Q&A with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti

  • Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti during an interview the at the NFL owners meeting in Palm Beach.
Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti during an interview… (Carline Jean, Sun Sentinel )
March 26, 2012|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

PALM BEACH, Fla. — Seated outside Monday afternoon at the posh Breakers hotel, the site of this week's NFL owners meetings, Steve Bisciotti, well-tanned and sharply-dressed, appeared as relaxed as ever.

The Ravens owner doesn't have to be consumed by a bounty scandal, like the New Orleans Saints, or a salary cap penalty leveled by the NFL, like the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys. Those two topics dominated the first full day of the meetings.

But his organization, which came seconds away from representing the AFC in the Super Bowl just two monthsago, still has plenty on its plate.

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun on Monday, Bisciotti spoke about several of the issues facing the Ravens, including the desire to get quarterback Joe Flacco and running back Ray Rice signed to extensions and the team's free agent losses.

We can start in a million places, but since we're at the owners meetings and the prevailing topics here have been player safety and the bounty issue, I was wondering what your initial thoughts were when you heard about the bounty situation and the punishment the New Orleans Saints received?

I'm going to leave it up to the commissioner to decide the punishment because there were 150,000 pages of documents and everything else. I'm really not privy to all the details, so I trust that the commissioner made the penalties that he felt were appropriate. I don't hear New Orleans bitching about it. I'm sure they were shocked and certainly hoping for less. But they seem to be taking it in stride. I will say I'm proud of New Orleans [owner] Tom Benson and [coach] Sean Payton to take responsibility for it.

When you heard about the situation and the punishment, did that result in you calling your people and making sure it wasn't happening in Baltimore?

No. You know what, it might be one of the great benefits of having [general manager] Ozzie Newsome at the helm. I think [coach John Harbaugh] and he have created a pretty good relationship. I didn't worry. I was shocked that it existed in the NFL. It's so silly when you think about it. These players are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a game. How can they be motivated by a $500 or $1,000 payment? It just doesn't compute to me.

A couple of your players, including Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis, have said at different times over the past couple of years that the NFL has gone a little overboard with penalties and fines for hits and being overly protective of the quarterbacks. Do you think the NFL has gone overboard with it?

I think the NFL has done a great job with it. I really do. I think if you find a problem that you've got to fix, you may err on the side of caution, and get people's attention. The funny thing is these young men were taught to tackle correctly at a very young age and most of the hits that are drawing flags are not form tackles. They can say that you are taking something important out of the game, I disagree with that. I've seen more instances where a guy tries to hit a kill shot on a receiver and he bounces off and runs 40 yards for a touchdown. If you just wrapped him up, it wouldn't make SportsCenter but it would have saved his team a touchdown. We were taught to have your eyes up and your arms extended and to wrap guys up, and we did drills for that in high school. If you tackle the way you were taught to tackle, most of these things will go away. I do think it's an adjustment for the players. I do think that sometimes when you see things in slow motion, some of those hits are unavoidable. When a receiver catches the ball and drops his head in a natural desire to cover up, sometimes he leads himself into that defensive player. I think that's a bit of a flaw that maybe we'll have to do a better job in terms of the appeals process and realize that some of these are unintentional.

They say time heals all wounds. Are there still times you think about that final minute of the AFC championship game and how close your team was to being in the Super Bowl?

Only mornings, afternoons and nights. Other than that, no.

Is there a concern that you guys have gotten so close, but you've been unable to win the big game?

I watchedArt Modellwin his trophy in what, 33 years? I know he won a couple of championships before they termed it the Super Bowl, but … we're talking about 33 years that Art waited to get his. 'The Drive' and 'The Fumble' will always be a part of him. He probably thinks that he should have gotten it 15 years earlier, but that's the way this business is. You're competing with 31 other teams. But yeah, the closer you get, the more it hurts. But your alternative is to root for mediocrity. There's no other way.

Where are you guys at in terms of two of your stated offseason priorities, signing Joe Flacco and Ray Rice to contract extensions? How optimistic are you about getting deals done?

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