Billboard adds fuel to Lewis’ fire

Remember the billboard outside of Boston that had a countdown to the end of Ray Lewis’ football career to coincide with the AFC title game?

The company that put up the billboard wound up with egg on its face.

Clear Channel Communications, which erected the initial “Ray’s Retirement Party” billboard, put up a replacement this week that had a not-so-smiley face with egg on it and the caption “WELP…” which is online slang for a shrug and “I’ll see you later.”

The veteran Baltimore Ravens linebacker admitted after the game the first billboard motivated him.

“I was hurt when I saw a sign that actually said my retirement would (start) tonight,” Lewis said Sunday after the Ravens’ 28-13 win over the Patriots. “Man can’t dictate that. God dictates that.”

Perhaps he’ll like the billboard outside M&T Bank Stadium that was erected with the message, “Ray’s Retirement Party Moved to Feb. 3 (New England Not Invited).”

The owners of the space for the Baltimore billboard? Yep, Clear Channel.

■ FATHERLY ADVICE – Not that he needs it, but Jack Harbaugh got advice on how to deal with sons going head to head from someone who has been there.

In an appearance Wednesday on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” Archie Manning suggested Jack seek out the loser first for consolation before celebrating with the winning son. Harbaugh’s sons, John and Jim, will be coaching against each other in the Super Bowl.

“I told him to enjoy the journey,” said Manning, who has experience in this with quarterback sons, Peyton and Eli. “It’ll be fun until 9 o’clock Sunday night.”

■ TWITTER PRINCESS – One of the residual perks to come out of Sloane Stephens’ Australian Open quarterfinal win over Serena Williams was post-match face time on ESPN. And the 19-year-old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., took advantage of the opportunity to plea for more Twitter followers.

Stephens told Pam Shriver, “I hope I get more followers on Twitter.”

Wish granted. Before her match Tuesday with Williams, Stephens, whose Twitter handle is @sloanetweets, had 18,000 followers. On Wednesday afternoon that number had ballooned to almost 49,000.

But Stephens has a ways to go before she can become tennis’ Twitter queen. Williams has 3.4 million followers to her account – @serenawilliams. Victoria Azarenka (@Vika7), who played Stephens in the semifinals Wednesday, has 161,000 followers. So for now, Stephens will have to settle for being a Twitter princess.

■ WINGING IT – College basketball fans nationwide have an official place to party in March, thanks to the NCAA.

Buffalo Wild Wings has reached a sponsorship deal with the NCAA to be the “official hangout” of the men’s basketball tournament. The NCAA sponsorship was sold through CBS Sports and Turner Sports. It includes media rights that will increase Buffalo Wild Wings’ game-day broadcast presence over the next four years.

You know what that means – lots of overtime games in the tournament. And lots of commercials.


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