Welcome In!

Welcome in to Gilbert’s Arena. The name for which I must credit a college friend Rob O’Donoghue. I actually solicited several friends for help in the naming of this blog. Most went with sarcastic remarks for which I would be fined or fired if shared. Thanks guys.

Not sure how Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas feels about it, but just in case, Gilbert your game is special, you’re a sure fire All Star even as you chuck it like George Costanza.

Now that you know the name, just what are you getting (by the way, nice to have the time unlike during a sportscast to just throw things in parenthesis and ramble on)?

For one, you get my time. No limitations of the three minutes from TV. We can take as long delving into topics as we want. So the goal of Gilbert’s Arena is to create discussion of what’s going on from the likes of Barry Bonds’ horrifically comical pursuit of the home run crown to the Ravens journey back to respectability. Even your rec league softball game and why the lights can’t stay on past 11:00 P.M.

But more than discussion, because I have the resources of a television station, I’ll share more than you can get in a daily sportscast. If a press conference sparks interest, we’ll put chunks of it on the web instead of a snippet during the news. Batting practice video from Oriole Park? You can watch all we get on tape. Slide shows from Ravens training camp, morning workouts from Preakness week (by the way, did you see Brother Derek win the Santa Anita Derby? Place $10 to win right now), even the best photos or video you have to share.

Now to the meat. Substance from today. The Ravens pre-draft luncheon. A gathering of local media to first gorge in the Ravens cafeteria, then settle in for an hour of Q&A with G.M. Ozzie Newsome, Head Coach Brian Billick and Director of College Scouting Eric DeCosta. Good move to eat first as the tryptophan from our turkey sandwiches sedated nicely.

Despite that, a 52 minute press conference ensued covering everything from draft philosophies, (they say they will continue to draft the best player available regardless of position) to drafting players of character and what that means.

When queried on how the team can say it has drafted so intently on character yet have so many players endure legal difficulties, Newsome explained how they stay away from guys who repeat mistakes and show patterns. That they will take a young man with an issue but otherwise seems decent. Newsome asked if we had done anything between the ages of 18-22 we’d rather not discuss. Good point, but we’ll debate that at another time.

The most interesting part of the afternoon came after the formal discussion. In hanging around with Billick discussing the draft in a small group he relayed a story from the NFL Combine from a few years ago.
I did not have a tape recorder going but this is very close to the story if not word for word.

Each head coach gets 15 minutes with 60 different players for one on one interviews. Billick explained how prepped the players are by agents and cracking through to find out what they’re really like is tough.
Towards the end of a grueling session Billick looked at a just seated player (he would not name the player), one with a few brushes with the law but nothing terribly serious and said, again I’m paraphrasing, Look, we’re both tired so let’s cut through the @#$%. Are you a thug or are you stupid?

The player responded Are those my only choices?

Billick laughed heartily and said That’s it. We’re done.

Billick finished the story by saying how much he liked the player, but that he was drafted just before the Ravens could select him. Mr. Anonymous has apparently gone on to an excellent career.
The moral from that story; stay funny and mistakes are forgiven. Therefore I’m hoping for perfection.

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