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Chip Kelly Needs to Address How He Relates to His Players

11 Aug

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been accused of racism and being a control freak who does not tolerate dissent. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has been accused of racism and being a control freak who does not tolerate dissent. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—By now you all have heard about Brandon Boykin’s remarks regarding Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly after he was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a fifth-round draft pick.

What raised eyebrows was a text sent by Boykin to Comcast Sports Net that said Kelly is “uncomfortable around men of our culture.”

It was originally interpreted as Kelly having a problem with African-American players and was viewed in the same was as similar accusations from former Eagles players LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and former assistant coach Tra Thomas.

A day later, Boykin clarified his remarks saying he wasn’t calling Kelly a racist, but that he has a hard time relating to players.

“He likes total control of everything, and he don’t like to be uncomfortable,” Boykin told Comcast Sports Net. “Players excel when you let them naturally be who they are, and in my experience that hasn’t been important to him, but you guys have heard this before me.”

A recent story by the Bleacher Reports’ Mike Freeman confirms what Boykin was saying about Kelly’s need to have total control over everything.

While Boykin shed further light on what he meant, the perception that Kelly has a problem with African-American players lingers on with more than a few African-Americans fans. On some level it’s understandable, especially from those fans who are still upset over the incident in which wide receiver Riley Cooper dropped a fair amount of N-Bombs at a Country Music concert.

As Black men, society often views us with suspicion, especially if we are seen as outspoken or show any form of anger. Even the most liberal of white people and among African Americans themselves, that perception exists.

That said, I don’t think that either Kelly or the Eagles as an organization are racists.

However, I do think that Kelly is trying to make the Eagles into his image from a football standpoint, and that has led to the clashes he’s had with veteran players. For example, two-time Pro Bowl guard Evan Mathis, who is white, was let go after he started demanding more money.

As for the decision to trade Boykin, it was logical given Kelly’s mantra that says big people beat little people. As good as Boykin as a cornerback in nickel (five defensive backs) situation, he simply did not fit into what Kelly wanted for his defense. Boykin is listed at about 5-foot-9, maybe 5-8.

In the wake of these allegations from his former players, Kelly needs to have a sit-down with not only his Black players, but his entire team just to let them that he’s accessible. One of the complaints that Boykin made was that Kelly couldn’t relate to players outside of football.

Kelly said that he has an open-door policy with his players, but the workday is very structured during the offseason and during the season.

“You can come to talk to me whenever you want to come and talk to me,” Kelly said earlier this week. “But we also have a pretty structured day where guys are in meetings. I don’t just sit and walk around and say, let me go grab him and let’s sit down and have a coffee together. When they get here, they are doing stuff.”

At some point, Kelly is going to have to take a look at how he relates to players, who are grown men and not college kids whose scholarships you can yank if they don’t fit in with your program.

If the Eagles are winning on a consistent basis because of Kelly’s moves, all of this will be forgotten. But if wins don’t result from all of these moves, you’ll hear more noise about Kelly’s relationship with his players.
If that happens, Kelly will be the one having to find a new relationship.

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Phillies Need to Face the Reality of Rebuilding

1 Oct

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Cole Hamels had a career best 2.46 ERA, but didn't get enough run support in 2014. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Cole Hamels had a career best 2.46 ERA, but didn’t get enough run support in 2014. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—During the early part of the 2014 season, the Phillies left you with the impression that they could just have timely hitting, good defense and good pitching on a consistent basis, they were close to being a contender in the National League East.

It was something General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. believed and it was something manager Ryne Sandberg talked about even after nights when the Phillies offense came up short or the starting pitching put them in a deep hole from which they could not recover.

That was not only wishful thinking on part of Amaro and Sandberg, it was downright delusional.

Instead, the Phillies did what bad teams usually do, play well in one aspect of their game and suck in some other part. That was the most consistent aspect of the Phillies in 2014 and it resulted in the team’s last place finish (73-89) in the NL East.

