On March 13, it appeared as though the Baltimore Ravens were signing free-agent Washington Redskins wide receiver Ryan Grant. The signing was reported by the NFL Network and even acknowledged by the team's official website. Of course, the deal fell through when Grant failed his physical; he later signed with the Indianapolis Colts.
This brought to mind a number of other instances in which an athlete either officially or seemingly joined the Ravens, Orioles, Baltimore Colts or Maryland Terrapins but were never actually part of the team for whatever reason. So this month, we offer the 15 "Baltimore athletes who never were."
1. Guard/Forward Justin
The 76ers wing is currently in his third NBA season after an All-Atlantic Coast Conference-caliber career at Virginia. The Montrose Christian alum had originally committed to Maryland, but he then changed his mind due to Gary Williams' retirement and the departure of former assistant coach Rob Ehsan. But Maryland was able to keep Nick Faust, so there's that.
2. Relief Pitcher Grant Balfour
Much like when the Orioles agreed to a two-year deal with then-free-agent reliever Xavier Hernandez in 1998, the 2013 pact they entered into with Balfour blew up because of an issue with his physical. In recent years, the Orioles similarly dealt with physical issues with pitchers Jair Jurrjens and Yovani Gallardo but managed to make lesser deals work. They also dealt with issues regarding physicals in the past, but we'll get back to that.
3. Wide Receiver Drew Bennett
The former Tennessee Titan and St. Louis Ram signed a one-year deal with the Ravens July 24, 2009. On July 26, 2009, Bennett retired from the NFL because of a previous knee issue that flared up again. We'll never forget those two days Drew Bennett was a Raven, though.
4. Point Guard Sam Cassell Jr.
In March 2012, the Baltimore native (and son of the NBA legend/Baltimore native of the same name) committed to Maryland. Unfortunately for all parties involved, he would never play for the Terps. The NCAA ruled Cassell ineligible due to "core classes" he took at Notre Dame Prep (Massachusetts). By September, the parties had exhausted all appeals, and Cassell moved on. He played at a Florida JUCO (Chipola College) before playing two seasons at UConn and finishing his college career at Iona.
5. Pitcher Justin Duchscherer
The Duchscherer experiment was little more than a lottery ticket for the 2011 Orioles. He had appeared in just five games since 2008 due to injury and later admitted to dealing with clinical depression. He never pitched with the Orioles at either the major league or minor league level that season and was ultimately released in August.
6. Quarterback John Elway
Elway is by far the most famous of the Baltimore athletes who never were; the story is well known. Elway and his father did not want the Colts to take him in the 1983 NFL Draft and threatened that the quarterback would instead choose to play baseball in the New York Yankees' organization if the Colts did not trade him. They, of course, did, in exchange for a package headlined by offensive tackle Chris Hinton, who had a very nice career -- mostly in Indianapolis.
7. Outfielder Dexter Fowler
This particular inclusion on the list is a little difficult because Fowler apparently never actually agreed to a deal with the Orioles, at least according to his agent. Multiple media reports suggested the team actually had agreed to a three-year deal with the former Olympic medalist in February 2016. But he ultimately chose to stay with the Chicago Cubs on a one-year contract and had an All-Star season while helping them win their first World Series title in 108 years. The Orioles' search for a prototypical leadoff hitter with on-base ability continues to this day.
8. Guard Tamir Goodman
Goodman ultimately did become a local college athlete, beginning his career at Towson. But the "Jewish Jordan" committed to Maryland in January 1999. He never played for Gary Williams and the Terps, ultimately declining their scholarship offer that September. It was reported that the issue was friction between the player and the Maryland staff over Goodman's unwillingness to play on Saturdays because of his Orthodox Jewish faith (which Goodman believed the team was trying to work around). Others believe Williams cooled on the former Talmudical Academy star strictly for basketball reasons after initially offering him the scholarship.
9. Quarterback Dwayne Haskins
This one remains difficult for Maryland football fans. When Ohio State visits College Park, Md., Nov. 17, Haskins is likely to be the starting quarterback and could torch the Terps. Much like with fellow Maryland native Anderson, this "never was" situation came about due to a coaching change. The Bullis School alum committed to Maryland while Randy Edsall was the head coach and Mike Locksley was offensive coordinator. After the former was fired and the latter was passed over for the head coaching job, Haskins chose to re-open his recruitment and landed in Columbus, Ohio.
10. Center Moses Malone
The late basketball Hall of Famer from Virginia had signed a letter of intent to play for Lefty Driesell at the University of Maryland. But instead Malone would make history, becoming the first player to go straight from high school to the pros, completely skipping college altogether after he was selected by the ABA's Utah Stars in the 1974 draft.
11. Safety Brock Marion
In March 1997, the Ravens agreed to a deal with the former Dallas Cowboys defensive back and were set to hold a news conference introducing him. But just before the signing became official, team doctor Claude Moorman discovered an issue with Marion's left shoulder. Marion instead signed with the Miami Dolphins and reached three Pro Bowls before leaving for Detroit in 2004. The Ravens' defense ended up being OK without him during the stretch.
12. Wide Receiver Terrell Owens
On March 4, 2004, the Baltimore Ravens traded a second-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers to acquire the future Hall of Fame receiver. The problem was, Owens didn't want to come to Baltimore and thought an arbitrator would rule he should actually have been a free agent. The parties all went to the table, the 49ers sent Owens to the Eagles instead, and Philadelphia gave the Ravens a fifth-round pick for their troubles.
13. Pitcher Johan Santana
It looked like the former Mets ace was going to get the opportunity to stage a comeback with the Orioles in 2014. He hadn't pitched for the team at the major or minor league level, but he was in extended spring training after his contract had been purchased from Triple-A Norfolk and he had been placed on the major league disabled list. But he tore his Achilles going after a line drive that had struck him, and that ended any hopes of seeing Santana in an Orioles uniform.
14. Pitcher Aaron Sele
In January 2000, the Orioles were prepared to introduce Sele at a Friday news conference after they had agreed to a four-year deal with the pitcher. And while his physical showed no structural damage, The Baltimore Sun reported that team doctors couldn't guarantee owner Peter Angelos that Sele's arm would hold up for the life of the deal. Sele instead signed a two-year deal with the Seattle Mariners and was an All-Star in 2000. The Orioles were burned by another physical issue during the 2005-06 offseason, as outfielder Jeromy Burnitz agreed to a two-year deal but later backed out because his agent didn't like the language of the deal regarding what the team could do after the physical.
15. Offensive Lineman Marcus Spears
In 2013, defensive lineman Marcus Spears (now an analyst for the SEC Network) played five games for the Baltimore Ravens, registering 10 tackles. He was the first Marcus Spears to play for the Ravens. He was not the first Marcus Spears to be a Raven. In May of 2002, then-Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Marcus Spears (no apparent relation) agreed to a four-year deal in Baltimore. The entire ordeal was wild. Spears visited Baltimore but said he wanted to stay in Kansas City, then the Ravens offered him more money and a starting job, he accepted it and was prepared to fly to Baltimore but changed his mind for family reasons.
A previous version of this story listed the wrong draft year for John Elway. PressBox regrets the error.
Issue 243: April 2018