M&T Bank Stadium a no fly zone for ravens?

Tony LombardiCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2008

What would we talk about regarding the Ravens during this, the Dead Zone period in the NFL, if it weren’t for good ole Derrick Martin carrying three baggies of Mother Earth through airport security checkpoints in Cleveland?

Look, let’s not be naïve here, these athletes are a reflection of society. They are part of an experimental by nature demographic. The percentage of professional athletes who are tempted by marijuana is probably no different than a cross-section of men in a like peer group.

That said, if given a choice between an athlete smoking pot at home or having him out in Canton throwing back Jaeger Bombs, I think he’s safer at home.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condoning Martin’s behavior. It’s really rather laughable, but in a sad way. Martin is a sixth round draft choice entering his third season. To date he’s proven almost nothing.

He has an opportunity to contribute on a defense that annually is among the league’s best. He’s part of a defensive system that has an uncanny knack for getting the most from an athlete’s skills sets, elevating them to levels that a second day draft choice, or an unrestricted free agent, could previously only have dreamed of.

Just ask Adalius Thomas, Bart Scott, Will Demps, Ed Hartwell, Kelly Gregg and Dawan Landry.

Yet despite it all, Martin had a momentary lapse of reasoning that will probably cost him dearly.

Some might say that Martin was just flat out dumb!

I am one of those some.

This particular incident may not affect Martin at all in terms of the league’s substance abuse policy. But now he’s surrounded by undesirable red flags, and for an unproven sixth round draft choice, that is about as inviting to prospective new employers in the Goodell Era as a match to spilled gasoline in a tiki bar.

Derrick Martin’s transgressions aren’t the only “newsworthy” Ravens’ items being bantered these days.

The Ravens have wisely leaked word during the Dead Zone that Edgar, Allen, and Poe aren’t the only ravens that we’ll see at M&T Bank Stadium this season. The team plans on flying a live raven through the billowing smoke and throughout the stadium during team introductions. Pretty cool idea if you ask me.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (“PETA”) disagree.

Via a letter (that I’m sure a homing pigeon DID NOT deliver) PETA has reached out to Gabrielle Dow, the Ravens' vice president of marketing. The letter urges her to abandon this fun idea and encourages Dow and the Ravens to prohibit the use of live animals at Ravens games.

Does that mean no more Steelers’ fans are allowed in any more?

I digress…

Anyway PETA sees the bright lights of M&T, The Commodore Hotel, maniacal fans and raucous noises as threatening to the birds, which apparently they believe is unethical.

I wonder what the bird thinks?

Hey what about that red-tailed hawk that lives at Fenway. She likes the accommodations so much she’s raising her family there.

What’s the big deal? For eight minutes per season, the bird is fed well, nourished, protected and loved in exchange for enduring a few loud noises. Seems like a pretty good trade to me. Maybe it’s the Dead Zone for PETA too, and they are digging for something to crow about.

"If the Ravens want to increase fan support, they don't need cheap gimmicks. They just need to start winning games," says PETA Director Debbie Leahy.


But hey these gimmicks aren’t cheap! By their own admission the Ravens spent well into four figures for each of the birds they plan to use, and I’m sure their intensive training isn’t cheap either.

Leahy added, “Edgar Allan Poe would be spinning in his grave if he knew that his poem had prompted Baltimore to harm ravens in the name of marketing."

Ah cut it out Debbie! That is a total reach. You know as well as I Edgar would have traded his principle for another bottle of Cognac, and the only thing spinning would have been his bed or some comfortable sidewalk in Fells Point.

Sorry Mr. Poe, I admit it. That was a bit of a humiliating kick in the crotch.

Tony Lombardi covers the Baltimore Ravens for ProFootball24x7.com