To be honest, this season was doomed from the start, going back to the off-season when the most significant free agents signings were aging, over 30-something veterans like pitcher A.J. Burnett and outfielder Marlon Byrd.

While the latter actually had a decent season, the former pitched like the 37-year-old man he was during the season.

Burnett won just two games after the All-Star break and finished the season 8-18 with a 4.59 earned run average. The team also didn’t have left-handed starter Cliff Lee, who finished his season on the disabled list, for most of the season.

Right-handed starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (now a free agent) was hot and cold, often struggling to get out of the first inning.

The only bright spots for the Phillies in 2014 were Cole Hamels, who got little help from his offense, and the young bullpen. Hamels had a career best 2.46 ERA, but finished 9-9 and often lacked run support. He also had a no-hitter he shared with two other pitchers.

The Phils offense was a constant problem all year outside of Byrd, who led the team in home runs and lead-off hitter Ben Revere, who batted .307 and tied for the National League lead in hits.

Unfortunately, Amaro’s resurgence of the “Wheez Kids” was a monumental failure and it’s painfully obvious that change has to come, especially on offense.

That means that it’s time for the Phillies to come to the realization that Amaro has been avoiding for a long time—it’s time to say a fond farewell to the now 30-something guys who won the 2008 World Series whose best days are collectively behind them.

Ryan Howard struggles hurt the Phillies offense in 2014. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Ryan Howard struggles hurt the Phillies offense in 2014. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Of course, the hardest player for the Phillies to move will be first baseman Ryan Howard, who will be 35 in 2015, because the team still owes him $60 million. No one around baseball wants to take on that salary.

Howard is coming off a season where he batted just .223 with 23 homeruns and 95 runs batted in with a league-leading 190 strikeouts. It was the first time since 2011 that Howard has played more than 150 games in a season.

After struggling through a myriad of leg injuries over the last couple of years, it was an accomplishment for Howard to finish the season. While those injuries are fully healed, I don’t think Howard was ever 100 percent back to himself from a baseball perspective.

That said, I think a change of scenery to an American League team where he can be a designated hitter might do him some good and even bring about resurgence in his career.

Meanwhile, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Chase Utley have no-trade clauses in their contract. Rollins, the Phillies all-time leader in hits, told reporters back in June that he would be open to a trade if the team goes into complete rebuilding mode.

Guess what? That time is here.

Utley, who struggled in the second half of the season, should consider waiving his no-trade clause as well because it’s going to be a long time before this team is a contender again. I don’t know if Utley will like playing for a young, rebuilding team.

Out of the Phillies younger players that have come out of their system in the last year or so, third baseman Cody Asche was the only one who solidified a starting spot next year in the Phils starting lineup. There’s also talk that prospect Maikel Franco could be on the roster next year.

The Phillies will likely part ways with Domonic Brown, who had an awful season and regressed as a hitter. He batted .235 with just 10 home runs, 63 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .285. In 2013, Brown had a .272 average with 27 homers, 83 RBI, and a .324 on-base percentage.

The Phillies will have a solid bullpen next year with a solid corps of young arms led by hard-throwing righthander Ken Giles, who will be the team’s next closer if they can’t find a suitor for Jonathan Papelbon, who served a seven-game suspension near the end of the season for an obscene gesture. He saved 39 of 43 games in 2014.

Giles, whose fast ball was clocked at 100 miles per hour, had a 1.18 earned run average in 44 games and had a 3-1 record with one save.

Amaro himself is on the clock in 2015—the final year of his contract. He has to figure out a way to get this ship going in the right direction for next year and beyond.

If he doesn’t, Amaro will be given his walking papers the same way former assistant general manager for amateur scouting Marti Worlever got his near the end of the 2014 season.

Dropping the Ball: There Are No Good Guys in the Ray Rice Domestic Abuse Saga

9 Sep

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Janay and Ray Rice's press conference to explain spousal abuse incident in New Jersey.

Janay and Ray Rice’s press conference to explain spousal abuse incident in New Jersey.

