Steve Bisciotti is ashed-faced, discussing the firing of Brian Billick. He has stopped several times with a lump in his throat.
Bisciotti said that he wouldn’t address specific issues regarding to the firing of Brian Billick. He went on, when pressed, to finally admit that it was "a gut feel" sorta thing.
Ozzie Newsome and Dick Cass both joined him at the podium. Both said they were instrumental in Billick’s firing.
Bisciotti said in the four years he’s owned the team, the team has made the playoffs just once and he felt it was heading in the wrong direction.
Newsome looks quite uncomfortable. Ravens VP Kevin Byrne, who blogged on the official website three days ago that Brian Billick would NOT be fired, looks absolutely pale. Byrne met with Steve Bisciotti to discuss the Wednesday "I’m keeping Brian Billick" press conference late last week.
The press conference was short, succinct and downright macabre. It was basically a dog and pony show that didn’t offer a lot, in real terms. And the media was limited to about 12 questions, one per person, really.
Bisciotti must’ve learned something from watching the Orioles and their lack of ownership at press conferences. He CLEARLY didn’t want to be there today making these statements (he stated several times that he’s more comfortable with running a private company like Aerotek), but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.
He showed up, danced with several of the questions as best he could and made it out alive (in record time, no less).
Bisciotti, who appeared to be the saddest guy in the room, said he made the decision Sunday morning after consult with Dick Cass and Ozzie Newsome.
Billick was absolutely blindsided as was every coach on his staff and their families. Billick arrived at work this morning believing he was moving forward with the 2008 plan. So did all of his coaches and staff. They did, because every sign and indication from Bisciotti and throughout the organization indicated that Billick was here to stay.
The bloodletting began when Billick was fired just before 11 a.m. Billick asked and received permission to address his coaches, while Bisciotti and Cass addressed the players.
Bisciotti’s quotes will be forthcoming, but this was his final salvo:
"The jury is out on me, Brian already has his Super Bowl."
Clearly, this will be the best decision he’s ever made or the worst. Billick will either be martyred if the team doesn’t win over the next three seasons, or yesterday’s news if the next head coach goes 12-4 next year with a rejuvenated locker room.
There will be a search for a new head coach and a new coaching staff, which will include Rex Ryan as a candidate. The earlier rumors about a "future Hall of Famer" coming was misconstrued. Bisciotti clarified that he told the players he "hoped" to hire a person of THAT quality, one who one day would be a that caliber of coach. (In other words, he’s aiming high with the new hire.)
The search will begin immediately.
Bisciotti also clarified that he’s never met Bill Cowher.
The Wednesday press conference has been cancelled.
FYI: Mike Preston was a "no-show" at the press conference. Must’ve been out ordering the extra champagne!
I will blog some more after I take the time to do the necessary research to put the pieces of the story together. So many people to talk to, many of them have been fired and it’s New Year’s Eve.
But it should be stated that I wasn’t the only fool. I’m just a fool with a blog that was written this morning, which I’ve allowed everyone to see to laugh and see what virtually everyone in the organization echoed as recently as 8 a.m. this morning.
Everyone in the building — except Ozzie Newsome, Dick Cass and Steve Bisciotti — was blindsided by the decision to fire Billick.
Not to mention the media as a whole. Everyone from nfl.com to Si.com to ESPN to The Baltimore Sun to WNST was told Billick was returning.