Their all Raven about Cushwa bricks

May 29, 1997


Staff Writer

WILLIAMSPORT - Making bricks seemed to pose a bit of a challenge for Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Derrick Alexander, whose typical day on the job involves catching footballs and avoiding defensive backs.

Alexander and teammates Michael Jackson and Tony Siragusa tried their best Wednesday as they pounded bread loaf-sized lumps of clay into wooden molds, making a few of the bricks that could end up being used in the construction of the new Ravens stadium in Baltimore.

"I never knew that so much went into making bricks, and how much manual labor was involved," Alexander said at the Cushwa brick plant, where about 1.2 million bricks are being made for the new stadium.


"I never made a brick before, other than when I was shooting basketballs," joked Jackson, referring to his errant basketball shots.

The visit to the Cushwa plant was part of a day of activities in which players, team owner Art Modell and other officials made several stops in Williamsport, including the town's three schools. The local appearance completed a statewide tour the team has been making over the past several weeks.

"Once the season ended we wanted to get out and meet some of the folks that have been wonderful in supporting us," said David Modell, the team's executive vice president and son of the owner.

At Williamsport High School's gymnasium the players answered questions and joked with a audience of more than 700 students, most of whom were thrilled to see the players up close.

"It was great. Professional football players - those are the guys you idolize," said Jimi Massey, an 18-year-old senior.

When a student asked the 320-pound Siragusa how much he weighed, the burly defensive lineman replied: "I can eat you for breakfast." And when sprinter teammates Jackson and Alexander told the students how fast they could run a 40-yard dash, he said, "I have a Porsche. I can do that in about two seconds."

Of his girth, Siragusa explained, "My responsibility (on the football field) grew as my body grew. Right now you can probably tell I have a lot of responsibility."

More seriously, Jackson challenged the students to improve their grades in school, stressing the importance of a good education.

"Without that, you'll always be on the outside looking in to where you always dreamed to be," he said.

Choosing Williamsport was a natural stop for the team because the Maryland Stadium Authority recently approved the contract that will have the Cushwa plant making the bricks for the new stadium, which is expected to be completed in time for the 1998 NFL season.

Joe Miles, mid-Atlantic sales manager for Redland Brick Inc., the company that owns the Cushwa plant, said such a high-profile contract is a great marketing tool for the company and might convince those planning other football stadiums to consider using brick.

"You can't measure what we get out of this long term," Miles said.

Besides making bricks, the players and team officials also were given a tour of the plant. They were presented with a custom-made brick that featured the Ravens' logo.

"I was fascinated. I've never been through a brick plant before," Art Modell said.

Jackson and Alexander said they came away with a greater appreciation for the blue-collar work ethic that goes into making bricks.

"That's something everyone should be exposed to," said Jackson, who was rewarded for his brick-making effort with a good bit of brick dust on his crisp suit and shiny alligator shoes.

Siragusa, who is part owner of a construction firm in his native New Jersey, didn't hesitate to answer when asked if it is easer making bricks or playing in the NFL.

"Playing in the NFL," he said.

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