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Ravens’ OLB Matthew Judon: ‘Black lives should always matter’

Ravens’ OLB Matthew Judon: ‘Black lives should always matter’

Ravens outside linebacker Matthew Judon said he's not sure if the Ravens will participate in peaceful protests during the national anthem this season and criticized Roger Goodell for his statement, which he saw as too little too late on a conference call with reporters Monday afternoon.

The call was his first time speaking with the media since signing his franchise tag tender, but that took a backseat as Judon described the team’s process for what the next steps of social justice will be.

“We are having very deep conversations about this because that’s real life for all of us,” Judon told reporters on Monday. “It’s very present and with all our platforms, we want to get ahead of it. We want to put an end to racism. Whether that be on the football field or in classrooms or wherever it may be. It’s really no room for it in today’s world.”

Judon also had strong words for Goodell and his statement about supporting player protests — which included the commissioner saying the phrase “Black Lives Matter” from earlier this month that many viewed as too little too late.

“Black lives should always matter,” Judon said. “I don’t think it’s something when one person says it it’s like, ‘Oh, now it makes sense.’ It’s something that’s been making sense. My life mattered since August 15, 1992, and I feel like everybody else as a black person, they knew their life mattered when they were put on this earth. It’s not when Roger Goodell came out and said ‘Black lives matter’ now everybody can say it, we should’ve been questioning why Roger Goodell didn’t say, ‘Black lives matter’ when he was born. Or when he became commissioner, or when he was re-elected commissioner.”

Judon was also critical of the way the league reacted to Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling when he was in the league. Just four years later, as public opinion has begun to sway about his silent protest, Judon said the league should’ve been proactive about the protest at the time.

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“When Kap came out and said it’s not about the Star-Spangled Banner, it’s not about the song, it’s not about the troops, it’s about how my people are being treated, there shouldn’t have been pushback,” Judon continued. “It should’ve been like, ‘OK, let’s help this man and his cause.’ That was just his way of expressing it. He did it very peacefully, he didn’t make a ruckus about it, he didn’t take pictures of himself and he didn’t publicize it, but when he was asked about it, he explained himself in a matter which people should’ve understood.”

Just under a week ago, and after Goodell’s statement, the Ravens released a video titled, “Ravens united. Black Lives Matter.” In the video, numerous Ravens players, coaches and front office members spoke out about police brutality and systematic racism in the United States. 

Ravens owner Steve Biscotti said recent videos of Black people, specifically Ahmad Arbery and George Floyd, being killed made him “sick and angry.”

“It was the most despicable thing I’d ever seen,” Bisciotti said at the outset of the video.

“I felt that it was huge that our owner got up there and said what he said, and the players that said what they said and how it was made,” Judon said. “It’s guys from a lot of different backgrounds, you know? But we all want the same thing. In that video, you’ve got people that went to HBCU’s, you’ve got people from Texas, from Memphis, from Michigan. We all see the same thing. We all see human beings.”

As for what Judon’s plans are moving forward, he’s unsure. He doesn’t want to make the movement an individualized issue. Instead, he said, it’s on a collective group of people to figure out the necessary steps.

“I’ve been out, I’ve been doing work, but you know, I’m going to continue to let the people that’s out there speak and speak for themselves,” Judon said. “It’s not a me thing, I don’t have the right answers. It’s a collective group of people that need to come together and talk to people. They might have the right answers, but I don’t have the right answers. So I’m not going to thrust myself into the front of this movement acting like I know exactly what to do.”

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Marquise Brown is ready to make big second-year leap for Ravens after bulking up 20 pounds

Marquise Brown is ready to make big second-year leap for Ravens after bulking up 20 pounds

Marquise Brown was hardly himself in his rookie season.

Not only did he have a Lisfranc injury in his foot that hampered his health all season long, but he also played portions of the year at less than 160 pounds. 

On the surface, his numbers didn’t take a hit. He was second on the team in targets (71), receptions (46), yards (584) and touchdowns (seven), but he had more to offer than what he showed in 14 games last season. 

This offseason, he added 20 pounds of muscle and, as he said Wednesday on a Zoom call with reporters, is up to 180 pounds. His foot is feeling better. And Marquise Brown is himself once again.

“I feel I got bright days ahead,” Brown said. “I feel 100 times better than I did last year. So, all I got to do now is focus on the plays, focus on the stuff that I’m supposed to focus on, instead of focusing on my feet and trying to stay healthy.”

