For much of this afternoon, all eyes at M&T Bank Stadium will be completely focused on the guys currently in Ravens uniforms.
But at halftime, for a short while, we’ll all get a chance to celebrate the lengthy career of one of the top players to ever throw on that Ravens uni.
Matt Stover will be inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor at halftime of today’s game against the Bengals, marking yet another lofty accomplishment by the leading scorer in Ravens history.
Seeing as how the NFL Hall of Fame apparently doesn’t care to recognize kickers for their achievements (sadly, Jan Stenerud is the only pure kicker to be inducted into the Hall), Stover might not ever make his way to Canton, Ohio. But being just the fifth former Ravens player to have his name added to the Ring of Honor is something Stover says he truly appreciates.
“It’s just a privilege to be able to be part of the Ring of Honor with the other six recipients,” Stover said Friday. “Just for me to be up there, everybody else is going to be up there with me. It’s not just Matt Stover. I don’t take full credit. There are a lot of people in my Ravens’ family who played with me, who assisted the team, all these people all played a huge part in what happened with my career and why the success came about.
“The fact that it was bigger than just the game, it was bigger than just kicking for me. It was always about the other guy, helping the other person to be the best they could be; not only on the field, but off the field. That’s really what my main mission was.”
Over the course of his 19-year career, Stover racked up quite an impressive list of accomplishments. He ranks fourth in NFL history in career points (2,004), holds the NFL record for most consecutive games with a field goal (38), made 14 career game-winning field goals, and hit on 35-of-39 field goal attempts during the Ravens’ 2000 Super Bowl season. During one stretch that season, Stover literally provided the only scoring for the Ravens, recording 49 straight points as his team went without a touchdown in five-consecutive games.
If you ask me, however, Stover’s most impressive feat (pun intended) is that all but 25 of his made field goals came outdoors.
As a player in the AFC North, the bulk of your games are in cities with harsh weather and winds swirling at field level. For Stover to make 445 field goals outdoors - an NFL record, by the way - it’s a testament to his elite ability.
Stover finished his career playing one season with the Colts, but 18 of his 19 NFL seasons came with the Browns/Ravens organization. Stover came over with the team when it relocated to Charm City in 1996, and while he experienced the highest of highs with the Ravens, he also went through the rocky times just after the franchise moved.
“1996, I don’t mind telling you, was hard,” Stover said. “We got here in April, we didn’t even have a name, we didn’t have colors; we didn’t have anything. We wore black helmets, white shirts, jerseys. We don’t know anything. We didn’t even have sweatpants, and it was freezing out there in minicamps. Memorial Stadium was packed. Then I saw the tradition that this city had missed for 14 years, and how they deserved and were honored by getting a team.”
Stover was embraced by the city of Baltimore during his playing years not just because of his on-field performance, but his off-field involvement in the community.
A man of intense faith, Stover has participated in a number of charitable efforts, and continues to be a big part of the Baltimore community to this day.
“He’s one of the special guys and really good for the community,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I think, going forward, this is the beginning for Matt in a lot of ways. The things that he’s going to do in business and the things that he’s going to do for this community, for Baltimore, for all of us, is just going to be neat to watch.”
Today, the Baltimore community will get to thank Stover for all his years of service to the Ravens, and one of the best kickers in NFL history will have his moment in the sun.
“I appreciated the opportunity that I had to play here,” Stover said. “It was a privilege to play. It was never something that I thought I deserved. I think with that mindset, it allowed me to step away from the game and say, ‘Hey, that was fun. Let’s enjoy that.’”