the day came from an unlikely source. Backup linebacker John Simon made a leaping one-handed interception toward the end of practice. Simon, a 2013 fourth-round pick, is known for his toughness but he often struggles to make plays in space.
  • Biggest rule for all rookies: Don't tick off the owner. Wide receiver Michael Campanaro almost did that Monday, when his parents parked in owner Steve Bisciotti's parking spot (which stands out because his initials "SB" are on it). Security had to get Campanaro to point out his parents in the crowd so the vehicle could be removed before Bisciotti arrived for practice.
  • With both backup defensive ends out for the season, DeAngelo Tyson took over that spot and made a nice play in his new role. Tyson leapt up and authoritatively knocked down a pass with both hands.
  • It was surprising to see wide receiver Torrey Smith fielding punts. Smith brings explosive speed and sure hands to that role. But it's a risk to expose the team's best deep threat to getting injured on special teams. Smith also has virtually no experience in covering punts. He returned one punt in college and has never fielded a punt in three NFL seasons.
  • Rookie third-round pick Terrence Brooks is getting a lot of reps in practice. He worked at nickel back with the first-team defense and moved back to free safety with the second team.
  • The Ravens and 49ers ended their three days of joint practices with a non-contact workout. This came after two days of padded practices for the teams.
  • Schedule: The Ravens are off Tuesday. They hold practices Wednesday and Thursday before wrapping up training camp Friday.
  • Injury wire: Tight end Dennis Pitta missed his second straight practice with what coach John Harbaugh described as a "little ankle sprain." Pitta did individual drills for about 30 minutes before being told to sit out the rest of practice. ... Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (Achilles) is scheduled to have season-ending surgery by the end of the week. ... Cornerback Asa Jackson (ankle) was sidelined for his second straight practice. ... Cornerback Lardarius Webb (back) missed his 12th straight practice. He last practiced July 25. ... Guard Will Rackley (head), guard Ryan Jensen (ankle) and safety Brynden Trawick (back) also didn't practice. ... Nose tackle Terrence Cody (hip) is on the physically unable to perform list. ... Defensive end Brent Urban (torn ACL) is out for the season.
If you were surprised by the Baltimore Ravens giving coach John Harbaugh a contract extension, you're not the only one.

Asked about his reaction to owner Steve Bisciotti adding another year to his deal, Harbaugh said, "I guess the first thing I said was, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘Because that’s the best I can do and I want to do as much as I can.’ It’s a big statement."

Harbaugh
After the Ravens won the Super Bowl last year, Bisciotti tore up Harbaugh's contract and signed him to a new four-year deal. That didn't shock anyone.

But no one expected Bisciotti to add another year to Harbaugh's contract after last season, which marked the first time that the Ravens didn't reach the playoffs in Harbaugh's six years as head coach. As I wrote Monday, this was a strong vote of confidence from Bisciotti.

Harbaugh, 51, is now signed through the 2017 season.

"You couldn’t get a better leader, or a man that understands group dynamics, understands how to build people up, how to bring together people in a way that is necessary for success and for treating each other with respect," Harbaugh said of Bisciotti. "We have a great leader at the top of our organization and his influence runs through the whole organization. He has a strong hand on what we’re doing that way. He does it in a soft-handed kind of way. He inspires, he transforms and he builds. It goes to Dick [Cass, team president] and to Ozzie [Newsome, general manager] and right through our organization.”

In six seasons, Harbaugh has guided the Ravens to a 71-37 record (.657), including three trips to the AFC Championship Game and one Super Bowl title. He is 15 wins away from becoming the Ravens' all-time winningest coach. Brian Billick had a 85-67 record (.559) in his nine seasons as the Ravens' coach.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- With a Super Bowl ring on his right hand and an optimistic outlook on the 2014 season, Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti sat down with ESPN.com to discuss his team's image, Joe Flacco's disappointing season and Ray Lewis' opinion that the team lacks leadership.

Are you concerned about your team's image after having three players arrested this offseason?

