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Stories From 20-Year Ravens Employees


At the top stands General Manager Ozzie Newsome, the man who stuck with former Owner Art Modell during the move from Cleveland to become the architect of the Baltimore Ravens.

Eric DeCosta came on board in the inaugural 1996 season as part of the original "20/20 Club" consisting of entry-level scouts in their 20s making about $20,000 per year. He's since risen to assistant general manager.

By this time, their stories are well known. But there are many, many more people who have been with the Ravens since the beginning of franchise history 20 years ago.

There is a whopping 73 employees – including full-time, part-time and partners – who have been with the Ravens through it all, which speaks to the culture and loyalty running through the organization.

Members of the 20-year club were recognized during halftime of Baltimore's Week 15 game against Kansas City, and here are some of their stories as we head into the final game of the anniversary season:


Bruce Cunningham, PA Announcer

The booming voice inside M&T Bank Stadium comes from the pipes of FOX45 Sports Director Bruce Cunningham. Cunningham was a Ravens radio sideline reporter before becoming the team's PA announcer in 1998.

Cunningham announces the players as they take the field, calls the action and makes special reads. He organically began the signature call, "It's third down!" After protesting from the Chiefs, the league banned the saying for nearly a decade because it incited the crowd too much.

"You're actually part of the game. That part never fails to thrill me," Cunningham said. "There are times during the game where I can open the mic and say something and 70,000 people jump to their feet. It kind of makes you feel like Mussolini on the balcony. On the other hand, when you make a mistake, and we've made them, it makes you feel very, very, very lonely."

Cunningham's worst mistake came in 1999 when he pronounced the name of former Detroit Lions defensive end Robert Porcher wrong. He pronounced it like it reads, but the name has a French sound to it. Porcher was a three-time Pro Bowler. 

"He literally stopped and looked up at us," Cunningham said. "That's when that Southwest commercial was airing: 'You wanna get away for a while?' Yeah, I wanted to get away then. PA announcing is all about confidence. You have to believe in what you're about to say, and if something goes wrong, you have to finish it."

Bill Jankowski, Vice President Of Information Technology

When Bill Jankowski transferred to Baltimore from Cleveland in 1996, the Ravens' "computer room" was in an old tile-floor kitchen.

Baltimore had one network modem and two computers – total. One computer was used to scan and print hand-drawn plays from the coaching staff and the other was the toy of then Outside Linebackers Coach Jim Schwartz (later head coach of the Lions), who took a liking to stats.

Football has evolved a lot since 1996, but technology has grown by leaps and bounds. So if one person's job has changed the most over the past 20 years, it may be Jankowski's.

Former Head Coach Brian Billick's arrival in 1999 ushered in a new technological wave centered around PowerPoint presentations. Four years ago, Jankowski and Head Coach John Harbaugh transferred the playbook and other team communication to iPads. The next step will likely be on-field, real-time player health and performance diagnostics.

"We've come a long way," said Jankowski, who arrived with now Senior Director of Football Video Operations Jon Dube. "That's one of the fun things about the job. You never know what's next."


Dennis "Doc" Noah, Vietnam Color Guard

After two years serving as a volunteer medic in Vietnam, Noah and his fellow marines landed at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station in May of 1968. As they left the base, civilians threw things at their busses and shouted at them with names such as "baby killers."

"It was pretty horrible. It was a very controversial war, like most wars are, but for some reason they blamed us," Noah said. "We didn't tell anybody for years that we were in Vietnam or the military, not because we were ashamed of it, but because we didn't want the hassle."

When the Ravens came to Baltimore, Art Modell's son, David, called the Vietnam Veterans' Maryland chapter and asked if they wanted to come on the field before the game to present the colors. They got eight seats to the game, and even more importantly, the honor they deserved.

The Ravens added active duty military members after the Sept. 11 attacks, and have still kept Noah and other former troops on the field before every home game for the past 20 years.

