It began during a poolside conversation with Ray Lewis at the Pro Bowl. From there, Anquan Boldin knew he needed to find his way to Baltimore, where he felt certain his confident, physical style would fit perfectly with the Ravens.
He proved correct.
After the Ravens traded for Boldin in March 2010, he caught 186 passes over three seasons and saved his best work for the team's 2012 playoff run, when he caught 22 passes for 380 yards and four touchdowns over four games. On Monday, Boldin, who ranks ninth in catches and 14th in receiving yards in NFL history, retired as a Raven.
"There's no other organization I'd say has had the impact on me and my family that this organization did," Boldin said. "I can truly say this organization, this community, embraced us fully from day one."
He laughed when asked about the fan outcry that persisted for years after the Ravens traded him to the San Francisco 49ers following Super Bowl XLVII.
"I was brought here to do a job," he said. "The one thing I felt good about, leaving here, is that I helped accomplish that job."
The 39-year-old Boldin, who last played in 2016, attended the ceremony at the Ravens' facility in Owings Mills with his wife and two sons. Later in the day, he planned to co-host a forum on policing in Baltimore as part of his ongoing social-justice work with the non-profit Players Coalition.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh thanked him for his work "as a family man first." Of course, Boldin's hard-fought catches did not hurt. Harbaugh recalled trying to convince quarterback Joe Flacco he could throw to Boldin whether he was open or not.
"Just throw it to him," he remembered saying. "He'll catch it."
Flacco came around, and Boldin led the Ravens with six receptions for 104 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
Former Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, who traded for Boldin and later traded him away, also spoke of the wide receiver's outsized effect on team culture.
"Not only did he impact on the field," Newsome said. "He was huge in the locker room and huge in the community."
(c)2019 The Baltimore Sun
Visit The Baltimore Sun at www.baltimoresun.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.