PHILADELPHIA—As I observe the reaction to running back Ray Rice’s release from the Baltimore Ravens and indefinite suspension by the NFL , I’m left with the feeling that there are no heroes and nothing but villains in this sad drama.

The thing that brought about Rice’s termination from the Ravens was the video from that “paragon” of journalistic integrity—TMZ– that shows the former Rutgers star hitting his then fiancée Janay Palmer with a left hook that knocked her into a rail on the elevator and onto the floor unconscious. Rice then coldly drags an unconscious Palmer out of the elevator and shows no concern about her well-being.

I don’t care what the circumstances are. No man should ever hit a woman at all and definitely not with the kind of force that Rice used. You just can’t do that. He probably should have been arrested for felony assault.

I hope that Rice is undergoing some serious counseling and he should be thankful that he doesn’t have to behind bars, thanks to a pretrial intervention program. Rice’s record will be expunged after a year.

While I don’t think he should be out of the game forever, Rice should have been suspended beyond the two games suspension he was given. He should have been suspended anywhere from eight games to a year, similar to what New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick got for dog fighting.

If and when he ever gets back into the league, Rice should be made to speak to young men about the evils of domestic violence and make a contribution to help shelters that house battered women. He should want to do that himself.

Actually, the most aggrieved victim in this whole thing is Janay Palmer, who wound up “apologizing” for being a part of this incident as if she did something wrong. I don’t care what she did or said, she didn’t deserve to be hit. The worse thing we do in this society when it comes to domestic violence and rape is to blame the victim. That has to stop.

But there are a lot of things that bother me about this incident beyond Rice hitting his girlfriend and it involves all the people who are now distancing themselves from the now former Ravens star.

For one thing, didn’t the NFL have access to the full video? Didn’t NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell see that Palmer was out cold as Rice dragged her out like an overstuffed trash bag? How could he have given Rice just a two-game suspension after seeing even a little bit of that tape?
As they say in social media, I’m SMDH….(Shaking my damn head.)

You would think with all the resources the NFL has to investigate incidents like this that they would have found this video before TMZ. Atlantic City casinos have cameras everywhere. That the League and law enforcement officials somehow missed or overlooked this is simply astounding.

The outrage at Goodell and the NFL is justifiable because players had gotten longer suspensions to guys smoking marijuana and taking fertility drugs. For a lot of women, the slap on the wrist that Rice initially received spoke volumes about the NFL and its attitude toward domestic violence.Many said that it showed that hurting a dog would get you in more trouble than hurting a woman.

The outrage from women groups and bad PR for a league trying to appeal female sports fans forced Goodell to apply stricter penalties to players who commit acts of domestic violence.

Now with the latest video, Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely and the Ravens gave him his unconditional release. But don’t think it was all about the Ravens or the league’s concern for women and domestic violence. The spin machine that is the NFL cares about one thing: “Protect the shield.”

I contend that Goodell, the league and the Ravens knew about this video and looked the other way. When it came out, both the NFL and the Ravens went into spin mode, cutting ties with Rice in order to cover their own asses in the face of mounting public criticism.

I am not surprised the NFL was in denial about its handling of domestic violence among its players. Remember this is the same league that was in deep denial about effects of concussions on its former and current players and had to be dragged, kicking and screaming to face this reality.

As for TMZ Sports releasing the video on the first week of the NFL season, Bleep you, too because there was nothing virtuous or heroic about the release of this video, especially from a media outlet that has the journalistic integrity of a plagiarist.

I wonder who TMZ paid off to get a copy of the video?

All TMZ Sports did was exploit human suffering to get higher ratings. They don’t give a rat’s ass about domestic violence unless it’s celebrities and they can get it on video. Spare me your fake outrage, too as you sip on your vanilla latte while stalking athletes and movie stars.

We can Do Big Things: Howard is Confident About Phils Chances in 2013

4 Apr
Ryan Howard is confident Phillies will be a factor in the National League East. Photo By Webster Riddick.

Ryan Howard is confident Phillies will be a factor in the National League East. Photo By Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report/Philadelphia Sunday Sun

At this time last season, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was rehabbing the Achilles tendon that he injured during the 2011 National League Division Series.

