Tag: Baltimore Ravens

Ravens Player Retires to Give Kidney to Younger Brother, a Retired Steelers Player

The Kemoeatu family post-transplant surgery. (Photo: Amani Martin)
The Kemoeatu family post-transplant surgery. (Photo: Amani Martin)

BALTIMORE — Ma’ake Kemoeatu missed his final collegiate football game because the NCAA suspended him for improperly providing textbooks to his younger brother.

He was a four-year starter at Utah on scholarship and his little brother Tevita was a walk-on. Their parents didn’t have enough money to buy books, so Ma’ake bought them for him and therefore couldn’t play in the Las Vegas Bowl against USC.

But Ma’ake wasn’t trying to cause trouble. The oldest of seven kids, he steps up for his family when they need help.

So when his brother Chris needed a kidney transplant this past August, Ma’ake, a former nose tackle for the Baltimore Ravens, didn’t hesitate when he heard the news. He was going to donate.

When Chris was in eighth grade, he started having kidney pain. Over the years, as he grew into a 6-foot-3, 385-pound lineman for Utah and go on to win two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the pain got worse.

He played through it. Training camp, regular season practice, games and playoffs. With what was later discovered to be a form of kidney disease. He grew up in a tough family. A family that rarely said ‘I love you’ not because they didn’t have feelings, that’s just how it was.

“I’ve seen him struggle and the last three years of his career, fighting through a lot because of his kidney,” Ma’ake said at a press conference at the University of Maryland Medical Center on Wednesday. “When we found out he needed a transplant, we had to stop our careers because his health was most important to us.”

After the 2011 season, the pain was too much and Chris stopped playing football. Ma’ake ended his career with the Ravens after the 2012 season to be with his brother.

(USA TODAY Sports)
(USA TODAY Sports)

In early 2013, Chris met with Dr. Matthew Weir, a nephrologist at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Chris learned then that he had advanced kidney disease and needed a transplant. Ma’ake immediately said he would be the donor. And he was a 99% match.

“The doctor said we could pass as twins to do this surgery,” Ma’ake said. “My dad wanted to do it, and we kind of got into it because I didn’t want him to do it. I’m the oldest of seven kids so it was my responsibility to take care of my younger brothers and sisters.

“If my brother or any of my siblings needed blood, they have to have my blood. If any of my siblings needed a kidney, it would have to be my kidney.”

Ma’ake had to pause for a second as tears welled in his eyes.

“My dad wanted to do it so bad,” he said. “I had to stop him. But the credit goes to my brother because he had so many flare ups. He had to go into training camp and had to fight through the pain and get ready for the season.”

Continue reading “Ravens Player Retires to Give Kidney to Younger Brother, a Retired Steelers Player”

After Brief Time with Rams, Michael Sam Signed To Dallas Cowboys Practice Squad

Michael Sam, who made international headlines last spring as the first openly gay athlete to be drafted to an NFL team, has been signed to the Dallas Cowboys practice squad, having passed his physical exam, team officials said today.

Sam, 23, who was signed to the St. Louis Rams as a seventh-round draft pick, but got cut from that team over the weekend, came out to the public at the end of his NCAA season at Mizzou earlier this year.

After being cut by the Rams, no NFL team stepped forward to pick the defensive lineman up–until yesterday. Sam flew to Dallas on a moment’s notice last night, for today’s physical, and Sam will wear jersey #46 for the team this season.

“Michael Sam is just too good–he was the [SEC Defensive player of the Year] at Mizzou, there’s just no way he can’t play at the NFL level,” said Super Bowl winning, former Baltimore Ravens QB Brandon Ayanbadejo, a longtime advocate of LGBT rights.

After coming out, Sam’s draft ranking plunged, leading many observers to wonder if the NFL was really ready for an openly gay player. “the fact that no team took the opportunity to sign Sam after the Rams cut him, speaks volumes,” OutSports editor Cyd Ziegler observed, but added, “The Cowboys make a great fit for him.”

