Boulware to be inducted into Ring of Honor

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Peter Boulware harassed quarterbacks relentlessly, delighting in the sheer joy of blindsiding them with his helmet and shoulder pads. Chasing, intimidating and hitting while braving the discomfort of damaged joints defined his NFL reputation during nine seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

How Boulware behaved on the field represented a major contrast, though, to the four-time Pro Bowl linebacker's off-field persona which centered on family, faith and good works.
That dichotomy came up several times Thursday as the Ravens announced that Boulware will be inducted into their Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium on Nov. 5 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
"I try to be a good Christian guy off the field, so I always looked at the football field as, ‘Once I get in between those lines, I can do anything I want to do, I can be mean and aggressive,'" said Boulware, a mainstay on the team's Super Bowl championship defense. "Once I get off the field, I turned the switch off and tried to be the good, holy Christian again."
On at least 70 different occasions, sacked quarterbacks could attest to Boulware's trademark intensity.
As the team's all-time pass rushing leader, Boulware set a career-high with 15 sacks in 2001. He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1997 with 14 ½ after being drafted fourth overall out of Florida State.
An All-American collegiate defensive end, Boulware is the Ravens' original blueprint for converting linemen to outside linebackers. Today, the Ravens have a few hybrids operating in versatile roles including Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas.
"It was through the insights of Marvin Lewis, who went down there and personally worked Peter out and came back and said, ‘This guy can be converted into a linebacker,'" general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "Peter's biggest skill coming out was his ability to rush the passer. He never lost that."
Perhaps more than any other opponent, Boulware left a lasting imprint on Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Brunell. He sacked him 15 times, primarily when Brunell was in the AFC Central with the rival Jacksonville Jaguars, and more than any other quarterback.
"Peter is the ultimate competitor," Brunell said. "Facing him so many times, he was always a threat to contain."
Added Lewis, the Bengals' head coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator: "Peter brought unbelievable physical talent and skills to the Ravens, and those were surpassed by his drive and work ethic."
At 6-foot-4, 255 pounds, Boulware combined athleticism with impressive strength and power considering he wasn't a big weightlifter. Primarily, he got the job done with speed, technique and heart in a manner not unlike retired defensive end Michael McCrary, whom Boulware will join on the upper façade of the stadium along with former owner Art Modell, running back Earnest Byner and the Baltimore Colts' Hall of Fame selections.
"I would definitely like people to remember me as a great pass rusher," Boulware said. "That was my passion: to get after the quarterback. More than anything else, my parents raised me to be a person of character and integrity. How are people going to remember you when you're not wearing the jersey?"
Humble and soft-spoken, Boulware was thrilled to get the word from team spokesman Kevin Byrne about his selection about a month ago.
"To be a part of permanent history is incredible," he said. "There's so much great history in this city and to be a part of that is awesome."
Boulware played in 15 games last season after missing the entire 2004 season with knee and toe injuries. He registered 2 ½ sacks as a designated pass rusher, but wasn't able to play at a consistently high level due to knee and toe injuries.
Boulware, who once played with a harness to hold in place a dislocated shoulder, realized he couldn't regain his old form.
"In my mind, I think I can play nine more years, but my body is saying it's time to shut it down," Boulware said. "When I'm at home watching the Ravens play on TV, there's something in me that makes me think I can still play.
"[Battling injuries] was a big character-builder in my life. Last year, I really couldn't do what I wanted to do and I knew this year it was time for me to lay it down."
Now, Boulware owns and operates an automobile dealership in Tallahassee, Fla.
"I'm trying to shake a few cars off the lot," Boulware said. "It's much different than sacking quarterbacks, but it's going to have to do for now."
In nine years, Boulware left an indelible impression through multiple sacks and tackles, but also through countless personality changes on and off the gridiron.
"Off the field, he was a loyal family man and a very devoted Christian and one of the nicest guys you could have in the building," Newsome said. "On the football field, it was totally opposite. It seemed like a switch just turned on. "It was amazing. As soon as the game was over, Peter would revert back to the Peter Boulware that we all knew."
NOTE: Although the Ravens fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel this week, he remains under contract through the 2008 season with a $1 million annual salary. They wouldn't have owed him the money if he had resigned. If Fassel obtains another job, the Ravens would owe him the difference between whatever that new deals would pay him and his current contract.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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