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Ravens S Matt Elam working at shoe store during offseason

Matt-Elam-RavensBaltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam has found himself an offseason job in retail, and it sounds like the work is much more than just a public relations stunt. Elam, a former first-round pick out of Florida, has been working at a Finish Line shoe store at a mall in Gainesville.

On Wednesday, Elam explained how it has always been his dream to open his own sports merchandise store. By getting a job at Finish Line, the 22-year-old is hoping to gain valuable experience.

“I just need to get retail knowledge,” Elam told BaltimoreRavens.com. “That’s basically what I’m doing. I’m getting that knowledge for when it’s time. Everybody was surprised when I started. They were like, ‘Why? You got enough money.’ But it’s not about the money. It’s just me building.”

Elam said he is unsure of how much he makes an hour (I don’t think he needs the cash). He works about 20 hours per week as a sales associate on the floor and occasionally stocking shelves in the back.

“I didn’t realize there was so much organization, so much planning,” he said. “I didn’t realize there was so much to it. I just thought you’d say you want a shoe, so then you’d go back and grab a shoe. There’s way more to it. You have number coding. You have color coding, all of that. I just realized that there’s more to it than I thought.”

How often do we hear about NFL players who retire, blow all of their money, and have no idea what to do with their lives? By working at a retail store, Elam is hoping to protect himself from a situation like that.

“I know you can’t do football forever,” he explained. “I’m going to use it to benefit me when I’m doing so that my kids won’t have to worry about this. I take a lot of pride in that because I feel like a lot of kids are blind to this, and don’t have these opportunities, and don’t have the knowledge. I hope I can open a lot of their eyes.”

This obviously isn’t the equivalent of Elam going undercover at Foot Locker and surprising fans. He’s actually learning from the experience and planning for the future. Good for him.

Calvin Johnson drops three passes, sets career high for drops

Calvin Johnson dropsMaybe Matt Elam cracked the code on how to defeat the previously unconquerable Megatron.

Calvin Johnson had one of his worst games as a pro in the Detroit Lions’ 18-16 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. Though he finished with 6 catches for 98 yards, the stats show he was targeted 14 times, meaning he converted just 43 percent of the passes thrown his way. What’s worse is he had two brutal drops on long passes to cost his team, not to mention a drop on a two-point conversion attempt that would have given Detroit an 18-15 lead on the Ravens.

Johnson was officially credited with two drops, giving him a career-high 9 for the season. I’m guessing they did not give him a drop on the conversion attempt, though they should have.

The first drop came on a 3rd-and-15 play in the first quarter and spoiled what should have been a scoring drive for Detroit.

Detroit looked like it was going to cruise to a 14-0 lead until that drop, which led to a punt from around midfield on the next play.

Johnson also had a drop on the Lions’ last drive before halftime. They had a 2nd-and-9 from their 41 and Megatron dropped a sure first down to kill their drive. They ended up punting on that drive too.

What’s really interesting is that Johnson’s terrible game came after Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam boldly stated before the game that Megatron was “pretty old.” Maybe Elam’s words got inside Calvin’s head.

As fate would have it, Elam led the Ravens with 10 tackles, including one for a loss, and he was credited with a pass defended. He also sealed the game by making an interception on Detroit’s last possession of the game.

Maybe every defensive back and coach who gave Calvin respect was going about it all wrong. Maybe the proper way to attack him is to criticize him, even if he truly is worth of our praise for being the best wide receiver in football.

GIFs via @_marcusd_, GIFD Sports

Ravens S Matt Elam: Calvin Johnson is ‘pretty old’

Calvin JohnsonMatt Elam and the rest of the Baltimore Ravens’ secondary will be facing a challenging test on Monday night. His name is Calvin Johnson, and he’s one of the most dominant wide receivers to ever play in the NFL. Johnson is averaging over 100 yards per game this season and has hauled in 12 touchdowns. Elam, a rookie defensive back out of Florida, started out by saying all the right things about Megatron on Wednesday.

“Big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak,” Elam said, via ESPN.com.

He should have stopped there. What came out of Elam’s mouth next was a little more bizarre. When asked how he will approach covering Johnson, Elam had the following to say.

“He’s pretty old, so I don’t know how physical he’ll be,” he said. “He’s a big guy, but he’s older. I guess when they get older they’re not going to be as physical, you know what I’m saying? We’re going to have to be physical, make him uncomfortable.”

Players probably are a bit less physical when they get older, but Johnson is 28. Is that considered “pretty old?” His 1,348 yards receiving this season and mind-boggling 1,964 yards last year would disagree. The 6-foot-5, 236-pound Johnson has missed just four games during his seven-year career and is virtually impossible to shut down. He has plenty of physicality left in his 28-year-old body.

“You’ve got to know when it’s time to double him, when it’s time to triple-team him,” Elam added. “You’ve got to keep your eye on him, because (Detroit quarterback (Matthew) Stafford wants to get the ball to him.”

That’s more like it. I’m sure Elam will look back on his “pretty old” comment and wonder why it came out the way it did. All he can do now is hope Megatron forgives him for it.

Aaron Rodgers confronted Ravens DB Matt Elam after hit on Randall Cobb

Randall-Cobb-hit

Matt-Elam-hit-on-Randall-CobbGreen Bay Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb left Sunday’s game in the first half after taking a shot to the knee from Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam. Cobb had to reach up to secure the pass, and Elam simply followed the NFL protocol by hitting the receiver low and not aiming for the head. Aaron Rodgers still didn’t appreciate it.

After the play, Rodgers went up to Elam and confronted him on the field. When asked about the exchange after the game, Rodgers told reporters he felt that Elam could have done a better job of hitting Cobb in the “target area.”

“I just felt like he had enough time to make a hit in the legal hitting zone,” Rodgers said. “The other safety came over and made a very knowledgable point, which I appreciated, and we had some banter back and forth about some of the issues defensive players have to deal with with the target area. I totally understand that and get that. I just felt like from my vantage point he had plenty of time to not take out a guy’s legs in that situation.”

Defenders have to tread a fine line. With the exception of a ball carrier, there is basically no such thing as a legal head shot anymore. A defensive back has a much better chance of avoiding a penalty if he hits an opponent below the waist, which is exactly what Elam did. Now that such an emphasis has been placed on not hitting above the shoulders, players are worried about their knees.

Earlier this year, Tony Gonzalez said he would rather be hit in the head than the knee because serious knee injuries are more likely to end careers. On the flip side, Steelers safety Ryan Clark said he is disgusted that the NFL is looking into the possibility of banning low hits in addition to high hits.

In all likelihood, Rodgers simply got emotional because one of his best weapons was taken out. Elam’s hit was perfectly legal. If he went for the head and Cobb suffered a concussion, there would have been far more outrage. And for what it’s worth, there is reason to believe Cobb avoided a major knee injury.

GIF via Bleacher Report