Although Dallas is in the heart of a state seen by the LGBT community as among the most homophobic in the country, Cowboys officials “welcome [Sam] to our football family, as we do every other player who signs with us.”Head coach Jason Garrett said Sam would be an asset to the club. “We just want to give him a chance to come in and help our football team,” Garrett noted. “That’s where our attention is (football). What people say outside the organization is up to them.”

The Cowboys joined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s Respect At Work program, developed with the help of Wade Davis, an out former NFL player who now heads the You Can Play project.

The program is designed to create a “safe, welcoming environment” for gay athletes. Sam’s addition to the Cowboys’ practice squad also opens up opportunities for him to make the main team, whose defensive line has performed poorly in recent years.

Sam says the Cowboys were his favorite team while he was growing up in Texas.

article by Nathan James via gbmnews.com

15 Football Honchos Who Are Standing With Michael Sam

Michael Sam

On Sunday, Michael Sam made headlines around the country when he came out as gay. If drafted, as projected, he will be the first openly gay player in the NFL.  While some people reacted poorly to the news, Sam has racked up plenty of support in the football world. See who’s standing with Sam below.

Dick Cass, Baltimore Ravens president

“We’re all about winning. If he’s a good football player who can help us win games, he will be welcomed here,” he said. “I’m disappointed it is such a big issue in 2014.”

John Elway, Denver Broncos executive

“I applaud Michael Sam and wish him the very best as he continues the pursuit of his NFL dream,” he told 7SPORTS. “We will evaluate Michael just like any other draft prospect — on the basis of his ability, character and NFL potential. His announcement will have no effect on how we see him as a football player.

John Mara and Steve Tisch, New York Giants co-owners

“Our sport, our game, is the ultimate meritocracy. You earn your way with your ability. As Patrick Burke and Wade Davis constantly remind all of us, regardless of who you are, what your background is and what your personal or sexual orientation is, if you can play, you can play. Michael’s announcement will not affect his position on our draft board,” said Mara.

“Michael Sam is a gifted athlete and a courageous man,” Tisch said. “I hope any NFL team would not hesitate to draft Michael if he is right for their team. Our game is the ultimate team game, and we often talk about how a team is a family. Regardless of where you are from, what your religious beliefs are, what your sexual orientation is, if you are good enough to be on the team, you are part of the family.

Robert Kraft, Patriots owner

“We’re about winning,” Kraft told the Boston Herald. “And anyone who can come in here and help us win, I personally don’t care what their ethnic background is, their racial background, the gender preference. If they can help us win, and they’re about team first, then I’m happy to have him here… I think it’s good for America.

Continue reading “15 Football Honchos Who Are Standing With Michael Sam”

Ricky Williams Lands a College Football Coaching Job

Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports
(Photo Credit: Bob Donnan, USA TODAY Sports)

Former Pro Bowler and Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams has landed a college coaching job at the University of the Incarnate Word. He will work with the running backs at UIW, which is located in San Antonio.  UIW Football is a Division I program that will compete in the Southland Conference this year.  Williams retired from the Baltimore Ravens last year, after an 11-year career that was marked by extreme highs and lows.

In 2002, Williams was the league’s leading rusher and was named Pro Bowl MVP, and many considered him the best running back in the game. This success was quickly derailed, however, after a suspension and  an early retirement in 2004, a retirement that Williams later admitted in a 60 Minutes interview came about as a result of several violations of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

Williams will continue to live in Austin but will commute to UIW to work with the running backs in the fall.

article by Nate Scott via usatoday.com

How Super Bowl-Winning City Baltimore is Celebrating Black History Month

baltimoreAll eyes are on Baltimore this week as the Ravens took the Super Bowl title and Beyoncé cranked out perhaps the most electrifying halftime performance in history. It’s a great time to recognize that “Charm City” – a nickname created by then Mayor William Donald Schaefer and a bunch of ad agencies to boost the city’s national profile – is once again on the map as a vacation destination.