Steve Bisciotti: "In a general sense, very much so. In a specific sense, not really. You're always concerned about the image, but the fact that they all happened at once, really is embarrassing to us. I think that we have a reputation for having a well-run organization. I don't know whether if they were spread out, whether that would make it better or not. I'm disappointed. I'm not concerned."

You give Joe Flacco a $120 million contract and he follows that up with the most interceptions of his career. How disappointed are you by that? Do you have any buyer's remorse?

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Patrick Smith/Getty ImagesJoe Flacco and the Ravens failed to make the playoffs after their Super Bowl run.
SB: "We look at things as a whole. It's well documented that losing Anquan Boldin hurt him but losing Dennis Pitta compounded that problem. When you lose your first and second options, that really hurt. He took an undrafted rookie [Marlon Brown] and gave him 50 balls. We brought in guys like [Dallas] Clark and got him 30 balls. We did the very best we could, and he threw for the most yards he ever had (3,912 yards). So, I don't think it was mechanics. I don't think it was a lack of practice. I do think it's an aberration. I didn't pay him all the money. I made a commitment to pay him all the money. I expect to see great things from Joe."

John Harbaugh wants the Thanksgiving night game in Baltimore to become an NFL tradition. Is this something you will try to pursue with the league?

SB: "I have certainly voiced my opinion that we would like that. But, because of the popularity of it with other owners, I'm not holding my breath that I'm going to win that argument. Our fans got a taste of it [in two of the past three years], and I think the city would adapt to that real well. Anything that ties tradition with football is a home run. I would love it. I have expressed it to the league, but I haven't expressed it to everybody. I'm not done."

There have been a report that you had a heavy hand in the hiring of Gary Kubiak as offensive coordinator. What was your influence?

SB: "My participation with Kubiak was zero. I had no idea he was even on the market. I thought he was like Lovie Smith and was going to sit out a year. John was very close and a day or two away from making a choice [for his new offensive coordinator] when he had a conversation with Rick Dennison, who he knows from being a special teams guy. So, they ended up talking and it was then that Rick said he thought Gary would be interested in his job specifically. My impression of Gary is a lot like John in that he's a solid, high-character guy. My reaction was, 'wow.' People can believe what they want to believe, but it kind of goes against everything that I've ever believed in from a tutorial management standpoint that is to give good council, give them good advice and let them make decisions. I still haven't talked to Gary."

With what the Ravens have accomplished in free agency, have you done enough to get back to the playoffs?

SB: "Yeah, but I thought that last year. So it shows how much I knew. I think we've done enough to put ourselves in position to have a typical Ravens draft. That's all I really look at. We knew we were going to lose Michael Oher and Arthur Jones. Getting Eugene Monroe was the first biggie. I was always confident that we were going to keep Dennis Pitta because his wife and Joe Flacco's wife wouldn't allow him to leave. It probably cost Pitta $1 million per year because his wife is best friends with Dana (Flacco's wife). I'm thrilled with Steve Smith, I like the signing of safety Darian Stewart and the trade for center Jeremy Zuttah. From the eve of free agency to yesterday, I think we've had a great offeason and I think we have filled our roster to the point where we won't be forced or steered in an awkward direction in the draft. That's where I really want to be."

After experiencing last season, do you believe in Super Bowl hangovers nows?

SB: "No, I think it's hard to win the whole thing because of the confidence level of the league. It's such a significant thing to do. There are just great franchises like the Chargers who haven't won one. It's killing [Patriots owner] Bob [Kraft], that it's been nine years for him and it's killing [Cowboys owner] Jerry [Jones], that it's been 18 years for him. When you realize how hard it is, I think failing is more of a statistical certainty than it is an indication that there is a hangover. I'm more worried about a trend. This year is almost more important. We weren't going to rig the game to give us a little better chance to repeat. Rigging the game costs you too much down the road. I'm proud that we all agreed to do it a certain way. We weren't going to put ourselves out of contention in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to try to repeat. We didn't do that. We didn't get to the playoffs. I want the feeling of being a champion to still be present in our locker room. I'm more worried if we fail to make the playoffs this year and next, then that institutional feeling and knowledge that would dissipate to the point where we're kind of back with everybody else."

