Bisciotti considered firing Harbaugh at end of 2017 season

February 03, 2018 | WNST Staff

Below is the full transcript of Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti’s Friday press conference:

Opening statement: “Alright, thank you. Thanks for coming. [Senior vice president of public and community relations] Kevin [Byrne] asked me to say … Usually, I go right into questions, but Kevin asked me to say a couple things about the timing and the format [of this press conference], because he didn’t want you to have to waste your one question on that. Why we waited a month? Because I wanted to, and I needed it. When we talked after the season, we had talked about [the annual planning meeting at my house in] Jupiter [Island, Florida], came up with a time that worked, for Eric [DeCosta] and Ozzie [Newsome] usually, with the Senior Bowl prep and all that – East-West [Game] – and it just made sense. I said I would rather do it afterwards. I would rather spend our time in Jupiter, and then I’ll come back and talk. And it was at the Jupiter meeting that I told them that I really didn’t want them up there [on stage for this press conference], because I knew that most of the questions would be for me, and it’s kind of uncomfortable to sit up here and watch somebody else yap for 30 minutes. I think you’ll get an opportunity … I think you already talked to John [Harbaugh]. I will twist Ozzie’s arm and get him in front of you at some time before the draft meeting that you never learn anything from anyway. So, commence, in probably the most important speech since my valedictorian back in ’82. (laughter) So, let’s go.”

Steve, did you wrestle at all with the decision to bring back John Harbaugh, and maybe to a lesser degree, Ozzie Newsome, in the wake of the third-straight season in which you guys missed the postseason? “Define ‘wrestle.’ Certainly, it was a thought. I was very proud of the way John kept fighting and held the team together when we were losing in the middle of the year. Joe [Flacco] was obviously producing at sub-standard [levels] with his back injury, and after the first couple of weeks, obviously, we were very encouraged by our defense and thought that could hold us together. We didn’t perform very well in the middle of the year. I was proud of the way we fought back as a team. And so, it was certainly a consideration, but not one that I was inclined to make this year. Ozzie – no, but there’s a caveat with Ozzie. We had talked after the 2013 season, and it was about Eric [DeCosta], and Ozzie agreed to re-do his contract for a five-year extension, in which case, he would turn over the 53-man roster to Eric, and that’s a year away. Ozzie will step down as GM and has assured me that he’s not going anywhere, and that he will work with me and work with Eric for a smooth transition, and he’ll be the highest-paid scout in America when Eric takes over next year. So, I was not inclined to make a change in that [contract] we had worked on four years ago.”

Steve, a big story is the empty seats at M&T Bank Stadium. What is your level of concern with the attendance, and how do you win fans back? Is it simply a matter of winning more? “I think that’s the biggest one. You get to the playoffs six out of seven years, you win a playoff game all six of those years – which does not happen in the history of football very frequently … So yes, I’m worried. I was worried – we talked about it last year; I think we talked about it two years ago, and it’s still a concern. There are a lot of things to deal with. The one we can change right away is the experience, and we’re constantly working on that. We’re making a significant private investment in the stadium, and hopefully that’s going to be part of the answer. But winning is key, and if we start winning and making the playoffs and we still have a problem … The problem is throughout the NFL, it’s not just here. So, am I disappointed in it? Yes, I’m disappointed in it. Concerned? Yes. If winning is what we need to do to fill the stadium up, then that’s part and parcel with why we’re here. We’re here to win games, we’re here to succeed, and when we fail, the no-shows are a way of telling us that our fans aren’t pleased. So, we’ve got to win. And I hope that solves the majority of the problems.”

Steve, you touched on Joe [Flacco] a little bit at the beginning, but you said last year that you were hoping that he would make progress – and I don’t know how much of a factor his back was in all of this – but did you see the progress that you wanted out of him? And, with his age at 33 and the injuries that he’s had, are there thoughts to start thinking about life after Joe? “I think that you can think about life after Joe, but most of the franchise quarterbacks … I don’t know of any franchise quarterbacks that are retiring at 33, 34, 35 anymore – none of them. Eli [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and our friend up in New England [Tom Brady], they’re all staying [at] 35, 36, 37 – Drew Brees. So no, that’s not really something that we’re worried about right now. We’ve got bigger fish to fry, I guess. I don’t consider that a big worry. We had Joe throwing a week before the regular season game, and I think that we were conservative. If you want to call it boring, we probably were boring. Part of that was protecting Joe and getting the ball out quickly, and it showed up in some pretty ugly offensive numbers. But, what we saw in him when our offensive line solidified and he got more comfortable in the pocket … Obviously, if we could recreate the last half of the season, then I think we would maybe still be playing. We’re a long way off to have to worry about Joe, I think.”

