Leinart to Ravens: "I'll Play Baseball"
In a press conference today held at the USC campus, Trojans quarterback Matt Leinart announced that if the Baltimore Ravens continued to play poorly enough to get the first pick in the 2006 NFL draft, and if they selected him, he would not report. Instead, he would play baseball for the Oneonta Yankees of the NY-Penn (Class A) League.
Leinart, reading from a prepared statement, said "As a lifelong fan of John Elway, there is no way I would ever want to play football in the city of Baltimore. I've spoken to John, and he has informed me that the situation has become dramatically worse than it was in 1983 when he refused to play for the Colts. The ownership group is worse, the team is markedly worse, and the 'fans' have somehow become even more stupid in 22 years.
"When I opted to return to college for my senior year, I figured that I'd likely wind up drafted by a team with tradition - like Cleveland, or somewhere warm like Miami or Tampa Bay. Baltimore was 9-7, so I knew there would be no way that they could fall far enough to get the first overall pick. But as it turns out, they're absolutely awful! It's like they're trying to lose games that they should win. I mean, losing to Detroit? Tennessee? Are you kidding me?"
Leinart excelled in baseball during his prep days at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California and believes that he can use baseball to stay out of Baltimore like Elway did.
"I've been working again on my baseball skills, going to the batting cages a couple of times a week, and working out my throwing arm. I'm getting my timing down so that I can play baseball if I need to. I'll tell you this, there is no way I'm going to go to a football team full of criminals and thugs. I'm a clean-cut guy and I'd never fit in with that 'element', if you know what I mean.
"And it's not just John. I was inspired last year by Eli Manning's refusal to play for San Diego, and although I think he's nuts for giving up the opportunity to live and work in Southern California, I can respect the fact that he stood by his convictions and wouldn't play for a team that he perceived wasn't committed to winning. And if he can get out of playing in a gorgeous city like San Diego, how could I possibly be expected to play in a hell hole like Baltimore, of all places? Talk about a team that has no commitment to win! It's not going to happen. Baseball is a viable option for me, and I'll play baseball."
In reaction to Leinart's press conference, Baltimore owner Steve Bisciotti said, "If we want to lose the rest of our games so that we can draft Matt Leinart, we'll do so. I mean, we'll draft him. Not that we'll try to lose all of our games. I mean, you can't just do that in this league. So we won't. You can't. We're not allowed. So we'll try hard to win them all. Make sure you tell Paul Tagliabue that I said that, OK? We're really going to try.
"But if we do get Leinart and he doesn't want to play here, I'll personally make sure that he doesn't play baseball! We'll trade Leinart for a couple of magic beans just like the Irsays did with Elway. We'll show him! You know, that is, if we would just happen to lose the rest of our games. Where's David Modell? Somebody fetch me my slippers!"