Suddenly realizing he's
A) a 33 year old player at a skill position in the NFL who'll turn 34 in September
2) coming off his most unproductive season since his rookie year (30 for 398 and 3 TDs)
c) without a contract for the indefinitely delayed upcoming season,
Ravens wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh is being the affable, deferential interview he needs to be right now to secure himself a job, telling Sirius NFL Radio that he'd like to return to Baltimore next season.
"I really, really, really enjoyed my time there," Houshmandzadeh said. "You will never hear me say anything bad about the Baltimore Ravens. It was an unbelievable experience for me. Obviously things didn’t go the way I would have liked. But from top to bottom, unbelievable, man, the way they treat you, the way they run things, it is unbelievable. The things you hear about it, about the Baltimore Ravens organization, is true. I couldn’t believe the way they treated me and just the way they treat everybody there. It’s an unbelievable experience."
This love fest is a far cry from the griping Housh was doing during the season as he adjusted to (was forced into) a role player position on the team and found some bad things to say about the Baltimore Ravens. Maybe this a case of Housh applying the lesson he learned after his departure from Cincinnati about the value of staying put. Or maybe he just realizes there's not a high demand for a player with the qualifications listed above.
Another reason Housh might want to return to the black and purple is his belief that they're oh-so-very-near to winning a Super Bowl, saying that last season the team was "[r]eal close [...] If we make a play here or a play there, get one bounce here or there last year, one catch here or there, meaning myself, things can be different." What he's referring to, of course, is his own crucial drop in the AFC divisional playoff game against the Steelers.
Despite his politicking, it isn't looking good for T. J. in Baltimore. In a recent interview, Ravens director of player personnel Eric De Costa mentioned the need to get "faster" and "bigger" at receiver, while head coach Jim Harbaugh has gone the non-committal route in comments on Housh and Donte' Stallworth, another aging receiver with an expiring contract:
"I like all those guys," Harbaugh said. "As a coach, you want all the good players you can get. You like having veteran players too. It’s not always possible to keep all those guys. So, I just don’t know. We’ll just have to see."
Declining skills aside, Housh did appear to come to some kind of terms with his reduced role as the Ravens' season wore on -- giving the ol' "I just wanna help the team in any way I can" speech -- and may be able to accept a bit part on a Super Bowl contender. His attitude can also be mitigated by the fact that he's simply a fiery guy. We know this from his time here in Cincinnati. He gets upset, he pops off, and then plays nice afterwards. Since his strained departure from Cincinnati after the 2009 season (when he signed a 5-year, $40 million contract with the Seattle Seahawks), Housh has expressed regret about leaving the team (well, mostly) and even claimed that former offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski is a good coach. It's immature, but that's who he is. Personally, I always liked Housh. Yeah, he had a tendency to flap his gums, but he also was the guy getting blown up over the middle when Palmer had to dump the ball to avoid the rush of defenders plowing through the O-line on 3rd-and-6.