"Under both owners, the Ravens have been very, very patriotic to the military and veterans," Noah said. "When we came home, it was not such a nice homecoming. But every time we come here, people cheer us and clap. It's a big honor, and we appreciate the Ravens for letting us do this."

Joe and Jim Carnaggio, Ticketing Service Specialists

The most patient men at a Ravens game might be brothers Joe and Jim Carnaggio. For the past 20 years, the Carnaggios have dealt with the only fan angrier than one leaving after a loss: one that can't get in.

Fans' ticket problems range from counterfeit tickets, will call issues, duplicate tickets, handicap tickets and much, much more. Technology that has made tickets easier to replicate, yet bar codes that stop intruders at the gates has greatly impacted their job.

But the name of the game has always been customer service and loyalty – two things they have plenty of experience with. In his full-time job, Joe has been an accountant for Carroll County government for the past 37 years.

"We know the right questions to ask," said Joe, 62, in a calming, rather monotone voice. "I could write a book on instances we've had. It's crazy. You have to be very patient. You have to be a good listener and let them get the steam off their chest."

The Carnaggio brothers were brought on by another 20-year employee, Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales & Operations Baker Koppelman, who knew them from their days with the Baltimore Orioles. "I really don't feel like I'm going to work for them," Joe said. "It's more fun than it is work."


Dr. Andrew Tucker, Head Team Physician

Tucker originally landed with the Browns in 1991 when then first-year Head Coach Bill Belichick fired the team's primary doctor. Then a "very green" 31-year-old doctor, fresh out of his fellowship program, Tucker didn't sleep for three days.

While Belichick launched Tucker's sports medicine career, Tucker took it from there. He moved with the team to Baltimore in 1996 and has been treating Ravens players (and even the occasional coach or staff member) ever since. He's been there for almost every single game, both home and away.

"Being able to work with world-class athletes on a weekly basis is amazing," Tucker said. "They're put together in ways that not only allow them to do things that you and I can't do from an athletic point of view, but they recover in ways that you can I can't recover. It's fascinating to watch."

The league's growth in media coverage and the onslaught in fantasy football and sports betting has changed Tucker's job over the years. Tucker has had to sharpen his deflection techniques when he gets probing injury questions from random people at parties.

"The scrutiny has only increased, especially with regard to concussions," Tucker said. "We practice in a fishbowl. Everybody is seemingly looking over your shoulder and passing judgement on the care of the players. With the internet and media exposure, that's ramped up dramatically."

Tucker takes particular pride in helping the team during its 2012 Super Bowl XLVII season. Among those injured players he helped to return to the field were inside linebacker Ray Lewis (triceps) and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (Achilles).

Terri Bateman, S.A.F.E. Team Member (Usher)

Why has Bateman worked as a Ravens usher for 20 years? It's all in the family.

Bateman's father, Anthony Messina Jr., was a Baltimore Colts usher from their start at Memorial Stadium in 1953 all the way until they left town in 1983. When the Ravens came to town, he was back in Memorial Stadium for one year before a heart issue forced him to stop.

As soon as Bateman could start working, at 18 years old, she got a job working with her dad and the Colts. Like her pops, she joined the Ravens from the very beginning too. She's been in Section 127/128 for 16 years. Bateman's sister, Sharon Messina, has since also become an usher.

"It became a family tradition," she said. "I love it. "I just love interacting with the fans. The fans are awesome. And I always loved football."

The family keeps growing. When Bateman misses a game, people in her section ask around to see where she is. She considers them to be her extended family.

"I know a lot of people by name, I know their family members," Bateman said. "They trust me if something happens. People look for me."


Jobie Waldt, Stadium Operations Senior Manager

Jobie Waldt's first day as a Ravens employee was on Valentine's Day, 1996. He got the call on Feb. 13, and they told him to show up the next day at the "new" Owings Mills training complex – the former home of Baltimore City Police training operations and Baltimore Colts – to cut down trees and fix fences.

