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53 Bart Scott
Tim Layden
September 03, 2007
Linebacker, BALTIMORE RAVENS
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September 03, 2007

53 Bart Scott

Linebacker, BALTIMORE RAVENS

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A loud, controversial inside linebacker who plays with stark Raven-mad intensity? Sounds like Ray Lewis--only it isn't the five-time All-Pro but rather an undersized hitting machine with a remarkable range of skills

A voice pierced the still August air, raspy and wild. The Baltimore Ravens were nearing the end of yet another training camp practice on yet another humid morning, with the temperature approaching triple digits and every player on autopilot. Except linebacker Bart Scott, who in the waning moments of an intrasquad scrimmage was baring his teeth and barking taunts at quarterback Steve McNair.

"You've got the trials of Job ahead of you!" screamed Scott. "You've got the trials of Job!" The Biblical trash talk seemed almost comical; only Scott knew that he was quoting movie dialogue. (Never mind that he thought he was quoting Kevin Spacey from Se7en when in fact he was quoting a maniacal death row inmate played by Ed Harris in Just Cause. Nobody asks for a filmography after on-field smackdowns.)

Between plays McNair approached Scott. "Man, just shut up over there," McNair said, yet he laughed because he knows the truth: There is no quieting Scott, and there is no quelling the emotion that he brings to every snap, every day. "Say this about Bart: He loves football," says Ravens All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis. "That kind of passion is hard to find nowadays."

Scott, 27, is a Pro Bowl inside linebacker on one of the best defenses in football, a slightly undersized (6' 2", 242) hitting and jawing machine six years into a career that might have stopped far short of NFL stardom if not for an extraordinary series of breaks and Scott's ability to capitalize on them. "He's an example of what happens when you give a hungry guy a chance," says former Steelers running back Jerome Bettis. "And believe me, this guy was hungry."

Scott's journey might have ended during his adolescence in Detroit, where he walked 15 gang- and drug-infested blocks every morning to high school in a building kids called The Jungle. It might have ended when a poor SAT score left him without a scholarship offer after graduation or when he was suspended from the team at Division I-AA Southern Illinois four games into his junior season. It might have ended when just one NFL team worked him out after his last year in college, and it might have ended even after he made the Ravens, who consigned him to anonymous special teams work.

But the journey didn't end. It kept going, and getting better. A year ago, his second as a full-time starter in Baltimore's voracious defense, Scott was tied for the team lead with Lewis, with 103 tackles, and threw in 91⁄2 sacks and two interceptions. Crushing tackles on Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman and Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger solidified his reputation as one of the league's fiercest hitters. "He's not afraid to take on offensive linemen," says Bengals right guard Bobbie Williams, who outweighs Scott by more than 100 pounds. "You get some linebackers that like to duck around you, but Bart doesn't mind coming right at you."

"Every play, I'm throwing every little bit of my full 242," says Scott. "It's going to hurt sometimes, but I just don't care. I'll keep comin'. Offensive players have to ask, 'Am I willing to do the same as this guy?' I'm comin' all day."

Here Scott pauses and widens the image, like a cinematographer pulling back with his camera. A full life becomes visible: his career and teammates; his pregnant wife, Darnesha, and their two-year-old son, Bartholomew; the friends and coaches who have pushed him forward. "I'm playing with house money, baby," says Scott. "I wasn't supposed to make it out of Detroit. I wasn't supposed to get a scholarship. I was supposed to be running down under kicks for the rest of my life. But here I am. I'm a man playing with the house's money, and that's a dangerous man."

There was a block full of Scott's family on Hurlbut Street on the east side of Detroit, surrounded by the customary urban hazards: drugs, gangs, guns. Bart lived with his mother, whose married name is now Dorita Adams, and half-sisters Cutrice (10 years older) and Dawnyell (six years older). His father, Bartholomew Capers, whom Dorita never married, didn't live in the home, but, says Bart, was always involved in his life.

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