BILL COWHER AND BOOMER ESIASON FOR WILD CARD WEEK ON JANUARY 6
► QUICK HITS
(On Ray Lewis)
SHANNON SHARPE: The only thing he struggled with over the last couple of months was when, where, and how he was going to do it. He chose the Ravens training facility on Wednesday in front of his teammates and the guys that he loves so much. He will be ready to play. How much of this emotion plays and how far they go into the playoffs remains to be seen. But there is no question you probably are talking about the greatest defensive player of his generation.
BILL COWHER: I came into this league in 1980 and have played and coached for 27 years. I’ll never forget having to play against him twice a year. And I always looked down on that side of the field, and he used to have this gathering of players and this hype and they’re jumping up and down. And I would look at them, and look at our team, and think are we flat? Are we not as ready as they are? And now everybody has one. He started that ritual. I also had a chance to coach him in the Pro Bowl. And before the game the coach gives a talk. I had a chance to sit back and say, Ray, you talk. And he gave one of those talks and those guys went flying out. He made it easy for a coach. The guy will be remembered. He’s legendary. He’s great for the game.
BOOMER ESIASON: In 1997, it was my last game against him, and I knew it was time to get out, because I had never seen a player so fast, so violent and so quick and relentless. But I can’t help but think the year 2000 was a tough year for Ray Lewis. He was charged with a double murder. He then subsequently plea bargained down to obstruction of justice, so therefore he was cleared of those murders. He was fined $250,000 by Paul Tagliabue which at that time was the largest fine for any player ever. He goes on and he not only wins the defensive MVP of the season that season, but they win the Super Bowl. He wins the Super Bowl MVP. So you talk about the range of emotions from one Ray Lewis early on. I will say this – greatest player that I ever played against. And I will say right now in Baltimore, they will tell you he’s one of the greatest human beings that they could have ever ask for as a football player down there.
DAN MARINO: I played against Ray Lewis as a young player. There is no doubt, in 17 years it’s amazing what he’s been able to do. He’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer.
(On Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones making things uncomfortable in Dallas)
BOOMER: He’s going to make it very uncomfortable. [He] Already got into it with Jason Garrett about the offensive play-calling. He should really look into the defensive play-calling as well. Guys should be really worried about their jobs down there.
(On why the Bears fired Lovie Smith)
SHARPE: Well, from what I’m hearing the GM says the offense. You have Jay Cutler. You have running backs that get 1,000 yards. You have wide receivers. But it comes down to, it’s as simple as this, Jay Cutler, I do not believe he’s a leader of men. He’s a quarterback, not a leader.
MARINO: You’re saying he’s a Coach Killer?
► TWO-WAY INTERVIEW WITH HOUSTON’S ARIAN FOSTER
(On concerns about his irregular heartbeat)
FOSTER: I went to the yellow brick road. I saw Oz and he gave me a new heart. So I’m okay. I was assured by my doctors that it is a minor issue. Though anytime you’re dealing with the heart it’s not minor. But as far as heart conditions, this is the one you want to have. It’s not life threatening. It’s not fatal. So nothing is going to happen where I’m putting my life in jeopardy. If it was like that, I wouldn’t risk it. So I’m okay. I’ll be okay. And we’ll see what our options are during the off-season, but it’s a very minor issue.
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► INSIDE INFORMATION WITH JASON LA CANFORA
(On GM and coaching carousel)
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