One-on-One with ‘ACE OF CAKES’ star Duff Goldman
Ace of Cakes star Duff Goldman is perhaps best known for his amazing cakes and fun-loving personality. What many people may not realize is, though, is that Duff is also a hardcore Baltimore Ravens fan and extremely knowledgeable when it comes the game. And, while it has been a tumultuous offseason so far for the Ravens–losing a number of key players in free agency and trades–nobody can take away their memorable postseason run to a Super Bowl Championship. We got a chance to speak with Duff last month prior to the start of free agency to talk about the Ravens winning it all, the perception of Joe Flacco, and of course, superheroes and cakes.
TSH: AS A RAVENS FAN, WHAT DID IT MEAN FOR YOU AND THE CITY OF BALTIMORE TO HAVE THE TEAM WIN THE SUPER BOWL?
DUFF: It’s just been great. It definitely should’ve happened last year. The Ravens should’ve beaten the Patriots last year. We would’ve gone to the Super Bowl and we would’ve crushed the [New York] Giants. And when Cundiff missed that kick against the Patriots in the title game, the camera moved over and you just saw Ray Lewis and Ed Reed and their faces, and it was like the most heartbreaking moment to see those guys like, “What? We have to do this for another year? Are you kidding me?!” But then, to have the season work out the way it did was amazing. I mean, after that Cowboys game when we lost seemingly everybody on defense, and also losing [Terrell] Suggs before the season even started was tough. With all the injuries we had, the season was ugly for a bit. We got blown out a couple of times; the Texans even crushed us. I mean, it was bad. We beat the Steelers and then they come back with Charlie Batch and beat us at home and end our home winning streak, and we just kept losing. It was like, “Man, what is going on?” And for everything to work out the way it did—you had the story of Flacco, the story of Ray Lewis, Anquan Boldin becoming this monster superstar and Torrey Smith overcoming his brother dying. I mean, just so much stuff the Ravens went through, there’s no other way it could’ve ended. There would’ve been something wrong with the universe if the Ravens didn’t win the Super Bowl.
TSH: WE WATCHED THAT DENVER GAME, AND RIGHT AFTER THEY WON WE BOTH SAID, “THERE’S NO WAY THE RAVENS DON’T WIN THE SUPER BOWL NOW.”
DUFF: Right, right! I mean, to go in there against the juggernaut of Peyton Manning. That guy really is incredible. I wonder what it’s like to spend a day in his shoes. You see Peyton Manning, who was just crushing it with the Colts, sit out a season and watch the team go 2-14 and be just terrible. Then, he goes to Denver, and takes this terrible Denver team and makes all those weapons work. For one guy to really turn a team around like that is incredible. You rarely ever see that one player, even a quarterback, step in and take an entire team and completely march them in the other direction that quickly. It’s just amazing.
TSH: I’M GLAD YOU BROUGHT UP PEYTON MANNING AND HOW HE MAKES THE PEOPLE AROUND HIM BETTER. A BIG DEBATE IN BALTIMORE THIS SEASON, AND PREVIOUS SEASONS, HAS BEEN JOE FLACCO AND WHETHER OR NOT HE IS IN THAT PEYTON MANNING/TOM BRADY CLASS. WHAT DO YOU THINK THIS VICTORY DID FOR FLACCO IN TERMS OF CHANGING PEOPLE’S OPINIONS ABOUT HIM?
DUFF: I think it probably changed a lot of people’s opinion, or rather helped solidify people’s opinion of him. Skip Bayless is never going to like Flacco; just never, and that’s fine, that guy’s an idiot. But I think that a lot of people didn’t really know what to make of Flacco. A lot of people here in Baltimore were just like, “Is he really that good or does he just show flashes of being good?” And I’m sure there’s still people out there that are like, “Well, is he really good or did he just get lucky?” A lot of people think Flacco just kind of tosses it up there and lets the receivers go out and play 500. But he doesn’t! After a while you’re like, “Okay, the guy tosses the ball up there all the time, and all the time our guys are coming down with it.” He’s leaning on guys like Boldin and Torrey who can catch that ball when the corner has a hand in their face. But, he’s making those passes; he’s putting that ball right where it needs to be, and he’s doing it on a consistent basis. He also rolls the dice a lot, too. He is kind of quiet, but once you get him on the field he can take over. I forget who we were playing—it might’ve been against New England in the AFC Championship Game—but every first down: Ray Rice. It’s like one after the other after the other, and we’re getting crushed. Then, during that game, Harbaugh was like, “Screw it. Flacco, it’s your ball, do whatever you want with it.” And he just started chucking the ball down the field and we came back. It was just like, “boom, boom, boom,” and all of sudden we’re alive, and it was amazing. He really took control of that game. And you don’t win a Super Bowl on luck or a fluke. You’ve got to get there and Flacco got us there.
