Saturday, September 22, 2001

Opportunity knocks for Grbac in Baltimore




By Neil Schmidt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Elvis is in the building. Just a game too late.

        More money couldn't lure quarterback Elvis Grbac to Cincinnati, where he could have opened Paul Brown Stadium's second season on Sept.9. Instead, Grbac arrives Sunday for Week 2 in Baltimore garb, leading the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens.

        The 31-year-old Grbac has thrown for 14,003 career yards, and he won a world championship with San Francisco as a backup in 1994. The nine-year veteran bypassed the Bengals in hopes of adding an exclamation point to his career.

        “I'm really in the prime of my career, I think,” he said. “And to have an opportunity to come (to Baltimore) as a member of this team, a chance of really getting that ring as a starting quarterback ... you've got to take that opportunity.”

        Grbac made the Pro Bowl last year with Kansas City, throwing for a career-high 4,169 yards with a passer rating of 89.9. He was the top QB in free agency, and Cincinnati offered him millions more than the five-year, $30 million deal he signed with Baltimore, his agent said.

        “They did everything right,” agent Jim Steiner said of the Bengals when Grbac signed. “(But) Cincinnati is a work in progress. In Baltimore, the opportunity to get to the Super Bowl is today and now.”

        Grbac is quite complimentary of the Bengals, saying he liked their coaches and young talent and was “quite enticed” to come here. But he saw Baltimore as a potential dynasty.

        “For the next four or five years, we can be like a Dallas,” he said this spring. “We can be the team that makes that run. I won't think any other way.”

        Grbac's talent is unquestioned, but his leadership has come under criticism. He's the man who was supposed to succeed Steve Young in San Francisco, but didn't, and who was supposed to win regularly in Kansas City, and didn't. He was 25-20 as a starter there.

        He's used to handling high — or unrealistic — expectations. After throwing a fatal interception in relief in a 1996 loss to Dallas, Grbac was labeled “an embarrassment to humankind” by San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. Never mind the game was on the same day Grbac's then-8-month-old son, Jack, who suffers from spina bifida, was undergoing surgery.

        “Now is a point in my career where I feel comfortable being a quarterback ... (and) dealing with a lot of different individuals,” Grbac said. “Maybe in the past I wasn't that way. In Kansas City, maybe I wasn't mature enough. This is a point where I feel I can handle a lot because I've been there before, because I know what to expect.”

        His role changed when Jamal Lewis, who rushed for 1,364 yards last year, tore an ACL in training camp. Baltimore probably will have to emphasize the passing game.

        Ravens tight end Shannon Sharpe said he's ready “to proclaim him the best passer I've played with.” And Sharpe played with John Elway.

        Sunday will be meaningful for Grbac, a Cleveland native who has never played a professional game in Ohio. He'll also return to his hometown on Oct.21 against the Browns.

        “Going back to Cleveland will be hectic, and I have friends in Cincinnati, too,” he said. “But I know when I step on that field, all the outside distractions will be out of my mind.”

       



Bengals Stories
Justin Smith makes debut Sunday
Blackout might be lifted
- Opportunity knocks for Grbac in Baltimore
O'Donnell gets start at QB for Titans

Colerain roars past Oak Hills in 4th quarter
Loveland rises in 2nd half, tops Ross
Princeton remains unbeaten in 5 games
QB James leads Bluebirds' win
Blocked punt fuels Mason
Braves topple Taylor
Don't forget Wyoming
Flowers leads resurgent Mt. Healthy
Hamilton stops Sycamore 30-7
Kickoff return boosts Kings
Late TD lifts LaSalle over Moeller
Lebanon rolls 48-7
Middies top Indians with last-minute TD
Anderson 46, Northwest 0
Beechwood 14, Simon Kenton 12
Campbell County 35, Scott 6
CHCA 45, New Miami 0
Clermont Northeastern 22, Harmony Community 0
East Central 48, South Dearborn 6
East Clinton 55, Bethel-Tate 0
Garrard County 35, Newport 7
Glen Este 34, Turpin 0
Harrison 28, Amelia 0
Hughes 12, Withrow 6
Lloyd 44, Carroll County 20
Lovell, Lakota West roll
Madeira 47, Deer Park 22
New Richmond 30, Clinton-Massie 29
North College Hill 59, Landmark Christian 12
Norwood 31, Little Miami 21
Reading 48, Finneytown 28
Summit Country Day 54, Lockland 14
Walnut Hills 21, Aiken 20
Wash. Court House 38, London 0
Williamsburg 33, Blanchester 30
How Enquirer poll teams fared
Ohio High School Football Scores
Kentucky High School Football Scores
Indiana High School Football Scores
UC, MU defenses brace for star QBs
Little given second chance
Griffey's HR makes difference
Reds notebook
2012 Olympics: Talk of bids seems 'shallow'
Frazer set for Section Hall of Fame induction
Guided Tour headlines Cup
Keeneland raises $5.7M for disaster relief fund
UK-Duke set for Dec. 18


Return to Bengals front page...