Does the number of empty seats in the stadium this season impact at all how much influence you exercise in terms of getting playmakers you want to get in the offseason and in the draft, specifically wide receivers and other weapons on offense? “Were you in Jupiter [Florida]?” (Reporter: “No, but I’ve been around long enough to know that was one of the topics.”) I think that there is a really good chance that we won’t be drafting a defensive tackle in the first round. I hear the criticism. I also know that we thought about that last year. But last year we were coming off of Mike Wallace having over 1,000 yards. We did get Jeremy Maclin and [Danny] Woodhead, which we thought diversified our offense, and we’re coming off of [Breshad] Perriman finally being healthy and producing 33 catches for 500 yards as a third wide receiver, which is industry standard, to say the least. Typically, we get 1,000 yards out of No. 1 and 800 yards out of No. 2 and 500 yards out of No. 3. If you look at our stats over the years since I’ve been here, that’s held true. We certainly had higher expectations for Perriman. If he had taken his third year and improved on his second year, which we were very pleased with 33 for 500 … So he started to look like the player we were looking for. We’re going to have to go back into the till. One of my notes was, ‘Do not tamper,’ from Kevin [Byrne], because I’m not allowed to talk about people who are still under contract, even if the season is over. We will be exploring all options in free agency and in the draft for targets for Joe [Flacco].”

Related to Breshad Perriman, to what extent have high-round draft misses – Perriman or Matt Elam or Arthur Brown – affected the ability to build the roster and use resources for future high draft picks to replace with people that didn’t develop like you hoped? “It’s statistically significant, there’s no doubt about it. When you fail on those picks, it costs you. It costs you in wins and losses, and it costs you in salary cap. Every one of those players that have underperformed in the early rounds, you can take a look at our roster and see where we have filled in with high-price people in response to their underperformance. It is significant. We spent a lot of time in Jupiter [Florida] talking about that, and we’ve come up with a couple things we think are instructive. If you look back, I don’t think anybody has had a better draft past those first few rounds. We’ve got three of the five first-round picks that are doing very well for us. When you look at the later rounds, I don’t think anyone has done as much as we have. We try to dig into that and figure out why. When you talk about that Elam and Brown draft, and you back it up with Brandon Williams, Kyle Juszczyk and Ricky Wagner in rounds three, four, and five, we salvaged the draft. If you just flip them into different spots and you were three out of five, that’s what your typical NFL team is going to get; three starters out of the draft. It is significant, but if you look at the last couple of years of getting guys like Willie Henry and [Matthew] Judon … People like that, Ricky Wagner, being one of them in the fifth round; [John] Urschel and [Ryan] Jensen in the fourth and sixth round, we are very encouraged. But I think while we were down there and talking about it, there were two significant things: One of them was reported recently about the loss of senior scouts in the last year, which is again, always indicative of success. I’m proud of those guys and I’m happy for them, but we don’t play the carrousel game with the Ravens. Since Ozzie came in here, he has brought in young people and developed them over many, many, many years to become really good scouts. When we lost those scouts, we didn’t necessarily go out and hire equal scouts to replace them, and I think that was a mistake. I think that in retrospect you can say that you can’t lose those three scouts with 30 years of experience between the three of them and then hire 25-year-olds that are ready to give it the old try. I just said to Eric [DeCosta]: ‘Just go back through and tell me the amount of years of experience in the staffing department, cut you and Ozzie [Newsome] out, and let me see the amount of experience that’s in our scouting department.’ I think that it shows that we have not done a very good job of filling in senior people with senior people. That’s something we are going to address starting right now and hopefully rebuild that on the fly, because we can’t wait for 25-year-olds to get as good as good as Joe Douglas was at 36. That’s one thing. The other one is that I – and this may be my theory – I may have spoken so much that I haven’t given them a chance to tell me that they think it’s hogwash, but I also think we do such a good job of getting these scouts involved. If you saw our grading system and you were in the draft-prep meetings, you would see that there’s a case to be made that we may get too many opinions about the top players in the draft. So, if you’re talking the first three rounds, that’s 96 players. We almost always get our three players in our Top 60 picks, not 96. That’s the same with every team because everybody has their favorites. If you look at those Top 60 players, I think they’ve been over-analyzed.”

