On whether he has plans to talk to the current Ravens team when he returns to Baltimore:"I don't, as of right now. I hadn't planned on doing anything. I'll probably talk to coach [John Harbaugh] and them later in the week. We'll figure out something, if I'm going to talk to them at all. Seeing them would be enough excitement within itself. I thank you, definitely. It's a huge honor."* *
On what Sunday mornings have been like without playing football: "Honestly, I've been [asked that] by people in a lot of different ways. I went at the game so hard. I enjoyed every moment of it, but there was a part of me … My family had to sacrifice so much. My kids, they were always adjusting to me. Honestly, since I've been done with the game, everything I've been doing – if it's not with ESPN – it's been with my kids. The time with them, just being there and them knowing that their dad is home, here to [relax] and doesn't have to always be away – it's the ultimate now. I appreciated the game, I love the game so much, but I can't tell you that I have withdrawals [thinking], 'I really miss the game.' I talk to the [Ravens players] regularly; I text them regularly – just general conversation every day. So, it's not like I'm disconnected to them. It's been a great adjustment, to sum it up in all words."* *
On what comes to mind when he thinks of former Ravens S Ed Reed:"When you know Ed … Ed is just one of those guys whose soul is so old – it's just funny. He's such a pure man at heart; he's just genuine. He wears his heart on his sleeve. To watch him from afar, when he was playing with the [Miami] Hurricanes, and then to be able to become a teammate of him, be in his life and be around him and help him out with whatever adjustments … It's just awesome to see the person that he became in this game and the person that he is off the field. He has a son now, a beautiful little boy who is the spitting image of him. I just think he's turned into the ultimate man, with the way that he's settled into his own. It's a good thing to watch, because I watched [Reed] when he was a kid."* *
On the role reversal of now going into the Ravens Ring of Honor, instead of watching former teammates be honored:"That's so funny, because I have … I don't remember seeing one [Ring of Honor ceremony], because we were always in the locker room, so I never really saw what it would look like. I may have seen one. Now, with me being that person … I saw Teddy Bruschi's [ceremony in New England] the other day, and I'm just watching from afar [thinking], 'Wow, I have to get ready to do something like that in front of my city that I've been with since I was 18 or 19 years old.' It's one of the most humbling feelings that you ever go through. You think, 'Wow, I was able to stand on my own, finish my career, go out on top and now return back to my city.' To be honest, it's very humbling."
On how the Ravens have evolved into a model NFL franchise over the course of his career:"The most exciting thing for me is that we were at the beginning of that [in 1996]. I saw the beginning of that, exactly what you're talking about. And to build that brand the way it is now, the way it's respected now, it's like the ultimate. It's like any CEO building a brand, building a product. And to come back and see what we did for that city, to what I was able to help do for that city, and to see the fans and know the connection – because I'm always going to be connected to Baltimore – just to come back and feel what that love feels like is just going to be amazing. I'm really looking forward to it, and I'm really looking forward to seeing my kids' eyes and just seeing my family and just being around them and just sharing that moment with them, because it's huge. It's huge when you sit back and pay attention to it."* *
On how much he talks to current Ravens players and what his thoughts are on the team: "I text them whenever it comes across if I'm not running [around] or crazy busy. I text a bunch of them – everybody, coaches. We've always had – that's one thing I think is different in the Ravens organization – we've always had a brotherhood-type of essence in there. When the game is done, you're still like brothers. We call and text all the time, 'I miss you man. How you doing? Just checking on you,' – whatever. I'm always doing that with the guys. But when you talk about the state of the team, I just think they're adjusting to a lot of new pieces, to what this looks like and what that looks like. 'How do we go down this path without this, without that?' And I think they're doing a pretty good job. Sometimes on Sundays, it doesn't always show, but I think once the chemistry starts to actually click in, I think everything is going to be fine, just like I've been telling people on ESPN. I'm like listen: '[Stop] the panic, everything is good.' There are just a lot of adjustments going on. And then the injury bug hit us. There are a lot of things we're going through right now, and they understand it's all a part of the process. I like where we are, but I like the potential of where we can go as well."* *
