Minutes after shaking his fist in celebration as he ran off the field in the wake of helping to orchestrate a 27-13 victory over the Miami Dolphins, Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron was handed the game ball in the locker room by the players and coach John Harbaugh.
One year removed from a 1-15 season as the Dolphins' head coach, an especially trying year where his leadership, toughness and authority were constantly questioned as players like linebacker Joey Porter openly defied and ridiculed him, Cameron let his feelings about last year be known and what this congratulatory football means to him.
"This is going to go home to my wife Missy and to my kids, because it's a lot tougher on them than it will ever be on us coaches," Cameron said. "That's why it's a little emotional. When you give your heart and soul to something and it doesn't work out, some of that pain comes back. But that's minimal compared to what it was like for my wife and kids. I guess that's why maybe it's a little sweeter."
"All week guys said, 'Cam, we got your back.' That game ball felt good. Any kind of competition, you feel like you have something to prove and emotions just come out. There's really not a lot you can do about it. It's an emotional game. It's an emotional profession."
Cameron's only win last season came in overtime against the Ravens, but he couldn't escape questionable personnel decisions or the constant failure on the field as Bill Parcells fired him and general manager Randy Mueller.
Now, Cameron has the satisfaction of answering his critics following a week where his former players aired a year's worth of dirty laundry through the media in a backlash to Harbaugh's inadvertently stinging comment about how Cameron had done a great job with what he had to work with in Miami.
"He was talking and his voice was cracking," said running back Willis McGahee, who rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown. "I think he was crying. He wanted this game bad and he got it."
The Ravens had four scoring drives as rookie quarterback Joe Flacco threw his second touchdown pass and didn't commit a turnover one week after throwing a season-high three interceptions.
"The game plan by Cam Cameron was really outstanding," Harbaugh said. "You see the things we're trying to do and what we're trying to become as an offense a little bit."
There was no doubt this was more than a business trip for Cameron. This was truly personal even though he downplayed the inherent grudge match days before kickoff.
"A team that you went through a lot of hard work for, and after one year they dismiss you," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, who caught an 11-yard touchdown. "Coming back, you want to get a win by any means necessary, but he didn't show it on the sideline. He just called the plays and tried to put us in the best position to score points."
Cameron didn't only get support from the Ravens. Although roughly half the Dolphins' roster from last year has been weeded out by Parcells and coach Tony Sparano, several Miami players made it a point to seek out and congratulate their former coach.
"All the guys afterward were great," Cameron said. "Everyone has their view of what happened last year, but I was there. I know what happened. Adversity brings out different things in different people. Sometimes there are guys that stand up and throw it on their shoulders, and sometimes that's tough for some other people."
Cameron: "It's emotional'
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