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Ray Lewis' relationship with Modell unique

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Ray Lewis' relationship with Modell unique

Behind the occasional pauses and chuckles by Ray Lewis as he talked about the late Art Modell, there were tears.

You just couldn't see them. Lewis held them back -- barely -- as did Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome on Thursday.

These strong, stone-faced personalities mostly averted eye contact with reporters. They knew this day was coming, but still weren't totally prepared for it.

Modell, 87, passed away of natural causes at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore early Thursday, but some of the Ravens closest to him were able to say their final goodbyes to the man who brought football back to Baltimore in 1995 when he relocated the Ravens from Cleveland. And Modell was the man who was instrumental in starting Monday Night Football, which is where the Ravens will open their season in just a few days vs. the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium.

"The only reason a lot of sacrifices happened throughout this league is because of him. Anytime you can leave a legacy like that, man, we shouldn't mourn -- we do -- but we should be celebrating him because he's one of the most awesome men I've ever met in my life," said Lewis, who was drafted by the Ravens in 1996 and referred to Modell as a "father" and a "leader."

Newsome, a former tight end for Modell's Browns teams and who has been in the Ravens' front office since '96, could barely finish his statement: "When you think back as I have over the past 24 hours the impact of Art, I can't express it in words. Based on all the texts, all the mails and all the phone calls I've gotten from people, the impact not only that he had in my life, he had a major impact in their life too. ... He was a great, great man."

Newsome didn't field questions and quickly exited. Lewis, however, stood there. He didn't buckle under the emotion, though his body language indicated he'd come close.

When the Ravens won the franchise's only Super Bowl in 2001, it was Lewis who got Modell on the platform to celebrate with his signature shuffle.

"One of the greatest moments is actually bringing him that Lombardi Trophy. Us on that stage," recalled Lewis, as he stopped to laugh. " I told him that if we win it then he's going to have to try to do my dance. And we got on stage, I (did) it. He did the dance. It was capped off exactly the way it was supposed to end. Somebody had put in all that work and now we (were) able to bring him what his true dream was, the Lombardi Trophy."

Kevin Byrne, Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations who had been with Modell since his days in Cleveland, couldn't help himself. He had to interject, "Ray, he barely did the dance."

Both shared a hearty laugh about that, too. And Byrne was right. Barely, much like their ability to hold back those tears.

Quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice spoke of Modell, but even those leaders on this team didn't know him like Lewis, Newsome and Byrne. Their relationship with him went beyond football. It was personal.

"It is a son talking to a father," Lewis said of his final conversation at the hospital with Modell. "That's the way I looked at it from the moment I started to whisper into his ear because that's what he always used to do to me. ... It's hard to keep talking about someone who loves you that much."

Second-year linebacker Albert McClellan, who'll be starting for the first time Monday night, admits he knew a little about Modell but believes the locker room is inspired by the day's events.

"I spoke to him, shook his hand. I really didn't know any of his background going into any depth. He's helped the vision of the NFL as where it is today. Without him we probably wouldnt even be playing this Monday," McCellan said.

"The emotion, it's filtered down because he's one of us. Any time, in any group or any tribe or any pact loses a member, they're going to feel down. We just got to go out here and play this game for Mr. Modell."

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Ravens lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of 2018 season

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens lower concession prices at M&T Bank Stadium ahead of 2018 season

Enjoying a game at M&T Bank Stadium just became a little more affordable.

On Thursday, the Ravens introduced their new "Flock Friendly Fare," reducing the price of 21 of their most popular food and beverage items.  

The change comes as the organization focuses on revamping the fan experience in 2018. Fans will see an average of 33 percent in total savings and up to 53 percent savings on a single item.  

"As a lot of you probably know, after every game we survey fans to see how we're doing; what have we done well and what have we not done well. Over the years, one of the biggest criticisms we received was for the gameday concessions prices," Ravens President Dick Cass said on the team's website

Alcoholic beverages were all reduced by $1 with the addition of domestic 12 ounce beer for $5.

Chicken tenders with fries went from $11 to $7, while a slice of pizza went from $8.50 to $6. No single item will cost above $9.

On average, you will now be able to feed a family of four for $44 compared to $66.75 in years past. To see all of the reductions, click the arrow in the post below. 

In 2017, the Atlanta Falcons reduced their concession prices upon opening their brand new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Ravens, however, are expecting to lose $1.5 million in concession revenue due to the change. 

Introducing our new Flock Friendly Fare!

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Vegas odds against Lamar Jackson starting for Ravens in 2018

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Vegas odds against Lamar Jackson starting for Ravens in 2018

Vegas has spoken and they are not optimistic about rookie Lamar Jackson starting under center for the Ravens in 2018.

Bovado, an online gambling site, has set the odds on how the top 2018 rookies will perform and they have Jackson getting 0.5 starts this season.

That number will come as a surprise considering the popular narrative that Lamar Jackson will be the Ravens' starter in no time. The team made it clear they are planning for life after Flacco when they traded back into the first-round of the 2018 draft to select the quarterback out of Louisville at No. 32

Flacco - who is entering his 11th season with the organization - is experiencing a decline in his performance of late, one that can not be put entirely on his shoulders as the team has failed in finding him valuable weapons to throw to. Nonetheless, Flacco's projected 2018 season is very much up in the air and it appears Vegas is betting on the one-time Super Bowl MVP to bounce back. 

However, the Ravens have failed to make the playoffs four of the last five seasons, and if that trend continues into 2018, the rookie could get his shot at flipping the script.

If you're a betting man, it could payoff to bet the over on Jackson. Low risk, seemingly high reward. 

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