It’s been a year and a day since Steve Bisciotti hired John Harbaugh as the new head coach of the Ravens. Today, on the heels of a new Super Bowl appearance, Bisciotti and Harbaugh took the podium at 11 a.m. for a press conference in Owings Mills.
Here are running notes from the auditorium at The Bellagio…some are paraphrased but that’s what fast typing will do…we wanted to put you in the room today!
The room is buzzing a bit from the loss of Mike Pettine, who took the Jets defensive coordinator position earlier today.
Bisciotti thanked the group and excused Ozzie Newsome for being at the Senior Bowl.
On missing the Super Bowl: “To say you’re not dissatisfied, it’s why we do all the work. Sure, we’re disappointed. It’s the same as losing to the Colts at 13-3. I wouldn’t change that with the slow burn of the disappointment of going 5-11 and 6-10. There’s no one singular event that feels like losing a playoff game. We want to be an elite team, a playoff team. I don’t think many teams experience the ups and downs. We need to smooth that out and hopefully (Harbaugh) is the guy to do that.
On Harbaugh: “He’s doe a great job. Wonderful communicator. Considerate person. Got to know his whole family. Got to see his Dad and brother 10 minutes after the game. It’s the way he was raised and his family. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
On Jason Garrett: “We’d be 5-11. I’m teasing. That’s such speculation. I don’t know how that would’ve gone.”
On Ray Lewis: “That’s a question for Ozzie. I don’t see the franchise tag. I’ve been hopeful that will sign Ray. I don’t think people will value Ray Lewis like we do. He’s capable of playing like a 28-year old. I’ve got my wife on a budget so we can sign Ray.”
“I can’t avoid personal relationships with high quality people in this organization. I have so much respect for Ozzie Newsome. It’s more of a decision for John and Ozzie. I hope I’m having dinner with Ray celebrating (him staying). There are a lot of people I admire and Ray is one of those guys. In Ozzie we trust.”
On what Ray means to the Ravens: “I was a fan of Ray Lewis before I bought the team. There are a few guys in sports who transcend their statistics. Like Cal Ripken, he brings a continuity. And he’s someone to look up to. I certainly don’t want to see him in another uniform. We’re going to do our best to avoid that.”
Harbaugh on losing Pettine and the new D coordinator: “We need to become stronger in everything we do. Coaching, scouting. We decided to keep that position in house. We’re trying to figure out what makes us best and stronger. ”
Bisciotti on new NFLPA CBA: “Broadcast committee. I don’t have much experience dealing with labor unions. I’m very happy to be on the broadcast committee. I like to fight to bring money in not on what goes out. I’m not geared that way. I’m very hopeful that we’re going to get this thing worked out.”
Bisciotti on “There’s great images out there. What the Patriots have done. They continue to lose coaches and great players and they grow. Success breeds success and we’re on the way. We have a group of guys here who want to play for John Harbaugh. That’s a great start for us. The nice thing about Ozzie not being here is that I can compliment. When you look at what john brought with fresh ideas and what Ozzie did in the free agencies and in the draft. Leonhard, Anderson, Neal, Fabian Washington. He brought six guys in who brought major contributions ont he field. It’s there. They’ll bring the type of team. There was no trouble inside the building or outside the building. That’s all I can hope for. I have a team that the fans are proud of and I hope to keep it that way.”
On McAlister: “That’s John and Ozzie. I’ve gotten along well with Chris McAlister.”
Harbaugh: “I think Chris McAlister is a heckua person and he wants to be a Raven. He’s a good man and a good player. We’ll see what happens.”
Harbaugh: “All of our coaches are under contract. We’re not about keeping guys from opportunities.”
Biscioitti on Rex Ryan: “I wish John had more time with Rex. It was very difficult decision for me to pass Rex up and I know the defensive players wanted him last year. He’s a pleasure to be around. When I sat with him after that there was no sulking. I spent time with him teaching him some things he needed to do. John let him step up and work cohesively with the staff.”
Harbaugh on first year: “We had a chance to talk about the players and had a meeting on Monday. You look back with some pride on what was accomplished. And the good feeling we had. We’ve become a real football team. We’re established an identity. Rough, tough, blue collar football team. We’re content but we’re not satisfied.”
Bisciotti on Baltimore’s love of the team: “It is very gratifying. I’m playing for pride. I’m in here for pride. That’s it. To make the fans happy and unified. It’s very fulfilling to me. I know it goes with winning, people feel better when they win. We try to win. The ultimate is to hand the fans a trophy. That’s what they were all wanting. It’s tough when you lose. And I eel it as a fan. I wish we would’ve gone further. I love that part of being an owner, seeing the fans happy.”
Harbaugh on Flacco: “We had high expectations for Joe. We were hopeful for a lot of reasons. His ability to come back week after week with focus and dedication. It’s very telling for what he’s about. he’s our starter. He’s our QB.”
Bisciotti on Flacco: “There’s just something about him that there’s no setbacks on the horizon. There’s a lt ofQB’s out there that are called the “chosen one” and they’re a backup in three years. I don’t think Joe feels like that. He passed A test…not THE test. We’ll see his development. He comes in on Tuesday (his off day) and works 8 hours. Everytime I talk to Joe Flacco it seems like he just woke up from a nap. I don’t think he’s very impressed with himself. I think he’ll spend time thinking about what he did wrong, not right. He’s a good man and he’s not out all night. He’s gonna be fine.”
Bisciotti on trend of younger NFL coaches: “I had the opportunity to talk to the guys in St. Louis and New York. I was on the other side of that. I owed it to Rex that I owed it to him to say why he’s the right guy for them. It’s a trend. There’s a trend for college coaches and some of those go sour. Now it’s guys without coordinator experience. Then it will go back to guys with Super Bowl rings for coaches.”