I want to ask about something that really didn’t happen during the game; it was before the game. The ramifications from the London stands where players decided to kneel during the national anthem and then stand during God Save the Queen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it over and over from the fans about how outraged they were about this. What do you feel like the vibrations and ramifications from that are affecting the franchise, and did it affect the franchise in terms of attendance, popularity and the relevance of the Ravens, and the hit that maybe the team took? We haven’t heard from you about it. “Well, I do think it’s significant, and I do think that it hurt and insulted a lot of our fan base. And I understand that, but I also am supportive of my players. And you know, I think that was the only time that we ever did kneel. Is that correct? (Yes.) And there have been others on teams before and after that continued to do it. With anything, and then obviously, it was the night before that we got a tweet that I think basically challenged them, I wish I would have known about it the night before. Would I have gone to the meeting and given my two cents? I probably would have. And I may have been successful, because I got to talk to guys like Terrell Suggs, and I talked to Ben Watson on the field 30 or 45 minutes before the game. I had a one-minute conversation with each of them. There was no time for me to tell them what I thought and what I thought would be an opportunity for them to look for an alternative. So, I’m not pleased with it. But again, it’s going on throughout the league, so I don’t know if that affected attendance everywhere else. I’m not going to put that on our attendance, because we were talking about attendance last year. So, I just am not going to say that that is the main issue. I’m very proud of players like Malcolm Jenkins and Anquan Boldin who realized that they were kind of being misinterpreted and that it was time for action and it was time for progress. They made the initiative to go and meet with the league and meet with the NFL and some of the owners. Things got better, I think, because of people like Anquan and Malcolm that said, ‘This is what we’re fighting for, and we need you to address it’. I think America needs to address it, and I think that the NFL has always been proactive. I’m a little disappointed that the league wasn’t proactive on that issue. I would’ve liked to have seen them [be more proactive], and I wish the players had gone to the league before this season started, because I think that we could have possibly come up with better solutions than that. Regardless of the fact that it’s constitutionally protected, it’s still insulting to a lot of Americans. And so, I sure wish that we had done a better job of dealing with that issue in the [2017] offseason. That’s a regret that I’ll always have.”

If you don’t get to the playoffs next season, do you bring in a new head coach? And two, what do you see in offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg that earned him the right to come back with your organization as its offensive coordinator after you said the offense was boring? “In the first half, right? I said it was boring in the first half, and then we were the second-leading scoring team in the second half.” (Reporter: “Against bad teams.”) “Against bad teams? I didn’t know there were bad teams, Mike. But, I’ll take your word for it. We’ve gone through four offensive coordinators in the last five years, and Joe [Flacco] was comfortable with his relationship with Marty, and they produced in the second half of the year. So, when John [Harbaugh] wanted to keep him, then I backed him.” (Reporter: “If the team doesn’t make it to the playoffs next season, will you bring in a new head coach?”) “I’ll see you next year. I’m not going to give a ‘playoff or bust’ edict to you all, or to my coach. He’s under as much pressure, probably, than he’s ever been in his life, and I expect him to keep his chin up and take his positivity and his talents and make the most of this season. I may as well replace him now if I’m going to tell him, ‘Make the playoffs or you’re out of town next year.’ That’s just not the way to run a business.”

During your conversations in Jupiter [Florida], is the salary cap going to be more prohibitive than in recent years in your ability to go out and make some moves this offseason? “Not really. Not this year. We’ve done a lot with a little. But, like always, you re-negotiate contracts to create space, which we probably will do a little bit of that again this year. You’re hopefully doing it with people like Brandon Williams, who you know are going to be here. But it is a trick of the trade, and everybody does it, and it’s in our contract language. It didn’t used to be; now it is. They get more money up front. They’re not doing anybody a favor by restructuring their deal – the great misnomer. We’ll do what we have to do to fill our roster through the draft and through free agency. We’ve got some money, and we can create some more, so I’m not too worried about that right now. I think that what we figured out between what we have and what we can get, I think that we can make a splash and help us on the way to getting our offense clicking better.”

