Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Barbados Celebrates Its First SuperBowl Champion!

Ravens’ Guard Ramon Harewood: First ever Bajan to be selected to a professional U.S. sports team and earn a championship

As Baltimore’s fans thronged city streets yesterday to celebrate their Ravens (see, e.g.,0,1508294.photogallery, multiple sub-story lines threaded through the main story of the massive Victory Parade which saw more than a quarter million fans lining Baltimore’s downtown streets and 80,000 packed into M&T Bank Stadium to welcome their heroes.

One of the ancillary story lines, of course, is Michael Oher’s first Superbowl championship . Oher - while still in high school in Memphis -was taken in by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy of Memphis who became his legal guardians. He then went on to play left tackle for the Ole Miss Rebels and is best known for the movie based on his life, featured in the Academy Award-winning 2009 film The Blind Side. The Baltimore Ravens selected him in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft .

But for Barbadians, the main attraction was their own son of the soil, Ramon Harewood, being picked in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL draft by the same Baltimore Ravens. Ramon (see photo) was born in St.Michael, Barbados – where wifey and I lived for twenty years – and attended Queens College there before going on to Morehouse State College in the U.S. Ramon had virtually no football experience since Barbados has no American football teams, though the Bajans had gradually begun watching NFL games transmitted over their subscription TV.

When Harewood was picked in the 6th round of the 2010 NFL draft, the first time any Barbadian had been selected by a professional team for major sport, it made headlines in Bim. People also began wondering if they might soon see their famous wunderkind (almost as famous as Rhianna in some Bajan sports quarters) also become a world champion. They didn’t have long to wait, as he played a number of games as offensive tackle with the team this year and made it to the SuperBowl. He now has the special Superbowl XLVII ring showing the world his champion pedigree.

Meanwhile, Barbadians are excited to learn that arrangements are currently being formulated by the Barbados Tourist Board to bring Ramon and a number of Baltimore Ravens teammates to the island in April to conduct a football clinic for Bajan kids.  Ramon plans to bring along with him: RB Ray Rice, Torrey Smith (WR and repeatedly mugged on Sunday night by Niners DBs), Michael Oher of Blind Side movie associated fame, and cornerback Ladarius Webb.

This is more than overdue, as other U.S. sports have been around for more than forty years, including basketball – which was taught by fellow Peace Corps volunteers back in 1972.
Some have expressed concern that Barbados is in no position to support such a sport – requiring so much special equipment, pads etc. - given 90% of the island’s youth can barely afford school uniforms. But they miss the point! Football, like other sports, doesn’t HAVE TO be played with pads! Touch or tag football is just as good (ask the Kennedys in the 60s), and in fact more in keeping with Barbados’ resources – including the fact that it means fewer serious injuries which the island would be ill equipped to treat.

The only equipment you need is a rag, tucked in a back pocket, if playing the flag form and a large field – of which there are dozens in Barbados. Personally, I believe tag football teams could even be organized like Mgsr. Pace High did when I went there in the early 60s.

But we will see! The first priority is finalizing the arrangements for the football clinic in April so kids can learn the game from the Ravens’ pros.

Meanwhile, it’s come to my attention the San Francisco Forty-Whiners are still whining. Evidently, Head  Coach Jim Harbaugh is still defending his sideline tantrums and Frank Gore – not long after the 4th quarter’s final play, blurted: “WE were the better team!”

Uh, hate to break this to you, Frankie, but that was maybe only on paper, but not in the game itself. Y’all were dominated for two quarters and it likely would have been four had you not benefitted from a serendipitous time delay that allowed you to gather your wits. Instead of behaving ungraciously you’d do better to look at the game tapes again and see how the Baltimore O-line overpowered your D, and made plays you couldn’t stop. Meanwhile, the Ravens’ D stopped your O when it really counted.

Maybe next year….. or not! (Hopefully, the Pack comes back next year!)

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