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'Blind Side' family relishes Big Easy Super Bowl

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'Blind Side' family relishes Big Easy Super Bowl

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A knowing grin spread across Sean Tuohy's face as he considered the uncanny connections between the hit film that changed his family's life and the fact that Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Michael Oher will play in his first Super Bowl in the Big Easy.

New Orleans is where Tuohy grew up and went to high school with author Michael Lewis, who wrote ``The Blind Side.''

The book led to the movie, which depicted the Tuohys' rewarding experience as Oher's adoptive family. Actress Sandra Bullock, who starred as Sean Tuohy's wife, Leigh Anne, owns a home in New Orleans.

``And there are people that think that's a coincidence,'' Sean Tuohy said. ``How stupid is that?

``We've got a huge sign in our garage that says: `We believe in miracles,''' he continued. ``For other people, it may be hard to understand that. For us, it's easy.''

It certainly seems like fate has given the Tuohys not just another measure of validation for the decision they made to nurture a child from a broken home, but also a platform to talk about their mission to help more kids.

``To me, when I look at Michael, the only down side of it is, you sit there and go, `If someone as immensely talented as Michael Oher, that society pretty much didn't value, almost falls through the cracks, can you imagine who gets left behind,'' Leigh Anne Tuohy said. ``So you sit there and go, `How many kids are out there that if given a chance can be a Michael Oher.'''

The Tuohys took Oher into their Memphis, Tenn., home when he was a teenager. Suddenly, Oher was living a life of privilege.

Sean Tuohy, a former college basketball star at Mississippi, owns dozens of fast-food restaurants and also is part of the TV broadcast team for the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies. Leigh Anne Tuohy has her own interior design firm.

The Tuohys helped Oher through high school, where his prowess on the offensive line landed him several scholarship offers at major programs. He chose Ole Miss, where he was an all-Southeastern Conference lineman before the Ravens made him a first-round draft choice in 2009.

Inspired by the public's response to ``The Blind Side,'' the Tuohys created the Making it Happen Foundation, which offers financial help to those committed to improving the lives of children living in poverty and unstable homes.

The Tuohys described their foundation grants as modest. In some cases, it might not be more than paying for a flight to help someone make a cross-country trip to adopt a child.

``We all can invest time, and that's made Michael, us investing time in this young man and loving him,'' Leigh Anne Tuohy said. ``That's given him the character, not the check. You need it to go hand-in-hand if it can, but we're all capable of investing time.''

Oher is pleased his adoptive parents are getting another platform to disseminate an important message, even if he is a little weary of talking about his life in the context of a movie.

``I'm tired of the movie,'' Oher said. ``I'm here to play football.''

The Tuohys arrived in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon and have a packed schedule through the weekend, including dinner with Bullock, who'll also attend the Super Bowl with the family on Sunday evening.

Bullock has remained friends with the family since filming the movie, and sometimes her charity work in New Orleans coincides with that of the Tuohys.

``She's a great advocate of doing the right thing. She's a big giver,'' Leigh Anne Tuohy said. ``She follows Michael's career every step of the way. It's funny. I'll get texts during the game: `Why did they do this? They shouldn't have done that.'''

Leigh Anne Tuohy, a petite blonde who talks a mile a minute in a thick Southern accent, is very similar to the way she was portrayed by Bullock - so much so that Sean Tuohy describes it as ``scary.''

``She hit it right down to the look, the action, the whole thing,'' he said.

While dining with a large group of friends and family at a downtown New Orleans restaurant, Leigh Anne Tuohy wore a V-neck T-shirt with a sequined Ravens logo on it. With this being Super Bowl weekend, she said she was ``going to be all sparkle and dazzle and rock-n-roll.''

``This is way more fun, more exciting, more hyped up than Oscar week,'' she said. ``Way more. It can't even compare.''

The Tuohys have been to Super Bowls before, but only as casual fans. Because Oher and their son S.J. (which stands for Sean Jr.) are such big sports fans, the family often planned vacations around major sporting events.

This, of course, is different, and not only because Oher is in the game. One of Oher's best friends is 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, a former teammate at Ole Miss.

``I can remember when Patrick Willis and Michael would sit in our living room and practice writing their autographs,'' Leigh Anne Tuohy said. ``Well now they're really doing that and we're just really proud.

Like Oher, Willis also was raised by foster parents.

``These are great guys,'' Leigh Anne Tuohy said. ``So their stories give us a platform to go around and say, there's a lot of great kids out there that need a chance.''

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP

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Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

Ravens' Tony Jefferson used Madden to help make free agent decision

The Ravens' newly signed Safety Tony Jefferson had some interesting criteria when it came to choosing which team he would sign with during free agency.

The 25-year-old former Cardinals defensive back was a hot prospect on the market this off season. He signed a four-year deal worth $34 million with $19 million guaranteed on the first day of free agency. He had an offer from the Browns for more money but told NFL Network that he didn’t take the offer simply because “ I don’t play football for money.”

Other important criteria when it came to picking a team? What uniform looked best on Jefferson, and to see which one looked best on him he used Madden. He told NFL Media:

“I am a guy of swagger, so I gotta check the swag at all points before I make a decision. I put myself in different uniforms on Madden to see what will look better. Ravens did look good, though.”

His favorite uniform combination of the Ravens? Black on black.

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Jefferson mentioned to NFL Media that fellow Ravens Safety Eric Weddle reached out and sold him on signing with the team. The demeanor of head coach John Harbaugh and how the Ravens run their front office also helped him make his decision.   

“ [Ravens coach John Harbaugh is an] exciting dude. He talks to his players, and Eric was telling me that the coaching staff and front office guys aren't like other front offices. They actually enjoy being with their players and talking to them and let you be who you are. Just stay in the confines of the organization and don't draw any negative attention.”