La Canfora: Flacco Wants More Money Than Peyton
Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome made it clear yesterday that the team has no plans to let quarterback Joe Flacco become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
"One thing we do know, he'll be playing football for us next year," Newsome said. "And sometimes that's all you can look forward to is just next year."
The only question is how much the Ravens have to pay him to do that. And according to reports, Ravens Owner Steve Bisciotti is going to have to open the vault to keep Flacco in Baltimore for the long haul.
Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com said that he has his sights set on the $20 million mark, which is more than the $18 million Peyton Manning makes in Denver.
"He's looking at his average per year," La Canfora said. "And the closer that is to $20 million a year, the happier he'll be and the more quickly this long-term deal will get done. Maybe it comes in under that ... but 20 is his magic number."
La Canfora also reported the Ravens are planning to use the franchise tag on Flacco at $14.6 million a year, which would then buy the two sides time until July to work out a long-term deal.
Unlike other professional sports, player contracts in the NFL are not guaranteed if the player gets cut. The focus then for many players is to get the highest amount of guaranteed money, which could then potentially drop the average amount the player makes each year.
Flacco, however, is more interested in the average than the guaranteed money.
"Some guys get caught up on guaranteed money," La Canfora said. "This cat -- he's never been hurt, he's never missed a snap -- he's looking at his average per year."
Is America Tiring Of Ray Lewis?
The top attraction at Media Day was Ray Lewis' podium session, which was by far the most crowded at the Superdome. Hundreds of reporters gathered around and shouted questions at Lewis, which ranged from his religious faith to his alleged use of performance enhancing drugs.
While Lewis was the star of the show, Sports Illustrated's Peter King thinks people are getting tired of seeing the 17-year veteran dominate the attention given to the Ravens.
"I think America is getting tired of Ray Lewis," King wrote.
"It's not his fault, entirely. He is who he is, the biggest football emoter (is that a word?) of our lifetime and maybe of all time. It's not his fault that there will be something like 4,000 accredited media here to chronicle what he says and does during the week, and the cameras isolated on him to document his every impassioned quote. He's one of the top -- pick one -- 20 or 30 players of all time, and every game could be his last, and the amount of media over-saturation on the sport of pro football is so out of control that of course the retirement of a legendary player is going to engender coverage out the wazoo."
Lewis is also an incredibly emotional person, which he puts on full display through his passionate speeches, tearful singing of the National Anthem and quoting of scripture. That draws attention.
As the stage for the Ravens has grown in the playoffs, so has the spotlight on Lewis. His decision to retire at the end of the season has led to reporters looking back through his life to tell his entire story, and the constant coverage of Lewis seems to be wearing thin on King.
"It's a complex man who will play his last game Sunday in Super Bowl 47," he wrote. "And you're not finished hearing about his complexities this week. If you don't like it, you're free to mute the coverage this week. There's going to be a lot of it."
Ross Defends Lewis
One of the hottest topics so far during Super Bowl week has been the Sports Illustrated report alleging that Lewis used performance-enhancing drugs to make a speedy return from a torn triceps.
Mitch Ross, a co-owner of Sports with Alternatives to Steroids (SWATS), was the source of the report. He alleged that Lewis used a deer antler extract spray containing a banned substance.
Lewis denied the report and discredited Ross, who also accused Lewis of using performance-enhancing drugs two years ago. Lewis said that he never used the spray and that he's never failed a drug test.
Ross stood by his story, but told The Baltimore Sun that using the substance is not a steroid and shouldn't discredit Lewis' work to get back on the field.
"It's a shame that Ray is denying taking it," Ross said. "The NFL is uneducated. This is not a steroid. It's not illegal. Ray is not a cheater. He did it the right way. Ray is a good man. He did the work. He rehabbed his arm and did the workouts. This isn't a shortcut. It's just natural science.
"Ray worked his butt off to get back out there. I helped Ray get back on the field, but he worked so hard to do that. I made an armband for him to use after a week to strengthen the triceps after he got the stitches out. He shouldn't have to deny anything. It makes no sense to me."
Dameshek Apologizes To Flacco
Amidst all the hoopla during Super Bowl Media Day, one of the highlights of the day was when Dave Dameshek, host of NFL.com's infamous "Shame Report," apologized to Flacco.
While the Ravens quarterback was on podium, Dameshek jumped in to ask a question and told Flacco has was sorry for saying earlier this year that the Ravens wouldn't make the Super Bowl.
In typical Flacco fashion, he shrugged it off and was able to laugh about the whole thing.
"I appreciate it," Flacco said. "We have a good football team, so no big deal."
- Michael Oher is tired of hearing about "The Blind Side." "I'm tired of the movie," Oher said. "I'm here to play football. Football is what got me here and the movie, it wasn't me. I always knew how to play football growing up. It was different personalities, stuff like that. Playing football is what got me to this point." [The Baltimore Sun]
- @TorreySmithWR: "Quick pic with @stuartscott ...much respect for his strength." [Instagram]
- @TorreySmithWR: "Good morning y'all...glad the crazy stuff is out of the way so it feels more routine now....meetings..practice...then chillin" [Twitter]
- Check out this great feature story on safety Ed Reed from ESPN's Kevin Van Valkenburg, who looks at the important role Reed played in keeping the Ravens together and getting them to the Super Bowl.
- Plenty of endorsement offers are rolling in for Flacco and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but they will wait until after the season to deal with that. [Baltimore Business Journal]
- One endorsement deal that Flacco did sign is with Haribo Gold Bears, the original gummy bears. [ESPN.com]
- New assistant coach Juan Castillo is excited to join the Ravens, and he chose Baltimore after getting contacted by the Cardinals, Chiefs and Jets for coaching vacancies. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Hurricane Katrina still haunts the Super Bowl celebration in New Orleans. [The Baltimore Sun]
- @RavensInsider: "Dannell Ellerbe on sprained right ankle: 'I got a cortisone shot. Never again, I hate needles.' Says he's definitely playing in Super Bowl." [Twitter]