Friday, October 09, 2009

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti on his team and the NFL

Last week on Ravens Rap Steve Bisciotti was our special guest and he was very forthcoming. Among the things we learned…

ON BRIAN BILLICK ~ Bisciotti was originally hesitant to fire Billick because of all the money owed him and the negative repercussions in the media surely to follow if he cut Billick loose despite a $20 million golden parachute. Since these were the overriding reasons for KEEPING Billick, he knew he had to swallow humble pie and make the move because clearly those are not compelling reasons for retaining a coach…Bisciotti said that Roger Goodell questioned how he might absorb the loss of the $20 million, Bisciotti quipped, “I did’t lose any money. My kids just lost part of their inheritance.”

ON REX RYAN ~ Rex was never really a serious candidate for Billick’s vacated spot. While Bisciotti believed that Rex would be a good head coach in the NFL and he expressed sincere happiness for Rex’ success in New York, he felt that the Ravens needed a complete change and that Rex was a big part of a team that was dominated by defense. For Rex to usher in a needed cultural change would be too tall a task. The Ravens needed new blood.

ON HIRING BILLICK’S REPLACEMENT ~ Jason Garrett was the team’s first choice but when it became apparent that Garrett was leveraging the Ravens and the Falcons to improve his position with the Cowboys, he called Ozzie Newsome at 1:30 in the morning to have him make the call to get John Harbaugh in town. Judging from the things Bisciotti shared, Harbaugh was the preferred choice for many in the organization.

ON THE IMPACT OF HARBAUGH ~ Had Harbaugh not been the head coach, Rex Ryan would not have stayed around in 2008 and Cam Cameron would have opted to sit out the season and collect a paycheck from the Dolphins. Harbaugh changed the way both highly regarded coordinators viewed the job openings. Bisciotti emphasized that Harbaugh was the only head coach that Cameron would have served under in ’08.

Bisciotti said that in many ways Harbaugh reminds him of himself and that he carries a chip on his shoulder. He added that Harbaugh can be a bit corny at times with his clichĂ©s and expressions. He thought that Harbaugh’s dubbing of the final 53 man roster as the “53 Mighty Men” would be laughed at by the players but to his surprise and delight, the players fully embraced it.

ON DRAFT DAY 2008 ~ Bisciotti really wanted the Ravens to make a play for a quarterback. The Ravens had Matt Ryan slightly ahead of Joe Flacco but Ozzie and Company did not want to make the investment to move up to get him. Bisciotti wanted Ryan yet relented and gave way to his personnel guys. Bisciotti mocked himself saying that if he had had his way, the Ravens would be coached by Jason Garrett and quarterbacked by Matt Ryan and they would have lost money and draft picks in the process.

ON BILLICK v. HARBAUGH ~ The differences between a Harbaugh practice and that of Billick are huge according to the Ravens’ owner. Billick wanted to get through practices injury free and they were conducted in a way that would preserve players for game day. If it rained Billick brought the team inside and if they played on the road in front of a typically hostile crowd, Billick was not a big believer in piped in music and background noise to simulate the atmosphere. He thought that would simply disrupt the concentration at practice…Harbaugh often practices at full speed to simulate game conditions, preferring to fail in practice than on game day. Harbaugh doesn’t hesitate to practice in bad weather and he welcomes the piped in high decibel levels in order to prepare his team for game conditions. The speed of practice was one of the first noticeable differences Bisciotti detected between a Billick v. Harbaugh led squad.

ON THE CREATURE COMFORTS OF M&T BANK STADIUM ~ For those of you wondering about changes to M&T Bank Stadium…if you are waiting with baited breath for escalators to the upper deck, it’s not going to happen. They do plan on continually refining the bathroom queuing and they are looking into adding more TV’s in the future both in and around the bathrooms. New large screen HDTV’s will be available for the 2010 season.

Generally speaking Bisciotti said the lifecycle of a stadium in the NFL today is 30 years. He would like to extend that by working closely with the Maryland Stadium Authority in a proactive way to provide the best creature comforts for the fans and to extend the stadium’s longevity.

ON THE FUTURE OF TV AND THE NFL ~ Bisciotti is a member the league’s executive broadcasting committee, exploring new ways to offer value to their sponsors. He said that the notion of pay-per-view for each NFL game in the future, something predicted by some in the media will never happen. He said that with the growing interest in the number of cable companies seeking to broadcast the NFL that he could anticipate game broadcasts being part of premium cable packages but pay-per-view on a game by game basis would not work.

You can hear the interview in its entirety here at our Ravens Rap Webcast Link.

NOTE: we had some technical difficulties with the video portion, the audio is fine.


Jerry B said...

Great commentary on a great owner! We are fortunate, in deed, to have an owner capable of following in the giant footsteps of Art Modell. This franchise is in very good hands for may years to come........

Jeff said...

Did anyone ask Steve Bisciotti how he could go from giving Brian Billick a very large extension to firing him the next year? The move has worked out well. But I am sure Steve is a very bright man who is very confident in his decisions. Why give Billick a 4 year deal if you are not sure about him?

Harryos29 said...

harry Os 29
...YES .. Steve is a very good owner and being a true manager..he lets OZZIE make the Draft choices and rightly so. Kenny Britt may have been nice to have on the outside...but had the Ravens not Taken MICHAEL OEHR..Joe Flacco may not have been up right to throw passes to Britt. I think our Draft was just fine. I watched the show on thursday nite, but had trouble with the Audio. Nice that you have the Transcript available. We love Bruce Laird out here in Sykesville..and are old enought to remember # 40 from Ameriican Interantional running back punts for the BALTIMORE COLTS!

Anonymous said...

Hey are you a professional journalist? This article is very well written, as compared to most other blogs i saw today….
anyhow thanks for the good read!