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Byrne Identity: Joe Cool And Matty Ice, Hydration And Watching Bengals/Panthers


Joe Cool And Matty Ice

Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan – Joe Cool and Matty Ice – were drafted on the same day on April 26, 2008. Ryan came with much fanfare as the former Boston College standout who produced multiple dramatic comebacks in big-time college games. Flacco was less distinguished even though he had set 20 school records in his two seasons at Delaware.

Ryan was the third player taken in that draft, while we grabbed Flacco, after two first-round trades, at the 18th spot.

Our scouts and coaches were in love with both players. Both were among the top 10 players we wished to draft that year. All the draft gurus predicted Ryan would be one of the first players selected, and that Flacco, along with Michigan's Chad Henne and Louisville's Brian Brohm, would go late in the first round or sometime in the second.

We had a brand new head coach with John Harbaugh, and we had just completed a 5-11 season that featured an aging Steve McNair and Kyle Boller as starting quarterbacks.

Wanted Out Of The Desert

The Ravens' brain trust was determined to get out of what Ozzie Newsome called the "quarterback desert."

"We were a 'have not' when it came to the quarterback position. Either you have one who can help you win the Super Bowl, or you don't. We had been in a constant search for that guy," Newsome said at the time.

With Harbs being a new coach that year, the Ravens were allowed to have an extra offseason minicamp, which took place the week before the draft. While watching those practices, Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie and Eric DeCosta, the assistant general manager, talked a lot about getting either Flacco or Ryan.

We owned the eighth pick in that draft. "Steve pushed us to make sure we would come out with the quarterback. He asked 'What would it take to get Ryan?' and 'How much do we love Flacco?'" DeCosta remembered.

It appeared that Ryan would most likely be one of the first three players taken in that draft. "Moving from our eighth spot to one of those first three would take almost all of our picks for that year. We made some calls to test the water," DeCosta said. "We really didn't believe we had to get Ryan because we were also very high on Joe. And, we believed, from our research, that we loved Joe more than the rest of the NFL teams. We were weighing all of those things.

"Steve was creating interesting discussions," DeCosta continued. "He basically was saying 'We love Ryan; let's find a way to get him.' Ozzie was outstanding with his determined and experienced study. He liked the idea of seeing if we could move up, but he also cautioned that 'we have another guy we love, too.'"

There was a chance another team could trade up to take Ryan at one of the first two spots, but it was clear by the morning of the draft that the Falcons wanted Ryan badly. The Dolphins owned the first pick and decided Jake Long, the big left tackle from Michigan, was their guy. St. Louis, at the second position, was willing to listen to trade offers … and they were understandably greedy.

"I'm not sure St. Louis was really willing to make a trade, and they asked for way too much," Newsome recalled.

"We could have taken Joe with the eighth pick, but Ozzie knew – our intel was pretty good – that we could trade out of that spot, get some extra picks and still get Joe later in the round," DeCosta continued. "We let it be known to some teams we knew wanted to move up [in the draft] that we were willing to deal. Ozzie understood Jacksonville coveted [Derrick] Harvey [defensive end from Florida], who would be gone when they picked at 26. Oz made the trade with them, and we moved down.

"When we got to the teens in that draft, Steve continued to ask the right questions. 'Are you sure Joe's going to be there at 26?' Some of us believed that he would, but Ozzie moved back up to 18, giving up a third-rounder, and the rest, as they say, is history," DeCosta remembered.

"Here's something else," Eric said. "Oz then turns around and trades down in the second round  (from the 44th spot to the 58th) to get the third-rounder back, and we still got the player we would have taken early in the second, Ray Rice. Pretty good day for the Ravens."

Watching End Of Bengals/Panthers Game

There was a large TV hanging in the stadium concourse near our buses after last Sunday's victory in Tampa, and a good number of our players were gathered around it watching the dramatic end to the Bengals/Panthers game. In overtime, Carolina trailed by three, 37-34, when it faced a fourth-and-1 at the Bengals' 19.

"Kick the field goal!" Terrell Suggs shouted at the TV. "No, they should go for it," Joe Flacco smiled at Suggs.

"What are you stupid, Joe? Kick the field goal," Suggs repeated.

"Go for the win," Joe replied. The Panthers' Graham Gano then kicked a 36-yard field goal to tie the game.

"I would have played it like Madden and gone for it," Torrey Smith said, chuckling at Suggs. 

"All of you are stupid offensive players," came the reply from 'Sizzle.'

A few minutes later, standing in the FAA security line with Joe, I asked, "Do you really think they should have gone for it?" The confident quarterback chuckled: "I was having some fun with Suggs, but why not?  I do think you, at least, have to have the discussion about it."

A few minutes later, when I got on the bus to head to our charter, a number of people were gathered around Chad Steele, our senior director of public relations, who was watching the end of the game on his phone. The Bengals had come back in the final minute and were in Carolina territory. A catch and penalty gave the Bengals' Mike Nugent a chance to kick a 36-yarder for the win.

Steve Smith Sr. walked up and asked: "Who do we want to lose this?"

"Cincy," I replied. Smith chuckled and said: "Can they both lose?"

As the Bengals lined up, DeCosta offered: "He could miss this. He's a streaky kicker." I thought to myself, "No way." Eric was right. He missed, and the game ended in a tie. John Harbaugh turned from his front seat: "What happened?"


Harbs: "How much time is left?" DeCosta: "None. They kissed each other. The game is a tie."


During our TV production meeting with CBS on Saturday in Tampa, analyst Solomon Wilcots asked Coach Harbaugh if he was concerned about our players dehydrating in the heat during Sunday's game.

"No," John replied. "Our players are in great shape, and they're smart about drinking enough fluids." And, then John added, smiling, "Me? I go into every game a little dehydrated."


"Yes, I do. A head coach can't leave the field and go to the bathroom. Your timing has to be good for pre-game, halftime and after."

That made me laugh, and I shared the story with the voice of the Ravens, Gerry Sandusky, just before he recorded the pre-game radio show with Harbs on Sunday morning. "I guess that's why we don't see 70-year-old head coaches in the NFL," Sandusky quipped. 

Alrighty then. Let's keep whizzing along and get another victory. Let's beat the Falcons!

Talk with you next week,


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