- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2001

OWINGS MILLS, Md. The Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens were unanimous in supporting NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue's decision to call off this week's games, although it canceled their first-ever Monday night appearance against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.
"As far as the Monday night game, it's a loss that pales by comparison with losses that some other people have experienced," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "If that game is made up, it will probably be played on a Saturday night not unlike our Tampa [Bay Buccaneers] game [Dec. 29] this year. It's better off that we didn't play, and we're not playing. I'm really happy personally, even though I was looking forward to this Monday night game since I moved to Baltimore."
Meanwhile, Ravens coach Brian Billick is treating this week as if it were an early-season bye week, conducting a two-hour practice yesterday afternoon. The Ravens will practice today and tomorrow, have Sunday off, a light practice on Monday, Tuesday off and resume a normal practice schedule Wednesday in preparation for the following Sunday's game in Cincinnati.
Before yesterday's practice, the Ravens held a players-only meeting at 11 a.m. so Tony Siragusa, their players union representative, could inform the players of the union's stance on this weekend. Billick called a team meeting to inform the Ravens of the NFL's decision to cancel this weekends games. Modell spoke to the Ravens for about 15 minutes before practice.
"We will immediately begin to shift gears and think more towards Cincinnati," Billick said.
On Wednesday, Billick said he supported playing this week's games; Modell has been one of the most vocal owners against playing. Billick said he spoke with Modell before Tagliabue reached his decision and simply voiced his opinion.
"I was asked my personal opinion on what I would like to do," Billick said. "That was just an opinion like many opinions. I certainly support the commissioner's decision on this. There are a number of compelling reasons why not to play this weekend and we will support that. I'm not surprised by it. Quite frankly, I would have been more surprised had it gone the other way."
For two of the Ravens Siragusa and defensive end Rob Burnett Tuesday's tragedy at New York's World Trade Center towers hit especially close to home. Burnett is from nearby Selden, N.Y., on Long Island, and Siragusa was raised in Kenilworth, N.J., which is about 15 minutes from Manhattan.
Burnett said he is still waiting to hear from four people he knows who worked at the World Trade Center. Siragusa said he knows someone from Kenilworth whom rescuers still haven't found.
"I'm dreading going back to New Jersey and looking at the skyline and not seeing the twin towers there," Siragusa said. "I don't know how I'm going to react. It was unanimous in this locker room that as players we should back and support the guys through this tragedy."
Said Burnett: "If [the NFL] wanted us to play this weekend, we would have, but I think [cancellations are] the right thing to do because of the magnitude of what's happened. It's my job and I would have been able to do it, but at the same time my friends who I haven't heard from yet I'm still wondering what's going on, and [they] would be hanging on in the back of my mind."
Backup quarterback Randall Cunningham and safety Rod Woodson are the only Ravens who were in the league during the 1987 players' strike. Woodson was a rookie and a contract holdout. Cunningham said there is a big difference between 1987 and this weekend.
"There are lives at stake, and people have already passed away and we definitely sympathize with them as a team, as a union and as the NFL," Cunningham said.


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