Baltimore Ravens: Brian Billick in the ring of honor is common sense
The Baltimore Ravens will induct Brian Billick and Haloti Ngata into the ring of honor at M&T Bank stadium. Both names belong in the ring. In the case of Billick, it makes too much sense:
Brian Billick put the Baltimore Ravens on the map. He came in after the short lived Ted Marchibroda era in 1999. The Ravens were only entering their fourth season in Baltimore. The 2000 season saw the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV. Everything that embodies the phrase “Play like a Raven” started brewing in the Billick era.
The reason Billick was a good coach is he won the way he could, not the way he wanted. He was supposed to be an offensive genius when he got to Baltimore. Billick didn’t have the tools he had when he was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings. Billick had a surplus of defensive talent. He won a Super Bowl with one of the most pedestrian offenses that has ever won a championship.
Billick in many ways is like Tony Dungy. Dungy was a defensive guru who was the head coach of Peyton Manning’s Indianapolis Colts. Dungy wasn’t designed to win shootouts yet that’s how his team had to win. Billick never wanted to grind out games with tough defense and just enough offense, however he did what he had to with the talent that he had.
Billick was fired after the 2007 season and John Harbaugh took his job. Billick’s time with the Ravens was up and that didn’t detract from all the things he did for the team. Billick steered the Ravens towards one of the most magical championships anyone will ever see. He had some great seasons with the Ravens.
Early on in Billick’s run, they had to deal with the trial of Ray Lewis. This couldn’t have been easy. Billick had Lewis’s back and prevented it from being a distraction. Billick may have even used it to create the “us against the world” mindset the Ravens are known for.
One thing that Billick doesn’t get enough credit for is how he managed a locker room with a lot of strong personalities. Through the years the Ravens had players like Ray Lewis, Shannon Sharpe, Bart Scott, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs. These are larger than life personalities. There were always a lot of alpha personalities on the team. Billick never shied away from that kind of player and the purple and black became a team with a swagger.
We think of Ray Lewis as a veteran linebacker with sage wisdom, and we forget that Billick had to funnel his energy when he was a young star. There are some coaches who wouldn’t be able to see Lewis’s charisma as the strength that it was. Billick let it energize the team and he helped shape Lewis into the legend that he was.
Billick being in the ring of honor is common sense. Billick was a fundamental founder of what Ravens football became. He was one of the most influential people in the history of the Ravens. Billick had nine seasons with the Ravens. His coaching tenure may have had an expiration date, however his legacy isn’t perishable. The ring of honor is where he belongs.