Make it official: Billick fined $10,000


League penalizes coach for comments before game against Browns

November 12, 1999|By Mike Preston and Brent Jones | Mike Preston and Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Ravens coach Brian Billick has been fined $10,000 by the league for comments about the officiating before Sunday's game against the Cleveland Browns, which ended in a 41-9 Ravens victory.

On Nov. 1 at the team's weekly scheduled news conference, Billick said the league wanted Cleveland to win, which disturbed league and Browns officials. Ravens owner Art Modell owned the Cleveland franchise from 1961 through 1995, but moved the team to Baltimore for the 1996 season. The Ravens' victory Sunday was the team's first visit back to Cleveland since the move.

"I can appreciate the league's perspective and the actions that were taken," said Billick. "I understand and support what happened. The bottom line here is that the commissioner has a real good idea of what happened and the sequencing of events. I think he is comfortable with what came down. He has to make sure that however unintentional, that the officiating is above reproach and I appreciate that. I thought there was closure after the Cleveland game, but I guess this is it."

One day after the Ravens had lost to the Buffalo Bills, 13-10, Billick questioned if the officials could remain impartial in new Cleveland Browns Stadium with a hostile, emotional environment.

"I know darn well we're not going to get a call in Cleveland, no way, no shape, no form, no how," said Billick. "The league would really like to see Cleveland beat us."

Two days later, Billick apologized.

Mulitalo starts at top

Rookie offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo will make his first professional start, on the road and against the league's No. 1-ranked defense.

He said no matter what happens, things can only go up from here.

"I thought of this situation in different ways," Mulitalo said. "This can be bad or this can be good. Having my first start against the best defensive line -- after that my standard is set. So every other defensive line, I'll measure up to this defensive line."

Mulitalo starts for Everett Lindsay, who switched to right tackle in place of Harry Swayne. Swayne was put on injured reserve after having surgery to repair a bone fracture in his foot and will miss the rest of the season.

Mulitalo was drafted in the fourth round out of Arizona. Billick decided to start Mulitalo instead of last year's starter, James Atkins, who Billick said needs to get in better football shape.

"Edwin is a very physical player, and I think he's comfortable enough with the system right now," Billick said. "He's got a certain level of maturity beyond that of many rookies. But he's still a rookie so there are going to be some times when he struggles a bit."

Woodson settling in

After intercepting passes in back-to-back games, safety Rod Woodson is starting to look more comfortable in his new position.

Woodson moved from cornerback to safety during the preseason. It was a rough transition for the 13-year veteran at first, but midway through the season he said his comfort level is starting to rise.

"I'm way more comfortable now than I was in Week 2," Woodson said. "It is a learning curve. Like any learning curve, it takes a period of time to become more comfortable. Hopefully, in Week 10, I'll be more comfortable than I am today."

Woodson got his second interception of the year last week against Cleveland and returned it 66 yards for a touchdown, the longest in his career.

"I'm more patient," Woodson said. "I understand where the free safety needs to be at certain times."

Mr. Versatility

If there is anything positive Lindsay is taking out of having to switch back to tackle, it is having a week to prepare.

"As long as I've got a week preparation, I'm fine," Lindsay said. "It is more troublesome when you change in the course of a game without practicing. If you can focus in on your feet all week, it really helps you out."

Lindsay came over from Minnesota and has been worth the sixth-round pick the Ravens gave up to get him on draft day.

With tackles Swayne, Jonathan Ogden and Spencer Folau going down at various times during the year, Lindsay has had to switch positions, sometimes in mid-game.

"That's kind of his plight in life right now, having to move around," Billick said.

"Obviously that is where his biggest value is, as he has proven for a while now. If he could ever settle in at one position and have to play that throughout, I think you'd see just how good of a lineman Everett is."

Lindsay could stay at right tackle or move back to left guard once Folau, who is recovering from a knee injury, is able to play.

Looking for playing time

Offensive tackle Sammy Williams hopes he gets more playing time with the Ravens than he did with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Williams signed with the Ravens on Wednesday, a day after getting cut by the Chiefs.

"It was a whole lot different," Williams said.

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