Ravens fans in desperate need of a clue
Cold, Hard Football Facts for Aug 17, 2008
We were looking at ESPN.com's football section Monday, sifting through the chaff to find the rare kernel of wheat published on their pages, when we came across the final voting for their "Franchise Player" series.
ESPN asked its readers to vote for franchise players for each of the 32 teams, and thousands and thousands of football fans voted. Obviously, the results are a little slanted toward the new and the shiny – e.g., Brett Favre instead of Ray Nitschke; Barry Sanders instead of Bobby Layne, etc. Offensive players also dominated: 25 of the 32 franchise players primarily played offfense. (Of course, that's still more recognition for defenders than we usually get from the "pundits" who vote for Heisman Trophy winners, NFL MVPs or Pro Football Hall of Famers.)
Overall, though, the selections were decent.
And then we saw the two words that literally had us coughing beer through our nose:
That's right, a kicker!
Are you f***ing kidding, Ravens fans?
You've been watching Ray Lewis dominate the league for a decade plus, and you pick MATT friggin' STOVER as your franchise player?
If Lewis has been made hip to this vote, he must already be plotting a Favre-ian exodus from the city that should be building statues in his honor.
Now, this isn't to say that Stover isn't a fine kicker. He is. He's money in the bank from 40 yards in, and his 83.3 percent accuracy in field goals is fifth best in history (according to ProFootballReference.com).
However, he's also a kicker. A KICKER! Ray Lewis, a ferocious middle linebacker, lost to Matt Stover, a meek little KICKER.
Not only did Lewis lose to a kicker, he lost to a kicker who's hit exactly 13 field goals from 50+ yards in his 17 years in the league, the last one all the way back in Week 3 of the 2006 season. Morten Andersen once hit eight 50-plussers in a single season. Last year, Kris Brown of Houston kicked three of them in a single game.
But "Mr. Franchise" has hit only 13, a paltry nine of them in his 12 years as one of the original Ravens (he started out with the Browns). If you're going to beat out Ray Lewis as a kicker, you should be the greatest kicker ever, a combination of Sebastian Janikowski off the field, Adam Vinatieri in the clutch, Jason Elam from long range and ... well, Matt Stover from close range. And you should have an eye patch and a half-foot like Tom Dempsey, and you should also punt and be the No. 3 quarterback.
Ray Lewis loses to a kicker? The Ray Lewis? First-team all-NFL five times, nine times in the Pro Bowl? That Ray Lewis? Defensive rock for the Super Bowl Ravens? That Ray Lewis? Two time Defensive Player of the Year? Leader of the greatest single defense of the Live Ball Era, the 2000 Ravens? That Ray Lewis? The guy that half the NFL players look up to as a model and mentor? That Ray Lewis?
The only possible explanation for this, except that perhaps Matt Stover has a really, really big family, is that Ravens fans decided en masse that Lewis needed extra motivation going into his 13th year in Baltimore.
And what better motivation than to deny him his rightful due by putting a ... a ... a ... KICKER! in his place.
(Or maybe the problem isn't Ravens fans. Maybe the problem is the type of person who relies upon ESPN for their football information ... but that's a story for another day.)
In either case, you've got some splainin' to do, Ravens Nation.
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