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Wednesday, January 24, 2001
Updated: September 13, 6:25 PM ET

You gotta like Ike


By Ralph Wiley
Page 2 columnist

Hey. Yo. My man. You. Check me out. It's really deep. I think the B'more Ravens might sleep on my boy Ike Hilliard for a second in the Super Bowl, and that might be six for N.Y., which might be enough to win.

Me, I'm the Dog, and I'm a New Yorker. True Blue, want the Jints to do it. At the same time, I ain't blind. Realistically? Ain't nothing much the Jints got that can work against the Ravens' front seven. Why? Because the Ravens are good enough to play basic. Four men rush. Seven men chase. They chase real good, too.

Blitzes? They don't need no stinking blitzes. Eight in the box? They put 11 in the box, just dare you to go up top on them. Over the top. That's the only way out against the Ravens' Process of Elimination.

Tiki Barber can gain some yards (especially if they were to let him and his twin brother Ronde alternate plays), but he'd better not show that Ray Lewis boy both of his numbers or he is going to get hurt.

That's what the B'more Ravens do best, as far as I can see. They bust people up. That Siragusa made a toboggan out of Gannon, right? And that Ray Lewis boy nearly planted Steve McNair six feet under, didn't he? Gonna have to call McNair Lazarus from now on; don't know nobody else who could have even got up from that kill shot. So if that Ray Lewis boy happens to hit Kerry Collins, what's he gonna do? Shake it off?

By their own petard, by the Ravens' Process of Elimination, it's gotta be Ike. If it's gonna be at all.

I know John Madden fell in love with Amani Toomer in the playoffs, talking about he couldn't remember the last time a Jint receiver was double-teamed in the opponents' game plan. Big John Bim Bam Boom said it two weeks in a row, and his admiration has nothing to do with Toomer coming from De La Salle High, the football factory high school out near where Madden lives in Pleasanton, Calif.

Amani Toomer, the second coming of Jerry Rice. No, I don't think so. He'll be going up against two young fellows named Starks and McAlister, and both of them can cover well enough, or so it seems to me, especially when they know they can break on the ball at the count of three because the ball, or Kerry Collins' whole body, will be coming out of the pocket. On the count of three and no later. And Amani Toomer and the rest of the Jint receivers won't be going up up against Lake Oswego Chimichanga, or whatever was the name of the African Greco-Roman wrestler posing as a Minnesota Vikings cornerback. Mr. Jurevicius, Mr. Lambuth College, meet Mr. Boulware, Mr. Sharper. Mr. Boulware and Mr. Sharper will be interrupting your crossing routes.

The Jints might want to try a fumblerooski or two. Lomas Brown might have a better yards per carry average in this game than Ron "Sideways Train" Dayne.

Besides the Ravens' Process of Elimination, there are other reasons why I like Ike.

First, Ike looks like a regular good dude. Most pro football players stopped looking like athletes a long time ago. No lean, mean fighting machines anymore. Now everybody's all swole up. Don't look natural to me. But if you mention this to them, today's more bulging-type players get all ugly and start talking about they ain't on no steroids. Ain't nobody said nothing 'bout no steroids in the first place! It's all that mandatory weightlifting makes you all swole up. Look like a train more than a man, or like some burlap bags filled with cantaloupes, more like that than a nimble something or other, a human being. Never seen no picture of no Masai warrior looking all swole up like that, and they hunt lion for a living. But Ike, he nimble-looking.

Ike was once the best wide on the Florida squad. If you'll notice, Steve Spurrier knows more about receivers than he do about quarterbacks. At quarterback, he's trying to find himself all over again, just a spavined whicker-bill kid, with no ass, a decent arm, and a feel for it. But Spurrier always gets his limited quarterbacks the best set of receivers money can buy. Ol' Ike, he changes direction like a fish.

Other thing I like about Ike is, he's one hunnert percent healthy. Far as I know. Let me ask him:

"Ike, you a'ight? You straight?"

"Yeah, I'm good. Had a little something earlier in the year. But that's over with now."

"Something like what?"

"Just a bruised sternum."

"Yeah? How you get that?"

"Schultz. Caught me. I got blowed up, actually. They called it a bruised sternum, but there was more to it than that. The doctors said 20 percent of my lungs were bleeding. I spit up enough to agree. Hurt? Man, hurt like nothing you ever felt. Plus, it's hard to breathe without moving your chest. Ever tried it, Dog?"

"... no .... can't say as I have ... but you straight now, right?"

"... yeah, I'm cool."

... like I said, I like Ike in this. I like Ike -- but not as much as I like the under, now, in this Super Bowl. So remember where you got it.

You got it from the Dog. R-Dub told me to say he likes B'more by 3. Where's R-Dub now? Gone. Out testing out the "Six-foot rule" down here in Tampa. Didn't want me to say what the "Six-foot rule" was, or even to bring none of it up, especially the part about him going to Miami, but I told him I ain't lying for him. R-Dub said he'd be back tomorrow to talk trash, or talk about trash-talking. Whatever. Don't remember what he said, really. R-Dub, that's a crazy dude, man. Me? I'm the Dog. And I'm gone.

Ralph Wiley spent nine years at Sports Illustrated and wrote 28 cover stories on celebrity athletes. He is the author of several books, including "Best Seat in the House," "Born to Play: The Eric Davis Story," and "Serenity, A Boxing Memoir."