For Billick, Ravens, talk of Super-sized goal is no longer frowned upon

Game Face

August 02, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

IT SEEMS LIKE only yesterday - actually, it was four years ago - that Ravens coach Brian Billick would not let anyone on his team mention the word "playoffs" during the regular season.

He had his reasons. No sense getting ahead of yourself. Play them one game at a time. Take nothing for granted. Fill in your favorite sports axiom here if I missed any.

I'm bringing this up only because there is a whole new philosophy at Ravens training camp this year. You can't walk 10 feet at McDaniel College without tripping over someone who wants to talk about the Super Bowl.

"That's about all that's left," Billick said. "With the new contract, anything less and they'll run me out of town."

Billick is exaggerating, of course. If the Ravens don't end up in Jacksonville, Fla., there will be a lot of disappointed football fans in Baltimore, but his new contract guarantees that if he gets run out of town, it will be in a stretch limo, not on a rail.

There is some dispute about the actual size of Billick's new deal. He said the figure reported in The Sun - an estimated $4.5 million per year - is inaccurate, though he declined to reveal his salary.

It might have come out during Friday's news conference if not for a total wimp-out by 98 Rock microphone jockey Jerry Coleman, who pressed Billick on the issue and created this exchange.

Billick: "Jerry, if you tell me what you make, I'll tell you what I make."

Coleman: Uncomfortable grin and silence.

All Coleman had to do to call Billick's bluff was throw out a number - any number - but he was left speechless, which was enough to make Billick my new hero.

McDaniel College (Official Motto: "Changing Lives Since 1879") played host to record crowds during the first weekend of workouts. The Ravens estimated that more than 6,700 fans milled around the scenic campus Friday.

Have to confess it was my first visit to McDaniel (Unofficial Motto: "It only took us 120 years to figure out we're not in Western Maryland"), which is the kind of beautiful, old-fashioned college I dreamed of going to before enrolling at bucolic Cal State Fullerton. Motto: "We just won our fourth College World Series, so shove it."

The NFL season is always a challenge around the sprawling Schmuck estate in Millersville, because my son is a die-hard Redskins fan.

The life-size poster of Dan Snyder - I think it came out of the Reader's Digest Football Preview - is bad enough, but watching your son cry every Sunday afternoon is almost too much to bear, especially when the kid is 19 years old.

Can't fault Ricky Williams for taking a powder (poor choice of words). The guy was going to get docked $650,000 by the NFL for smoking weed, which is bad for you, though probably not as bad as getting speared 500 times a year by the heavyweight division of the BALCO Dream Team. There's no way to prove that, of course, because the double-blind study by the National Institutes of Health isn't complete yet, but it just seems logical.

Still, you won't find me endorsing grass unless we're having a debate about artificial turf.

Mike Tyson used to be the baddest man on the planet. Now, he's just the worst fighter, torn knee ligament or not.

Here's all you need to know about the erstwhile Iron Mike. I love boxing and I could have put Friday night's pay-per-view extravaganza on my unlimited Sun expense account. I rented Mystic River instead - on my own dime - and I had already seen it twice.

The last word: Can't help but be disappointed about the Kyle Boller/Tara Reid breakup. The beautiful young actress showed up at an Orioles game with Boller a few weeks ago and sat right in front of the press box. Don't remember who won the game, but I can probably guess.

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