Thursday, October 04, 2007

Trent Dilfer Steps up in More Ways Than One

Back during the Super Bowl season, I remember a late night in Canton during the week between the AFC Championship win against the Raiders and Super Bowl XXXV in Tampa. I happen to be in Cosmopolitan’s at the time and I received a call from some friends who had just ventured from there across the street to Looney’s.

“Tony, you need to get over here”, I was told.

My friends aren’t in the habit of delivering false alarms so I asked no questions and took a short stroll across the Canton Square.

When I arrived at Looney’s I noticed a big white stretch limo and when I opened the door, I saw Trent Dilfer holding court, surrounded by several of his teammates, my two friends and one of Looney’s owners Steve LiTrenta.

LiTrenta offered encouragement as the Ravens prepared for XXXV and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, he said, “The Ravens better win!”

You see LiTrenta had just invested a few thousand in the Ravens. He plunked down his Benjamins with Towson Travel (a nightmare he would later regret) to see the Ravens take on the Giants at Raymond James Stadium.

Dilfer shrugged off LiTrenta’s comments and with a delivery laced with bravado that would make the boldest of NBC’s birds proud, he bragged that he was spending about $20,000 to take his family back to the town where Dilfer cut his NFL teeth.

Those comments lingered for me and they sullied Dilfer’s reputation, at least in my eyes. He had just kicked LiTrenta’s financial commitment to the team to the curb. He pounded his chest in the proverbial sense like an 800 pound gorilla despite that fact that in the grand scheme of things and as a percentage of discretionary income, LiTrenta probably invested much more than Dilfer.

A few months later Dilfer was justly removed from the Ravens starting QB job, a move that triggered non-stop whining from Dilfer for years. He cried a river from Baltimore to Seattle to Cleveland and then to San Francisco about how Brian Billick took away any chance he and the Ravens had of repeating as a Super Bowl Champ.

Then suddenly yesterday the whining stopped.

"I want to use this opportunity to publicly apologize to Brian for that bitterness," Dilfer told Baltimore reporters. "I'm going to make a point to see him on Sunday. He's been the man in this deal and I haven't. He's been the adult.

"I've been the childish one, and I want to end that right now. I still strongly disagree with it, but there's a difference in disagreeing with a decision and letting that decision bring bitterness in somebody."

Now that was the last thing I expected to hear. I expected more whining, more bitterness and more publicly delivered angst towards Brian Billick, as though he really needs more of that these days.

Instead, Dilfer didn’t just have a slice of humble pie…he ate the whole thing!

My years of jadedness towards Dilfer ended as abruptly as his whining. He made me realize that I was wrong for carrying those feelings about him based upon one sly remark seven years ago.

Dilfer stepped up and faced the music while admitting to the world that he was wrong and that he needed to grow up. If he was going to teach his child about responsibility and offer her wisdom from his own experiences, well then he just better practice what he preaches.

"I think I've grown up as a man. You're always trying to get better. Here I am six years later and I wasn't able to let something go. This is as much to stretch me as a human being and to not be hypocritical in my parenting."

He admitted to being a hypocrite and in the process my respect for this man just made a missile-sized hole in the roof. Perhaps Dilfer parented all of us a bit, certainly me. He reminded us that it’s ok to admit a mistake – we all make them, and then take the measures to correct them.

Hopefully Brian Billick and the Ravens were listening too.


Harryos29 said...

I am a big Trent Dilfer fan. If my math is correct, the morning paper had his record as a starter with different NFL teams and I totaled up a record of a winner, not a whiner. 60-50. I think it was time to bury the hatchet, and Trent showed us once again that he has Class!
Although, I cannot root for him this Sunday, Trent will always have a special place in Baltimore Sports history for his Performance during the year 2000 and on to the Super Bowl. Best to Trent in the future, (after this sunday)
Hint to Billick: Start your backup QB this sunday and let Steve McNair heal for another week!

Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Trent Dilfer, the Ravens won the Super Bowl in spite of him! His playoff completion rate was under 50%, he was just asked not to make any mistakes. And to his credit he didn't, but without that swarming defense and flashy special teams play, we would have never been there! Besides that, everybody and I mean EVERYBODY was calling for a new quarterback to start the 2001 season! That offense was UGLY! I think Trent Dilfer is a heck of a guy and I am extremely grateful for his poise under pressure during that Super Bowl run, but I can't agree that we would have repeated with him as QB especially without a healthy Jamal Lewis.