Ray Lewis said there was a lack of leadership on the Ravens after losing Ed Reed and himself. Any merit to that?

SB: "No, I don't see any void at all. I talked to Ray that week and I think he regretted saying it. I think afterward he felt bad because he realized that there was only one way to interpret his words and that is: 'Without me, they don't have it.' I don't think he realized that implication to the fullest extent when he said that. He regretted saying that for that reason. It kind of put the spotlight on him. If he had to do it over again, he wouldn't have brought that topic up. Leadership starts at the top, and we've got Ozzie and John. Players do come and go. The great teams have lost great leaders and have come back to win championships."
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti gave coach John Harbaugh a new four-year contract after winning the Super Bowl. That was an easy reward.

There is much more significance behind Bisciotti extending Harbaugh another year after the Ravens failed to reach the playoffs last season. Supporting Harbaugh after his most disappointing season is the strongest vote of confidence Bisciotti could give.

Harbaugh earned this unexpected pat on the back because he achieved the goals that Bisciotti set before him. He turned the Ravens into a perennial playoff team, and he changed their image of being sore losers.

In six seasons, Harbaugh has won 62 regular-season games, the third-most in the NFL over that span. He's also guided the Ravens to the playoffs in five of his first six seasons. It says a lot that an 8-8 season is a disappointment. Breaking even would be considered a success for the likes of the Cleveland Browns, Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders.

There are going to be doubts when the Ravens fail to make the playoffs in the same year when they lost Ray Lewis and Ed Reed in the locker room. There have been questions from the Baltimore media as to whether Harbaugh made the call in hiring Gary Kubiak as his offensive coordinator.

This is why the extension sends a strong message of support for Harbaugh as a coach and a leader.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Ravens took one of their final off-season salutes Friday night as players received their Super Bowl championship rings during an opulent private ceremony inside the Ravens' field house.

It was a time to reminisce, celebrate and pay tribute to an unforgettable championship run that featured big plays by quarterback Joe Flacco and clutch stops by the defense.

Owner Steve Bisciotti opened the event by toasting late owner Art Modell, saying "without him, we wouldn't be here." Then the players opened packages sitting in front of them on the table that held their rings.

What was their first impression?

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AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyThe Ravens' Super Bowl ring features 243 diamonds.
“Blood diamonds. All that blood for these diamonds," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "The journey was long but it was worth it. It was worth it. But I will tell you this, I damn sure want to feel like this again.”

The Super Bowl ring is fashioned in white and yellow gold with 243 round-cut diamonds. The estimated value is between $5,000 and $10,000.

In the center of the ring is the purple logo, the profile of the Ravens head, which is outlined with 40 round-cut diamonds sitting atop a custom-cut amethyst (purple) stone. Behind the log are two Lombardi Trophies (signifying the Ravens' titles in 2000 and 2012).

One side of the ring features the wearer's last name and the Ravens' crest, with the words "Play Like A Raven" around it. On the other side, there is the Lombardi Trophy sitting in front of the Superdome, where the Ravens won the title.

The inside of the ring has the phrase "The Team, The Team, The Team," which was once of coach John Harbaugh's memorable phrases from his introductory press conference. It also has the scores of the four playoff games along with the opponents' logos.

The ring was designed with the help of Flacco and linebacker Ray Lewis.

Asked if he was always going to wear the ring, Flacco said, "It's kind of unwearable. When I go home and when I see people for the first time, I'm sure they're going to have some interest in seeing it. Or at least I'm going to have some interest in showing it off to them. It's pretty special. You don't come across these things too often. So, I'm going to definitely want to show it off a little bit."

Lewis, who announced his retirement before the Ravens' Super Bowl run, wore his 2000 Super Bowl ring on his right hand and his 2012 one on his left hand.

"When you're in our business, to have two of them on my right hand now is the ultimate," Lewis said. "There's no better way to go out. I can hold this the rest of my life and know I went out a champ."

This also a culmination of the Ravens' Super Bowl celebration. After parting ways with seven starters this offseason, the Ravens know the significance of Friday night's party.

