The Caw: The 53 Mighty Men Are Bonded


As Kevin Byrne eloquently described in Byrne Identity, cut day is brutal.

"This is the worst part of the NFL," safety Bernard Pollard told me Friday as he saw teammates walking out of the locker room with trash bags filled with their locker contents.

"You have guys who come in here, and all the time that you spent here all day with that person. To see the reapers come get them, that's one of the worst things man."

But beyond the bloodshed there's a special bond that forms amidst the 53 remaining players (61 if you count the practice squad).

Last year, Head Coach John Harbaugh called them the 53 Mighty Men of Baltimore. There's no special name for it this time around as far as I know, but the bond is as strong as ever.

I've seen it building for the past several months. I've heard it with the uproars of laughter from the locker room, and even meeting rooms. I see the mixing of veteran and young, hear players talk of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed taking even rookie free agents under their wings.

"I've talked to guys around the league way longer than me and they say they've never been in a locker room like this," wide receiver Torrey Smith said. "There are no egos. Everyone is family."

Last year, the team was scattered around the country during the lockout. This spring and summer, they were together for the voluntary strength and conditioning program, organized team activities, minicamps and training camp.

"You spend a lot of time with these guys, more than you really do with anybody else," Smith said. "We've definitely grown together as a group. We're all working towards a common goal of being the best team we can. When you do get that 53 your focus is on trying to get better as a unit."

It's going to take more than the players currently on the roster. After all, injuries and other roster moves are inevitable. But the common goal is simple.

"Anybody that makes the roster, you're here to win games and win the Super Bowl," Pollard said. "The promise land is where we want to go to."

Do the Ravens have a group that's able to do it?

Only time will tell, but Harbaugh said he really really really really likes this team. Yes, he actually said "really" four times.

"We have a group of guys that really know how to work, a group of guys that are really very united," Harbaugh said. "There is a strong bond in that locker room."

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