I was just curious what the organization’s response was to Dean Pees re-emerging as a defensive coordinator? Was it a forgone conclusion that last season would be his last? “I heard about that. I heard about [possible retirement] last year, and I even asked John [Harbaugh] in December, because I kept hearing everyone else speculate about it. I wasn’t 100-percent sure that he was retiring this year, to be honest with you. But I had heard that all the way back in the ’16 season. I just got in last night, so I don’t really know what the organization’s feeling is about him reemerging. He took the place of maybe the greatest defensive coordinator of all time in Dick LeBeau. You’re talking about this coaching carousel that keeps going around and around – and to each his own; it happens all the time. Gosh, the majority of these people, it is … They call it a coaching carousel for a reason. It’s the same people. They keep switching. The music stops, you grab a chair and you’re back in a position. They get fired, they get demoted, then they get promoted, then they find themselves back in that position. I wish Dean all the luck. I understand he got his son in; I think that was a big point of his. We have a nepotism rule that may have prohibited that from happening in the last few years. But, I’m happy for him. I’m a little shocked; he’s 68 years old, I think. It’s hard to give it up, I guess. He’s going to work. But based on what [the media] have written about, it sounds like you weren’t too upset to see him leave, and then he shows back up. He’s obviously well-respected in the league. [Tennessee head coach Mike] Vrabel [played] for him. I’ll root for them when they’re not playing us.”

Do you have any thought to doing what the Falcons did with their concessions? “Yeah, I have thought about it. Unfortunately, we’re in a contract that we would have to renegotiate with them. I guess [Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank] was getting to start new with his new stadium. But yeah, obviously, it’s not a great driver of income for us. It’s something I would really like to take a hard look at, and at least, come up with select items that we can do. If it means us … I can’t make Aramark do that with me, but I can make them go along as long as it’s my share of the profits that I’m waving. Yeah, I’d like to take a look at that. I think we could probably do that.”

I’m just wondering if any point in your business career – non-football – you were in a similar situation? Looking around, seeing some things you like, maybe some things you wanted to improve upon? If so, did that experience, looking back on it, offer you any guidance in how to proceed here? “It’s much the same, to be honest with you. I think in my years of running the business, we had two recessions – in ’99 and then back in the early ’90s. So, we did have layoffs at the time, and that got us an opportunity to reset. It was painful. I know that some of you wish that I was sitting here talking about that. I understand and respect you guys for what you do, and what you think and your itchy trigger fingers. I really do; I get it. But I also think if you’re honest with yourself, it’s rather self-serving, because if I had fired everybody, then you guys would have 10,000 new articles to write, and it would make your job a whole lot more fun than sitting here listening to me talk about continuity. Everything that I have experienced in my life, I bring to the table. I try to make decisions that have some history, but they don’t necessarily have to be based on history, because every tough decision I ever made was probably for the first time, and then that goes into the history books for me to pull from in the future.”

With one playoff appearance in the last five years, do you worry that stability has given way to stagnancy? “Stagnant? That’s for you guys to decide. I don’t think we’re stagnant at 1 Winning Drive. I think we are as enthused as we’ve always been. Disappointed, embarrassed and determined – but not stagnant.”

In the 2013 season you went 8-8 after you won the Super Bowl, and obviously you’re not going to win the Super Bowl every year, but this is not typically the standard that you want going forward. Are you surprised now to be up here saying that these are your guys and you’re loyal to them – that you’re moving forward with them and then lead them? “It wouldn’t even be a question if we had stopped Pittsburgh in ’16 and Cincinnati in ’17. That’s the thing – it wouldn’t be an issue. We’re literally looking at a few moments of time that went against us, versus the crazy things that went for us in the Super Bowl year. We’re living with fourth-and-12 now. We used to live with fourth-and-29. So, we’re living with the Bengals doing that to us, instead of Jacoby Jones doing it to Denver. We’re not talking about 4-12 seasons here. We’re talking about a franchise quarterback that had a herniated disc and was not healthy for the first half of the year. There are a couple games that we should have won, that we wouldn’t have been sitting there. We might’ve been resting our starters against Cincinnati, and that’s our goal next year.”