"We had our parade, had our opportunity to meet the president and now you get to see your own personal hardware," said wide receiver Torrey Smith, who couldn't stop looking at his ring while talking to reporters. "You had a chance to hold the Lombardi, and now you get the rings and you realize that you've done it. It really symbolizes that this is the last time we're all going to be together as a team. It's definitely a special moment."
John HarbaughMatthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsNo coach in NFL history has won more playoff games than the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh in the first five seasons of a career.
When John Harbaugh was introduced as the Baltimore Ravens head coach, a reporter brought up the fact that owner Steve Bisciotti mentioned he was searching for the next Hall of Fame coach.

"By the way, did you know I said that?" Bisciotti said with a smile, patting Harbaugh on the back.

Five years and one Super Bowl championship later, no one is laughing anymore. While it's too early to start talking about making a bust of him for Canton, Harbaugh's ability to consistently win -- and win at a high level -- in a league that prides itself on parity underscores an unprecedented path of success.

No coach has won more games (including playoffs) than Harbaugh since he became the Ravens coach in 2008. No coach in NFL history has won more playoff games than Harbaugh in the first five seasons of a career. He is the only coach to win a playoff game in each of his first five seasons, and he is the only coach to advance to three conference title games in his first five years.

Harbaugh, 50, didn't make the cut in ESPN.com's countdown of the 20 greatest coaches of all time. He would, however, rank at the top of the list for the NFL's next great coach.

Some may dispute that by saying he's a good coach with great players. It's true that the Ravens have had at least five players make the Pro Bowl each season under Harbaugh, including six in 2012. What often goes overlooked is Harbaugh's knack for overcoming challenge after challenge. His teams have always survived serious injuries to star players, unpopular divorces with fan favorites, offensive inconsistency and a near-annual turnover at defensive coordinator (four in five seasons).

In 2008, his first season, Harbaugh went with a rookie starting quarterback (Joe Flacco) and guided the Ravens to the AFC Championship Game. In 2011, the Ravens parted ways with the top two receivers in franchise history (Derrick Mason and Todd Heap) before the start of training camp and Harbaugh got Baltimore to within one failed catch of the Super Bowl. And last season, despite reigning defensive player of the year Terrell Suggs and linebacker Ray Lewis missing a combined 18 games, Harbaugh captured another division title as well as the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

While many documented what winning the Super Bowl meant for Flacco, it represented validation for Harbaugh as well. It was only six years ago when Harbaugh, an accomplished special teams coach in the NFL, couldn't get an interview for the head-coaching job at Boston College (the job went to Jeff Jagodzinski). Today, he is shaking hands with President Barack Obama as part of the Super Bowl champions' visit to the White House.

"For me, there was no question in my mind that I could do it or would do it," Harbaugh said. "There wasn't any doubt personally about that. It was just a matter of where is it going to happen."

What you'll read now about Harbaugh is how this is his team with Lewis retiring. That's the perception on the outside. Those at Ravens headquarters know this has always been Harbaugh's team.

His attention to detail was key in turning the Ravens from underachievers to a perennial playoff team. His commitment to discipline changed the bad-boy culture in Baltimore. Last season's Super Bowl team featured just six players (Lewis, Suggs, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Marshal Yanda and Sam Koch) who were on the team before Harbaugh. For the most part, these were his guys.

[+] EnlargeSteve Bisciotti, John Harbaugh
AP Photo/Rob CarrExpectations for John Harbaugh have always been high, starting when Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, left, hired him in 2008.
When you sign up for Harbaugh's program, you're required to follow the rules at practice. Run full speed. Tuck in your shirts. Buckle your chinstrap. And don't ever think of sitting down. The signs posted throughout Ravens headquarters -- like W.I.N. (What's Important Now) and Team, Team, Team -- seem more suited for a college setting, but Harbaugh is all about professionalism. If you're not playing the best at that position, Harbaugh won't put you on the field, and it doesn't matter if you're a former Pro Bowl player. Chris McAlister and Bryant McKinnie learned that the hard way.

Harbaugh's tough love isn't for everyone. Bart Scott sounded off on him a few years ago, and Bernard Pollard said he wouldn't join the Ravens at the White House or ring ceremony after insinuating a problem with Harbaugh.