Waldt was the first Baltimore-based employee the Ravens ever hired. A small contingent had come from Cleveland, but Waldt was the first boots on the ground from Maryland.

Waldt has always been a Baltimore guy. He was born and raised here, was a standout quarterback at Calvert Hall when the team went undefeated in 1979, went on to play for the United State Football League's Baltimore Stars. When he was done playing football, he worked managing operations for the Bowie Bay Sox and Canadian Football League's Baltimore Stallions.

For the past 20 years, Waldt has been getting the stadium ready to go on game day – every game day. He works alongside another 20-year employee, Senior Vice President of Operations Roy Sommerhof.

"We bring a small city into this stadium every weekend," Waldt said. "We throw 10 events every year, and every one is important. I still pinch myself at times."

Larry Yocum, Chain Crew

Yocum is a Ravens fan who can't really root for his team. That's because the born-and-bred Baltimore boy works as part of the NFL officials as a member of the chain crew, the people who are in charge of "the sticks" determining the downs and distance.

Yocum held the same job for the Baltimore Stallions of the Canadian Football League and has also assigned the chain crew for University of Maryland football since 1972. He's been officiating football for 46 years overall.

"To work in the NFL and be on the field, it's a dream job, really," Yocum said. "You get to hear how each team is run. You listen to the plays being called and just hear what is going on. Sometimes you shake your head and think, 'This is an NFL team and even they don't know what's going on.'"

Yocum and his crew spend one half of the game on the home side and the other on the visitors' bench. He said they've never screwed up a down, but there have been a few instances where a mistake was made with a spot.

"We've had some instances when we clipped it, but when the guy is running out, the clip falls off," he said. "They get out there and I guess lie a little bit and say, 'Yeah, this is where it goes.' Hey, we're just trying to do the best job we can."


Phil Hoffmann, Team Photographer

After 20 years, Hoffmann still hasn't figured out how to take the annual team picture without the players sabotaging it with goofy poses. "I don't know how to solve that," he said.

Hoffmann, who has also worked as  Navy's athletics photographer for 33 years, got his Ravens gig after convincing Francine Lubera, the team's former archivist/historian, to give him a one-game audition to shoot the inaugural game against the Oakland Raiders – for free. Hoffmann was asked back for the rest of the season and has been around ever since shooting just about everything.

Technology has greatly changed his job since the days when he was using film and semi-manual focus to capture action. He says just about anyone with his equipment and a five-minute lesson could get some good photos from the sideline. Now it's more experience, anticipation, knowing where to be.

One of Hoffmann's favorite photos was when Shannon Sharpe scored a 96-yard touchdown in Oakland in the 2001 AFC championship. He was in the end zone, "just in case."

"Not only was I in the right place at the right time and happy with the shots, but it was also the only time I've ever had beer thrown on me," Hoffmann said with his trademark loud belly laugh. "I don't think it was personal, but I'm not sure."


Patti Holtery, Senior Payroll Manager

The most popular person at the Under Armour Performance Center on Wednesday afternoons is Patti Holtery. As the players come and go from lunch, Holtery hands out the checks to players. It's only a small slice of the more than 1,000 paychecks she handles, but certainly the most interesting.

Holtery remembers one player in 2006 who locked a $3 million check in his safe and let it sit there for months. She recalls handing out one check for $6.5 million – after taxes. On the flip side, she had another player who hassled her over $2 missing from his yearly income.

Holtery came from the U.S. Air Arena/The Capital Center in Landover, Md. In the 20 years since then, she's been on the front lines of rising player salaries. She also doubles on gamedays as the person who sends each player out of the tunnel for pre-game introductions. You can see her amidst the smoke.

"Back when I first started, holding checks for that much money made me really nervous," Holtery said. "I feel so jaded now. I'm so used to it I don't even blink an eye. It's kind of funny because you look and see this person is netting in one check more than I'm going to make in a whole year."

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