Bisciotti on Pittsburgh game: “I felt like we did it the week before in Tennessee. It’s a defense mechanism. You figure you have a 50-50 chance. And you’re playing a Super Bowl winning QB. I sat there an watched one of the great QB performances and he’s one of the greats in the game. We had the ball in Tennessee and walked out with a win. I thought we could do it again.”
Bisciotti on Steelers as an organization: “I know that there’s this hatred of the Steelers in Baltimore. They’re the kind of team we want to be. I’d say they’re a notch above us. It’s something for us to shoot for. We didn’t win the championship and we didn’t win the division. We gotta start by beating Pittsburgh. If we climb that mountain we’re gonna be pretty good.”
Bisciotti on Kokinis: “He’s still going through the interview process.”
Bisciotti on economy: “I’m very concerned. We know what the economy is like and I’ve said before. I’m not in this business to make money and I’m hoping to not lose money. We’re running on small margins. All of those companies that buy our suites I need them to keep going and buying our suites. It’s the first time we’ve been through it. I’ve been through it in my other business. You can prepare for loss of revenue. You have to minimize damage and get through it.”
Harbaugh on Kyle Boller: “He was with us all the way. A big part of everything we did down the stretch. It was disappointing for him. He was in every meeting, on the plane. He’s a big plus for the team.”
Bisciotti on O.J. Brigance: “It’s just immeasurable. My dad died when I was 8. He knew for two years he was going to die. The way my dad and my mom handled it was “what a blessing it was that God chose him.” To be front and center and see that O.J. thinks that this is a blessing. You’d have to know the man before the illness struck and see how he dealt with it. It’s not about inspiration in this building. It’s inspirational for all of us to see what he’s handled and how he’s handled it. I can see as a player to see him struggle and the team concept and why they’d play harder for him. Get your chance to sit down with O.J. He’s an inspiration for all of us.”
Harbaugh on Jim Leonhard: “His impact was dramatic. Dawan Landry is a heckuva safety. I don’t want to say Jim was unexpected. He’s a little undervalued athletically. He’s a guy who found a way to make plays all over the field. He’s had a dramatic impact.”
Bisciotti on 2008 season development: “I don’t like to say overachieve. We achieved. I’ve seen this thing go up and down for nine years. I can’t put my finger on it. We talk about winning and chemistry. Winning comes first and they get inspired and things snowball and they work well. I don’t think you’ll fine 4-12 teams bragging about chemistry. Everything we do we’re trying to build a champion. So I think we underachieved. We were five minutes away from gettign to the Super Bowl. If we had gotten there and lost we’d be even more disappointed. I have a QB and a coach that I think moving forward are going to do some great things together.”
Bisciotti: “The NFL is building a blue print and making sure we’re all educated on the ramifications of a potential work stoppage. It may alter the way you structure contracts. They don’t call me about that. That’s Ozzie. He can teach the staff how we’re going forward. Yes, I think there’s real concern about a work stoppage. That’s why we opted out of the contract. The union doesn’t even have a director. Until they get someone in there we can’t start the negotiations.”
Harbaugh on Samari Rolle: “He had a partial tear of his hip flexor. We would’ve had a chance to get him back for the Super Bowl. We were hopeful and rehabbing him.”
Bisciotti on Ray Lewis: “We’d like to get it done. We typically don’t say “go out and find your market value.” It comes down to Ozzie and his agent and whether they’re close. Some guys go on the market and find that their agent can’t get the deal they’re trying to get. Ray’s not going to settle for something that’s “way below.” Are we getting a hometown discount. I hope we do. That’s what the Patriots do. That’s what Tom Brady did. That’s what I hope my relationship is. If he wants to go and maximize his money and there may be a great gap. I’m not going to say to Ozzie “GO do it.” It’s not fair to Ozzie”
On whether Bisciotti will get personally involved with Ray Lewis’ contract: “No. No…I don’t see that happening. Ray and I have talked in generalities. We don’t talk specifics on contracts. That’s Ozzie’s job. I won’t get involved.”
Bisciotti on Harbaugh and Flacco: “You want to feel like you have a quarterback and a coach who can be here for 10 years. I feel like I have that possibility. I want trophies. I said last year that I want a Hall of Fame coach. He needs trophies to do that and hopefully he will do that.”
Harbaugh on Matt Stover: “He’s 40 years old and he’s a free agent and he’s still a really good kicker. If we can bring him back we will. We’re hopeful Matt will be here.”
Bisciotti on toughest challenge as NFL owner: “I’ve got Dick Cass. I brought him in to do all of that juggling. I hope and worry and pray. That’s what I do. Dick runs the organization and he runs it great. I don’t have much stress. I get to shut it down in the offseason. I’ve carved out a nice job description.”
If you have a coach and QB of the future that evens it all out. When you look at teams that have been in the playoffs and back. Duny and Manning. McNabb and Reid. Brady and Belichick. They have a long-term coach and a long-term QB. I remember when New England took a chance on Randy Moss. But they were winning Super Bowls without him. That’s the hope of an owner, sitting around and talking about being one step or one player away. Ozzie is the perfect guy for that. He doesn’t chase dreams. He’s so methodical. Like he did with T.O. five years ago. I’m going to bet on Ozzie 10 out of 10 times. He knows that a couple of guys like Frank Walker makes the team better. There’s personalities that you can blend in and I hope there are some guys out there that are available that can get us over the top. We got six guys and turned the organization around from last year. You take a chance when it presents itself. If John and Ozzie agree, there’s a great chance I’m going to fall in line.”