With Howard and second baseman Chase Utley out of the lineup for much of the first half of the 2012 season, the Phillies were in a deep hole from which they never recovered.

That was last year.

During spring training, Howard came out with a vengeance and looked like the Phils’ power hitter of old. The Phillies slugger batted .322 in Grapefruit League play, hit seven homeruns and had 16 runs batted in. He also had a .621 slugging percentage.

“I’m 100 percent ready to go,” Howard said. “As far as the injury is concerned, I’m not focused on it. I would hope that spring training showed that and so I’m ready. I felt good, I had a good spring training and I just have to carry it over.”

Playing in just 71 games last season, Howard batted just .219, but still drove in 56 runs and hit 14 homeruns. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said Ryan and Utley are an integral part of the Phillies lineup and a key to the team’s success in 2013.

“I think it’s very big for the fact that they are the two biggest run producers for our team,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manager. “I think having them back is very important. It always has been. The acquisitions that we made this year with Ben (Revere) and (third baseman) Michael Young makes us better and when we get Carlos Ruiz and (right fielder) Delmon Young our offense should really pick up.”

In team’s first two losses to the Atlanta Braves, Howard was a combined 0-for-8, but got a run batted on a ground out in the first game of the series.

There’s no doubt that Howard will have better days for the Phillies who need him to translate a productive spring into a season where the Phils produce runs, especially when they play teams like the Washington Nationals, which have a solid starting rotation, and the Atlanta Braves, a team that has one of the best bullpens in baseball.

Despite the return of Howard and Utley, the Phillies have been picked by most baseball experts  to finish third behind the Nationals and Braves. Even with the losses earlier this week, Howard said the Phillies should not be discounted because of their experience as the dominant team in the division.

“We hear a lot of that talk. We’ve had experience winning and we’ve had experience being the underdog,” Howard said. “So all of that is all talk. Not to take anything away from the Nationals. Those guys had a great season last year. They won the division.

“That’s why we got to go out there and play the games. It’s not 2012 anymore, it’s 2013. Everybody’s got to go out there and handle our business.”

If there’s anything that the Phillies can take from what was a disappointing 2012 was that when Howard and Utley returned to the lineup in early July, the team was mired in last place.

After the All-Star Break, the Phillies finished the season 44-31 (.587) and went from last place to third and finished at .500 after being 14 games below .500 back in early July. Until late September, the Phillies were in the conversation for a wildcard berth.

Howard said if the team can stay healthy for an entire season, they will be in the mix in spite of their horrendous start in Atlanta.

“As long as we can stay healthy, I think we can do big things,” Howard said. “[With] myself being back, Chase, and (pitcher Roy) Halladay ,if guys just going out there and being themselves and doing what they do, then we’ll be alright.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Mix: A Confident Dennis Dixon Is Ready Take On All Comers for Birds QB Spot

20 Feb
The Eagles might be Dennis Dixon's best opportunity to be a starer.

The Eagles might be Dennis Dixon’s best opportunity to be a starer.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

PHILADELPHIA–If you look at his career statistics in the NFL, there’s no reason to give Dennis Dixon a snowball’s chance in hell to be the Eagles starting quarterback.

In just three career starts, he’s 2-1 with a quarterback rating of 71.4 and has been mostly a backup during his five years in the league. In 2012, he was a practice-squad quarterback with the Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens.

But Dixon’s heyday as a quarterback was at Oregon when Eagles head coach Chip Kelly was his offensive coordinator.  In his senior year in 2007, he passed for 2,136 yards with 20 touchdown passes and four interceptions in 10 games before tearing up the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

While Dixon is intimately familiar with Kelly’s offense, he believes that his experience backing up Ben Roethlisberger and playing the scout team quarterback on the Ravens practice squad will be a great asset in the competition with Michael Vick and Nick Foles.

“I was fortunate enough to work around some good defenses from the Pittsburgh Steelers and to the Ravens,” Dixon said. “Just practicing with them made me better overall. I just want to be able to show what I’ve learned and hopefully it’s good enough.”

