Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Brian Billick talks about being fired...the final chapter of Ask Brian


Tony Lombardi: Brian, you’ve kept a low profile since your dismissal on New Year’s Eve. My guess is that your firing took you by surprise. The last time we met you were a bit in denial. You've had some time to digest the fact that you are no longer the Ravens head coach. If you could, walk me through the sequence of events on that fateful last day of 2007.

Brian Billick: Well I woke up that morning thinking that the family would head on down to our place around St. Michael’s for a nice, relaxing weekend. I know that I needed it and so did the wife and kids. Last season placed a lot of stress on the family. They are aware that it comes with the territory and I have to remind them each Friday when that Brinks Truck pulls up to our Reisterstown home and that beeping goes off when it backs up to our porch with $100,000, that it’s all good – that it’s all worth it.

I tell them that all those hours Daddy spends at One Winning Drive playing racquetball and working out that stress is all worth it come Friday. They get it. They understand the parameters of living a life with an esteemed member of the NFL’s coaching fraternity.

TL: Have any of the girls ever come home distraught from the criticisms directed towards you and how have you dealt with that?

BB: They really do understand it and they’ve learned to accept it and respond to it in an appropriate way clearly within the parameters of how I would hope they would respond. They’ve done very, very well.

Not too long ago my youngest came home particularly upset by the rather obviously short sighted criticisms of my clock management. By the end of the day I had a new Rolex. Then came the knocks on my play calling and shortly thereafter the girls chipped in again and I received a new Sony portable DVD player. That is particularly handy during team flights when they show something lame like Any Given Sunday or Remember the Titans. I prefer re-runs of the Match Game. I was on the Match Game once you know. Got knocked out – something to do with the clock running out before I could get my answer in. Semantics, you know?

TL: Back to New Year’s Eve…how did Steve Bisciotti inform you that you were being replaced?

BB: I had just finished a few games of racquetball. I absolutely annihilated Art Modell and left him pretty much breathless on Court No. 2. I then sat in the sauna for a good 20 minutes contemplating who we might interview to be our next offensive coordinator. Matt Cavanaugh isn’t very happy at Pitt and clearly Jim Fassel isn’t all that so I thought they may provide some intrigue to our fans in a returning capacity.

I also thought that June Jones might want to bring his exciting brand of offense back to the mainland but then someone told me he took the head coaching job at SMU and from what I hear, SMU pays big dough. Out of potential replacements for Rick Neuheisel, I went up to my office after a shower, cracked open a pilsner, sat back on the couch and listened to a little Sonny and Cher. Hey I wonder if June needs an assistant?

Anyway, right in the middle of The Beat Goes On – I’ve really got my groove on at this point, Steve walks into my office, turns down the volume and says, “We need to talk.”

I wish I liked Bruce Springsteen because I know he would have waited a little longer to break the news if I had Thunder Road on my 8-Track and if he had waited, perhaps he would have changed his mind – AGAIN!

So he said, “Look Brian, I know that I had said to you in private that you would be returning next season to coach my team but I’ve had a change of heart. I no longer believe that you are the man to guide this team. I do believe that you are a good coach and that you will do well again on an NFL sideline. But given the composition of the roster and the obvious disconnect between you and the team, it can’t be my sideline.”

TL: So what happened next?

BB: I said, “Steve, you realize that you still owe me $15 million don’t you? Do you want to pay me for nothing?”

To which he said, “What’s the difference?”

I didn’t quite grasp the relevancy of that statement and his articulation wasn’t very balanced but the pacing was just right and when the message actually registered with me, I was absolutely ecstatic. Here was a brilliant young billionaire willing to pay me $15 million to sit on my Eastern Shore-bound ass for three years.

That was reason enough to break out the Lancer’s white bubbly wine and crank up ABBA’s, That’s the Name of the Game -- one that I had clearly won.

TL: Steve looked rather somber at the press conference to announce your firing. Did you watch it?

BB: Absolutely! The kids and I sat in our home theater with a mountain of popcorn and munched with delight to the drama. It was like watching some reality show on the Oxygen Network or Lifetime. I did feel bad for him for awhile and I was touched by some of the things he said. I started to agree with him when he said that he didn’t think that I was the guy to lead the team going forward. But then I changed my mind (laughing). Paybacks are a bitch.

TL: We saw you on Inside the NFL. How did that go?

BB: Tony I have to tell you, I am in my element when the bright lights and that camera come on. I Tivo’d that episode and I’ve watched it over and over – well at least the few minutes when I was on. I raised the bar for that show. I helped to take it to a new level of insightful analysis. Have they have a Super Bowl winning coach on that set? No, so I’m sure I’ll be back on with Costas and the gang and I’m sure Inside the NFL will be better than ever in 2008 should I decide to return.

TL: Brian did you know that HBO cancelled Inside the NFL.

BB: Yeah right, that show has been on HBO for like 20 plus years. They are the quarterback of sports broadcasting for HBO.

TL: Looks like you’ve killed another quarterback.

BB: What do you mean?

TL: Your first show with Inside the NFL was the series’ swan song. They’ve cancelled it.

BB: Ouch! Good thing I’ve got my 15 mil. Steve didn’t change his mind about paying me did he?

TL: I don’t think so but I do think he’s expecting a dinner of grandiose proportions at your new Eastern Shore estate.

BB: No problem, just as long as he brings some of those Cohibas with him.

TL: I didn’t take you as someone who might enjoy a fine Cuban cigar.

BB: I'm not but they do help to keep the mosquitoes away on a summer evening along the Choptank River.

TL: Better get out the Bruce Springsteen when he arrives. You don’t want those checks to stop coming.

BB: Yeah no kidding. Hey do you think this will be the final installment of “Ask Brian” too?

TL: Well some of our visitors have called “Ask Brian” the quarterback of 24x7.

BB: Uh-oh.

TL: Brian is that Kyle over there trimming your hedgerow?

BB: Well yeah…don’t you think he owes me?

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Everyone needs a little levity now and then right? So keep that in mind with yet another fictional edition of "Ask Brian".

Photo by Sabina Moran

4 comments :

ravcol said...

Cohibas??

Anonymous said...

SK: So, Brian...do you think that your handling of Steve McNair ended up costing you your job?

BB: "I think Steve played very very well".

SK: So, Brian...do you think that your handling of Kyle Boller ended up costing you your job?

BB: "I think Kyle played very very well".

SK: So, Brian...do you think that your handling of Ray Lewis ended up costing you your job?

BB: "I think Ray played very very well".

SK: So, Brian...do you think that the criticism that you're out of touch with reality is valid?

BB: "Now that's really a very common misperception. You see...what slapdicks like you don't understand is that I wasn't actually fired at all. I was simply relocated within the corporate parameters of the pre-defined alternative arrangements. Of course, I don't expect you to grasp the complexity of the situation, so let me just simplify it for you: I'm still getting paid my $15,000,000.00. I just call the shots from here, rather than from there. You see? It's all a matter of one little letter -- "t". That's the only difference between "here" and "there".

SK: So, Brian...what you're saying is that you weren't really fired?

BB: "I think I did very very well".

Anonymous said...

Billick gets fired and he's still this arrogant. Unbelievable! He sounds like he had too many pilsners before the interview.

Anonymous said...

Uhm....anonymous from 4:10...it's a parody interview. It's one of Tony's specialties of the house. And now that Billick's gone, it'll probably be the last in the "Ask Brian" (i.e. parody interview) series.

NOTE: Look at the bottom of the interview for the "parody" disclaimer.