MATT STOVER - RING OF HONOR
(on what made him decide to dedicate his speech to the fans) "When I was here in 1996, and I saw a sold-out Memorial Stadium and a team that hadn't had football here in 14 years, [I saw] how they embraced us as their own. The Baltimore Ravens, a brand new franchise, even though it was from Cleveland. That's why I said, 'adopted,' because we were another team, but they made us their own so fast. With the fact that I had been able to thank all of my family and [senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin Byrne and all the people on Thursday night, I thought it was appropriate to make sure the fans knew where I was coming from. There was no question that I felt humbled by their presence. I wanted to mention going out there on the field, kicking a game-winning field goal, knowing that they were already cheering before I ever kicked the ball. For me, that gave me an amazing amount of strength. So, I wanted them to know how awesome that was."
(on when he started preparing his speech) "Last week. I've been working on it, but I've been thinking about it for quite some time; how to order it. You know, you only have a minute and a half, so I didn't want to get into too many specific names. I wanted to make sure that the Ravens family knew that I love them and that my family knew that I loved them. But, more than anything, I wanted the fans to know how much I appreciated them. So easily they could have turned their backs on me a couple of times, but they didn't. They always hung true."
(on having his family with him on the field during the ceremony) "Well, [it was] all the people who have been a part of my career. It wasn't just me up there. That's why my final statement was, 'You know the name up there, Matt Stover. It isn't just Matt Stover, everybody else is up there with me.' And I mean that. Without [my wife] Debbie and the support from my kids, because we're a team, it would have been very difficult. To have that unconditional love when you come home after a bad game, or you lose a season, or you lose the AFC championship game to Pittsburgh, it's really nice to have that unconditional love. And to make sure that your family and the people who are around you are there for you."
(on whether he was nervous giving his speech because he seemed to be in his element) "(laughter) I was, I've had a lot of practice public speaking. But more than anything, my passion was displayed out there because I really felt that way. It wasn't something that I felt it might have been this way. No, it was that way with the Baltimore fans. I'll never forget the time when we were [on our Super Bowl run], and they had the street of Owings Mills Boulevard lined up with fans late, late, at night after the AFC Championship win. All the times that the media took such great care of me, they had my back. I had an off game a few times, and they were always supportive of me. They never called me a has-been or washed up. They always supported me as a professional, and I can't say enough about that."
(on how he feels now that he is in the Ring of Honor) "It's surreal. It's, 'Wow, did that just happen?' You know you have Jonathan Ogden and Michael McCrary, and you have Lenny Moore and the Colts behind us, all those people. With Art Modell, the fact that he moved us, and David Modell, I really appreciated everybody that's been a part of this. If I would have thought back in 1995 I would have been playing in Baltimore, and then five years after we got here we won a Super Bowl, that to me is an amazing feat. It shows me that Art Modell had to make the tough decisions, but as it ended up, they were the right ones."
(on how it makes him feel that the members of the media speak so highly of him) "Do they say that? Well, that's humbling. I always treated [the media] with respect because you have a job to do, and I knew that. I also understood that I was a leader on the team, and I needed to lead by example. If I was going to treat you guys with disrespect, or not with the honor that you deserve, then what kind of leader am I? So, I always chose to treat everyone with respect. The nicest guy in the world that I know is the guy that cleans our locker room every day. You remember? Marlin, yes. We talked about his family, and the firemen who work for us, and the equipment [managers] and all the staff. You just treat people with respect, and that's what it's about. When you take the high road like that, typically people find some good in you. I hope that they did. It was a great, great, ride and we had a lot of good relationships with the media. We still talk. They have my cell phone number, so I still talk a lot with them."
(on Billy Cundiff and his career so far) "He's been amazing to come into this environment and kick the way he has. Kicking off, I know it's from the 35 [yard line], but he did it last year at the 30 [yard line], so let's not forget about that. He's strong. He's worked hard. When I look at Billy, I see perseverance with him, because he was out of the league. He had been cut several times, and for him to persevere and now he's kicking as well as he does, and he's got a team that has his back. There's nothing like that in the world. When you know you can go out there, and you can mess up here or there, and you don't have to be perfect, you tend to have the burden lifted off you, and it really helps you perform well."