Twelve Ravens thoughts following most difficult day in franchise history

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With the Ravens mourning the deaths of 26-year-old outside linebacker Jaylon Ferguson and Super Bowl XXXV champion Tony Siragusa, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:

1. Losing an active player with his entire life ahead of him or one of the franchise’s most beloved figures is heartbreaking enough, but enduring both within 24 hours is just unthinkable. Steve Bisciotti summed it up by saying, “This is a tremendously sad day for the Baltimore Ravens.”

2. We were supposed to be debating Ferguson’s chances of becoming the next edge rusher to bloom in a contract year, something Tony Jefferson mentioned he was talking about after a good spring. That we’re instead thinking about three young children losing their father reminds us how inconsequential football can be.

3. I’ll choose to remember Ferguson taking time during the most significant period of his career to help the community of Ruston, Louisiana recover from a tornado during the 2019 NFL draft. “I know a lot of people in the community, in the [Louisiana Tech] community that were affected by it.”

4. With pandemic restrictions, media didn’t get to know Ferguson particularly well, but I remember him being invited to Camden Yards after being drafted. He hadn’t been to a major league game and was in awe of the experience before quipping that he was wise to choose playing football over baseball.

5. Tyus Bowser noted how he and Ferguson experienced “some of the same struggles when it came to making a name for ourselves in the league,” which again speaks to the human element we often overlook. Players know it’s a results-driven business, but we should try to keep the appropriate perspective.

6. Having watched his career as a fan, I’ll remember Siragusa commandeering Brian Billick’s sunglasses at the end of the Tennessee playoff win for the pending trip to California and meeting with Oakland in the AFC Championship. You just knew the Ravens were winning the Super Bowl after that victory.

7. It’s easy to remember his personality, but Siragusa made the path for Ray Lewis to earn NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Pro Bowls that much easier. Knowing Siragusa and Sam Adams would smother prideful teams trying to run, you actually rooted for opponents to get into third-and-short situations.

8. Even two decades ago, a player sustaining a bruised spinal cord and returning to play in the same game was lunacy, but it spoke to Siragusa’s dedication. “I guess I didn’t want my boys to have all the fun out there,” he said after that 2000 loss to Tennessee. Indeed.

9. I’ve found many seasons of “Hard Knocks” to be dull, but such a platform in a world preceding social media helped spring Siragusa to notoriety after his playing career. Though the phrase “larger than life” is overused, it truly fit him perfectly. 

10. Kidding or not, Siragusa suggesting Ravens fans follow visiting Steelers fans into the stadium bathrooms to “take care of business yourself” would have been received differently today, but that just spoke to how bitter the rivalry was and how the rowdiest fans could identify with him. He was a throwback.

11. The 2000 defense embraced being pro wrestling-like bad guys, so Siragusa being the first starter out of the tunnel during Super Bowl introductions was fitting. If the glare he gave the person trying to hold him back weren’t enough, you knew he was ready upon yelling, “Let’s f—ing rock!”

12. That Siragusa played his college ball at Pittsburgh and got his NFL start in Indianapolis before becoming a hero in Baltimore was already storybook-like, but then he defeated the New York Giants — the New Jersey native’s favorite team growing up — in the Super Bowl. The script couldn’t have been better.