Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Monday, October 15, 2007

Chester Taylor Blows up Again!

OWINGS MILLS -- The bizarre behavior of running back Chester Taylor didn't begin mere days ago in the Minnesota Vikings' locker room.And the zany Detroit native's thug-life persona was launched long before he left the Baltimore Ravens as a free agent two years ago.

Taylor arrived in Baltimore as a soft-spoken, low-key rookie from the University of Toledo, seemingly humble and eager to prove himself in the NFL. Yet, his little-boy voice ultimately masked a nasty Eddie Haskell personality, one that manifested itself again this week in another fight with a teammate.

The news reports of Taylor throwing a chair at Vikings defensive end Erasmus James surprised no one surrounding the Ravens, nor did the shiner he's presently sporting underneath his right eye.You see, Taylor has always liked to fight. Didn't matter how big the guy was, he would always take them on as he embraced the "Eight Mile" movie fantasy in real life.

One Ravens employee remarked about Taylor in the wake of his latest brawl: "He's just so stupid. He'll never change. He's a thug."

Prior to a game against the Chicago Bears in 2004, Taylor stupidly took on massive offensive tackle Orlando "Zeus" Brown, a 6-foot-7, 380-pound blocker with a celebrated mean streak.The night before the game at the team hotel, Taylor kept running his mouth despite Brown repeatedly warning him to cut it out. Taylor just kept jawing despite the fact that the two players were supposed to be friends. He eventually threw a chair at Brown, and Brown, who has a nasty temper when riled up, contained himself because there was a game the next day.

Taylor mystified teammates in Baltimore with his self-destructive behavior: challenging street toughs in night clubs to fights, scrapping with unknowns in bathrooms. One time, he got a beer bottle broken over his head.

Taylor's life was threatened by armed men outside of Baltimore and Washington, D.C. bars. It was as if he had a pronounced death wish.As Brown says, "It wasn't me, I told you. It was him that was crazy. I think Chester is bi-polar."

No argument here.Taylor used to amuse himself by muttering racial slurs under his breath about reporters. There were pictures circulating on the Internet and throughout the Ravens' old training complex of the running back dancing shirtless at bars with several women surrounding him.Many said the money and fame had swelled his head.Somehow, Taylor always avoided trouble with the law.Yet, the Ravens were aware of his misbehavior and it was a negative factor when they were deciding whether to retain Taylor or Jamal Lewis during the 2005 offseason.

Now, Taylor is Vikings coach Brad Childress' problem child.Childress had to call a team meeting this week after James punched Taylor in the eye, and Taylor retaliated by throwing a chair that reportedly struck offensive tackle Bryant "Mount" McKinnie in the leg. That supposedly stopped the altercation because Taylor and McKinnie are good friends.I'd hate to see how Taylor treats his enemies.The guy is a certifiable nut-case.When I told his agent about Taylor's misdeeds, he had no clue about his client's penchant for running amok was so well-known.

"Are you kidding me?" he said. "How did you find out? I hope this stays quiet."It did, mostly. But word travels fast around this league. For those wondering what the real story was on why the Ravens didn't retain Taylor, just keep this one clipped and saved.

Predictably, Childress attempted to downplay the explosive incident.

"There is a lot of tiffs in the locker room, I mean when you have 53 type-A personalities that play an aggressive game, that are competitive as hell, that stuff happens," Childress told Minnesota reporters. "While I think it gets sensationalized sometimes, that’s not for me to decide what goes in the newspaper or on the blogs or what have you, but you have got to put something in there and if it is newsworthy, that’s up to you.

"I don’t know if you have ever been involved on a team. You don’t stick your head in the sand and act like nothing occurred. You talk about it.”

Okay, Brad, let's talk about it.Let's talk about how Chester Taylor is a time bomb ticking away in your locker room.Maybe you don't need my unsolicited advice since you were smart enough to draft Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson.Until next time, keep an eye out for the man the Ravens' players used to call 50-Cent for how he imitated the gangsta rapper's clothes and attitude.He's the guy in your locker room wielding a chair, sporting a black eye and darkening the Vikings' reputation.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

Monday, October 8, 2007

5 Reasons For Outcome: Ravens @ 49ers

1. The Baltimore Ravens engineered an epic escape, surviving with a 9-7 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday at Monster Park largely because of their defense being stout enough to overcome the offense's ineptitude. For the majority of the game, the Ravens (3-2) dominated former Super Bowl quarterback Trent Dilfer and his teammates with the exception of one touchdown drive where they overplayed their hand with blitz packages. Baltimore limited the 49ers to six first downs, 163 yards of total offense and 49 net rushing yards while Ed Reed intercepted Dilfer once and the front seven sacked him three times. Star running back Frank Gore was visibly frustrated, held to 52 yards on 16 carries. The Ravens manufactured this West Coast win despite not scoring a touchdown as they won with their lowest point total since their inaugural season in 1996.

2. Matt Stover booted three field goals, a kicking performance akin to how he carried the Ravens' sleepwalking offense during the team's run to the Super Bowl seven years ago. Stover connected on kicks from 26, 32 and 49 yards, actually notching the game-winning kick with 8:12 remaining in the third quarter.

3. Although the Ravens remain one of the league's worst red-zone offenses, going 0-for-2 with no touchdowns inside the 49ers' 20-yard line, they did move the football consistently behind running back Willis McGahee, who gained 88 yards on 22 carries, and wide receiver Derrick Mason's efforts. Mason caught 11 passes for 85 yards. Quarterback Steve McNair wasn't particularly sharp, but he did avoid committing a turnover for the first time this season and completed 29 of 43 passes for 214 yards. His longest throw was just 18 yards.

4. With two starting offensive lineman injured and unable to return -- right tackle Adam Terry sprained his left ankle and center Mike Flynn sprained his right knee during the Ravens' first scoring drive in the second quarter -- the Ravens got a prolonged glimpse of their blocking future. From left to right, rookie tackle Jared Gaither, 21, third-year guard Jason Brown, 24, second-year center-guard Chris Chester, 24, rookie first-round guard Ben Grubbs, 23, and rookie tackle Marshal Yanda, 22, didn't allow a sack.

5. In a 3rd-and-9 situation at the Ravens' 36-yard line with 2:44 remaining, the 49ers sent Gore up the middle for two yards instead of attempting a pass to try to get kicker Joe Nedney closer for a potential game-winning field goal. His 52-yard attempt on the ensuing play sailed wide to the right. It was Nedney’s first miss this season in eight tries.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital