Byrne Identity: Opening Victory Celebration Includes Family, Ice ... And A Ravens Bookmobile

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So what do big-time Ravens do to celebrate after a season-opening victory?

Not much.

Joe Flacco, who played his first game since injuring his knee in the Nov. 22 contest against the Rams last season, did what he normally does.

"I went home," Flacco said. "Left the stadium at 5 after my interviews. A lot of my family was there. Mom, Dad, couple of brothers; Dana's (Joe's wife) parents were there. We celebrated Daniel's (one of his three sons) birthday, which is on the 15th.

"They all stayed until around 8:30," Joe continued. "We got the boys to bed, and then I watched the first half of the Patriots/Cardinals game."

Steve Smith Sr. was one of the last to leave the locker room after meeting with reporters. He took his wife, Angie, and their two youngest to the airport and went home. "I was tired, and I was sore. Didn't eat and used some ice. I was asleep early."

I think fans are having more fun than our players after games.

Brandon Williams and his fiancée, Alyssa, joined teammate Crockett Gillmore and his wife, Hayley, along with assorted relatives and friends, for some crabs at a local restaurant after leaving M&T Bank Stadium at 5:15 p.m. "We had about 20 people, and we were home at 9. Alyssa was tired. Nash (their son) is a newborn, and she had a long day with the kids," Williams said.

Brandon said he couldn't sleep. "I went down to the man cave at 10 and wound down with some video games. Probably played until after 2."

Up And At 'Em

All three of these standouts were up early on Monday to help celebrate the new Ravens Bookmobile.

Joe and Steve were awake by 7 a.m. "I tried to stay in bed a little, but the boys came in, and they wanted to play. We have a couch in the bedroom. I put them on there and turned the TV on. I got to hang around with them in there until 8," Flacco shared.

"Man, I was still sore, wasn't hungry and just kind of laid around until 8," Smith said. Williams got to sleep until 8 a.m.

All three were at Abbottston Elementary School near downtown Baltimore by 9:45 a.m. the following morning. They were there to visit with the children and help us unveil our Ravens Bookmobile, which will be owned and operated by the good folks at the Maryland Book Bank. The rolling library continues our commitment to supporting education and literacy in the Baltimore area. With the library we renovated at the Charles Carroll Barrister Elementary School a year ago, these endeavors approach a $400,000 commitment by the Ravens.

(First, here's a shoutout to Flacco, Smith Sr. and Williams for coming out Monday. They didn't have to do this. They volunteered on their only day off of the week. When we have a Sunday game, players are off Monday, report Tuesday for the first look on the next opponent, and then work every day, including Saturday, to prepare for the upcoming game. If it's a home contest, players report to a local hotel after meetings and a brief practice earlier on Saturday. If we play on the road, like this week, the team will head to the airport for a mid-afternoon charter after the regular Saturday work.

Second, good works start with someone having an idea. The Ravens Bookmobile was the brainchild of our director of community relations, Heather Darney. Lots of work by her and her staff, including considerable research into community needs and finances, went into making this come about. Nice job, Heather!)

When you have Smith Sr. involved, you know it's going to be fun. He wanted to drive the Bookmobile, a short way from the back of Abbottston School to the front. Joe jumped in "shotgun," and Big Brandon braced himself in the back of the vehicle, where the library is located. Mascot "Poe," who indicated considerable worry about Steve's driving, joined Williams in the back.

All was going well in the short drive, until Smith had to navigate the curve and curb at the front of the school. He didn't do it smoothly, jumping the curb to the delight of Flacco.

Williams jokingly claimed Smith Sr. was trying to hurt him and Poe.

This foursome was marvelous with the children. Poe frightened one kid, but Flacco came to the rescue, picking her up and comforting her as they moved away from our mascot. Smith Sr. took charge, grabbing the mic and telling the students and teachers why the Ravens were there. He then hopped back onto the Bookmobile and tried to help as many as he could to find the right book, which the children got to keep. Williams placed himself at the back of the vehicle and helped each child climb down from the library. (Lifting most of the kids out of the Bookmobile, Williams said to tell strength coach Bob Rogucki, "I did my lifting for the day.")

We didn't have to station the players. They did it naturally. Think it says a lot about each of them.

Smith Sr. pointed out to a number of the students a large sign inside the Bookmobile. It's a quote from Frederick Douglass, who spent most of his life fighting for justice and equality. It reads: "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free."

Those young students, faculty, staff and guests will remember the Ravens' visit. Enjoyed hearing some of the comments from the children: "He's so tall." (About Flacco) "He's smaller than I thought." (Smith Sr.) "He's so big. Look at his arms." (Williams)

Our players had fun, too. And, they delivered a memorable message about the importance of reading. Good day for the school. Good day for our players. Good day for the Ravens.

*Suggs Is Back *

I don't think anyone is having more fun being part of this team than Terrell Suggs. It's almost like he has a running commentary on his day. From making fun of some defensive backs at breakfast, to stealing the owner's cart to take himself out to practice, to yelling at "Elite Joe" to complete a pass. He does make us laugh.

When current Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson was our quarterbacks coach in 2008-09, Suggs would yell at Joe and other members of the offense. Jackson didn't take it. He would yell right back when the offense made a play against the first defense. It was both intense at times and entertaining. "Throughout my career, Hue was the only one who could really match me going back and forth with the jabs. We earned each other's respect. I'm sure he'll have a few words for me in the pre-game. I'll be ready," Suggs said.

Suggs also talked about the complicated and "once in a lifetime" plays Jackson runs: "The circus is in town when you play him. We've been going back three and four years looking at the funky formations he uses. You have to expect everything. He'll throw the kitchen sink at us. They have a receiver (Terrelle Pryor Sr.) over there who was once a quarterback. So, we expect everything – some wildcat, polecat. Whatever. Be ready for the unusual. Don't be surprised if they come with that 'Little Giants' formation. Hue will have something up his sleeve. Guaranteed."

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End around pass, double passes, or Annexation of Puerto Rico, let's beat the Browns and that QB (Josh McCown) who ripped us pretty good last season.

Talk with you next week,

Kevin

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