The Caw: Eric DeCosta Is Ravens' Chief Prankster

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I was interviewing Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz at this year's Senior Bowl when he started bugging out.

It was a beautiful day, yet he had just gotten a recorded phone call from Southwest Airlines telling him his flight had been inexplicably cancelled.

In a panic, Hortiz halted the interview, called back to the home office and Director of Team Travel Joan Fennekohl, who called Southwest trying to figure out what was going on. Oddly, they didn't have any issues with the flight on their end.

That evening, when the scouts gathered to share notes from the practices, another scout brought up that he too had received some strange calls.

That is probably the point when Ravens Assistant General Manager Eric DeCosta couldn't hide his toothy, mischievous grin any longer. He had found PrankDial.com.

Pass DeCosta most days in the hallways, and he'll often look intensely focused. After all, he's the guy who sets the Ravens' draft board. Considering that Baltimore's roster is built around the draft, as opposed to free agency like many other teams, it's an awfully important job.

But when DeCosta was asked why he stays with the Ravens despite multiple promotion opportunities elsewhere, he revealed the other side of his personality.

DeCosta is the Ravens' chief office prankster.

"I sit with these guys every day and give everybody a hard time, get a chance to play jokes on everybody every day, and it's just fun," he said.

DeCosta's main target is Senior Vice President of Football Administration Pat Moriarty. They have been working together since 1996, the Ravens' inception year. And it's become a one-sided pranking relationship.

"He gets Pat every day," said Hortiz. "Poor Pat."

There was the time when Moriarty ordered an expensive pair of dress shoes and DeCosta knew they were coming. DeCosta intercepted the package, surgically opened it, replaced the dress shoes with a crusty pair of running shoes, then re-wrapped the package.

Moriarty was "dumbfounded" when he opened it, Hortiz recalled.

In a similar vein, there was the time when DeCosta realized he and Moriarty had the exact same jeans – except for the size. Moriarty, a former running back for the Browns, wears bigger pants. One day, DeCosta swapped the jeans as Moriarty was in the shower, even looping Moriarty's own belt through DeCosta's pants. Moriarty couldn't get them above his thighs.

DeCosta is known for his cyber-attacks, as well.

"Pat sends out a lot of strange emails. That's all I'll say," Hortiz said.

"I lock my computer, I lock my phone, I lock my iPad. There are times where I will walk out to go to the restroom. I'll make the turn and I'll be like, 'I've got to go lock my computer.' I'll be gone just two minutes, but it's not worth the risk."

DeCosta was on the prowl during the 2011 lockout. Lunch was discontinued for staff members, resulting in packed lunches. On the first day, DeCosta stole everybody's brown bags and left a ransom note in the fridge, saying people had to put a dollar in a jar upstairs to get their lunch back.

DeCosta likes to mess with General Manager Ozzie Newsome too. One time, DeCosta changed Newsome's phone's standard language to Chinese, confusing his less tech-savvy boss.

Last week, Head Coach John Harbaugh was looking for some reading glasses, so he went to fetch a pair off General Manager Ozzie Newsome's desk. Harbaugh grabbed them without hesitation and used them the whole day.

"I just knew he would think Eric took them, so I'd be safe," Harbaugh said with a laugh. "[Newsome] told me later, 'Eric took my glasses again.' I sheepishly handed over his glasses.

"Eric gets blamed for jokes he doesn't even pull off."

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