Even though he hasn’t logged in the time on the field that Vick or even Nick Foles has, Dixon is confident that he has just as big a chance to be the Birds starting signal caller.

“Anybody in their right mind would love competition and that’s what we have,” Dixon said. “And I’m quite sure that Michael Vick and Nick Foles would say the same thing as well. We’re excited. We’re just excited to work and let the chips fall where they may.”

Of course, we all want to know if Dixon is best equipped to run Kelly’s fast-paced, no-huddle, read-option offense the way he did at Oregon.  Dixon said he’s not expecting to Kelly the exact offense he ran his senior year.

“(Kelly) can tailor his offense to whomever is presented at that given time and it’s good to see,” Dixon said. “If you have a dual threat quarterback, everyone will say they want to throw the ball first because you never want to have that stigma of you just being a running quarterback. Chip Kelly has made it known that he wants to throw the ball and mix up the run and the pass.”

Looking at how things evolved in his professional career over the five years since that season-ending knee injury during his senior year at Oregon, Dixon hasn’t had the best of breaks and has strived to make the best of a bad situation.

For the first 10 games of his senior season with the Ducks, Dixon was mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate and possibly a high-round draft pick.  With the injury, Dixon’s stock dropped significantly. The Steelers drafted him in the fifth round as a backup to Roethlisberger.

Dixon started his first game for the Steelers in 2009 against the Baltimore Ravens when Roethlisberger and backup Charlie Batch went down because of injuries. He completed 12 passes for 26 for 145 yards with one interception and ran for 27 yards on three carries with one touchdown.

With Roethlisberger suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season, Dixon defeated the Atlanta Falcons and completed 68 percent of his throws for a career-high of 254 yards. But he got hurt in the next game where he tore the meniscus in his left knee.  The Steelers released him after the 2011 season.

For all setbacks and the fact that he could only get a practice squad job in Baltimore, Dixon refuses to feel sorry for himself and views every situation is an opportunity to show what he can do.

“As far as getting a starting job, I had an opportunity with (Pittsburgh) and I came out on top. I was excited about it,” Dixon said. “Unfortunately, it ended the way it did. But I’m moving forward. I did have an opportunity and now another opportunity has come. I just want to be ready when it comes.”

What a Game: Super Bowl XLVII Was to Definitely One to Remember

5 Feb

By Chris Murray

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

Super Bowl XLVII MVP Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

For the Chris Murray Report

So what did we learn in the aftermath of the Baltimore Ravens thrilling 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII?

One- it is now safe to say that Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks.  In Super Bowl XLVII, Flacco passed for 287 yards and three touchdowns passes and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

In the playoffs, Flacco beat Andrew Luck, the No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft and then knocked off two league MVPs in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Aren’t those guys considered elite quarterbacks?

If you’re still not convinced that Flacco is that dude or at the very least well on his way to becoming that dude,  you need to consider that in the 2012 postseason,  Flacco tossed 11 touchdown passes without an interception which ties Joe Montana and Kurt Warner for the most in a single postseason  without  a pick.

“One of the things is that without question he’s a big-game performer,” said Ravens offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.  “My old high school basketball coach used to always say cream will always rise to the top and that’s Joe.”

Flacco is the only quarterback in the Super Bowl era to play in four playoff games without tossing an interception.  He has won seven career playoff games on the road including this last Super Bowl. It is the most road wins by a starting quarterback in NFL history. Flacco has a better record (9-4) in the postseason than Peyton Manning (9-11), whom he beat in the divisional playoff round.

“Joe is one of those guys that the bigger the game the better he plays and I think that you’re going to see that continue throughout his career,” Caldwell said.

Flacco is currently in negotiations with the Ravens for a new contract. To quote Hall-of-Fame cornerback and NFL Network analyst, Deion Sanders: “Pay that man!”

Colin Kaepernick scores on a 15-yard touchdown run to bring the 49ers to within two points of the Ravens.