Harbaugh emphasized that he doesn't hold grudges and has respected every player who has been with the Ravens. In fact, Harbaugh believes one of the biggest factors to being a great coach is building relationships.

"The word I would use is you got to love your players," Harbaugh said, "and I believe Vince Lombardi loved his players. He was tough on them. He pushed them. They probably didn't love him back at the time. But they sure love him now."

Those who've remained have grown with Harbaugh.

"It was a lot different his first year," Yanda told The Baltimore Sun before the Super Bowl. "He didn't have his guys here, and some guys gave him fits and ticked him off. He didn't have his relationships built. But some of us have been together for five years now and we're more comfortable with him. We've had some great wins and tough losses together. We know him. We trust him, and he knows when it is time to work, we will work."

Harbaugh doesn't generate memorable quotes like Rex Ryan. He doesn't attract the same attention as his brother Jim. What Harbaugh stands for is a sum of the coaches that he learned under. From his father Jack, a longtime college coach, he understood the importance of connecting with players. From Bo Schembechler, he picked up the importance of physicality and the team concept. From Andy Reid, he developed the same meticulous nature.

Another fair comparison is Bill Belichick, who is considered the best head coach of this generation. Both got their start in the NFL coaching special teams and both had a football coach for a father growing up. And, in some respect, Harbaugh has Belichick to thank for where he is today. When the Ravens were looking at coaching candidates in 2008, Belichick called Bisciotti to suggest Harbaugh for the job.

"Take personalities completely out of it, they're both attention to detail, they're both schematically strong and they're both great evaluators of talent," said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who also coached under Belichick. "They know how to handle players and they know how to hire coaching staffs."

Since 2008, Harbaugh has won 63 games, tied for the most in the NFL with Belichick. His .692 winning percentage in the playoffs is tied for fifth best in NFL history with Belichick. Now, Harbaugh is looking to become the first coach to repeat as Super Bowl champion since Belichick.

But Harbaugh will have to win this one without two future Hall of Fame players in Lewis and Reed. If Harbaugh has proved anything in his five seasons with the Ravens, it's how he attacks challenges.

"The greatest opportunity is in the biggest adversity. That's what it always is," Harbaugh said. "Every year, you can look at what was said before the season about what kind of team we were going to have and then you saw what we were able to accomplish. I'm really excited about the challenges we get to face."
Ray Lewis won't be suiting up for the Ravens next season, but he will always be part of the team and Baltimore's football history.

The Ravens are making sure that legacy is immortalized by building a statue for Lewis. This is something that Lewis deserves and has earned.

Lewis
Lewis
You can't think of the Ravens without picturing Lewis, whether it's him chasing down a running back, motivating teammates or doing his signature dance. The Ravens have a Ring of Honor, but Lewis transcends that. The team should build a statue for Lewis. The Ravens should make Lewis' No. 52 the first one that is retired in team history. Anything you can do to thank a player, the Ravens should do that for Lewis.

"I think he set himself apart in Baltimore sports history," owner Steve Bisciotti said of Lewis, "and we will certainly look into [building a statue] and I would not be surprised if there is one there in the next year or two."

Bisciotti said he doesn't know where the statue will be built. There is already one for Johnny Unitas on one side of M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens should place Lewis' statue in his own plaza outside the stadium. There needs to be a separation. Unitas represents Baltimore's old team, and Lewis will be the enduring image of the new one.

The Ravens have had other great players from Hall of Fame lineman Jonathan Ogden to safety Ed Reed. But no one has been the face of a franchise like Lewis. The Ravens haven't played a season without Lewis. The Ravens' era is the Lewis era. This franchise has existed for 17 seasons, and for 17 seasons, Lewis has been the ultimate leader.

Lewis' legacy is viewed differently around the country because of the incident in Atlanta 13 years ago. But in Baltimore, he will be remembered as the one who brought two Super Bowl titles to the city and led a decade of dominance on the defensive side of the ball.

