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From Dr. J to Calipari: How Ravens found a champion mentality remotely – Baltimore Ravens Blog

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When the NFL announced the shift to a virtual offseason in March, Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale immediately flashed back to his days of teaching economics and business to teenagers.

“As an old high school teacher, I taught some boring subjects,” Martindale said. “So, you have to be creative.”

Over the past couple of months, Martindale’s goal was to build a championship culture. To do that, he needed to entice his players to sign on to videoconferencing.

How could Martindale get his players as excited to pick up iPads as football pads? Coach John Harbaugh brought in former players Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Steve Smith Sr. to talk to the team, and Martindale decided to take it up a notch. He came up with his “Chasing Greatness” series, which featured speakers who were champions from different sports and eras.

The list of people who addressed the Ravens’ defensive players included: Tony Siragusa, a defensive tackle from Baltimore’s 2000 Super Bowl team; Larry Holmes, a heavyweight boxing champion in the late 1970s and early 1980s; Ryan Howard, the slugging first baseman for the 2008 World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies; Eric Weddle, one of the leaders from the Ravens’ 2018 AFC North champion team; DeMarcus Ware, the pass-rushing end for the 2015 Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos; Julius Erving, the above-the-rim star for the 1983 NBA champion Philadelphia 76ers; John Calipari, the coach of the 2012 NCAA Division I champion Kentucky Wildcats; and Brandon Scott, Baltimore’s presumptive mayor-elect.

“I wanted to make it must-see Zoom meetings,” Martindale said. “You do get Zoom fatigue. I wanted to make it where they couldn’t wait to come to the defensive meetings. We wanted to make it an event. We wanted to build a champion mindset. That was the most important goal we had this offseason. I think we hit a home run with the speakers we had.”

Here are some of the messages delivered by the speakers:

Holmes: He was the sparring partner for Muhammad Ali before eventually beating him in the ring, which should resonate with the practice squad and undrafted players. “He didn’t care if he got paid or not,” Martindale said. “He was learning from the greatness. He took every day that he went to work as a lesson.”

Howard: His emphasis was being an underdog. Howard wasn’t drafted out of high school and went to Missouri State to play in college. “Ignore the depth chart,” Howard told the players. “Just become undeniable with what you want to do.”

Weddle: He provided perspective of his experience in Baltimore to his time with the Chargers and the Rams. “If a coach tells you had a good practice, that’s not good enough,” Weddle said to the players. “Don’t walk into that building unless you want to be great.”

Scott: A 36-year-old Baltimore native who won the Democratic nomination for mayor, Scott spoke to the players about the future of the city and outlines the ways they can help. “You could see the greatness in him,” Martindale said. “He’s an inspiration.”

It became even more important this year for Martindale to emphasize the Ravens’ culture, which has produced some of the best defenses over the past two decades. Unlike a Ravens offense that returns all but one starter, Martindale faces more of a transition on defense.

Baltimore is returning 68.5% of its defensive snaps, which ranks 21st in the league. The Ravens revamped their front seven, adding a couple of veterans along the line (end Calais Campbell and tackle Derek Wolfe) and drafting two linebackers in the first three rounds (Patrick Queen in the middle and Malik Harrison on the weak side).

Baltimore has tried to gauge how much of the system the players have absorbed remotely. There has been a virtual walk-through as well as fun quizzes with “Jeopardy!” and “Family Feud.”

The Ravens are among the teams scheduled to report to training camp on July 28.

“When we get to training camp, we’ll find out who is All-Zoom team and who can play football,” Martindale said.

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Le’Veon Bell backs Jamal Adams’ contract demands; says Jets shouldn’t trade Adams

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New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell had a “great talk” with disgruntled teammate Jamal Adams on Thursday, and he came away with the impression the All-Pro safety wants to remain in New York — if he gets a new contract.

