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Baltimore's gone to the birds

Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- For the uninitiated, Baltimore Ravens fans don't ''caw.''

Spontaneous outbreaks of ''Woooo, woooo, woooo!'' and ''Woof, woof, woof!'' filled the air Monday as fans awaited the arrival of their Super Bowl champions outside the team's Owings Mills headquarters and training facility.

As the Ravens' convoy made its way home Monday afternoon, more than 1,000 fans lined the cordoned-off road to give the team a raucous welcome.

And a local radio station blared the ubiquitous sports anthem ''Who Let The Dogs Out?'' as David Taylor of Kensington rode a scooter carrying a toy dog in his backpack -- so he could let it out when the team arrived.

Previously a ''halfhearted Redskins fan,'' Taylor said he converted to the Ravens after the underdog team prevailed against the Tennessee Titans on Jan. 7.

''They won me over,'' Taylor said. ''I had not seen that kind of hitting since the Steel Curtain,'' he said, referring to the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1970s glory days.

Both Jeff Wern, a truck driver from Westminster, and Earl Kelso, a tool and die maker from Hampstead, took the day off from work to support the team. Both were wearing Ravens AFC championship hats and said they planned to update with Super Bowl caps.

''It's just an unbelievable year for a football team,'' Kelso said. ''Who would ever think after everything they went through that they would go all the way?''

Wern said he didn't even bother making up an excuse to miss work.

''I told them as soon as they got in the playoffs, 'I'm not coming in Monday' because I knew they were going all the way,'' Wern said.

Nor did Brian Donovan, who kept his young daughters, Nicole and Hannah, out of school to watch the Super Bowl champions arrive home.

''I believe that's an acceptable excuse,'' he said with a grin.

Robert and Theresa Shade of Pasadena arrived with their four boys, ages 10 to 15. Robert's brother, John, carried a 20-inch aluminum foil-covered replica of the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Although Monday was a school day, ''all the kids had fevers this morning when they woke up. It's a mysterious thing,'' Shade said.

''It was the Ravens bug,'' 10-year-old Frank said.

Steve Kallens, who runs a local Italian ice stand, said no one was immune.

''Who's not a Ravens fan now?'' Kallens asked rhetorically.

The celebration came 156 years to the day after Edgar Allan Poe's poem ''The Raven'' was first published, in the New York Evening Mirror.

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley arrived at BWI Airport to welcome the plane before team members loaded onto buses for the trip to headquarters.

''I'm so proud of this team,'' O'Malley said. ''I'm so proud of how hard they fought all year and to go all the way.''

Citing the city's declining crime rate, higher public school test scores and rising real estate values, O'Malley proclaimed the Super Bowl win a harbinger of more good things to come.

''It's a great way to show off to the whole country that we're a city that's coming back and it's on the rebound and destined for great things,'' he said.

Predictably, the crowd went wild as the team buses pulled up to the complex, but the undisputed highlight of the day was when team president David Modell and coach Brian Billick walked along the road with the Vince Lombardi Trophy, letting anybody within reaching distance touch it.

''This is the people's trophy,'' Modell said.

''You've got to let the fans have a chance to touch it,'' Billick added. ''The fans are the reason I came to Baltimore.''

The gesture also allowed players to exit the complex in their personal vehicles. Some waved to fans as they sped away.

Lou Frick of Reisterstown shook Billick's hand and touched the trophy.

''I never thought I would do it in my life, that's for sure,'' Frick said. ''I know I sound like a little kid, but how often do you get this close in your lifetime? I'm making the most of every minute.''

Frick, a Colts fan who watched the team's 1958 Super Bowl win, said Baltimore still loved and missed the Colts but ''this is a new team and the Ravens brought everybody back together. This is the neatest thing that's happened in so long. You could not do more for the city.''

HEAD:Browns lure Butch Davis from Miami

HEAD:Baltimore's gone to the birds

CREDIT:AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove

CAPTION:Ravens quarterback Trent Dilfer, with his wife, Cass, and daughter Tori, 2, ride a fire engine at the Magic Kingdom with Mickey Mouse in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., Monday.

BEREA, Ohio (AP) -- Butch Davis rebuilt a once-proud football program in shambles at the University of Miami. Now, he'll have a chance to do the same thing for the Cleveland Browns.

Davis, who in six years brought the Hurricanes back from ruin to national title contenders, resigned Monday to become head coach of the Browns.

''I'm excited,'' Davis said Monday night. ''It's a great opportunity, one that I felt for me and my family I couldn't pass up.''

Davis will be introduced Tuesday at the club's suburban training facility, Browns president Carmen Policy said.

''I think he's going to bring a combination of excitement, energy and a new view,'' said Policy.

Both Davis and the Browns had spent the past few weeks rejecting rumors that he would come to Cleveland, and Policy said only a series of developments during the weekend led to the hiring.

The Browns have been looking for a coach since Jan. 11, when they fired Chris Palmer after a disturbing and injury-ravaged 3-13 season.

Davis' agent, Marvin Demoff, said after arriving in Cleveland that his client had not yet signed a contract with the Browns but the sides were ''in serious discussions. It's pretty close.''

An NFL source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Davis was seeking a five-year deal in the $13-15 million range.

Kansas City recently signed Dick Vermeil to a comparable three-year, $10 million contract.

Mile High gets new name for mountain of money

DENVER -- Denver's new football stadium sold its name for a pile of cash that's a mile high.

Disregarding the wishes of the mayor and many fans to preserve the name simply as ''Mile High Stadium,'' the new home of the Broncos will be ''Invesco Field at Mile High.''

Invesco Funds Group, a financial services company, will pay $120 million for 20 years to have its name on the stadium. The Metropolitan Football Stadium District Board accepted the offer Monday in a 7-1 vote.

Taxpayers are responsible for 75 percent of the burden to finance the $400 million facility, which is being built next door to the old stadium. The Broncos begin play at their new home this fall.

Mayor Wellington Webb led opposition to the renaming, saying Mile High was a marketing asset for the area. Webb and many fans also said the rich history associated with the name was more important than cutting the stadium's cost.

Collins played with separated shoulder

TAMPA, Fla. -- One day after the New York Giants' Super Bowl meltdown, quarterback Kerry Collins disclosed he separated his right shoulder during the third quarter.

''I wasn't coming out, though,'' Collins said Monday, following his poor performance against the Baltimore Ravens.

Collins said Sam Adams, one of the Ravens' 300-pound plus defensive linemen, fell on him with his ''full weight,'' causing the injury.

After the game, Michael Strahan walked up to Collins and gave him a hug. It was a thank you from the defensive end.

Thanks for the season. Thanks for helping us get to the Super Bowl. Thanks for helping to make us respectable again.

The hug was also Strahan's way of letting Collins know not to worry about his four interceptions, including one that Duane Starks returned for a touchdown in the Ravens' 34-7 victory Sunday night.

''I went up to him and gave him a hug and said 'Get back at it next year,''' Strahan said. ''And I think that's the great thing about this. It gives us something to shoot for next year. I don't think we knew what it took to get here before the season.''

While Collins appreciated the support, he handled his dismal performance against the Ravens' suffocating defense the same way he has handled his problems with alcohol and being called a quitter and a racist.

He was up front. He said he ..... well, played very poorly in completing 15 of 39 passes for 112 yards.

''This is the most disappointing loss I have ever been involved in,'' Collins said. ''I am disappointed in the way I played. It wasn't for a lack of effort or a lack of preparation. I didn't play the way I wanted to.''

The Ravens never let him, taking away the Giants' running game (66 yards on 16 carries) and keeping Collins under constant pressure while passing.

Collins was sacked four times, hit at least a half-dozen other times and forced to scramble three times for 12 yards. His longest completion was for only 19 yards. Only six of his completions were to his wideouts, his main targets all season. His four interceptions tied a Super Bowl record set by Jim Kelly in 1993.

''I didn't see the field well,'' said the 28-year-old quarterback who set career highs this season of 3,610 yards and 22 touchdowns. ''They did a great job of disguising coverages. They just played well, and we didn't play well at all.''

Collins' performance on Sunday was a far cry from his near-perfect effort two weeks ago when he went 28-for-39 for 381 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-0 win over Minnesota in the NFC championship game.

Collins was confident and in command that day against the Vikings, the league's 28th-ranked defense.

The Ravens made Collins look confused. Many of his throws went into good coverage, something he rarely did in getting the Giants to the playoffs for the first time since 1997.

''I think I learned what it takes to get here,'' said Collins, signed by the Giants in February 1998 after being let go by New Orleans. ''I think I learned what it takes to play well in this league. I learned to play at a high level throughout the playoffs.''

Collins, who almost drank and played himself out of the league in 1998, said the Super Bowl won't ruin his confidence.

''We'll be back. We'll be back,'' he said. ''We'll live to fight another day. It didn't work out today. I played terrible, but I'll come back.''

The Ravens got after Collins right from the start, forcing the Giants' offense to the sidelines without a first down on five of their first six series.

Baltimore's front seven pressured Collins from the first snap. On several passes over the middle, linebacker Ray Lewis had a hand up tipping the ball. Two almost were intercepted on the opening drive.

And when Collins challenged the secondary, Starks, Chris McAlister, Kim Herring and Rod Woodson were there to make plays.

In the end, Collins ended up losing his poise, and that cost the Giants the game.

Trailing 10-0 late in the second quarter, Collins drove the Giants from their own 28 to the Ravens 29, hitting Ron Dixon for 16 yards and having Tiki Barber run for 27 more.

Collins then tried to force a deep post pattern into double coverage to Ike Hilliard. McAlister easily picked it off, killing the Giants' best scoring opportunity of the half.

''The coverage I thought I was going to get after I took the snap wasn't what we saw,'' Collins said. ''I have Ike running free, and it was just a misread on my part.''

Starks' interception return came on a quick slant to Amani Toomer. Starks reacted like he knew the play call, and he ran untouched into the end zone for a 17-0 lead.

''The way I feel about him is not going to change,'' Giants coach Jim Fassel said. ''He played well. It wasn't one of his better games today. It doesn't change the fact I think he is a big-time quarterback.''

Against the Ravens, Collins wasn't.

It's why he got a hug from big Michael Strahan.



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