Ravens Rewind : Todd Heap

bs-sp-todd-heap-accidentally-runs-over-kills-daughter-0415HHHEEEAAAPP!! Echo chants can still be heard in the distant memory of M&T stadium as we take a look back on the career stats and memorable moments of one of the Ravens most impacful players in franchise history Todd Heap. Difference maker and mismatch nightmare on the field, Todd Heap set the foundation for what it truly means when we say Play Like A Raven and dare I say help set the mold for todays TE as receiver/ vertical threats. Hayden Hurst is the future no doubt, but lets take a chance to salute one of the best players to wear the Purple & Black.

OVERVIEW

Todd Heap helped to define a generation of hybrid TEs that can play the blocking scheme, but also open defenses up vertically and constantly get open, Heap did that on a constant basis. Ravens selected Heap with the 31st pick in the 2001 draft, the Ravens were coming off a Super Bowl championship and Ozzie struck gold with a guy that would soldify that position for years to come. Heap just had a knack for getting open and making the key play in pivitol situations, whether it was boxing a defender out for a touchdown or clearing the lane for a RB, Heap provided the Ravens the weapon for a run first based offense.

Coming into his rookie season, Heap had to play behind Shannon Sharpe and got a feel for how to play the position and who better to gain knowledge from than a Hall of Famer. Heap would translate that into production the following season where he put up 836 yards and 6 touchdowns which proved he was the real deal notching him a nod to his first pro bowl as well. Heap thrived in the era of dominant defense that hosted the likes of Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata, Bart Scott, etc. Also, a run game that featured work horse Jamal Lewis at the time, but when the ball was being thrown it was most likely in the direction of Heap.  Below average qb play never limited what Heap was able to do on the field nor did he ever make excuses which is why I feel he was so beloved from the fan base, just a blue collar guy who comes to work and gets it done. HHHEEEAAAPP

Todd Heap was able to thrive in an era when the Ravens as a franchise and household name were beginning to make their mark as a team you dont want to play. The old saying goes champioships and playoff games are won with a run game and a solid defense. Well the Ravens must’ve only had one of these because they didnt have a solid defense, they had a great defense. So with these two elements in place Heap provided that presence as a guy they could line up and find soft spots in zones, beat man to man coverage, and was a constant threat in the red zone. Classic Ravens/Steelers rivalry derailed Heap’s season in 2004 where he was lost to injury, but from a statiscal standpoint, 2005 was Heap’s best season as a Raven putting up 855 yards and 7 touchdowns.  Todd+Heap+Cleveland+Browns+v+Baltimore+Ravens+BRyusweEhrEl

As the defense continued to thrive, the Ravens ended the QB carousel in 2006 and brought in a veteran QB in Steve McNair to help solidify the position and create stability. Heap brought his hard hat for another successful season, this time notching 765 yards and six touchdowns. The Ravens were crowned AFC North Champions that year and finished with a franchise best 13-3 record. Constant worker and constant professional, Heap was around for two head coaching regimes of Brian Billick and John Harbaugh and eventually helped witness the evolution of Joe Flacco.

When Flacco was selected in 2008, the Ravens where in the process of trying to to get their young QB acclimated to the NFL and Heap provided that safety net for Flacco in key situations on third downs. Even though the numbers arent as sexy, Heap proved to be that constant threat for The Ravens which might explain why Joe loves throwing to the TE so much. The Ravens advanced to AFC championship game only  to lose to the Steelers (cough,cough) but its this game that Heap believed we witnessed the evolution of Flacco.

As his career continued in Baltimore the cast of characters might have changed but Todd Heap was able to continue to set the standard of Ravens football. In 2009 Heap recorded two games with multiple touchdowns, and helped the Ravens advance to the playoffs for three straight seasons under new QB and head coach. Nagging injuries kept Heap sidelined for most of the 2010 season, however HHHHEEEAAAAPPPP was still hearing those echoes every time he touched the ball. Heap scored his career long touchdown that year of 65 yards, totaling five touchdowns and 546 yards. This season was cut short due to injury and Balimore decided to cut ties with Heap in the 2011 off season. Heap later finished out his career for the Cardinals and played a few seasons that we would like to forget, would’ve been nice to see him retire as a Raven but the organization would later reward Heap in the coming years.

NFL ACCOLADES

Mr. Reliable himself Todd Heap had established himself as a key threat in the Ravens passing attack for many seasons. A wide bodied guy who can stretch the field is the model for todays game and Heap was one of the pioneers in helping to transform the NFL as a passer friendly game now. Some of his notable accomplishments include:

  • 2 time Pro Bowl selections ( 2002/ 2003)
  • Awarded TE of the year (2006)
  • 2nd in franchise history in receiving yards and receptions
  • All-Time leader in receiving touchdowns
  • Inducted into Ravens Ring Of Honor (2014)

Where Is He Now?

Life after football was pretty good for Heap early on, until as of recent things took a drastic turn. Countless of community work through his program, The Todd Heap Foundation, Heap will not only be remembered as a great player, but a great person as well. Helping to service the community of families and children in need not only shows his humility but it shows his genuine love for people and that he wants to be a positive impact. Looking back on other players and coaches, they speak high praises of Heap and the warm hearted person he was and still is. Heap is very much active in what’s going on now with the team and the direction they are moving in. He provides commentary and insight to local sports radio and talk shows. In more unfortunate news Todd Heap experienced a tramautizing event when he ran his 3 year old daughter over in his truck and eventually taking her life. This is a unthinkable event you never want to see happen to anybody, and heart felt love and prayers to his family poured out from around the country.

First round pick Hayden Hurst had to acknowkedge the fact the Ravens haven’t selected a TE in the first round since Todd Heap and those would be big shoes to fill, however hes up for the task. That just goes to show the deniable impact of Heaps career and what he means to the next generation of players trying to make a name in the league. Heap will always be considered one of the best to ever do it in a Ravens uniform and followed that by being a great husband, family man, and model citizen. Thanks for the memories.HHHHEEEEAAAPPPPToddHeapClevelandBrownsvBaltimoreRavensHG6Ktb9Xolil

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