On the impact he had on the Baltimore community:"I think the most amazing part about all of that, honestly, is now being able to just listen to people. That's the only way you reflect on your career is by how you impact the people. I listen sometimes in awe of the things that people say on how I may have impacted or changed their life. And everybody knows my connection to God, so that's the ultimate. The ultimate is if you can change people's lives through your efforts, through your trials, through your ups and downs, whatever it may have been. So, now I go back through my career, and I just look at it sometimes, [and] I marvel at it because I'm like, 'Wow,' because I only knew most people saw Sunday, and that's all they really saw. But I had to live my life 365 days a year, and every day wasn't always a good day. But I finished the race. I finished the race, and now that I look back, I don't know how I finished it sometimes when I look back and it's like 17 years, but I did. I did, and now I can say … You know what? I haven't looked back, honestly, at the last ride that we had in the playoffs yet. I haven't even had time to even go back and sit down and [see] what that looked like on film – just watch the game, the TV copies of it – because of the impact of people and the things that they've been saying. Like I said, you have to stay humble with it, because it's one of the greatest honors ever to actually affect change on someone's life."* *
On his broadcasting career:"There are not really any new surprises. The greatest thing I've got is I've got a great cast of guys that I work around. I've known half of these guys most of my life. I won a Super Bowl with Trent [Dilfer], and Steve Young was one of my favorite quarterbacks growing up, so working with him on that set [is fun]. [I] came in [to the NFL in 1996] with Keyshawn [Johnson]. Tom Jackson – me and him have kind of always been in contact. [I've] worked with 'Boomer' [Chris Berman] and Cris Carter. So, all the guys – they really make it OK. You relax in very quickly and you kind of turn into who you are and just share conversations based on your knowledge of the game. I like it. The schedule for me gives me a lot of time to spend with my kids, so it's a great gig for me."* *
On if he still feels connected to the Ravens:"Oh, yeah. I will always be. Not to cut you off, but I will always be. Like I told them every Sunday, if you saw me in my hotel room, I'm going crazy in my hotel room. My hotel room is the loudest hotel room in the freaking hotel because I'm always amped. I'm like that when I watch anything. But I will always have a connection to that. That connection is forever."
On if he would be surprised if Texans S Ed Reed doesn't play this Sunday against the Ravens:"I would be. I would be, because then that would tell me that his injury hasn't totally healed yet. Because if he can't go the third week into the regular season – that's what they got him there for – if he can't go, then there's still something really wrong."* *
On now that his career is over, if he feels like he is respected:"That's what I mean when I say when you're out and you see what people have to say, even in opposing stadiums and things, the respect is overwhelming. And I fought for it. I fought for it. And to gain someone's respect, you've got to honor yourself. I honored myself in a lot of ways to get it done. I walked in love the whole time; I didn't step on anybody's toes, and I hoped [somebody] didn't step on mine. And that's just the way it is. So yeah, man. Great place to be in life."* *
On where he thinks the game of football is now throughout its recent evolution:"I just think football always evolves, every year. Every year it's going to be something new. It's going to be some things we like, some things we don't like. Some things that aren't going to be this way, aren't going to be that way. And I think, honestly, sometimes you've got to almost – to where the game is going now – realistically, I think the best way to solve a lot of problems in the game is to leave the game alone. And I kind of said that last night, watching [Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Dashon Goldson] get [suspended for an illegal hit], those are the things … You kind of have to leave the game alone and let it evolve itself. We create so many of these rules that you kind of take away from the game. Steve Young made a great point last night when he was saying if you let the game go back to being physical up front, then you've got a better chance that it doesn't have to be as physical on the back end. But when you're telling wide receivers you can just come off [the line of scrimmage] and run full speed, then you know you're protecting the receiver, that you can't get hit a certain way – there's a lot of confusion in there. And I think the way to clear that up is to make it simple. Make it more simple again. Just go back to letting the game take care of itself."