Blake, Ravens on Opposite Sides

Article excerpt

Byline: Ken Wright, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Maybe Jeff Blake should have stayed in Baltimore.

Instead of remaining with a playoff contender, the journeyman quarterback spurned the Ravens and decided he rather would be the starter for the NFL's version of purgatory, the Arizona Cardinals. Blake will lead his downtrodden Cardinals (1-4) against his former team, the AFC North-leading Ravens (2-2), today at Sun Devil Stadium.

Blake, 32, went 4-6 as the Ravens' starter last season after Chris Redman went down in Week 6 with a season-ending back injury. Blake said he chose to leave in part because coach Brian Billick would not guarantee he would remain the starter, but money also played a role.

"I want to play," said Blake, who is in his 12th year. "Nobody wants to sit on the bench anywhere, especially if you know that you are better than somebody else. But [the Ravens] were giving the other person the opportunity to play just because he has been there longer than you. That doesn't have anything to do with it. Who's better than whom? Not having the opportunity to compete, I might as well retire, and I'm not ready to retire. I want to compete, and I want to go out and play. If the other person beat me out, fine. He's a better man."

Contrary to what Blake said, Billick conducted an open quarterback competition in training camp only to have rookie Kyle Boller beat out Redman. Had Blake accepted the Ravens' contract offer, he might have won the job. Billick even flew to Blake's Florida home but was unsuccessful in persuading him to return. Blake signed a three-year, $7.5 million deal with the Cardinals in the offseason.

"Anytime someone has a different color jersey on, he is the enemy, regardless of whether he was on your team or not," Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It won't be me and him giving each other high-fives after the plays. …