Q&A with Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti

  • Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti answers questions during an interview at the NFL's owners meetings on Monday in Orlando, Fla.
Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti answers questions during an interview… (Rob Foldy, USA Today Sports )
March 24, 2014|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

ORLANDO, Fla. — A year ago at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti couldn't walk 10 feet without being congratulated for his team's victory in Super Bowl XLVII about a month and a half earlier.

This year, however, has brought different circumstances for the Ravens' owner. His team finished 8-8 last season, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. The offseason has brought some off-the-field turmoil with three Ravens getting arrested in a 22-day span, including star running back Ray Rice, who was charged with simple assault in February after an altercation with his fiancée, Janay Palmer.

In a sitdown interview with The Baltimore Sun at the posh Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes hotel, Bisciotti vowed to stick by Rice as he deals with his legal issues. He also spoke about his role in the hiring of offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak and the leadership of quarterback Joe Flacco.

How difficult was this past season and how long did it take you to get over it?

"You have to turn the page. It really wasn't [difficult]. I think if you're a competitor, you have to be a good sport, a good loser. We're disappointed but in perspective, coming off of a Super Bowl and not making the playoffs was really a lot easier to deal with. It's just, 'get to work again.' I know in the history books, we failed to make the playoffs for the first time in six years, but that last week of the season when we failed to make the playoffs wasn't emotionally harder for me than it was losing in the playoffs the four years prior to the Super Bowl run."

How pleased are you with the team's offseason activity so far?

"Very. I think getting Eugene Monroe, No. 1, when we knew that we'd probably loseMichael Oher, that was really scary for me if we were to lose both of them. That one was the one that I just thought that you just end up overpaying in the market if you have to chase tackles. I just think that was a priority for us just because of the supply and demand of that position. And then everything else fell into play with the re-signs."

Are there any positions that you see as priorities to fill?

"If you chase positions of need, I think that's what [general manager Ozzie Newsome] is really adept at doing, getting really good players and really good replacements for some of the kids that we don't get. We still need help at safety. We still haven't identified a replacement for Corey Graham. We need another tight end. You can always use an extra wide receiver, you can always use an extra offensive lineman. We know we need an extra running back. That's four — safety and corner is six. … If those are the six spots that we need to fill — I might have missed one — I'm pretty comfortable that we'll fill five or six of them with our first seven picks. I just don't know what round and that's where best-player-available comes in."

You made it clear several years ago that you wanted the team's bad-boy image to change a little bit. Your guys had done well staying out of trouble, but in a three-week span this offseason, three players were arrested. How concerning are those incidents?

"No off-the-field incidents is our goal. When they came with a flurry, obviously it's disappointing and it's embarrassing. It's embarrassing for our organization and it's embarrassing for our city. We take pride in drafting high-character guys. These are not kids. Sometimes, I think of them as kids because they are my children's age but they are grown men and they need to act accordingly. … I don't think there's a more admired kid that we drafted than Ray Rice. We're embarrassed and we're disappointed but no more than he is. I think what you have to do, when you look at the character of the man, is to see how he handles it and how he handles himself going forward to determine whether this is a bad person doing bad things or a good person that does something bad. I think he and his fiancée are both disappointed in themselves and embarrassed by it. Unfortunately, he's going to live with that for the rest of his life but if I know Ray Rice as well as I think I do, it will work out to be a positive for us and him."

When you heard it was Ray Rice that got arrested, was that especially jarring for you knowing his reputation as a high-character guy who is active in the community?

"It is. Obviously, the more accomplished guys, maybe I get to know them a little bit better. Yeah, least likely to get in trouble, he would have been at the top of my list and that's the sad thing. Ray loved that image, Ray loved being that guy, the way he treats his teammates, the way he embraced Baltimore and how much he gives to the community. I just can't imagine how devastating it is for him personally. They say people have short memories but not in a competitive world like this, not when you have 31 other team's fans on Twitter to remind you of your failings."

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