Ravens owner opens up about 2011 season

February 01, 2012|Kevin Cowherd

I came away from Wednesday's "State of the Ravens" news conference at The Castle with one thought: Don't you wish, Steve Bisciotti would open up a little?

OK, I'm kidding. Who's better at these things than the Ravens' owner? He sits up there with Dick Cass and Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh for an hour and patiently answers every question. And here's the thing: Bisciotti doesn't just tell you what he thinks. He practically opens a vein and tells you what he's feeling, too.

No wonder everyone in the NFL wants to play for him. Heck, if I didn't like what I did, I'd be firing off a resume to the big lug myself, begging him for a job.

Or at least a ride on his yacht. And maybe some tanning tips.

So as usual, Bisciotti was the star of the show yesterday, mainly because of his candor, but also because this is about the only time we can interview the guy. The rest of the year, he's about as accessible as J.D. Salinger.

So let's get the important stuff out of the way first. Is he over that horrible 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game?

Yeah, right.

"I'm not over it," he said with a wince. He talked about busying himself with staff meetings and free agency matters but still looked like a man with terminal heartburn.

"The more you get into 2012, the more you realize the pain is going away," he said. "But, no, you're not over it, but we have to move on."

OK, fine. What about the awful ending? Didn't he just want to rip into Lee Evans for dropping that pass in the end zone? Didn't he want to strangle Billy Cundiff for missing that 32-yard field goal, the one that screamed toward the concession stands rather than the goal posts?

"When you work as hard as you do to put a team together like this … they become kind of like sons to you," Bisciotti said of the players. "So you feel for them. You can't get mad. This business is about managing your mistakes and managing your failures.

"So inopportune things like that kill these guys and I die with them. I don't lash out. It's just different. You end up caring for these guys. You know how much time and effort they put in and it breaks your heart that someone's got to be the goat."

Do you believe this guy? Who is he, St. Francis of Assisi? But the truth is, Bisciotti understand failure and suffering. Because he fails and suffers when the team does.

Someone asked if he looked at the Ravens record the past four years with a mixture of pride and disappointment. Bisciotti nodded immediately.

"I am proud of it," he said. "… I'm proud of the product we're giving to Baltimore. But, yeah, this is a business. I've told you in the past, if it wasn't for the elation you get from winning, no one would subject themselves to this kind of pain or suffering. You might think I lay on the beach all day with this tan, but I don't.

"You come home from losses some nights and you think: 'What are you putting yourself through this (for)?' And then you experience those wins and you remind yourself that with the good comes the bad. Yeah, a lot of pride and a lot of disappointment."

On and on it went, Bisciotti addressing everything from his sorrow that the Ravens were no longer training in Westminster to his uncertainty over whether Ed Reed would be back ("Ed Reed doesn't give definitive answers") to his being mystified at all the criticism Joe Flacco takes from fans in this town.

Someone asked how much that had to do with Flacco's laid back personality. And if you wanted to see an owner have a player's back, this was the moment.

"I think a lot of it," he said. "I really do. I think that it's perceived as a weakness when you're young. And yet we had John Unitas here and he didn't scream and yell at people either. A lot of people take offense that Joe doesn't get mad at wide receivers, like, literally when the TV cameras are on him, when they drop balls.

"Like Joe said, 'I don't expect them to yell at me when I throw at their ankles sometimes. It's part of the game and they're not going to get over it quicker if I yell at them.' That's just not good enough for people. They're like: 'bad answer.' And I thought it was a pretty good answer.

"People want to see fire in their athletes and we know Joe has it. Should we get him a coach and tell him to fake it and be a ra-ra guy, and next thing you know, he's focused on something other than what we want him to focus on …

"I think that most people in sports want to see Type A's (personalities) and Joe is solid in the Type B camp. And I think he is going to be extremely successful and I think he's going to have (Super Bowl) rings and I think he has 10 years of his prime to show it. And I think that he will be rewarded for his personality in the long run. And hopefully our fans will too."

What an answer.

What an owner.

The Ravens are lucky to have him.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show".

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