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McPhee manages to smile through injuries and tragedies

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McPhee manages to smile through injuries and tragedies

By looking at Pernell McPhee’s expressions, it wasn't easy to detect his troubles.

His leg stayed in bandages because of knee and groin issues. He couldn't win his battles at the line of scrimmage to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. But his smile never disappeared. 

After getting 6 sacks as a rookie a year ago as a reserve defensive end, this was supposed to be a breakout for McPhee, who won the starting job.

The Ravens rushed out to win nine of their first 11 games, but each week McPhee faced the questions about his lackluster play. He voiced disappointment in himself, but never lashed out. Understanding his physical and personal battles, however, put his travails into clearer focus.

“I had a couple of losses early this year, dealing with my sister, my dad, cousin,” McPhee said of  their deaths. “It was just like I was home when I came back in. Guys put smiles on my face. That’s the most important thing when you got guys who love you besides just football.  They love you off the field and try to help you out the best way they can.”

Coach John Harbaugh held him out for a month as he missed five games. McPhee said at the time he could play, creating an awkward situation where the player and coach disagreed publicly. Looking back, McPhee agrees it was the best decision.

“Hands down because now I’m healthier and I got a chance to help the team out on 3rd-and-long and come out and show some of them pass rushing skills I got,” he said of being used almost exclusively in pass situations. 

That he did. McPhee returned in December, getting his first full sack in a Week 15 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Going into the Super Bowl vs. the San Francisco 49ers on Feb. 3, McPhee has been replaced in the starting lineup by Arthur Jones, who had a career-high 4.5 sacks in his third season.

“Coach is doing a good job with how he rotates me in as far as certain packages. That’s keeping me fresh, keeping me healthy,” McPhee said. “I just got this routine I’m sticking with and it’s just helping me out a lot.”

McPhee has played a major role in the Ravens’ last two playoff games. He sacked Peyton Manning late in the third quarter, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Paul Kruger at the Broncos’ 37. Five plays later, Ray Rice ran in the ball from 1 yard out to tie the score at 28 in what eventually became a 38-35 double-overtime victory.

With Tom Brady trying to lead the New England Patriots to a fourth-quarter comeback in the AFC championship last week, McPhee deflected a pass that was intercepted by Dannell Ellerbe to seal a 28-13 victory.

“This guy plays with a lot of injuries. He’s one of the toughest people that I've ever been around in my life. And then now, at the end of the year, he had these two huge plays in these two huge games that really made the difference. It’s just so rewarding,” Harbaugh said. “And as a teacher, as a coach, that’s what makes it for you. … When you see these guys fight through that and have that kind of success, that’s everything.”

McPhee never doubted his ability to bounce back.

“It’s all about your personality,” he said. “I’m built Ford tough.”

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Ravens held a moment of silence in remembrance of George Floyd

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Ravens held a moment of silence in remembrance of George Floyd

The Ravens organization held a team-wide moment of silence on Thursday to in honor of George Floyd, whose funeral took place on Thursday as well.

According to a statement released by the team on Twitter, the moment of silence took place at 3:45 p.m. ET and lasted 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The timeframe was the same length as how long Minneapolis police office Derek Chauvin was recorded kneeling on Floyd's neck, restricting him of air and ultimately causing him to die.

The gesture by the team was in accordance with the NAACP and other organizations that deemed Floyd's funeral on Thursday as a "National Day of Mourning." 

Ravens fullback Pat Ricard shared a message head coach John Harbaugh had written to the team informing them of the moment of silence. Taking place through Zoom, Harbaugh hoped that players and their families would join in to honor Floyd.

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Shannon Sharpe says Drew Brees should retire after anthem comments

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Shannon Sharpe says Drew Brees should retire after anthem comments

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees drew criticism on Wednesday after saying he "will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country" when asked his thoughts about players kneeling during the national anthem. 

Several DMV athletes like Ed Reed and Mark Ingram shared their thoughts on Twitter. Many of Brees' teammates, such as Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara and Emmanuel Sanders, along with many others, all voiced their dismay and disappointment of Brees' comments.

Former Baltimore Ravens tight end and co-host of FS1's Undisputed, Shannon Sharpe, spoke about why he disagreed with the quarterback's comments, saying that Brees should hang up the cleats as a result.

"I don't know what Drew is gonna do, but he probably should just go ahead and retire now," Sharpe said. "It will never be the same.

"Take it from a guy who's been a leader in the locker room for a number of years," Sharpe continued. "At every step, I've been the leader in the locker room. What he said, they will never look at him the same. It wasn't what he said, it's how he said it. It was the fire. I will NEVER respect the man."

Brees issued a long apology on Instagram on Thursday. He wrote that he recognizes that he can be "part of the solution and can be a leader for the black community in this movement" and vowed to "fight for what's right."

But for Sharpe, Brees' apology doesn't make up for the quarterback's initial comments.

"Brees still just doesn't seem to get it. He issued an apology, but it's meaningless," Sharpe said. "The guys know that he spoke his heart the very first time around."

The Hall of Fame tight end also took issue with Brees making kneeling for the national anthem about disrespecting the flag, when that was never the purpose behind ex-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's decision to take a knee.

"Even after Colin Kaepernick told you what he was doing. Even after all of this, nobody mentioned the flag. He brought it up on his own," Sharpe said. "Drew, I don't know what you were thinking. I don't know what you hope to accomplish, but whatever you hope to accomplish, it failed miserably.

"Black people have been fighting for this country, even though they did not get the rights that the flag said," Sharpe continued. "The flag is supposed to mean something, it's supposed to mean everything. All people. Freedom. Liberties. But if a black man doesn't have the same freedom and liberty as the white, what good is the flag?"

Sharpe also expressed his disappointment that someone like Brees, who has spent the majority of his life playing football with a black men, to not understand the justice they are currently fighting for.

"What's made the black fight so hard is people like Drew Brees," Sharpe said. "If you can't get a guy that grew up with blacks in the locker room, from Peewee to high school to college to the NFL, to understand the black man's plight, who will? What about guys that are not around blacks on a daily basis?"

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