We have talked a lot about the offense, but when you guys are having your meetings in Jupiter, do you guys feel like the defense is pretty much set? “Well, from a personnel standpoint it is. I am looking for increased production from some people, but we did not have a spot for Marlon [Humphrey], and then desperately needed for him to hold things together there at the end. It started with Tavon [Young] and [Jaylen] Hill and Jimmy [Smith] and [Maurice] Canady. We dealt with a monster load that would have been like Groundhog Day if it was not for [Humphrey’s emergence]. And we talked ‘Webby’ [Lardarius Webb] into coming back, and he filled a nice role for us while Canady was hurt. So, had we not gotten Marlon Humphrey in the first round, things could have gotten really ugly for us in that back end like it had in the past. That is why we took Marlon in the first place, even though we had both corner spots locked up. We also were horrible sacking the quarterback last year, and we were determined to improve on that, but we got every snap out of [Matthew] Judon and Za’Darius [Smith]. Had Suggs or Judon gone down, then the kids we took in the second and third round [Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams] would have gotten a lot more snaps. We thought we had taken a B-plus and turned it into an ‘A’ by concentrating the early rounds on defense, and it did until a couple fateful plays and drives. We have a lot of depth on defense. We have a lot of young kids that are ready to produce. Some of them come back healthy, so yes, I think you can be assured that the majority of our attention will be on offense this year.”

What does it mean to you that Ray Lewis may go into the Hall of Fame tomorrow? “It is awesome. Obviously, there is nobody more deserving. He made people around him better, which is the greatest compliment that you can give anybody in football, and he clearly was that guy. Jonathan [Ogden] was our first pick, he is the first one in. Ray is the second pick in Ravens history, and he is the second one in. We have another one, [Terrell Suggs] wrapping up his career with double-digit sacks at a very advanced age. I think he will be looking at that, and Ed Reed will probably be in before that. We have a nice string of them going in there.”

This is probably a question we ask almost every year, but we speak to you generally once a year. Just checking in on your level of passion and enthusiasm for owning an NFL team, especially in the light of some of the struggles over the last three years. Where do you stand with that, and are you looking long range to maintain what you have here? “Yes, my passion is still there. You said passion and enthusiasm? My passion is still there. My fans lose their enthusiasm for it, right? I hate losing, and my fans hate losing. They get angry and say things they say they shouldn’t, and I get angry and say things that I shouldn’t, too. Luckily, I don’t do it in front of the microphone, usually. No, I have not changed. I am very comfortable where I am. I am here for the foreseeable future.”

Steve, before we started here, you kind of joked this was your most important speech since high school? “No, valedictorian in college. Actually, I told my mom that day, I did not even want her to come to Salisbury. I did not want to go, and she said, ‘No, I put you through school. I am coming to your graduation.’ I said, ‘If it goes by alphabetical, you will be out early. If it goes by GPA, you are in for a long day.’” (laughter)

On a serious note, how much do you think this franchise is at a crossroads, given no playoffs in three years and maybe not as feared as it once was? “What is a crossroad? I do not even know what you mean by a crossroad. I either keep John [Harbaugh] or I fire John. I promote Eric [DeCosta] to GM, and Joe [Flacco] has a shelf life at 33 years old. I don’t even know what you mean by that, and that is what you guys [the media] talk about. I don’t know what you mean by that. Crossroad to what?” (Reporter: “Along the lines of maybe around the league, the Ravens on the field are not as feared as they once were. Your reaction?”) “I don’t even know how to … I’m sorry. I don’t know. I will have to call some coaches and ask them if they are scared of me. That is just silly.”

Going back to the decision on Ozzie Newsome for next year, and Eric DeCosta taking over. Just logically, Eric has been a part of this decision-making process throughout this last five years. What is it about Eric that maintains your confidence in having him take care of you? “Everything, everything. I think he has learned from Ozzie. I think he is a great leader of the scouts. It is Ozzie’s department, but most of the interaction with all the scouts is with Eric. I have seen the way he goes about the business. I have seen the way he has embraced technology and analytics, and I like working with him. I think that is pretty evident by the fact that we are getting called every single year to try and get him, and it is just a matter of it is time. There are people that are running other franchises that got the jobs because Eric would not take it. This year, it was the Packers. To me, that is the best job in the NFL. Working for me is the second best, but working for no owner is the best, and that is what the Packers offer that nobody else does. I think that if I was going to let Eric go I was going to certainly let him go for the Packers job, because I think it is a really cool job.”

More on this decision on Ozzie? “No, that’s what I’m saying. Ozzie’s decision was made four years ago. Eric knew it all going in; he just wanted to make sure that the deal was still there when the Packers called, because obviously, it probably interested him more than any other job.”