In honor of Black History Month, here’s a list of Baltimore’s events and exhibitions that pay tribute to the African-American men and women who helped shape the nation. Baltimore is a city shaped by the contributions of African-American visionaries including the likes of world famous jazz singer Billie Holiday; great orator Frederick Douglass, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall; and female abolitionist and “conductor” of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman.

“Girl with Flag,” Bryan Collier  

“The Mountaintop” and Beyond

“The Mountaintop”
CENTERSTAGE
Through Feb. 24
The Lorraine Hotel. April 1968. In room 306, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. unwinds and prepares. A visit from a hotel maid offers welcome diversion and a challenging new perspective – but also raises profound and surprising questions. 

Already a worldwide sensation and recently hailed in a star-studded Broadway production, Katori Hall’s new play receives its Baltimore premiere. 

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Ray Lewis Ends Brilliant NFL Career with Super Bowl Championship

Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates on the field afte the Ravens won 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates on the field afte the Ravens won 34-31 against the San Francisco 49ers during Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Before he could bask in a shower of confetti, before he could put his fingerprints on the Lombardi Trophy and before he could head into retirement as a champion, Ray Lewis had one final task: stop the San Francisco 49ers on three plays 5 yards from the end zone.

After two passes went awry, Lewis charged up the middle on a blitz. The Ravens stellar linebacker never made it to Colin Kaepernick, but after the quarterback’s pass flew out of bounds, Lewis and Baltimore could begin to celebrate.  “How could it end any other way than that?” Lewis said. “And now I get to ride into the sunset with my second ring.”

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Ravens’ Brendon Ayanbadejo to Promote Gay Rights at the Super Bowl

Brendon Ayanbadejo #51 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Brendon Ayanbadejo #51 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after defeating the New England Patriots during the 2013 AFC Championship game at Gillette Stadium on January 20, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Ayanbadejo, who will appearing in his first ever Super Bowl on February 3rd, hopes to use the media spotlight from the big game to promote his position against bullying and for marriage equality.

The New York Times reports that Ayanbadejo recently emailed gay marriage advocate Brian Ellner and Michael Skolnik, the political director for Russell Simmons, and asked: “Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti- bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?”

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NFL Star Ray Lewis to Sign with ESPN After Retirement

Linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on August 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Rams defeated the Baltimore Ravens 31-17. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)

Linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens warms up prior to the game against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on August 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. The St. Louis Rams defeated the Baltimore Ravens 31-17. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)

He’s mentored scores of NFL players, past and present, as well as provided motivational talks and workout ‘sessions’ for college teams and communities.  Lewis’ former head coach in Baltimore Brian Billick recently called Lewis the “greatest individual leader on a football team” he’d ever seen on ESPN’s ‘Mike and Mike in the Morning.’ 

SI.com’s Deitsch also reports Lewis’ son Ray Lewis III and his college football career (Lewis III will be a freshman at dad’s alma mater University of Miami in the fall) weighed heavily on the decision to work with ESPN. The schedule is reportedly flexible enough for Lewis to attend games and remain involved.

article by Todd Johnson via thegrio.com

Baltimore Raven Torrey Smith’s Emotional Ride Ends With Win Over Patriots

Torrey Smith #82 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after he scored a 25-yard touchdown recpetion in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)Torrey Smith #82 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates after he scored a 25-yard touchdown recpetion in the second quarter against the New England Patriots at M&T Bank Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

BALTIMORE (AP) — Torrey Smith showed up at the stadium tired and drained, unsure if he would suit up for the Baltimore Ravens.  No one would have blamed him if he didn’t. After all, his younger brother had died in a motorcycle accident less than 24 hours earlier.  Smith opted to play, and the second-year wide receiver caught touchdown passes of 25 and 5 yards to help the Ravens beat the New England Patriots 31-30 Sunday night in a rematch of the AFC title game. Continue reading “Baltimore Raven Torrey Smith’s Emotional Ride Ends With Win Over Patriots”