The Byrne Identity: I'm Just Sayin' … We Miss the Players



I'm just sayin':

That we miss the guys in the building, the clanging of the weights, the loud music, the ribbing to each other and us.

I miss **Michael Oher**, his consistent and hard work, his bragging of his shooting (b-ball) ability – and he can shoot.

I miss **Ray Rice**, his beaming smile, his challenging of bigger teammates with his lifting in the weight room.

I miss players in the cafeteria, arguing with **Derrick Mason** about the merits of "his Lakers."

I miss **Matt Birk's** humor and intelligence, his two-a-days in the weight room, and his kids playing on the equipment.

I miss **Joe Flacco** whizzing passes to teammates, marveling at his accuracy and arm strength

I miss the big grunts – **Ben Grubbs**, **Marshal Yanda**, **Chris Chester**, **Cory Redding** – in awe of the humongous weights they lift and push.

We miss having the players around, reminding us how much fun this work can be, how good we are as a team and about the promise of good things to come.

I'm just sayin':

I'm impressed with **Domonique Foxworth**, who is on the Players Association Executive Committee. "Fox's" intelligence will help this agreement get done quicker. He's smart, mature and is able to say what's needed without leaving marks.

I'm proud the NFL uses intelligent leaders like our team president **Dick Cass** and GM **Ozzie Newsome** to advise on matters relating to the discussions for a new collective bargaining agreement.

I couldn't agree more with **Steve Bisciotti**, who said in an interview that he is embarrassed to be talking about this much money publicly. And, I agree with those Ravens players suggesting quietly that they would trust this process more if Steve was involved in the face-to-face negotiations.

I'm just sayin':

I'm excited we extended the contract of **John Harbaugh**. Here's a guarantee: As long as "Harbs" is our head coach, our pursuit to be better and to win championships is thoughtful, hard-charging and constant. He is relentless. We will continue to win big time with this man in front of the Ravens' Wagon Train. John is historically excellent: He is the only NFL coach in league history to win a playoff game in each of his first three seasons.

I congratulate Oz and Pat Moriarty for extending the contracts of kicker **Billy Cundiff** and punter **Sam Koch**, two of our best, but somewhat unheralded players. Cundiff made the Pro Bowl last season, and Koch was the first runner-up in the AFC.

I'm startled with the criticism **Cam Cameron** took after the season. He's really good at what he does. I guess someone is going to get blamed when you don't win the championship – it's the nature of the business. Cam's as tough as they come, but I know his family had to have heard the barbs. Take a look at what we've accomplished in the three years with Cam running the offense – gander at his offensive coordinator history with other teams. He's pretty good.

Speaking of good and tough, I'm fascinated by **Tom Zbikowski's** boxing. We're surrounded in this business with rough, physical athletes. He's the real deal. Stepping into the ring to face some skilled athlete trying to rip your head off is not for the meek.

I'm just sayin':

I can't wait for the draft to witness more of the wizardry of Oz, the skills of Eric DeCosta and our respected personnel department. As good as this group has been historically, it could even produce better results this draft with the added time coaches have put into the process. (Hey, there's one good thing that happened with the players not allowed in the building: Coaches have had more time to study college players.)

Zibby, Cam, Rice – lots of tough guys around here, but how about DeCosta, our director of player personnel? Last week, Ozzie and Eric had all of our scouts here for day-long meetings that reviewed every collegian on our board of draftable players. On Wednesday (4/13), the group broke for a one-hour lunch. Eric hustled to a quick racquetball match. In the second game, Eric hit a winning backhand while falling to the ground. He rolled to his back and said: "I think I just tore my Achilles." I raced for a trainer. Sure enough, he had torn it. Eric then asked for Ozzie to check if the start of the next meeting could be delayed for 10 minutes. Eric then froze the bottom half of his right leg, had the trainers put it into a protective boot and then "crutched" his way to the start of the meeting, which lasted until around 7p.m. that night. (Eric did have an ice machine in the "War Room" and would re-freeze his injury a couple of times each hour.)

I'm just sayin':

Hey, Oz and Eric, draft guys as tough as Eric – but better athletes than him.

Enjoy the holiday weekend. We received the schedule this week (could it get any better than hosting the Steelers on opening day?), and we have the draft next week. Real football news that we can enjoy.

Let's get this disagreement resolved. Like I said: We miss the players, our Ravens.

Talk with you next Friday with some behind-the-scenes looks at how we drafted our first pick.

Talk with you next week.


***Kevin Byrne***, a Ravens senior vice president, has worked in the NFL for 32 years. Byrne has been with the Ravens since the start of the franchise in 1996. Earlier in his career, Byrne was the sports information director at Marquette University, his alma mater, when they won the 1977 NCAA basketball championship under coach Al McGuire.

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