Story time, with Brian Billick
Earlier this week, former Ravens Head Coach and Super Bowl Champion, Brian Billick, spoke to some fans at Dempsey’s Brew Pub, inside the Warehouse at Camden Yards. I was able to attend, and Billick didn’t disappoint. If you love storytellers, this is your guy. Here are some highlights from the evening. Bruce Cunningham was the emcee for the event.
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When he knew Ray Lewis was special
“It was such a special group… We were on track to beat the total shutouts record, we had four…We’re playing Cleveland. My guys, I can tell our defense is just frothing at the mouth….We’re going to get another shutout… We come out and Cleveland marches the length of the field, 86 yards, on the first drive to score. So the shut out is gone…the defense is coming off the field, and I’m walking out to do my head coaching thing. Here comes Ray and Rod Woodson… Ray looks at me and says “Don’t say a thing.” So I make a hard left for the Gatorade, I get out of the way. I figure Ray is going to take care of this…They had 86 yards on the first drive, they had 112 yards total on the day…It was the best thing that could have happened to us. They got challenged early, they got embarrassed. Then I thought, this is a little special. I think I’m going to ride those guys.”
“His [Mike Preston’s] biggest single criticism of mine was that my training camps were too soft…club creampuff, which is the way now the entire league is practicing as dictated by the CBA.”
Studio Analyst vs. Color Commentator
“Troy Aikman told me, “Do the games. You will love doing the games.” The studio stuff is fun, but it’s like they keep shoving clowns in the clown car. They keep shoving bodies in there and it’s not really about football.”
“I have an agreement with them [NFL Network], cause even they have a view of what the fans want…You gotta promise me, for every hour we do of football, if I’m there, let me do ten minutes of REAL football. If you don’t want to do real football for at least ten minutes of every hour, you have other guys there that can do that….The fans out there know, and they want to know, it’s real football.”
On if he’ll ever get into coaching again
“They’re looking for young and cheap, and I’m neither.”
“I knew when I was definitively done, last year we had Philly and Arizona. Both teams undefeated, and we didn’t know both teams sucked at the time (laughter). Andy Reid and I went to school Together, I’ve known Ken Whisenhunt for years. Arizona wins…I come down and there is Andy in the Philly locker room, I can look at Andy…I see the look on Andy’s face and I go that’s why I’m not coaching anymore. I know that look. I go by Ken Whisenhunt, and he looks worse than Andy. That’s why I’m not coaching anymore. Ken Whisenhunt knew they weren’t very good, and that’s how short lived a win in the NFL is, between on the sideline in a big win…by the time you get to the locker room your already thinking about the next game, what you’re going to do at quarterback. That lack of being able to truly appreciate the wins…you lose touch a little bit with why you do this because your holding off the emotional highs and lows, and that’s not a way to coach.”
Thoughts on Joe Flacco
“I don’t understand the hesitation about Joe Flacco. Guy is a tremendous quarterback. I think you’re going to see an elevated game from Joe Flacco this year. There’s a physical maturity about Joe that I see…I would have loved to have had Joe Flacco. In Indianapolis they get Peyton Manning for 18 years, they get Andrew Luck who is phenomenal. They are looking at 30 years…I’d like 30 quarters in my career of that kind of quarterback play…But Joe Flacco is the real deal, they’ve handled him brilliantly. We all know what life looks like without a quarterback. You miss on a first round quarterback; you’re talking to some fans on a Tuesday night instead of coaching a team.
How the Ravens nearly landed Byron Leftwich instead of Terrell Suggs
“Terrell Suggs was second or third on our board…We knew we had to get a quarterback and the three we’re looking at are Carson Palmer, Byron Leftwhich, and Kyle Boller. We knew Carson Palmer was going number one, so it was Byron Leftwich and Kyle Boller, who we rated very close to one other. Ozzie was of the mind that we would have to move up from ten, to seven or eight to get Byron Leftwich. So we put the mechanism in place…we’re on the phone with Minnesota and Jacksonville, both are trying to move up to get Byron. Minnesota has the pick. Mike Tice who coached with me, we’re going back and forth…The deal is done…The brilliance of the NFL, there is number you call to verify these trades…no answer. “Did it occur to anybody we’re drafting today?” So we can’t get it in time. Minnesota ends up switching with Jacksonville who takes Byron Leftwhich. We want to get our card in for Terell Suggs, Minnesota turns their card in, takes Kevin Williams, and in a blink, boom Terrell Suggs.
“What Happened with Kyle Boller?” Bruce asked. “Besides bad coaching?” replied Billick.
Some other interesting notes:
PGA golfer, Phil Mickleson, won $150,000 betting on the Ravens to win the Super Bowl in 2000 at 50-1 odds. (For you math majors, that’s a $3,000 bet).
Brian Billick’s firing came as a shock to Ozzie Newsome. So the day after his firing, Ozzie called him in to meet, and asked for some advice on the next head coach. Brian Billick recommended John Harbaugh.