Brian Billick looks back at the 2000 season with Sun columnist… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
This Q&A is part of a special commemorative edition that will publish in print Friday and will be rolled out online and for mobile devices throughout the day Thursday. We invite you to pick up the paper Friday and to check back on our site and mobile site throughout the day Thursday and Friday for more Ravens Super Bowl content.
It isn't easy to get Brian Billick to sit down. He hasn't missed a beat since he was replaced as Ravens coach after the 2007 season, moving into a television analyst role with Fox, writing a well-received behind-the-scenes book about the NFL ("More Than a Game") and — for no more than a couple of days a week during the football season — enjoying life at his picturesque riverside home on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
He's a busy guy, but on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the greatest season in Ravens history, he invited me into his home for an extended conversation about the 2000 regular season, the playoffs and the Ravens' 34-7 victory over the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Question: I'll start you off with a big softball. When I say the words "2001 Super Bowl" to you, what's the first thing that pops into your mind?
Answer: Probably hard not to think of standing on that podium and holding that trophy and all that that means and represents. It's amazing. Obviously, I'm traveling a lot. There's not a day that I'm not at the airport or in town and a week doesn't go by when somebody doesn't come up and say in a very heartfelt, genuine way, "Hey, thanks for the Super Bowl," and probably someone who, at the end, was calling for my head. It's hard to imagine that 10 years removed, it affects people like that still.
Q: It was relatively early in your career. Do you think you really could grasp the significance of doing something so quickly that a lot of coaches never experience?
A: In a perfect world, in hindsight, you'd love to maybe do it like Bill Cowher. You have a career. It comes at the end. You go off into the sunset. I've told this story many times. After the win, we had the party and it's all night, and in the infinite wisdom of the NFL, they decide that they're going to get the coach to have a news conference at 8 a.m. in front of all the media. So at about 6 o'clock, I left the party went up to the suite, took a shower and tried to regenerate myself, and I had -- for lack of a better term -- an anxiety attack. I knew my life was not going to be the same. Not better. Not worse. Just was going to be different. Professionally and personally. And that idea of, first, there are so many coaches that don't have that opportunity, and if you do
if you're lucky and you get one, that was going to be the benchmark going forward. Can you repeat it? And the odds of that. It does occur to you, what you're facing. You could take the same decade, win for win, flip it, and I mean point for point, win for win, and compare it to the other way around and
Q: You'd still be doing it?
A: Yeah, and it is what it is. I don't say that from the standpoint of anyone needs to feel sorry for me. It was great to have, but it does frame it in a different way than if you do it the other way.
Q: How fresh is it in your mind? I know a lot of athletes who don't like to reflect on the high points of their careers until they are done with their careers, and I'm guessing you don't feel you're at the end of your coaching career. Do you think about that season much?
A: I'm not one to do that anyway, but it is more fresh because we're on the anniversary, so it's coming up a lot. So that's probably not a fair barometer because this is the 10-year anniversary and you're hearing more about it. You're always aware of it. You're appreciative of it. I'm not one to dwell on it. There are moments to live going forward. You appreciate it, but you don't dwell on it to the point of trying to live off that single moment for the rest of your life.
Q: That season wasn't a cakewalk. It was a season you started quick, with a couple of real big wins -- high-scoring wins -- and then you slid into that streak of five games without a touchdown and replaced starting quarterback Tony Banks. Handing the offense over to Trent Dilfer turned out to be the pivotal decision of the season.
A: Yeah, I would think so. It was such an unlikely run. It's one thing to be a dominant team that you're expected to do well and you make a run to it and you live up to it. Or you're thought of in those terms. We came out of nowhere. No one expected us, and for no other reason than to win that way, and I'm not sure you can repeat it in today's game.