Biting remarks on Fox eat at owner Modell


Announcers were critical of Billick, salary cap state

Pro Football

August 28, 2002|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

With less than two weeks before the start of the regular season, Ravens executives are already unhappy about some of the shots taken at the team.

During the nationally televised game against the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday night, Fox announcers Joe Buck and Cris Collinsworth ripped Ravens coach Brian Billick, questioned the ability of starting quarterback Chris Redman and criticized the team's salary cap-shredded state. It was a harsh analysis for a team that has yet to play a meaningful game.

"I was very disappointed in that broadcast," Ravens owner Art Modell said. "I've been in this business a long time, and I ran the television committee for 31, 32 years and negotiated contracts. I know all the media people, all the announcers. I thought their pre-game show on Fox was unprofessional. That's all I'm going to say. I'm not going to single out who or what was said. It's not up to the standards of Fox."

The Ravens were on top of the football world after their Super Bowl XXXV win over the New York Giants in January 2001. The team, though, was not embraced from a national perspective, partly because of the perceived arrogance of Billick. The Ravens could be feeling a backlash now.

"They want to feed off what they perceive to be the underprivileged," Modell said. "We surprise everybody and win the Super Bowl two years ago, and now they have nothing better to do than pick on us. But I'm not worried about that. I do my answering on the field. Well, not me, but my players will try and answer it."

Fox announcers compared Billick to Maxwell Smart from the television show Get Smart, and used graphics to illustrate. The announcers claimed tongue-in-cheek that Billick's use of seven quarterbacks in four years was exactly the way he planned it, similar to how Smart would bumble his way through a mission, only to see it all work out in the end.

As for whether he thinks people view Billick as a know-it-all, Modell said, "Compared to [Redskins coach] Steve Spurrier, he's mild. ... You have to be arrogant and proud and confident if you're a coach."

Some, though, may think Billick takes that attitude to an extreme, and as the Fox broadcast showed, will now not hesitate to kick the Ravens while they might be down.

"I'm certainly not going to take offense to it," Billick said. "If that is what they choose to do, then that's OK. Hopefully, my players won't have to suffer too much for it if that is indeed what it is."

No QB controversy

Billick made clear his quarterback rotation for tomorrow's game. Redman will play the entire first half, and backup Jeff Blake will not see any action with the first team.

Blake played with the starters in the second quarter of the Ravens' win over Philadelphia. Though Billick announced his intentions before the game, some major news outlets never got word and thought Redman was being benched. Billick wanted to give Blake a relief from having to work with the backup offensive line.

"I told you ahead of time that Blake was going to take about eight or nine snaps with the first group, then it's, `Holy mackerel, we're at a full-blown quarterback controversy, " Billick said. "I said we wanted to give the poor [guy] a chance not to have to run around the whole afternoon. But you see, no good deed goes unpunished. Now we have a quarterback controversy."

Arnold, Mitchell released

The Ravens released linebacker Andre Arnold and receiver Lonny Mitchell yesterday. Arnold suffered a knee injury early in camp that required arthroscopic surgery and has not practiced since. Mitchell had two receptions for 24 yards in three preseason games.

Most teams had to be down to 65 players by yesterday afternoon, but the Ravens have 66 on their roster because receiver Kenyon Hambrick received an NFL Europe exemption.

The Ravens must reduce their roster to 53 by Sunday.

End zone

Cornerback James Trapp (torn pectoral muscle) and defensive end Tony Weaver (ankle) did not practice. Neither will play against the Giants. ... Linebacker Adalius Thomas returned to practice after missing Monday's session for personal reasons.

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