TSH: HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK THE RAVENS’ PLAYOFF RUN HAD TO DO WITH RAY LEWIS ANNOUNCING HIS RETIREMENT PRIOR TO THE POSTSEASON?
DUFF: I think it definitely helped. I think that the beast that was in everyone of those players was there, it just kind of needed to be woken up, and I think Ray Lewis really inspired everybody to realize that this doesn’t happen very often. Maybe the Ravens got a little complacent during the year like, “Well, we get to the playoffs every year with Flacco and Harbaugh.” Maybe they were like, “I guess that’s good enough. We’re one of the best teams in the league.” I think Ray Lewis was like, “Listen. It’s not good enough to be one of the best teams.” When you go into the Ravens’ facility they have this big Ravens logo and on top of it it says, “W.I.N.” and underneath that it says “What’s Important Now.” I think Ray Lewis was trying to tell them, “You don’t play football forever and you’ve got a really short window to shine. I’m getting older. My kid is about to play football in college. I can’t do this anymore.” I think he really inspired those guys to dig super, super deep. I mean, Suggs was super quiet and hurt all season and then in the postseason he was able to get the job done. Paul Kruger was playing out of his mind! Ray really inspired those guys.
TSH: WE READ THAT YOU ACCURATELY PREDICTED THE FINAL SCORE OF THE SUPER BOWL THE MORNING OF THE GAME, 34-31. IS THAT CORRECT?
DUFF: [laughs] Yeah.
TSH: PLEASE TELL US YOU PUT SOME MONEY ON THE GAME!
DUFF: I didn’t!
TSH: WERE YOU AT ALL NERVOUS WHEN SAN FRANCISCO WAS ON THE 5-YARD LINE?
DUFF: No. I’ve got to tell you, I was just like, “the Ravens are going to do it.” I mean, how beautiful is it that Ray Lewis ended his career on a game-winning, goal-line stand? Unbelievable! I was just watching and I was like, “Of course they’re going to stop them! There’s no way the 49ers are going to score. God won’t let it happen.”
DUFF: Oh, man, it was unbelievable. You have Jacoby Jones come out and “BOOM!” you start the second half with a touchdown. I mean, why not? And you’re just like, “It’s over, let’s go home,” which makes for a bad Super Bowl, but makes for happy Ravens fans. But then the blackout happens and then “BOOM” Ray Rice fumbles and it’s like touchdown, touchdown, touchdown. You’re like, “what is going on?” Like all of sudden here we are smacking these guys around and then Kaepernick just turns it on. Now that’s a guy to watch. If he doesn’t get himself hurt and doesn’t go the way of like Michael Vick and get beat up he’s going to be amazing.
TSH: DID YOU GUYS HAVE ANY BIG ORDERS FOR SUPER BOWL CAKES THIS YEAR WITH THE RAVENS BEING IN IT?
DUFF: Not really. We did a few. We did one for the parade when the Ravens came back from the game. We also did one for when they were leaving for New Orleans; when the guys were getting on the plane. We made a cake and it was like an oversized football with Ray Lewis riding a Raven like busting out of it. It was pretty cool.
TSH: WHAT’S THE CRAZIEST SUPER BOWL/SPORTS CAKE YOU’VE EVER HAD TO MAKE?
DUFF: We made a cake for the Super Bowl in ‘07 for Bears-Colts. It was a huge field and we had both the teams on their playing and it had a 5-foot chocolate Lombardi Trophy right there on the middle. It was crazy because it was like outside and the wind was blowing and I was afraid it was going to roll over, and it was in Miami so it was like super humid and everything was melting. It was a nightmare, but we got it done, though.
TSH: SO WHERE DOES YOU ALLEGIANCE LIE WHEN IT COMES TO BASEBALL? I KNOW YOU’RE IN BALTIMORE, BUT I’VE SEEN MANY PHOTOS OF YOU WITH A RED SOX HAT, SO I’M HOPING YOU’RE A RED SOX FAN.
DUFF: I don’t really have a baseball allegiance. I grew up on the Cape, so most of my sports allegiance is New England. I’m a diehard Bruins fan. If I’m going to wear a baseball hat, chances are it’s going to be the Red Sox. When I went for college and I came down to Baltimore, I was a Patriots fan, and you know they’d been breaking my heart for a long time. So, I’m down in Baltimore and that’s when the Ravens became a team, so I was like, “You know what? I’ll start rooting for these guys. I’m in college, I’ll be here for their first season; it’ll be great.” And so I started rooting for the Ravens and that’s just how I became a Ravens fan. Ever since day one.
TSH: OUR WEBSITE ALSO DEALS WITH SUPERHEROES. I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’RE A BIG FAN OF SUPERHEROES OR COMIC BOOKS AT ALL?