This announcement is actually the fulfillment of a handshake agreement that predates Bisciotti. Back in the late 1990s, a high-ranking team official, who is no longer with the Ravens, promised Lewis that he would build a statue outside of the stadium if he led the team to a Super Bowl title. With two Lombardi trophies, Lewis has more than held up his end of the deal.
NEW ORLEANS -- Ravens safety Ed Reed has said repeatedly this month that he isn't going to retire after the Super Bowl like Ray Lewis. But Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti isn't so sure about that.

Asked if he would be surprised if Reed called it quits after Sunday, Bisciotti said, "I would not be surprised, but if he said he's coming back, then I believe him. I just need Ed to experience this Sunday. I don't know whether a loss might inspire him to change his mind and I don't know whether a win will inspire him to change his mind. I really want to defer and not guess what Ed's going to do. Because I don't know that Ed's 100 percent sure now. I think Ed will be 100 percent sure a month from now. So we'll just play it out."

If Reed is coming back, the Ravens will be faced with another decision. Reed is an unrestricted free agent in March. The Ravens won't address Reed's status immediately after the Super Bowl.

"First we have to find out where Ed’s head is," Bisciotti said. "I think that win or lose Sunday, Ed needs a couple of weeks. By that time, we will have done our personnel meetings and our cap meetings and we’ll know what kind of deal that we can make Ed. I assume we’ll make a deal that we made with Ray a few years ago. If Ed wants to test the market like Ray did, that’s what we have to do. That’s the downside of being the financial boss that Ozzie [Newsome, Baltimore's general manager] has to deal with that."
NEW ORLEANS -- Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti feels confident that offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden will get voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. But he's unsure about the chances of Art Modell, which is why he stated his case for the former owner Thursday.

"I do think he’s the most accomplished person in the history of the NFL that is not in," Bisciotti said. "If the one reason for them not giving him the votes is because he moved the team, then I wish that they would at least acknowledge that though it was gut-wrenching for the Cleveland fans, it’s a part of the business. It’s been done many times in the NFL."

According to CBS Sports, there are four owners in the Hall of Fame who have moved their franchises: Dan Reeves (Rams), Al Davis (Raiders), Lamar Hunt (Chiefs) and George Preston Marshall (Redskins).

"I don't think it should keep Art out," Bisciotti said. "I know he broke some hearts in Cleveland, but nobody knows all the details or knows the story. The animosity that Baltimore shows to the Irsays is something that I lived through and can understand. So I'm not asking Cleveland to understand. I'm not even asking Cleveland to forgive. I just know that Cleveland's rabid fans should not be the reason that they keep him out. Because it seems like a spite thing and not a legitimate 'let's look at the resume thing' and that's really what I hope changes this year."

Ravens coach John Harbaugh has another measuring stick for why Modell should reach the Hall.

"The National Football League wouldn’t be the same. Isn’t that the measurement? How much better they made our game and the National Football League?," he said. "By any measurement, it wouldn’t be the same and it wouldn’t be as good as it is right now. He changed football. He changed the way that it was perceived. He helped make it the popular game that it is today. He had a vision that very few people had in his time."

Harbaugh added, "There’s no question he belongs there, there’s no question he’s going to be in the Hall of Fame. Why wait? Let’s just do it right now. Let’s do the right thing.”
 Joe Flacco AP Photo/Patrick SemanskyJoe Flacco will likely be Baltimore's quarterback for the rest of his career.
NEW ORLEANS -- General manager Ozzie Newsome recently guaranteed that quarterback Joe Flacco will be with the Ravens next season even though his contract expires at the end of the season. On Thursday, the Ravens owner expressed confidence that Flacco will be around longer than that.

"We have a franchise quarterback, he's going to get franchise money," owner Steve Bisciotti said. "We've got our quarterback for the next 10 years and we're going to ride Joe."

Bisciotti acknowledged that "franchise money" is as hard to define as the "elite" label. According to Bisciotti, the Ravens have offered Flacco a contract that averages more than the $14.6 million franchise tag, which shouldn't come as a surprise.

What it will come down to is this: Do the Ravens believe Flacco is worth a Drew Brees contract that averages $20 million per year or does he deserve a deal closer to $16 million to $18 million per year?