Colin Kaepernick scores on a 15-yard touchdown run to bring the 49ers to within two points of the Ravens.

Two-, Colin Kaepernick and the read option are here to stay despite losing in the Super Bowl. Yes, he had a slow start, but Kaepernick still played his butt off, especially in the second half. Kaepernick and the 49ers offense shredded the Ravens defense for 468 yards of total offense-including 182 yards rushing.

With his team down by 22 points, Kaepernick brought the Niners back using a combination of the pass and the running game with Frank Gore and LaMichael James in the Pistol offense.

Gore, who would finish the game with 110 yards rushing and a touchdown, had two runs of 20-plus yards including a big 33-yard run that put ball deep in Baltimore territory late in the game from that read-option offense.

Kaepernick was 16-of-28 for 302 yards and one touchdown. He also ran the ball seven times for 62 yards including a record-breaking 15-yard touchdown run, the longest in Super Bowl history by a quarterback. Not bad for a guy with just 10 starts in his brief career.

On their final drive of the game, the 49ers, in the Pistol formation, drove through a tired Ravens defense from their own 20-yard line to the Baltimore five. One of the big plays on that drive was Gore’s big 33-yard run to the Ravens 7.  A two-yard gain by James moved the ball to the five with about two minutes left.

That leads us to No. 3-Never get away from what’s working. On the 49ers remaining three downs of the game, they passed the ball on three straight plays and came up short.

You would have thought with Kaepernick’s running ability and the way Gore was crashing through the Ravens defense that head coach Jim Harbaugh or offensive coordinator Greg Roman would have called a play with one of them running the ball.

“I always thought they were going to run. I really did. All of those pressures were called for the run, not the pass,” said Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees.

A quarterback draw or a designed run by Kaepernick from the Pistol or just giving it to Gore on the same option plays that got them into the red zone in the first place.

“We could’ve ran on them all day,” Gore said. “We called plays that we thought that was good, and things didn’t happen.”

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with his brother Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach after the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (left) shakes hands with his brother Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers head coach after the end of Super Bowl XLVII.

No. 4-This was one hell of a Super Bowl.  This game had just about everything including several interesting storylines. You had the Harbaugh brothers-John and Jim matching wits against one another.

You had Flacco cementing his claim as a top-notch quarterback with an MVP-performance.

Beyonce’s performance at halftime, which included the reunion of Destiny’s Child, was a showstopper within a showstopper of a football game.

There was a 35-minute delay of the because of the power outage in the Mercedes Benz Superdome. I don’t pretend to know what caused it, but I suspect that origins of this outage came from a Buffalo Wild Wings in San Francisco where a 49ers fan sent a text to an electrician friend at the Superdome to shut the power down to stop Baltimore’s momentum.

Just kidding, but the Super Bowl power outage would make a great commercial for Buffalo Wild Wings.

The incredible performance by Ravens receiver and kick returner Jacoby Jones, who caught a 56-yard touchdown pass that will go down as one of the great plays in Super Bowl history.  Jones caught the ball falling to the ground at about the 49ers seven yard line. He got up, put a move on a Niners defender and sped past another for the touchdown.

As a kick returner, Jones opened the second half with an electrifying, Super Bowl record 108-yard kickoff return. To paraphrase a Baltimore Sun reporter Jones will never want for a drink in Baltimore for the rest of his life.

There was also the 49ers valiant comeback from a 28-6 deficit in the third quarterback, led by Kaepernick, who is going to be a star in this league for a good long time barring injury.

Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.

Ray Lewis ends an incredible 17-year career with his second Super Bowl ring.

San Francisco’s comeback fell short on what was a controversial non- pass interference

call on Michael Crabtree who locked horns with Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith in the endzone as Kaepernick’s pass on fourth down sailed over both players’ heads.

Was it  holding or pass interference against Baltimore or a good non-call by the officials?  It will be debated for a long time.

And last, but not least, Ray Lewis ending his storied career on an incredible goal-line stand by the Ravens defense. It was a fitting end for arguably one of the best middle linebackers to ever play the game.