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Not Bowled over

Justin Marville

Not Bowled over

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Winning a Super Bowl isn’t enough for Ramon Harewood.
The Bajan-born offensive lineman says he wants a full-time starting job even if it’s not with the Baltimore Ravens, and is prepared to weigh his options ahead of the start of the NFL’s free agency this month.
In a wide-ranging interview with WEEKENDSPORT, Harewood acknowledged he would welcome a return to the Super Bowl champs but prefers to be playing consistently next season.
“There’s nothing better than winning, but I don’t think anybody playing any sport at any level will tell you they would rather go somewhere and sit and win as opposed to going somewhere and start,” said the third-year pro.
“Baltimore is one of the better organizations in the NFL, but at the same time it’s still a business and I’ve already sat down and won, so if I have the opportunity to go somewhere else to start, then that’s fine with me too.  
“It’s definitely tough, though. If you play in any sport you’re going to be super-competitive and that is the hardest part. You’re always happy for the extra cheque but it’s a little bit of a conflict because you know you want to be out there helping in some form or fashion,” he added.
His comments come following a bittersweet season for the 26-year-old 334-pound lineman, who had the distinction of playing for the eventual Super Bowl champs but appeared in just six of the team’s 16 regular season games.
And he wasn’t even activated for any of Baltimore’s four play-off games during the Ravens’ magical postseason ride that included a drama-filled 34-31 upset of San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII.
This was after Harewood showed tremendous promise while starting the year’s first five games at guard subsequent to being named as a surprising opening-day starter on the offensive line. But the Deighton Road, St Michael, resident was unceremoniously benched for the sixth game despite the team’s encouraging 4-1 record.
“I was actually playing pretty well but my coaches seemed to think they had more of an advantage playing more seasoned players like 13-year vet Bobby Williams, so the best way to put it is that they went with experience over youth,” said Harewood of his benching.
“[But] it was a lot of different stuff going on there, and before anything goes down or there is any talk about who is better than who, you have to remember that it is all a business.
“It was still a little tough to deal with as a competitor but I got over it after two weeks or so and it was back to work because you can’t really ever let them see you frown.”
It was far from the first major disappointment he has had to deal with during his three years at Baltimore, as Harewood was forced to miss his first two seasons due to a knee injury and then a torn ligament in his left ankle.
And now his career faces yet another potential hurdle as Harewood awaits a free agency period, where his future with Baltimore isn’t guaranteed as a lineman who has played sparingly in three seasons.
To further complicate matters, the Ravens could find themselves in a bid over their salary cap after negotiating new deals for Harewood’s more high-profile teammates, including quarterback Joe Flacco, future Hall Of Fame safety Ed Reed, receiver Anquan Boldin, and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe.
“I don’t have a clue where they stand on me right now, so for me to sit here and assume would be ridiculous – but we’ll see [what happens] once the Ravens put their tender on me,” said Harewood of a possible return to Baltimore.
“I got my film out there now so [the other teams] know what I can do and there’s definitely interest out there, so it’s just a matter of finding the right fit. But I definitely want to be an All-Pro because every player aspires to that.”
In restricted free agency, Harewood will more than likely receive a qualify offer from Baltimore but is free to accept an offer from another club. The Ravens will have the right to match that offer and retain him or receive draft-choice compensation for his exit.