A note from a ‘guardian angel’

January 26, 2008 | Nestor Aparicio

Everyone in their life has a mentor or a “guardian angel” who calls when they think you’re doing the wrong stuff or saying the wrong stuff. If you don’t, you should!

So, yesterday my “surrogate Uncle” called me to blather on about Steve Bisciotti, Dick Cass, Ozzie Newsome, Brian Billick and John Harbaugh.

He said I’ve been unfair. I argued, in a spirited fashion, that I can justify my opinions with facts. And that, yes, I really am concerned about the direction the Ravens are going with their new management structure.

So, I advised him to do what anyone and everyone who disagrees with is free to do: write it on WNST.net!

I’m not saying I’m “right.” I’m simpling saying they are making many recent choices that are not in line with what has been — for the most part — a winning formula. And some of it has appeared to be less than polite, in many cases, and downright embarrassing in the case of Jason Garrett.

I think Ozzie Newsome should be making football decisions. He did NOT play a role in firing Brian Billick.

And from there, every brick in the building changes dramatically and I think it’s perfectly acceptable that the man running the business makes the decisions. Like I said 20 minutes after Brian Billick was fired, it’s MOST CERTAINLY “his” team.

Hey, I hope to GOD I’m wrong and that Steve Bisciotti is as much of a football genius as he is a staffing and business genius.

But my instincts about 25 years of doing this tell me that there are some very distinct changes in the wind in Owings Mills. They might be good, they might be not so good.

As a sports talk show host who has built my career on being honest, I’m simply telling Baltimore Ravens’ fans what I think, day to day.

Only time will tell…I’ll have PLENTY more to write about all of this in the coming weeks and months. And I have plenty of observations that I have not yet shared.

They don’t play for another eight months so no one will be “right” or “wrong” for quite some time.

So, anyway, here is my “anonymous” counterpointer with his first-ever, “Nestor you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about” blog from someone whose opinion I respect (even if I still disagree with the premise of most of what’s below):

Dear Nestor,

Over the past few weeks, I have been reading your blogs with great interest.  As always, they have been thoughtful, passionate, and well written.  You offer a perspective to the Baltimore sports fan that is refreshing and unique.  WNST is indeed to place to go for comprehensive coverage of the local, state, and national sports scene.  Having said all of that, I really think your analysis of the Ravens decision-making process has been flawed, and I think it has been colored because of one of your strongest traits—your loyalty.

You and I have been friends for over 25 years, and you are one of the most loyal people I know.  If someone is your friend, he knows that he can count on you day and night.  That’s a wonderful thing, but in the case of Brian Billick I believe it clouded your judgment and objectivity.

Anyone who knows you is well aware of the relationship that you and Brian enjoy.  You and he hit it off from the day you welcomed him to Baltimore by saying, “I’m about to become your best friend.”  You respect him as a football coach, but more importantly you respect his as a person, a husband, and a father.  I suspect you and Brian will be friends for years to come, and those kinds of friendships are to be cherished.  However, when one of our friends is hurt deeply and we feel as if they’ve been mistreated, it is not very easy to be a dispassionate observer.  And I think that’s what happened here.

I’ll try to be brief and just summarize a few of my reactions to your observations:

Steve Bisciotti Changing His Mind—There is no doubt that the Raven organization—and I assume with the blessing of Mr. Bisciotti—led everyone, including Brian Billick, to believe that Brian would be back in 2008.  You have inferred that by changing his mind, the owner somehow misled the media and his staff.  There has been some inference that the owner may actually have been dishonest.

I simply have another take on the situation.  I believe that the owner woke up on Sunday morning, looked in the mirror, and decided that he was unhappy that he was taking the safe and easy solution.  It was indeed safe to bring Brian back next year, particularly in light of all of the injuries this past season and the quality of the team’s quarterback play.  It certainly passes the smell test to me that the owner then said, “You know what, I didn’t get where I am by playing it safe.  I’ve got to make a change.”  I don’t think that makes him a bad person, a poor owner, or someone who lacks integrity.  It’s his ship, and he better be the captain.  Only time will tell if his gut was right or wrong on that Sunday morning in December.

The Search Process—It seems to me that you have been suggesting that somehow the search process was flawed, in part because the team’s first choice turned down the job.  Having been involved in many search committees over the years, it appeared to me as if the team handled the search in almost textbook fashion.  The staff identified a list of candidates meeting the profile identified by the owner— “a future hall of fame coach.”  Once those candidates were identified, they were wined and dined at the Bellagio, and the evaluation process began.  At the end of the process, it appears as if the owner’s first choice was Jason Garrett.  I would suggest that while participatory management is fine, at the end of the day it is the owner who will be judged by the success of our next coach.  If Garrett, or Rex, or Schottenheimer, or Harbaugh fail, it won’t be blamed on the committee, it will be blamed on Steve.  Seems to me, he should have his guy.  It’s the most important decision an owner ever makes.

Do I think that Garrett staying in Dallas means the process was flawed?  No.  Rewind 9 years.  Seifert- No!  Holmgren— No!  Billick—Yes!  That worked out pretty well for the franchise.  There is nothing in Steve Bischotti’s history to suggest that he is about to become Daniel Snyder, Jerry Jones, or your friend in the warehouse.  He’s earned our trust on that based on his track record.

Who Has the Owner’s Ear? – You are concerned that Dick Cass appears to be the individual in the inner circle who now has the owner’s ear.  It is clear that you would prefer Ozzie to play that role.  We’ll have to see how this plays out, but in any organization, the “who has the boss’ ear?” changes from time to time.  Chris Matthews of Hardball fame, refers to this issue as “Who’s in the room?”  If indeed it is now Dick Cass that’s “in the room,” there is nothing sinister about that.  And next year it might be Kevin Byrne.  Organizations are dynamic, not static.  We can’t expect the Ravens to be any different.

One Final Note—Hanging Rex Out—Yesterday you indicated that you thought the Ravens were hanging Rex out to dry.  I just couldn’t follow that logic since the Falcons only hired Mike Smith the night before.  How could the Ravens have moved on Rex before the Falcons made their choice?  I think that criticism was unfair.  Once again, I go back to the beginning:  you are a loyal guy, and you like and respect Rex.  You don’t like seeing your friends hurt.  Like many Baltimore fans, I hope Rex returns.  I love his defense.  If he’s still dangling next week, then you are right on this one.  I don’t think that will be the case.

Well that’s about it.  Keep up the good work, remain a loyal friend, and continue to provide the best sports coverage in town.

Sincerely,

An Old Dundalk Friend

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