"Just ask Art Modell about this rivalry," tight end Todd Heap said. "There's not a lot of love lost between these two teams." Both winless AFC North counterparts are trying to avoid falling further behind the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Meanwhile, Ravens cornerback Corey Fuller remains incensed at being cut by Cleveland last winter as a salary-cap casualty. It was a bitter divorce. Fuller was cut by Browns coach Butch Davis days before he was set to receive a $1 million roster bonus. It was a year after restructuring his contract for nearly $2 million less in salary. "The way it went down, it was an injustice," Fuller said. "I don't think I would have been mad if Butch hadn't called me and said, 'I got love for you, but this is business.' When they say it's business, they just stuck it to you. "I think if he had been man enough to say, 'Corey, you're not what I want,' I would have felt lousy, but I could accept it. I was a man of my word from the time I got there. It's a lot deeper than just me being cut."
Hulking offensive tackle Orlando Brown has made no secret of his feud with Browns executive Carmen Policy. Three years ago playing for Cleveland, Brown was struck in his right eye by referee Jeff Triplette's penalty flag. He shoved Triplette to the ground and was suspended. While in the hospital and it was unclear if he would regain his sight, Brown claims Policy asked him to sign a waiver of his right to file a lawsuit. Policy has repeatedly denied the allegation.
"It's not going to feel strange, but I got hurt wearing orange and white," Brown said. "It might run through my head, but it's not going to be nothing serious to throw me off my game plan. "I have to do my job and not hurt my team by getting into a conflict with Carmen Policy. I was kind of [upset] how they did me, and I still am. I'm going to play with emotion, but I'm not going to play with rage, trying to hurt guys."
Brown sued the NFL and settled the $200 million lawsuit in a confidential pact last year. He still harbors hard feelings about his exit as the Browns terminated the final five years of a six-year $27 million deal.
After brawling his way into the league as an undrafted free agent from South Carolina State, Brown claims to have mellowed. "I used to be destructive around here, breaking stuff, punching holes in the wall, fighting every day," Brown said. "But now I'm not like that. I'm older, have matured, and that flag helped raise me up, too. I have kids now, so I know when to act the fool and not to. "Every bad thing I did when that flag hit me shot across my eyes. When that pain hit me and I couldn't see, I thought of every bad thing I did and I said I don't want to be like that."
Perennial All-Pro linebacker Ray Lewis injured his shoulder while recovering a fumble against the Browns in the fourth game of last year. The injury led to him undergoing season-ending surgery. "When you watch the tape, you obviously want to fast-forward past the play I got hurt on, but you really can't," Lewis said.
A healthy Lewis returns to play against an outfit intent on attacking the Ravens' defense after Baltimore was shredded by the Steelers. The Brown derailed the Ravens' playoff hopes to earn a wild-card berth last year. In a 14-13 loss to Cleveland, Tim Couch directed a game-winning two-minute drill.
The secondary allowed too much cushion to a dangerous receiving corps. Cornerback Chris McAlister's late hit set up the touchdown that decided the contest. "At the end of the game, you can't give up penalties, Lewis said. "You just can't do it and expect to win. We need to calm down and just play football."
Both teams are extremely motivated.
According to published reports out of Ohio that quote Browns safety Earl Little, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis told a Browns player in a telephone conversation that today he will break the single-game rushing mark set by the Bengals' Corey Dillon (278 yards against Denver in 2000). Ravens spokesman Chad Steele said Saturday that he doesn't believe Lewis made the remark, claiming it would be out of character.
Lewis has excelled against the Browns with 543 career yards for a 6.0 average per carry in four games. He predicts that Baltimore won't be the team dropping to 0-2.
The time has come to settle these disputes on the field.
"We're definitely going to have redemption," Ravens safety Gary Baxter said. "Losing is a taste you never want in your mouth. We're going to do what we did the last game, except for the last drive, to finish the game off and win it."
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.