There’s no other NFL team approaching the level of Big Game finger-wagging and good-natured wagering that’s happening in Baltimore.
The locker-room lines are drawn for the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, with former Iowa State players Kelechi Osemele and Reggie Stephens on one side and Iowa’s Marshal Yanda and Dallas Clark on the other.
Osemele maintained confidentiality on most bets — but leaked one.
“I don’t want to get into the financial details of all of it, but I know Reggie has one going with Marshal,” Osemele said. “If he loses, he has to come in the building every day for the whole week with a Hawkeye shirt on.”
Osemele, the 6-foot-5, 335-pound starting left guard, shuddered at the thought as kickoff of Saturday’s Iowa State-Iowa game approached.
“I’ll never touch anything Hawkeye,” Osemele said. “I would never wear that. So that’s definitely not happening.”
Yanda, when pressed with the unearthed intel, relented.
“There’s a gentleman’s bet involved. Those could be the details,” said Yanda, the suddenly coy 315-pound right guard and two-time Pro Bowler from Anamosa in his seventh season. “We’ll see what happens.”
The truly Big Game for the big linemen ended in a Super Bowl victory last February as Baltimore held off San Francisco 34-31.
Yanda and Osemele started for the Ravens in the Harbaugh Bowl, so labeled because of head coaching brothers John (Baltimore) and Jim (San Francisco). When the confetti rained down from the roof of the Superdome in New Orleans, it also marked the final game in the Pro Bowl career of Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
“You know, Ray Lewis always talked about that confetti, having that confetti drop — and he was right,” Yanda said. “That definitely was a special moment.”
The team also made the traditional visit to the White House and mingled with the Football Fan in Chief, President Barack Obama.
“I was proud of that,” said Osemele, a second-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft. “Not many people can say they met the president.”
Osemele and Yanda anchor a line that includes right tackle Michael Oher, the main character in the Sandra Bullock movie “The Blind Side.” Discussion among the elite blockers, however, rarely strays from the field to the film.
“Nah, we don’t really talk about that movie around here,” Osemele said. “Mike doesn’t like it when we talk about that. We try to avoid bringing up anything ‘Blind Side’-related. Mike is just a real humble guy.”
There’s plenty of film to watch, though, in a game where talent lives at every position.
“In college, you might get one or two guys in a season who are all-Big Ten,” said Yanda, a third-round NFL pick in 2007. “In the NFL, you get that guy every week, every Sunday.”
Osemele said he’ll sneak glances at his phone for Big Game updates between team meetings.
Yanda will angle a keen eye, too, since team attire is on the line. Allegedly.
“Definitely not,” said Yanda, when asked if he would enjoy wearing Iowa State colors for a week. “But I’ve got to support the Hawks, and they’ve got to support their Cyclones. That’s just the way it is.”
Bryce Miller can be reached at 515-284-8288 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @Bryce_A_Miller