The League

Michael Kun
Author

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Baltimore a perfect fit

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Well, you knew someone was going to sign Donte' Stallworth.

He's too good a receiver to be passed over by the entire league, regardless of his transgressions.

Maybe you thought it would be the Ravens. Maybe you didn't. But you knew he'd end up somewhere, and you knew we'd all end up debating it, just as we did when Michael Vick signed with the Eagles last year. It was inevitable. And here we are.

Regardless of where he signed, there will always be the debate about whether Stallworth was punished enough for killing a man while driving drunk. On the one hand, a month in jail seems like an awfully short time for taking someone's life. Awfully short. On the other hand, we'll never know how difficult it would have been for prosecutors to make their case, particularly if Stallworth testified that the victim stepped into the street unexpectedly, as he has always claimed.

Is that really what happened? Who knows? We weren't there. And we don't know how a jury would have reacted to that testimony. They might have let Stallworth off altogether.

In any event, the court agreed that his sentence was appropriate, which is either evidence that our system doesn't work or evidence that it works perfectly. Or evidence of both, or neither. (I, for one, believe our legal system doesn't work nearly as well as it should, but I'm just a lawyer, so what do I know?)

If you look at the Ravens' signing of Stallworth in a vacuum, if you remove this issue altogether, it's a terrific signing for the team. Just like that, they have another target for Joe Flacco to go along with Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton and Todd Heap. And a pretty good target at that. No, Stallworth's not one of the top 10 receivers in the game right now, but he's not far below that. This certainly should give Ravens fans good reason to start saving up for 2010 playoff tickets, if they weren't doing so already.

Take the signing out of a vacuum, though. Is it still a good signing, for the team or for Stallworth? The answer: Absolutely.

Baltimore's a tough town. I lived there for 10 years -- heck, I was there the night the Mayflower vans came to take the Colts away. It's the toughest town I've ever lived in, and it's the town I enjoyed living in the most. It's the only one I miss. (Sorry, Atlanta.)

Yes, Baltimore has its artistic, literary side. (Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Tyler, Laura Lippman, Homicide, The Wire, Joan Jett, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, etc.)

Yes, Baltimore has its scenic side. (The Inner Harbor, Federal Hill, etc.)

Yes, Baltimore has its intellectual side. (The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, anything else with "The Johns Hopkins" in front of it, etc.)

Yes, Baltimore has it's culinary side. (Little Italy, fresh Maryland crabs, Ace of Cakes, etc.)

But, most of all, Baltimore has a toughness to it. It's mayor was just convicted for using Target gift cards. It usually has one of the highest murder rates. And one of the highest teen pregnancy rates. And one of the lowest literacy rates.

Baltimore is a town of people who have seen it all. They're tough people. They'll accept Stallworth in a way that other towns might not have because Baltimoreans know that they, too, are not perfect. They, too, have made mistakes, perhaps even grievous ones.

Baltimore was the perfect choice for Stallworth, not just to rack up some nice statistics or make a strong playoff run. No, Baltimore was the perfect choice for him to live.

By Michael Kun  |  February 18, 2010; 12:10 AM ET  | Category:  Baltimore Ravens , Crime , Donte Stallworth Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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