TSH: WE SAW SOME COMIC BOOK CAKES ON YOUR WEBSITE LIKE THE WONDER WOMAN CAKE.
DUFF: Oh yeah. That one was awesome!
TSH: DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVORITE COMIC BOOK CAKES THAT YOU’VE CREATED LATELY OR THAT YOU’RE MOST PROUD OF?
DUFF: Hmm. I’m going to have to dig deep here.
TSH: WELL WHAT WAS THE STORY BEHIND THE WONDER WOMAN CAKE?
DUFF: I’m really not sure. I think there are a lot of women that like to identify with Wonder Woman. I think she’s just one of those figures that women can look at and say, “Okay, here’s a strong, independent thinking woman,” and I think a lot of people can identify with her.
TSH: DID YOU BY ANY CHANCE GET TO SEE THE DARK KNIGHT RISES? DID YOU LIKE CATWOMAN’S ROLE IN IT, SPEAKING OF STRONG WOMEN?
DUFF: Yeah. I really like how they showed how conflicted she was, and how right on the fence of betrayal she always is. But when it really counted in the end, she came back to save the day. With Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, she wasn’t really Batman’s kryptonite, but she definitely exposed the sort of gray areas in Batman’s ethical code.
TSH: SO WE’VE GOT TO ASK: IF DUFF GOLDMAN COULD BE ONE SUPERHERO, WHO’D HE BE?
TSH: SO TO WRAP THINGS UP, DO YOU HAVE ANY FINAL PREDICTIONS ON THE RAVENS FOR NEXT SEASON? RAY LEWIS IS RETIRING AND FLACCO’S CONTRACT IS UP IN THE AIR, BUT DO YOU THINK THIS VICTORY SATISFIES BALTIMORE FANS FOR NOW OR ARE THEY ALREADY LOOKING TO REPEAT NEXT YEAR?
DUFF: Oh definitely. I don’t think anyone’s satisfied. You have these dynasties in football with the Mannings and Bradys, and even with Roethlisberger. The Ravens have been sort of bullying and bullying them lately, but they’re going to lose a lot this year in free agency. I don’t know if Reed is going to stay. He says he’s going to, but we’ve got to see what happens with Flacco’s contract. Brady just signed a contract extension for like $27M for three years and he’s taking one for the team, he said. I don’t know if that really puts pressure on Flacco to maybe take a little bit less and keep some of those guys. As amazing as Flacco is—and I’m 100% in the Flacco camp, I think that guy’s incredible and one of the best quarterbacks I’ve ever seen—a lot of those catches wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t Anquan Boldin catching that ball. Boldin was making catches that maybe Larry Fitzgerald wouldn’t be making because Boldin is just a big, strong tough dude that can go up with three guys and still come down with the ball. So, I think that part of Flacco’s priority is making sure that he’s got somebody on the other end of that equation. He’s got a great arm, but he also needs somebody who’s got great hands. You know, Torrey Smith is definitely that guy, but so is Anquan Boldin and even Ray Rice. Rice actually threw a touchdown last year and when I saw that I was like, “Yes, Ray Rice! Another quarterback!”
TSH: SO DO YOU THINK FLACCO DESERVES THIS DREW BREES TYPE OF MONEY AT $20M PER YEAR OR SHOULD HE GO THE BRADY WAY TO KEEP THE TEAM INTACT AND TRY TO BUILD A DYNASTY?
DUFF: It’s really hard to say because I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be in that position. When you talk to just regular guys like you and me it’s like, “Pay me a million dollars a year; I’d love to play football!” But it’s just hard to put yourself in that position. I guess when you are at that point you ask yourself, “Am I going to play any less good because I’m making $7M a year instead of $20M?” It’s just impossible for anyone like us to imagine what that’s like because if somebody said, “Duff, we’ll pay you $500,000 a year to go play nose tackle,” I’d do it, for sure. So Flacco’s got to do what’s best for him and I don’t think anyone can fault him for doing what’s best for him. A lot of people can say that it’d be really nice if he was altruistic and made sure that we kept some of those superstars on the team because we’re running out of cap room. I think it’s a lot easier to say, too, when it’s not your contract being discussed. I could armchair and lawyer you all day long, but at the end of the day Flacco’s earned what Flacco’s earned, and I think if he’s going to get what he deserves then the team needs to work with him. That’s why they put a salary cap in in the first place. You’ve got a New York Yankees type of situation.
TSH: WE LOVE THE FACT THAT YOU KNOW YOUR FOOTBALL.
DUFF: Oh yeah, I’m into it!
TSH: WE REALLY APPRECIATE YOU TAKING THE TIME TO TALK TO US AND THANKS AGAIN, DUFF!
DUFF: My pleasure, guys. Talk soon!
CLICK THE LINKS BELOW TO CHECK OUT: