Sharpe declares defense of Super Bowl title official
Updated: Saturday April 28, 2001 2:02 AM
By Don Banks, Sports Illustrated
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The calendar might dictate that it's only a late-April minicamp, but Baltimore's ever-loquacious tight end Shannon Sharpe was declaring the Ravens' Super Bowl title defense officially open Friday.
Sharpe and Ravens reserve offensive tackle Harry Swayne are the only two Baltimore players who have first-hand experience at winning back-to-back Super Bowl titles. Both were members of the two-time Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos in 1997-98.
"The main thing now is to start holding onto what we have," said Sharpe, before his team's first workout of a three-day minicamp. "My sole focus this offseason is to repeat, because there's been a lot of teams that have won one in a row. I think it says more about a team if you can do it again. People can make excuses for you, but if you win it back to back, they can't say anything. In those two years, you were the best team the NFL had to offer."
Sharpe took turns reveling in last January's surprising Ravens run through the playoffs, and promising a whole different set of circumstances will stand between Baltimore and repeating.
"No one really expected us at the end of the year to be holding up that trophy in Tampa, and here we are," Sharpe said. "Now we have the trophy and everybody wants what we have. We're going to get everybody's best week in and week out. We know that, and we know that what we did last year won't be good enough to get it done again this year.
"We can't ask our defense to go out there and shut teams out 6-0, 3-0. The offense is going to have to pick up our end, and if the defense can just maintain -- they don't have to do anything different, just maintain -- and let us catch up with them, we'll be back in [the Super Bowl in] New Orleans."
Even as defending Super Bowl champions, look for the Ravens to give the tired, but always handy "no-respect" angle a workout. Sharpe trotted it out briefly Friday, when asked if he had any reaction to the Ravens being snubbed for the traditional opening night of Monday Night Football. The New York Giants will play at Denver, opening the Broncos' new stadium, Sept. 10.
The defending Super Bowl champions traditionally get the honor of appearing on the first Monday Night Football telecast, but the Ravens will have to wait until Week 2 when they play host to Minnesota on Sept. 17.
"It's nice to know that we beat the teams that are opening up on Monday night, 55-10," said Sharpe, combining the scores in the Ravens' postseason victories against Denver and New York. "So they can spin it any kind of way they want to. It doesn't bother me."
"The Goose" flies in with a flourish
Playing the funny-man role that he has honed, mastered and profits handsomely from in Baltimore, defensive tackle Tony Siragusa made quite the entrance Friday at the Ravens' complex. Just minutes before he was expected to attend a 10:30 a.m. team meeting, Siragusa landed in a helicopter on one of the team's practice fields.
Exiting the chopper, the 340-pound Siragusa posed for his teammates, flexed a mammoth bicep and walked into the team's weight room. Siragusa flew in from his home in New Jersey, with a quick side trip to the Eastern shore.
"I had a meeting in New Jersey and I had to get back fast," Siragusa said. "The chopper is coming back Sunday to get me."
Said Ravens head coach Brian Billick of the stunt: "I'm just disappointed he didn't invite me. I guess he figured that was the only way he could get in here. It was a pretty big helicopter."
Here are three other first-day nuggets from the Ravens' quote machine:
Ravens' Billick to deliver his take on leadership
It's a tried and true American tradition: Win the Super Bowl, write a book. But head coach Brian Billick's Competitive Leadership, which is due out in late May, in time for Father's Day, is not a formulaic look at the Ravens 2000 Super Bowl season.
"This is a book that has been in the works for three years,'' Billick said. "It's not autobiographical and it's not even the world of leadership according to Brian Billick. There are some of my observations about some of the things we've done, but it's more of a commentary on my readings, my lecturing, underlined by real-life experiences."
Billick in 1997 co-authored with former 49ers coach Bill Walsh a book about how to put together a football organization from top to bottom. Billick was the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator at the time. His latest work endeavors to quantify the key elements of leadership and practically apply those qualities to every-day decision-making.
Published by Triumph Books out of Chicago, Billick's book will be released nationally, but its primary market will be the Baltimore-D.C. area. Billick is scheduled to make a book promotion tour that may include appearances on CNN's Larry King Live, NBC's Today, CBS' The Early Show, and the Charlie Rose Show.
Ravens release receiver Nash, at least for the time being
In addition to signing 21 rookie or first-year free agents, the Ravens made one personnel move of note Friday, waiving reserve receiver Marcus Nash, who has been with the team off and on since October 1999. Nash was cut for salary-cap reasons, but Billick said there is a possibility he will return before training camp. Nash is a third-year veteran who was on the team's roster for most of last season, but was never activated for game day.