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Birk vows to avoid 'circus' over same-sex marriage


Birk vows to avoid 'circus' over same-sex marriage

Matt Birk and Brendon Ayanbadejo aren't just on opposite sides of the line for the Ravens, they're polar opposites when it comes to the issue of same sex marriage.

Over the weekend, Birk appeared in an online video for the Minnesota Catholic Conference in support of a state marriage amendment between a man and a woman. He also wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Star-Tribune on Sunday.

Recently, Ayanbadejo, a linebacker, voiced his support of same-sex marriage.

"I took a stance like other guys have done before me. In doing so, it's not my aim, it's not my goal to engage in any debates with any one person or persons. Obviously, we all have opinions," said Birk, a Catholic and St. Paul native who spent his first 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, on Monday. "It just so happens we disagree on what marriage is in the public forum. Certainly, a very inflammatory, very hot topic because it's important. I understand that.

"Out of respect to my teammates and my team, the organization, this isn't going to turn into a circus. It probably won't be the last time that I publicly make a stance on it."

Wrote Birk in the Star-Tribune: "I think it is important to set the record straight about what the marriage debate is and is not about, and to clarify that not all NFL players think redefining marriage is a good thing."

Birk said he approached Ayanbadejo about what he was doing before the weekend. While they disagree, Birk insists on being level-headed and not disrespectful.

"I've known Brendon for a while. I played with his brother (Devin). I like Brendon," Birk said. "I respect him a lot. I told him on Friday that I was going to have a piece coming out ... so he didn't get blindsided by it."

Coach John Harbaugh isn't bothered by the debate.

"Don't discourage it or encourage it," he said when asked to weigh in Monday. "As long as everybody respects everybody else's opinion, that's the main thing. We talk about politics, religion movies, music. It's OK to have an opinion."

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Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp


Lamar Jackson, Ravens rookies report to training camp

Football is back in session for the Ravens.

Their rookies are set to report to the Ravens' training facility in Owings Mills, Md Wednesday. Veterans report next Wednesday, the 18th.

The team is reporting to training camp a bit earlier than most NFL teams. Due to Ray Lewis being enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Aug. 4 in Canton, Oh, the Ravens will face the Chicago Bears in the annual Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 2. Teams participating are eligible to begin training camp earlier.

This rookie class is already generating national attention. While the Ravens stand by Joe Flacco as their QB1, first-round pick Lamar Jackson could cause a shakeup at some point during the season. And when it comes to much-needed offensive help, tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews could begin to provide relief. 

Third-round pick Orlando Brown Jr. begins his journey with the Ravens in a more sentimental fashion. His father, Orlando "Zeus" Brown, also played tackle for the Ravens from 1996-98 and then again from 2003-05. Brown passed away in 2011. 

Stay with NBC Sports Washington throughout the next several weeks as we keep a close eye on the Ravens' preseason. 


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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

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Early 2018 NFL playoff odds have Ravens in similar situation

There's only six months until the NFL playoffs and we've got no time to waste.

OK, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves but online betting site, Oddshark, released their early 2018 NFL playoff odds and the Ravens are in a similar situation as previous years.

The Ravens are sitting at +135 — tied for 13th with the San Francisco 49ers — for the best odds to play January football. This would place them in the seventh seed among AFC teams and just outside contention.

The Patriots (-1500), Steelers (-550), Chargers (-145), Jaguars (-140), Texans (-135), and Chiefs (+120) are seeded above them respectively. 

During the 2017 season, the Ravens were constantly in the hunt for the fifth or sixth seed in the AFC playoff picture. Several weeks ahead of training camp, Vegas is predicting that to be the case in 2018.

Playoff odds in July mean nothing, but considering their offseason changes, the Ravens' 2018 season should bring positive change.

They added weapons for Joe Flacco in free agents Michael Crabtree, Willie Snead and John Brown, and drafted tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews.

Then there was the late first-round draft pick of QB Lamar Jackson. Flacco remains the starter for now, but it will be interesting to see if that changes midway through the season or if they get them both on the field at the same time.