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Brown’s added weight was the product of a mindset he had about trying to allow himself to undergo the rigors of an NFL season easier than he had a year ago. 

Whenever Brown would catch a pass, he would scurry out of bounds or dive forward to could avoid a hit. While that was certainly a product of the weight he played at and his desire to protect himself, it also had to do with his injured foot, too. 

He wasn’t able to run as fast as he did at Oklahoma, and he still isn’t quite at that speed, either. 

“Sometimes, I would try to make a cut that my foot wasn’t able to make, and I would go down,” Brown said. “Or sometimes, I just know that I’m not going to be able to make that move, so I’ll go down. It was more about getting the yards that I could get, get down, get ready for a next play. It was better for me to be in the game than to be out the game.”

Brown feels better now, and not only that, his teammates have taken notice, too.

“I could tell he put on a lot of weight,” Willie Snead said. “He’s put on a good amount of weight, and you can tell he’s solid now. I know the first thing he said coming into the building is, ‘I’m trying to block somebody. I’m trying to set the tone in the run game, man.’ I could just tell by his build that he took that part seriously.”

The Ravens sent him a GPS tracker while he trained in the offseason, so that while he added the weight, he didn’t lose any of his patented speed. Brown said he’s been able to keep his speed, despite the increased weight now on his 5-foot-9 frame. 

As the team’s top wide receiver, Brown will have an increased workload in his second season not only due to his progression with quarterback Lamar Jackson, but also the Ravens’ desire to pass the football more than they did a year ago.

It's for that reason the Ravens will put a lot more weight on his shoulders this year, as expectations for the organization are sky-high entering the upcoming season.

In that regard, it’s probably a good thing Brown will be a bit bigger in 2020.

“What people fail to realize, when I was at ‘OU’, I was 173-170, so I honestly just gained about 10 pounds,” Brown said. “I actually lost weight last year. To me, I feel back to normal, sort of to say. I feel like myself.”

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Tom Brady is ready to 'embrace the challenge' of starting over in Tampa Bay

Tom Brady is ready to 'embrace the challenge' of starting over in Tampa Bay

Even for the greats, the NFL offseason is a grind.

For the first two decades of his career, Tom Brady called New England home. Over that span, he's had just one head coach, Bill Belichick, and three full-time offensive coordinators: Charlie Weis, Bill O'Brien and Josh McDaniels.

Year in and year out, things remained relatively the same in New England. But with Brady leaving behind the only NFL franchise he's known for Tampa Bay this offseason, the quarterback has had to tap into a different mental state this offseason, one he hasn't been in for nearly 20 years.

"It’s been different having the opportunity with this time to move and, for example, study my playbook," Brady said Thursday via Zoom in his first media session of training camp. "I mean, I really haven’t had to do that in 19 years. You forget, 'Man, that is really tough.' Like all the different terminologies and you’re going back a very long time in my career to really put the mental energy in like I did."

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For any quarterback, switching teams is a difficult task, even for greats like Brady. However, the move this offseason has been even more difficult due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which effectively eliminated all organized offseason activities across the league.

Training camp has started league-wide, but teams are still a couple of weeks away from real, padded practices. Right now, clubs are mainly doing walkthroughs and installs, working on things that would have already been taught during minicamp and OTAs in a regular offseason.

For Brady, that's also been a difficult adjustment.

"Mentally, that has been the thing that obviously has its challenges and I think you couple that with the coronavirus situation it became even more difficult," Brady said. "I think conversations we probably would have had in April we are having now. I think that part is a bit challenging too."

However, the six-time Super Bowl champion is hoping to embrace the challenges of this pandemic-riddled offseason, rather than to use it as an excuse.

"The only thing you can do is adjust to the situation the best way you can, put as much time and energy in now as we can into it and I think the reality is the clock is ticking on everybody," Brady said. "We’re going to have to work as hard as we can and not waste any minutes of any day trying to get used to one another, embrace the challenge and see it as an opportunity to see what we can become."

And while the quarterback is still in the process of learning Bruce Arians' offensive system in Tampa, Brady reminded us in typical Brady-fashion that he's not worried about the challenges that come with it.

"Mentally, I feel like I have all the ability," Brady said. "I’ve seen every defense. There’s no play I haven’t run. There’s no defense I haven’t seen."

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