By ROGER MILLS
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001
TAMPA -- They have heard the legends about the city's nightlife. They have read the memos and listened to the warnings.
But as the Ravens arrived in Tampa on Monday afternoon, coach Brian Billick made it clear he plans no extra curfews or bed checks.
In fact, Billick said, the Ravens have no curfew and will be expected to act responsibly.
"The No.1 thing I stressed to these men when I took over was accountability," Billick said. "We have had curfews on the night before the game. We have had curfews in training camp. We have never had a bed check. I trust these men. ... As long as they act like men, I will treat them like men."
The hot topic of conversation surrounds the city's relatively new ordinance against lap dancing. Last week, the NFL sent a letter to all 31 teams warning them to instruct their players about the city's "6-foot law." Attached was a news report about the recent arrest of two Dallas Stars hockey players.
Billick said he trust his players to make the right decisions.
Tight end Shannon Sharpe has had a game-breaking play each of the past three games. It is a position that's new to him.
"I've never done anything like this, never," Sharpe said. "I can't even remember a time in high school or college where I've been in a situation like this."
In a 21-3 win over the Broncos, Sharpe caught a 58-yard touchdown that bounced off running back Jamal Lewis before landing in Sharpe's hands. The following week against the Titans, he had a 56-yard reception that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Lewis.
Against the Raiders, he snared a slant pass from Trent Dilfer and scampered virtually untouched for a 96-yard score. It was the only touchdown of the game.
"The first week, that was a total fluke, no question about it," Sharpe said. "In the second week, they blew a coverage. In the third week, the guy missed a tackle. When you're on the road, you get one or two opportunities to make a big play. And if you make a big play, nine times out of 10, you'll be able to kill the team. That's what we've been able to do."
At 6 feet 8, 340 pounds, Ravens left tackle Jonathan Ogden is the size of a monument and as difficult to run around. The Pro Bowler many consider the game's premier tackle said he's not sure if he gave up a sack this season.
"I can't remember one where I actually gave it up," he said. "There was a time or two when we didn't quite go on the snap count I thought we were going on ... and that caused some problems.
"But I don't think this year I've really been beaten when I got off the snap count. I've given up one or two hits this year, but I don't think any sacks."
Ravens defensive tackle Tony Siragusa wants a piece of the Tampa Bay naysayers who bashed Dilfer when he was with the Bucs. But now that Dilfer is back at Raymond James Stadium with the Ravens, Siragusa said he'll let Trent fire the first salvo.
"Trent is ready to go, and he wants to talk to all of you Tampa people who told him he couldn't do it," he said. "I told him if he didn't get on you good enough, I'd give you all a piece of my mind. ... But I won't start right now. I'll let Trent give it to you first."