playing the angles

The decorated professional career of LB Ray Lewis will end in less than two weeks.  The media will obviously be all over the brothers Harbaugh as they will coach against each other for a championship.  I am more interested in the retirement of Lewis, the undisputed heart and soul of the Ravens defense since he was drafted by the team in 1996.  I have always been a fan of Lewis, the MVP of Super Bowl 35, because of his undeniable fire and intensity. However, Lewis was not the first draft choice in franchise history because behemoth OT Jonathan Ogden holds that distinction.  When you can handpick a franchise left tackle and the heart and soul of your defense in the same draft no less, that is a recipe for success. And that rhymes too.

The last time the Ravens played in the Super Bowl was the first time they played in a Super Bowl and they won it.  Played in 2001, that Super Bowl was broadcasted by CBS (it will be again as well in less than two weeks) and it was the first time they had the broadcast rights to that game since 1992, a Super Bowl that was played in the Metrodome.   The faces may have changed except for Lewis but this year’s squad has two tremendous backs in Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce just like they did more than a decade ago.  In 2001, the running backs for that championship Ravens squad were rookie sensation Jamal Lewis and the talented yet unheralded back at that time, Priest Holmes.  Personally, I would prefer that the Ravens win because they have solid players and class acts that I am fond of like Pierce, Anquan Boldin, Ed Reed, and Lewis.

The Super Bowl halftime show that year was headlined by Britney Spears, N’Sync, and Aerosmith.   Last year, Spears and Aerosmith lead dog Steven Tyler were more known for their turns on singing competition shows than for their respective musical outputs.  Maybe it is for the best.

Nelly was also part of that year’s Super Bowl halftime show, a performance that wasn’t as controversial as the Super Bowl halftime show three years later (with the Timberlake and Jackson snafu) or as incredible as the powerful U2 performance of a year later.  Back in my day, MTV also aired the Rock N’ Jock celebrity football game and Nelly earned MVP honors for his electrifying gridiron, I mean, flag football performance.  I wonder why I remember things like that but then I realize that Super Bowl was the first of my adolescene.

Beyonce will headline this year’s halftime show.  Around this Super Bowl time when the Ravens won their first title, Beyonce’s pop group Destiny’s child had a hit single “Survivor.”

CBS aired the second season premiere of the reality hit Survivor after the Ravens routed the Giants.  I guess that says it all.  Except…..

There will be two Harbaugh coaches.  During the Ravens Super Bowl win, three players with the last name of Lewis (Ray, bellcow running back Jamal, return specialist Jermaine) contributed to the win.  The three Lewises were not related to each other.  Jamal signed with the rival Browns in 2007 and Jermaine was drafted by the Houston Texans in the 2002 expansion draft.

Each AFC championship squad had a powerful defensive tackle that disrupted and clogged the holes for the enemy’s running game.  This year, Ravens DT Haloti Ngata might actually inflict some pain on Lamichael James of the 49ers.  Both guys played for Oregon in college.  James’ college uniform still looks fly while Ngata’s college jersey looks a tad outdated.  Speaking of Nike jerseys, the Ravens will wear the iconic swoosh next month, just as they did when they defeated the Giants 34-7 just twelve years ago. Ravens TE Ed Dickson also played for Oregon.

Tony Siragusa manned the middle for the Ravens squad.  A likeable an affable man, he retired after winning his ring.  The Saturday night after, he was on NBC before kickoff of the season opener of the ill-fated XFL.

This exercise would have been fun if I had someone to talk to about it.  Maybe one day things will change.  But, I don’t expect them to.