Ben Grubbs has quickly discovered that it's almost impossible to be sad at a tropical paradise.
Only a few days removed from the Baltimore Ravens' crushing 23-20 AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots, the Pro Bowl offensive guard is in the land of luaus, leis, pristine beaches, epic sunsets and beautiful weather.
"If I was at home, I would probably be depressed and eating large bowls of ice cream," Grubbs told the Times in a telephone interview following the AFC Pro Bowl squad finishing up a practice at Kapolei High School in Hawaii. "I've been on the move ever since the game and continuing my season, so it takes my mind away from it. I know time heals all wounds, but I do realize we were really, really close to the Super Bowl. That's what I play for.
"Until I get that ring, my career has pretty much missed that factor and it will be a void in my career. Each year, I'll come back and go to work and carry that mentality into the offseason. I'm enjoying this because it's my first time in Hawaii. Hawaii is a beautiful place. It's nice to be able to relax and wear shorts and flip flops and lay in the pool, but I would much rather be in the Super Bowl."
This is Grubbs' first Pro Bowl appearance.
A Pro Bowl alternate, Grubbs was added to the AFC roster as he replaced offensive guard Logan Mankins when the Patriots advanced to the Super Bowl.
Grubbs missed six games last season with a painful right turf toe injury as Pro Bowl running back rushed for a career-high 1,364 yards and 12 touchdowns.
When Grubbs was out of the lineup, Rice dipped to 63.6 rushing yards per contest while averaging 80.3 yards per game for the season.
Although this is primarily a week that players treat as a reward, Grubbs also wants to learn something while he's at the Pro Bowl.
"It's a great feeling to be out here seeing some of the world's best athletes," Grubbs said. "It's a great honor. I'm glad my fans and the NFL felt that my play was good enough to be out here as an alternate and being elevated once the Patriots went on.
"I'm enjoying my first time in Hawaii, I'm around some great athletes. Some of the guys on the offensive line I've watched film on and respect. I'll see what I can pick up. We're not in full pads or going full-speed. We're going to have fun."
The Ravens made a major investment at offensive guard last August when they signed Pro Bowl blocker Marshal Yanda to a five-year, $32 million contract that included a $10 million signing bonus.
Now, they have a decision to make about Grubbs.
Grubbs' five-year, $9.175 million rookie deal has expired, and he's now slated to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
In order to retain Grubbs, though, the Ravens would likely have to devote even more money than they paid Yanda.
Most NFL teams don't traditionally pay both of their offensive guards at high market value levels, or have two elite offensive guards.
So, there's a strong possibility that Grubbs might not return.
"It gets a little complicated," said Grubbs, who was paid $2.995 million last season after triggering an escalator clause in his contract. "I don't want to say too much or too little. I was drafted by the Ravens. Obviously, I've had a great time there with us going to the playoffs four out of five years. I've established a great foundation there, and I've got my boys there. Everything is good there.
"I have a lot of faith and trust that something good will happen no matter what, but I know it's a business. People can be here one day and then gone tomorrow. Will a new chapter open up for me? I don't know, but I have faith that everything will be all right. The things that matters to me are the relationships I've formed. Of course, the money always comes when you win. I've had great relationships, great coaches. It's good all-around with the Ravens as an organization. I'll leave it at that."
Harbaugh: Ravens knew down and distance on final drive
OWINGS MILLS -- The Baltimore Ravens weren't confused about the down and distance on the final drive of their season that ended in a shanked field goal try by kicker Billy Cundiff, according to coach John Harbaugh.
In the wake of the Ravens' 23-20 AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday at Gillette Stadium, kicking consultant Randy Brown suggested in a radio interview that the scoreboard clock was intentionally placed one down behind. And Cundiff has indicated that he felt the operation was rushed due to the scoreboard saying it was third down instead of fourth down on his errant 32-yard field goal.
However, Harbaugh was dismissive of that theory.
"We knew what the down and distance were on our last series," Harbaugh said in a statement. "The scoreboard was not a factor for us. Any suggestion that the wrong down information was a deliberate effort to affect the outcome of the game is nonsense."
Brown made the following claim in an interview with WIP radio in Philadelphia.
"The scoreboard was one down behind, the entire last three plays, from what we understand," Brown said. "I don't think you can rule anything out in New England, can you?"
Brown was roughly shoved on the sideline by Harbaugh on the sidelines during the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
And Cundiff and the coaches didn't call a timeout as the former Pro Bowl kicker ran up to kick and then badly missed a 32-yard chip shot wide left.
The reason behind the scoreboard gaffe could have stemmed from wide receiver Anquan Boldin fumbling out of bounds on a nine-yard completion on first down.
Although the scoreboard said it was first down, it was spotted by the referee as a 2nd-and-1 situation.
Then, the Ravens threw incomplete on the next two plays, including wide receiver Lee Evans failing to secure an accurate Joe Flacco pass in the end zone that was ripped out of his hands by cornerback Sterling Moore.
The rest of the story, like the Ravens' season, is history.
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