Steve, as we’ve talked to key players from the last Super Bowl team, several of them have said that they perceive the falter came over the last five years because some strong, independent voices have disappeared from the locker room. Do you think that is a fair criticism at all? “No. No, I really don’t. You can’t replace Hall of Famers. You can try, but the two Hall of Famers that were here five years ago were both picked at the end of the first round. I don’t know who else … I mean, who else are you talking about with strong voices?” (Reporter: “Anquan Boldin is an example. Ed Reed and Ray Lewis are the obvious ones.”) “Anquan was quiet as a mouse. I don’t see him as a strong personality. Stronger than Mike Wallace? I don’t think Anquan Boldin’s personality as any stronger than Mike Wallace’s or Steve Smith’s. Steve Smith took over for Anquan Boldin, and he’s the one you bring up? I don’t think so. If you brought the three of them in and had dinner with them, I don’t think you’d walk out and go, ‘God, that Anquan won’t shut up.’” (laughter)

Steve, you brought up before the absence of some of the fans at the games and you noticed it before the anthem issues involving the Ravens. I’m wondering how much time in Jupiter (Florida) was spent on talking about how to re-engage the fans? And are there any specifics that you can site other than you think if you win, fans are going to be there? “Like I said, that’s the only one that I can’t do a thing about until next year. The renovations, but that’s not something that I think is … That’s not something that I’m going to waste my time in Jupiter with. That’s something that we’ll literally start with now, but that’s more Kevin [Byrne] and Dick [Cass] than it is Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta] and Pat [Moriarty]. We need an exciting brand of football, and we need to win. But, New Orleans has a really, really exciting brand of football that went 7-9 three years in a row. It didn’t help them. Exciting doesn’t necessarily mean wins, and we have been a defense-dominant team since I’ve been here, since long before I bought the team. And we want to keep that, because we don’t want people not to be scared of us, so we’re going to keep working on that, to keep scaring people.”

Are you satisfied with the way the league has addressed concussions, and how much do you think that has played into fan attendance league-wide? “I don’t think it affects fan attendance. Do you? I can’t say that I’ve heard anybody say, ‘I’m giving up my tickets, because I can’t stand to see the hitting.’ I’m pleased with it, because we’re making progress. We are obviously taking it serious, and the reported concussions are up. I understand the concussions were up, but you have to understand, that that is a cause and effect that there are so many concussions. I think they rose this year from the last few years – not significantly – but I think the evaluation process is probably doubled to increase the concussions by 10 or 20 percent. So, I’m pleased with it. The more you pull players off the field, the more you are going to affect one very significant game, and I understand that they’re moving from the [injury] tent to the locker room if they are unsteady on their feet or something, they immediately have to go to the locker room. So, I think all of that is good. We’ve had more significant issues of people questioning why he wasn’t – like Cam Newton – why he wasn’t checked out thoroughly, than the opposite. So far it hasn’t hurt the game, and I think overall, it’s certainly what we have to embrace going forward. So, yes, I’m pleased with everything the league is doing.”

Is there any update on a change in ticket pricing, and have you thought about maybe even lowering them? “No, I haven’t discussed lowering them. I like Vinny [Cerrato’s concession price reduction question] deal – I give them free hot dogs instead. I am not lowering tickets. I think we’ve only increased twice in the last 10 years, so we’re a few years away from having to do that again.”

When you look at the five years since the Super Bowl team, would you describe that period as the most challenging during the time you have been associated with the Ravens? “No. No, actually, not at all. I would say ’02, ’03, ’04, ’05, ’06, ’07 was definitely worse. No. 1, I didn’t have a franchise quarterback. We tried with Kyle [Boller]; we tried with Steve McNair. We had a playoff year with both of them in those five years, I guess, right? But no, this is not as challenging. I don’t think so. I’ve still got people that I’m confident in.”

Will you give me the definition of a catch? I was in the league for 20 years, and I still don’t know what a catch is. “Stupid. (shakes his head) The whole thing is stupid. I heard Roger’s [Goodell] thing. I heard the whole objective/subjective thing. I agree with it. Start over. It’s just ridiculous. It’s making these … Every time you’ve talked about referees, I’ve always defended them. It is such a hard job, they do such a good job, and yet we’re sitting there looking at five different HD camera angles, and then they’re changing some things, and I think it’s worse than it’s ever been. I think sometimes things have to get really, really bad before there is change. I bet you that there is going to be a significant change in that. A football move? I mean, how you can catch the ball, get both feet down, turn towards the end zone and start diving for it, and they say it’s not a football move? No. It’s stupid.”