"We didn’t agree on a number and I didn’t really care to discuss it any further once it got to that point," Flacco said Thursday. "Bottom line is I’m not the guy going up into their offices and negotiating with them every day anyways. It was really never a concern of mine and never really thought about it. Even in the offseason, when you think about it a little bit, they are really all good thoughts. It’s a good problem to have and to be talking about.”

This really hasn't been a major storyline at the Super Bowl because there's no drama. From Bisciotti to coach John Harbaugh, everyone in the Ravens organization feels confident that Flacco will eventually get signed. Flacco has never complained about the lack of a new deal and actually seems disinterested about it when addressing it during the season.

He doesn't have anything to worry about because he's not going anywhere. The Ravens aren't going to let him walk after going through 15 starting quarterbacks in their first 12 years of existence (in order): Vinny Testaverde, Eric Zeier, Jim Harbaugh, Scott Mitchell, Stoney Case, Tony Banks, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Randall Cunningham, Chris Redman, Jeff Blake, Kyle Boller, Anthony Wright, Steve McNair and Troy Smith. To be honest, I'm not sure half of these guys really qualified as being quarterbacks.

This is how the offseason is going to go for the Ravens and Flacco. They'll either get a long-term deal done by February or Flacco will get the franchise tag. If the sides can't get an agreement reached by mid-July, Flacco will play under the tag for the entire year. Last season, the Ravens placed the tag on running back Ray Rice and got him signed to a multi-year contract with only a few hours to spare on that July deadline.

Putting the franchise tag on Flacco doesn't seem to bother Bisciotti. Even though the tag would eat up nearly $15 million of this year's salary cap, Bisciotti feels that it will be good practice for the future, when Flacco's cap number will balloon three years into a new long-term deal. In his eyes, the Ravens are going to have to deal with Flacco taking up a large portion of the cap whether it's in 2013 or 2015.

"Will it cost us a player or two? Yes it will," Bisciotti said. "But if we’re going to be in that situation for the next eight years, and if we have to do it this year, it’s just a good dry run. It's just forcing our hand a little earlier."

Bisciotti, though, is confident that a long-term deal with Flacco will get done at some point.

"I was made aware that he and his agent were real close with Ozzie, and think that Ozzie has always come through and gotten the job done," Bisciotti said. "We've never lost a great, great franchise player."
Teams don't fire their offensive coordinator in the same week they can clinch a playoff spot. Teams also don't change quarterbacks in late November when they're getting ready to go on a Super Bowl run.

It looks like making unorthodox moves runs in the Harbaugh family.

A month after Jim Harbaugh committed to Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith in San Francisco, John Harbaugh dismissed offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in Baltimore. John Harbaugh said he thought about the potential of this becoming a distraction, but he decided to do it because it was best for the team.

“I don’t think it will be disruptive. I think it will be positive," John Harbaugh said at his Monday news conference. "It will be up to all of us to make it that way. Like we talked to the team: the solutions are right here in the room to improving."

Like his brother Jim, John Harbaugh isn't one to give specifics on why he made the move. Was it the run-pass ratio? Was it the lack of the no huddle? Harbaugh was vague on what prompted him to fire Cameron.

"It would be real easy to go the route in saying it's the result of something and somebody is taking the blame for something. It is not that," Harbaugh said. "People are going to believe what they want to believe. It's what I believe is best for our offense and for our football team. That's not to say anybody can't do the job or didn't do the job. Cam was doing a heck of a job here and nobody knows that better than me. And nobody stated that more times. I believe that. I also believe right now at this time, the timing says that this is the best thing. This is what we're going to do."

Harbaugh said there were phone calls made last night about Cameron and acknowledged it was his decision to make the move. But he danced around a question on whether owner Steve Bisciotti had suggested removing Cameron.

"I'm not getting into any of that," Harbaugh said. "We do a great job in this organization of communicating and talking. I'll just leave it at that."

Harbaugh also wouldn't say whether Jim Caldwell, who replaces Cameron, will remain the offensive coordinator for next season.

