We asked our season ticket holders to select the 10 best players in our history, and Marshal Yanda, who has made four consecutive Pro Bowls, finished in that group. Each of the 10 is featured on a home game ticket and game program cover. Yanda is our "cover boy" for next Thursday's game against the Saints.
The website Grantland.com recently called Yanda "the best offensive lineman in the NFL." Pro Football Focus ranked the Ravens' starting right guard as the fifth-best player in the NFL. Heavy praise for this humble lineman, who proclaimed prior to this interview, "I'm boring. No one wants to hear from me."
In 2015, to celebrate our 20th season, I hope to let you know these elite standouts a little better by asking each 20 questions. Here's the Yanda profile:
1 – What Does It Mean To Be A Raven?
"Tough, smart, physical, accountable and responsible. We're a hardworking organization. Everything and everybody is first class starting with Steve (Bisciotti), to Ozzie (Newsome), to John (Harbaugh). We work our tails off. We're coming after you on gameday."
2 – What Was Your "This Is The NFL" Moment?
"My first game ever. At Cincinnati for a Monday night game to start the (2007) season. I was Jonathan Ogden's backup, and he left the game in the second quarter with a toe injury. I made a mistake – I was not planning on playing, didn't warm up right, wasn't ready. There was a moment out there when I said, 'Wow, this is real.' Monday night. In Cincy, crowd going bonkers. It was a nail biter. Sheesh!"
3 – What Makes You Smile?
"My wife Shannon and our three beautiful children. Coming home after a long day and seeing them brings my biggest smile."
4 – What Irritates You?
"Laziness. I don't like lazy people. I get irritated with that pretty easily. I have a short fuse with lazy people."
5 – What Kind Of Kid Were You?
"I was a hell raiser, but I was a good kid. I was always active, 100 miles per hour. I was wound up and had fun. Still am that way, and football lets me release all that energy."
6 – What Scares You Now?
"Raising my family is scary. I just want to make sure they are raised right, and they're prepared for a world that isn't always easy. I didn't grow up with money. Our kids have it different. We want to make sure they appreciate things, treat people right and have a strong work ethic."
7 – What Scared You As A Kid?
"That's easy. We had a bull on the farm that scared me to death. He was mean and nasty, and you couldn't turn your back on him. He looked at me, and I wanted to run."
8 – Favorite Halloween Costume As A Kid?
"I was a mummy. My Mom put a bunch of double-stick tape on me and then used like an Ace wrap. It was legit mummy and it was pretty cool."
9 – Favorite TV Show?
"'Deadliest Catch' on Discovery. They're five months on the Bering Sea, and they grind it out. They go all day, every day … As a kid, my favorite was 'Dennis The Menace.' I could identify."
10 – Last Movie You Watched?
"One of those 'How to Train Your Dragon,' either 2 or 3. We watched as a family."
11 – Last TV Show You Recorded?
"'Life Below Zero.' Ever heard of that show? Discovery (Channel). It's about people living in Alaska."
12 – If You Were A Super Hero, What Power Would You Want?
"It would be pretty awesome to fly, be like Superman looking down."
13 – Favorite Sport Outside Of Football?
"Has to be fishing. Fishing is a sport. I watch the tournaments. I even ice fish. That's how much I like it."
14 – Do You Believe In The Afterlife?
"I believe there is something after death. Don't know where we'll go or what we'll do, but I think there's something."
15 – Who Is Your Hero?
"I don't think I've ever had one. I didn't watch football on TV when I was a kid, so it's not like I idolized some player. It would have to be my parents. They prepared me, gave me the tools to succeed. Hard work ethic, giving everything you have. That's all from them."
16 – Your Most Memorable Ravens Game?
"It was the Super Bowl (XLVII). That was the biggest game of my life so far. It's like Matt Birk said, 'We'll remember the locker room and the celebration more than the game.' And, he's right. I remember charging the field after, the confetti – just like Ray (Lewis) promised. It was all so cool. We felt we were part of something special."
17 – Most Memorable Teammate, Including All The Way Back To High School?
"That's hard, a tough question. (long pause) Joe Flacco. We've played in so many games together. We won a lot of big games with Joe and because of Joe. We share those memories of beating Pittsburgh, winning the Super Bowl. We've been through a lot together."
18 – Best Player You Ever Faced?
"Do I have to answer? J.J. Watt, I respect him. He's a hell of a player. He's 110% all the time and he's a force. He's a game wrecker. Have to give him that. We don't back down from him, but he's good."
19 – Team You Most Like To Beat?
(Big smile) "Steelers. It's bred in you when you come here. That's part of becoming a Raven. We respect those guys, and I think they respect us. We kind of have the same foundations – hardnosed, physical. It's always a fistfight. … Beating them on the road is great. A couple of years ago when Joe hit Torrey (Smith) at the end of the game – wow! They were playing 'Renegade.' Then woof. You could hear a mouse fart. Definitely the Steelers."
20 – Where Is Marshal In Five Years? 10 Years?
"I could still be playing in five years. That would be 13 seasons. I love playing the game and competing. I'm a serious competitor and don't know how long I'll play. We'll see how I feel. In 10 years, we'll definitely be in Iowa, but we're not sure what we'll be doing. My wife (Shannon) is from Iowa. I'm from there. Could be farming, or I could be a high school football coach. I'm 30, and I've been playing since I was seven. Football means a lot to me."
That's 20 with Marshal. Thanks big man.
Talk with all of you next week,