Todd Heap paid a price to get into the 'Ring'

The Baltimore Ravens announced Tuesday that tight end Todd Heap is going to be inducted into their Ring of Honor this season.

If there is one player in Ravens history who deserves this recognition, it's certainly Heap. He took so many hard hits that he doesn’t remember how many concussions he’s had in his career. He caught a franchise-record 41 touchdowns, 12 more than anyone else in team history, and he accomplished this despite nine starting quarterbacks in 10 seasons (from Elvis Grbac to Joe Flacco).

There have been other players who sacrificed and fought just as much as Heap, but Jonathan Ogden, Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs all have Super Bowl rings to show for it. Heap was drafted by the Ravens one season after their first championship and was released two seasons before their second one.

For a decade, Heap earned the love and admiration of Baltimore football fans. It showed when the crowd yelled "Heeeap" after every catch.

Without Heap, the Ravens wouldn't have had much of a passing game from 2001 to 2011. Their favorite play was throwing a deep pass down the field and watching Heap leap over defenders to make the catch. He was fearless going over the middle, even though he knew he was going to take a hit like the helmet-to-helmet collision from Brandon Meriweather in 2010. He also rarely went out of bounds, choosing to battle for extra yards.

Putting the team first got Heap into his infamous run-in with Steelers linebacker Joey Porter in 2004. After twisting his ankle, Heap limped to the line of scrimmage so quarterback Kyle Boller could spike the ball and the Ravens didn’t have to use a timeout. As Boller thrust the ball downward, Porter shoved Heap backward with a show of brute force.

By the time his 10-year career in Baltimore was over, Heap ranked second in team history in receptions (467) and receiving yards (5,492), setting marks that all Ravens tight ends will aspire to beat.

“It’s pretty surreal,” Heap said of going into the Ring of Honor. “There are a lot of special players in Ravens history. It’s going to be cool to be listed among them. You never know how deserving it is, but I was pumped and I think it’s going to be cool for years to come.”

Heap becomes the eighth Ravens player to be inducted into the Ring at M&T Bank Stadium, joining running back Earnest Byner (inducted in 2001), defensive end Michael McCrary (2004), linebacker Peter Boulware (2006), offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden (2008), kicker Matt Stover (2011), running back Jamal Lewis (2012) and linebacker Ray Lewis (2013).