“I think he wants to be [with the Jets], I just think he wants to get paid,” Bell said Friday in an interview with Peter Rosenberg on Hot 97 radio in New York. “I think he’s in the same situation I was three years ago. He’s a young player. He’s been at the top of the game, playing at a high level and feels like, ‘Dang, I just want to get compensated.'”

Bell said he doesn’t oppose Adams’ hard-line stance, adding, “No. Hell, no. You deserve every dollar you’re asking for. Everything he asks for, he deserves it.”

Adams, upset by the lack of progress in contract talks, formally requested a trade last month. He submitted to the Jets a list of seven preferred destinations, ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported. In the meantime, Adams has criticized the team on social media, also saying he’s “trying to” orchestrate a trade to the Dallas Cowboys.

He has two years remaining on his rookie contract and is making $3.6 million this season and $9.9 million in 2021 via the fifth-year option. Adams is believed to be seeking more than $15 million per year, which would make him the highest-paid safety.

The Jets say they want to make Adams a “Jet for life,” but they haven’t put a timetable on a potential contract extension. Adams wants it before the start of the season.

Bell doesn’t see Adams going anywhere.

“Me, personally, I hope he doesn’t get traded,” Bell said. “But I don’t think he’ll get traded. I do think he’ll be playing with the Jets. That’s just me, personally, because I don’t think he’s going to get traded. Honestly, why would you trade him? I wouldn’t trade him.”

General manager Joe Douglas hasn’t commented on Adams’ contract dispute since late April. Coach Adam Gase said recently that he wants Adams on the 2020 roster.

In a wide-ranging interview, Bell also addressed his own disappointing performance last season. He rushed for a career-low 789 yards and averaged only 3.2 yards per carry, the lowest in franchise history for a back with at least 150 carries.

After sitting out the 2018 season in a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Bell said he felt great physically in 2019, but he added, “That wasn’t the best me.”

“Everybody talked about the offensive line and everybody talked about me not getting the ball, but, damn, Le’Veon, were you at your best?” he said. “I can literally look at myself in the eye and say, ‘No. No, I wasn’t.'”

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Eagles penalize DeSean Jackson for conduct detrimental to the team

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PHILADELPHIA — The Eagles penalized DeSean Jackson for conduct detrimental to the team Friday, they said in a statement. Jackson has been fined, a source said.

“This has been a difficult and emotional week for our community and organization.

“The Philadelphia Eagles do not tolerate hate towards any individual or group. We believe in respect and equality for all races, ethnicities, and faiths. We as an organization want to help be an instrument for positive change. This can only occur through strong, deliberate actions and a commitment to learn and grow.

“We have had a number of constructive conversations over the last few days, not only with DeSean Jackson, but also with many other players, members of the organization, and leaders in the community. That has led us to the point where we and he are ready to take the next steps.

“Today we have penalized DeSean for conduct detrimental to the team. He accepted these consequences and apologized. In our many conversations with him, it has also been made clear that this is only the beginning. We have discussed a concrete plan for how we and he can heal moving forward. He understands that in order to remain on the team, he must also commit to supporting his words with actions. We have been encouraged by his desire to educate himself, but we all understand that there is still a lot of work to be done. We will continue to assist DeSean in this process, and we also know that all of us in our organization need to listen and learn more about things that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable to us.

“We must continue to fight against anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, while not losing sight of the important battle against systemic racism.”

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Bucs pass rusher Shaq Barrett accepts franchise tender, files grievance

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers pass rusher Shaq Barrett has notified the team that he has officially accepted his franchise tender, but with an asterisk. Barrett has filed a grievance with the NFL Players Association to be tagged as a defensive end, not a linebacker, agent Drew Rosenhaus tells ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

There’s a $2 million diffference between a defensive end and a linebacker.

Barrett, 27, registered a league-leading 19.5 sacks in his first season with the Bucs, playing on a one-year deal for $4 million. He made the Pro Bowl as an outside linebacker, utilizing speed, power and an arsenal of pass-rush moves and countermoves to help him if he doesn’t win right away.

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