"This is an opportunity for us to win football games," Harbaugh said. "Long term considerations are long-term considerations. That’s not at the forefront of our mind."
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is dealing with a newborn baby. He is entering his contract year. This should be a stressful time for him.

Flacco
But many see Flacco being more relaxed than ever. That includes Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

“I see a calmness about him," Bisciotti told the team's official website. “People say, ‘Calm? He’s always been calm.’ But I’m seeing a different Joe Flacco out there. I’m really excited about him and his ability to lead this offense. So I think we can expect good things.”

For a more in-depth look at Flacco, I strongly encourage you to read Ashley Fox's column on the changed quarterback. It details how he's taking more responsibility on the field at a time when the new father faces more responsibility at home.

"He's not a different guy, but it's almost like, 'Is this the real Joe Flacco now?' " Ravens coach John Harbaugh told Fox. "He's funny, and he's engaged more. I think he's coming out. He's different. I don't know what it is. He's blossoming, I guess. His personality is starting to pop. Maybe it comes with confidence. Maybe he feels, OK, it's starting to fall in place for him. It's starting to click maybe somehow."
The Ravens are within their rights to take away money from linebacker Terrell Suggs because he was hurt away from team headquarters. But the team doesn't plan to do so. That's according to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti.

Suggs
In an interview Friday with the Baltimore Sun, Bisciotti called the idea of not paying Suggs for the games he will miss this season "nonsense" and pointed out that football players play basketball all offseason.

Witnesses have told ESPN's Adam Schefter this week that Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs injured his Achilles tendon in April while playing basketball. Suggs has insisted he was hurt while practicing a conditioning test.

The Ravens could place Suggs on the Non-Football Injury list at the start of training camp, which would give them the right to without his salary for the games he missed due to the injury. Based on his $4.9 million salary in 2012, the Ravens could save $2 million (and gain that amount on the salary cap) if Suggs missed seven games.

It would have been a bad move to do so because Suggs is the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and has been a loyal soldier to the franchise. He's only missed three games in his nine-year career and he's played -- and played well -- through injuries.

Bisciotti told the Sun that he hasn't asked how Suggs got injured and the cause doesn't matter to him. "I don’t know the truth and it doesn’t matter," Biscotti said. "I don’t understand the ‘We deserve an explanation’ kind of thing. Quite honestly, I didn’t even ask [general manager Ozzie Newsome] if we got an explanation ... This one feeling that Ravens’ fans deserve to know, I don’t understand that."

In other news, the Ravens announced that their team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., has been named the Under Armour Performance Center. It's a 19-year agreement with the Baltimore-based company. I'm not sure if this name change will stick with local reporters, who have called the facility "the Castle" since the $31 million facility was opened in October 2004.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti sounded optimistic when talking about the negotiations for Ray Rice's extension.

Rice
Rice
He acknowledged to the Baltimore Sun on Friday that a gap still exists between the running back and the team but said "I think we’re close enough. I think we’re heading somewhere."

The sides have until July 16 to reach a deal. If the sides can agree before that deadline, Rice has to play under the $7.7 million franchise tender.

It was reported three weeks ago that there had been no progress in talks. Based on the contracts signed recently, there appears to be a $10 million gap between the two tiers of running backs.

Rice probably believes he deserves a contract closer to the one given to the Titans' Chris Johnson (six years with $30 million guaranteed). In fact, Rice has had more total yards over the past three years than Johnson.

But the Ravens are likely trying to get the money closer to the deals recently signed by Arian Foster (five years, $43.5 million with $20.75 million guaranteed) and LeSean McCoy (five-year, $45 million with $20.76 million guaranteed). Baltimore can argue that is now the market value for running backs.

"It’s his right as a free agent to say I want X and it’s our right as a team to look at the entire salary cap," Bisciotti told the Sun.

Bisciotti doesn't expect Rice to report to next week's mandatory minicamp unless a new deal is reached.

"He’s one of best young men that we’ve ever had and I know it’s killing him," Bisciotti told the Sun. "He comes in and we haven’t skipped a beat."

Bisciotti also shot down speculation that the negotiations with QB Joe Flacco have become secondary to Rice. He said both are priorities for the team.

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