Brigance remains inspiration to Ravens

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Brigance remains inspiration to Ravens

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) O.J. Brigance is going back to the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, a model of toughness and perseverance.

On Sunday, confined to a wheelchair as he battles Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the former Baltimore linebacker presented the Lamar Hunt trophy to the team after it beat the New England Patriots 28-13 for the AFC championship on Sunday.

Using a communication device that translates his thoughts, Brigance, now a senior advisor to player development for the Ravens, had this to say:

``Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens. Your resiliency has outlasted your adversity. You are the AFC Champions. You are my mighty men. With God, all things are possible.''

In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. In his current position, he helps the athletes in all phases of their careers.

He was part of the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, starring on special teams.

Now he inspires them.

``Every day I came out and told O.J. that you're my greatest motivation,'' said linebacker Ray Lewis, the only active Raven who played on that championship team.

Brigance, 43, also was on the field for the coin toss Sunday.

``What can't you say about O.J.,'' safety Ed Reed said. ``O'J.'s been our strength. O.J. took me under his wing when I first got here and everything he's been through and is going through, to still be the same O.J. and being a light to you and be a light for our team ... He's been like an uncle to me and like a brother. I love Juice.''

Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

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Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

Because Monday Night Football only runs in the fall and winter, one would think that America's TV guide would be lacking a program full of intense, testosterone-driven competition between determined men during the summer time. But that's why ABC has given us The Bachelorette, a dating game show that'll come on once a week and features a woman named Jo Jo looking for love amongst a handful of guys wearing suits that are way too tight and sporting unhealthy amounts of hair gel.

Fine, so it's not a perfect substitution for four quarters of NFL action, but it'll have to do (it beats turning the TV off and interacting with loved ones, at least). And for Ravens running back Justin Forsett, The Bachelorette will actually be more than something he simply puts up on the screen when he doesn't want to watch The Departed, which is seemingly on at least once a day, again. That's because his cousin is a contestant striving for Jo Jo's heart.

Here's what Forsett had to say during the show's premiere:

Then, when asked which of the dudes he was related to, he responded:

When looking through The Bachelorette's cast, there's no Chris, but there is a Christian, whom must be the person Forsett is referring to. As far as how Christian's debut went? Well — to put it into football terms — he picked up a win in Week 1:

Of course, Forsett was unable to escape the night without being on the receiving end of some ridicule. Former Jaguars star (and teammate of Forsett's in 2013) Maurice Jones-Drew fired this message off after seeing the Ravens' workhorse's original post in which he said he hopes Christian would come out on top:

Well, Christian survived the opener, at least. Whether he's able to keep the drive going and eventually cross the goal line as the show's champion, though, is something that will only be revealed in the coming episodes. 

(Author's note: Writing about The Bachelorette while using football metaphors helps make writing about The Bachelorette feel more acceptable). 

MORE RAVENS: HARBAUGH ZINGS MIKE TOMLIN A COUPLE OF TIMES

AFC North: Veteran pass rusher Freeney reportedly to work out for Bengals

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AFC North: Veteran pass rusher Freeney reportedly to work out for Bengals

Veteran pass rusher Dwight Freeney has been looking for a landing spot, and the Cincinnati Bengals could be it. The Bengals plan to work out Freeney this week, according to Coley Harvey of ESPN.com

Freeney turned 36 years old in February, but looked like he still had gas in his tank last season with the Cardinals. An October pickup, Freeney produced eight sacks and forced three fumbles in just 245 snaps, and helped the Cardinals reach the NFC championship game.

Consider that Freeney’s eight sacks last season were more than anyone on the Ravens had. Elvis Dumervil led the Ravens in 2015 with six sacks.

How well Freeney would fit with the Bengals, who play primarily a 4-3, could be an issue. But Freeney’s veteran leadership might be an asset to a Bengals team trying to end years of playoff frustration. The Bengals have made the playoffs five straight seasons, but have lost their playoff opener each of those times. Freeney won a Super Bowl with the Colts, and would like to play in another before he calls it quits.

RELATED: HARBAUGH ZINGS TOMLIN OVER HANDSHAKES, JACOBY JONES

Harbaugh zings Tomlin over handshakes, Jacoby Jones

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Harbaugh zings Tomlin over handshakes, Jacoby Jones

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin are normally adversaries, but they were on the same side last week. Both coaches were in attendance at a charity event on Thursday to support the There Goes my Hero Foundation, but even when it comes to a good cause it soon became clear that rivalries never take a break.

During his address to the crowd, Harbaugh took the opportunity to take a few jabs at his Steelers counterpart.

"For 3-and-a-half hours, we're battling each other," Harbaugh said. "And then for about 30 seconds on the walk across the field, sometimes we're still battling each another, right? This guy's got a great handshake."

Over the years, Harbaugh and Tomlin have shared some heated handshakes after some intense games. The comment brought some laughs from the crowd and Harbaugh still had another zinger ready.

"I suspect he's a pretty good tackler, too. We never exactly saw the tackle," Harbaugh said. He then turned has back in imitation of Tomlin before saying, "But he thought about it."

The joke was a reference to the infamous Jacoby Jones incident in 2013 in which Tomlin was caught standing on the field blocking the path of Jones on a kick return. Jones looked like he had a clear lane for a touchdown, but had to take a step back towards the middle of the field allowing a tackler to catch him from behind. Tomlin had his back to the play and tried to jump out of the way when Jones approached, but many Ravens fans, including Harbaugrh evidently, are not quite so sure Tomlin was as innocent as he claimed.

It's good to know rivalries never take the summer off.

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