Tag Archive | "Brian Billick"

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Wallace turns in strong performance after rough start to camp

Posted on 01 August 2016 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Mike Wallace didn’t get off to the kind of start he envisioned in his first training camp with the Ravens, but the speedy receiver finally made his mark on Sunday.

Though initially failing his conditioning test and being quiet over his first couple practices, Wallace stood out with several receptions and beat Shareece Wright for a touchdown from Joe Flacco during a red-zone drill. With Steve Smith and Breshad Perriman currently sidelined with injuries, Wallace looked like the best receiver on the field for the Ravens on Sunday.

The strong showing came after a drop early in practice that drew an animated pep talk from head coach John Harbaugh. After only being able to work with Flacco in the meeting room during the spring, Wallace is relishing the opportunity to build a rapport with his new quarterback, who has returned to practice less than eight months removed from major knee surgery.

“I’m just trying to get better every day,” Wallace said. “Obviously, I’m on a new team, so I’m just trying to get comfortable with my quarterbacks — all of them, especially Joe. It’s just great to be out there with a guy who has been around for so long and just knows the game.”

Though failing the conditioning test wasn’t the best look for a veteran player in his first season with the Ravens, Wallace has made a good impression with coaches and teammates since signing a two-year, $11.5 million in March. He also downplayed the challenge of learning the Baltimore offense, noting that this is his sixth offensive system in the last six years.

Wallace hopes the latest change will bring a career renaissance after he was held to a career-low 473 receiving yards and two touchdowns in Minnesota last season. The 30-year-old made it no secret that working with the strong-armed Flacco was one of the biggest draws in deciding to come to Baltimore.

“Just seeing Joe is like, ‘This guy is really good,'” Wallace said. “The play-calling is just aggressive, and that’s what I was looking for. I’ve been on some great teams. My quarterbacks before were really good quarterbacks. I have no problems with those guys. It’s just this style of offense fits what I want to do.”

Sunday camp highlights

** After receiving the largest amount of guaranteed money for any kicker in NFL history earlier this month, Justin Tucker connected on a 69-yard field goal to conclude Sunday’s practice, which earned a chest bump from Harbaugh. The NFL record is a 64-yarder.

** Rookie inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor continues to turn heads with his physicality as he delivered a crushing blow to knock over defensive tackle Trevon Coley, who was holding a blocking pad during a kickoff coverage drill. Onwuasor later decked Kyle Juszczyk on a run play, which prompted the fullback to get up and push the 217-pound undrafted free agent from Portland State.

** It was another sloppy day for the offense as Kamar Aiken, Chris Matthews, Daniel Brown, and Wallace were among the receivers with drops. There were also a few quarterback-center exchange problems.

** Veteran safety Eric Weddle continues to impress as he made a nice breakup on a Flacco pass intended for Wallace on a deep out along the sideline.

** Wanting to see more interceptions in 2016 after the Ravens set a franchise worst with only six last year, secondary coach Leslie Frazier had an assistant hit tennis balls in the air for his defensive backs to practice catching in an unusual drill.

Injury report

Guard Marshal Yanda and wide receiver Michael Campanaro received the day off and did not practice.

Rookie cornerback Maurice Canady was the other new absence on Sunday, but Harbaugh would only say that he has a “little issue” that’s going to keep him out for “a little while.” The head coach said he will no longer describe player injuries or speculate about recovery timetables, citing what happened with Perriman last season.

Rookie receiver Chris Moore missed his second straight practice with what Harbaugh described as “a little tweak” that he’ll have to work on. Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan (ribs) is “fine” despite missing Sunday’s workout, according to Harbaugh.

Others missing from Sunday’s practice included Perriman (knee) and Smith (Achilles), tight end Crockett Gillmore (hamstring), linebackers Terrell Suggs (Achilles) and Elvis Dumervil (foot), and running backs Kenneth Dixon (knee), Trent Richardson (knee), and Lorenzo Taliaferro (foot).

Super Bowl XXXV champions visit practice

The Ravens had two special visitors to Sunday’s practice as former head coach and current NFL Network analyst Brian Billick broadcasted live from Owings Mills and former Pro Bowl return specialist Jermaine Lewis was there with family.

Billick interviewed Harbaugh after practice while Lewis spent time chatting with Smith and Harbaugh.

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Great news on saving lives and “An Evening of Heroes: Champions and Survivors” is set for May 19th

Posted on 04 March 2016 by Nestor Aparicio

Great news on saving lives and “An Evening of Heroes: Champions and Survivors” is set for May 19th

I got an email on Thursday afternoon from our friends and partners at There Goes My Hero with an update on our work from last year’s 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit Tour and our other Baltimore area swabbing events. I’d like to share it with you:




It’s very gratifying to see the fruits of our labor and the real, life-saving “scoreboard” that’s starting to mount with There Goes My Hero in just the first full year of our efforts to pay forward the incredible generosity of my wife’s 22-year old donor from Germany. We’re still a few months away from being able to meet the man who has saved Jenn’s life twice since June 2014, but we’re already generating the warmth and pride that comes with doing our part to help others in the future.

Last year, we honored Chuck Pagano, Dick Cass and Brenda Frese for their stories and the bravery of their families through the journey of saving lives on the Thursday before the Preakness. When the event was over, my friends and family and sponsors all asked if we were planning on making it an annual event. I always dream big but – honestly, how do you top that head table of heroes?

Pagano survived leukemia and has now coached my wife through two battles with the same disease.

Cass saved a college friend’s life with a kidney a decade ago.

And many are familiar with Frese’s son, Tyler, who battled leukemia for much of his childhood and is now a healthy, happy little boy running around chasing the Lady Terps on another March journey.

But I have since learned that inspiration is all around us. We just need to look for it!

When Jenn survived her first cancer battle, Ravens Director of Player Engagement Harry Swayne grabbed me in the hallway in Owings Mills. “Did you know James Trapp had the same battle as your wife,” he told me. Sure, enough, the Ravens special teams captain in Super Bowl XXXV was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010 and had his life saved by a bone marrow transplant from his sister, who was a perfect match.


Trapp is now the Assistant Director of Player Engagement for the Buffalo Bills and his head coach that day in Tampa is my WNST business partner Brian Billick, who bought part of our company to benefit the Living Classrooms Foundation. I knew we had the foundation of something special if I engaged some of his teammates from that 2001 Super Bowl win.

Back in August, I saw John Harbaugh and Billick together on the field in Owings Mills as the old championship coach was addressing the newer championship coach’s team and I saw them embrace. I’m pretty sure the two have never been publicly seen in the same place at the same time. And they certainly have never been engaged in that kind of setting and forum to compare and contrast their mutually loved Baltimore championships.

Three weeks later, Jenn and I saw this on HBO’s Real Sports:

I reached to Ma’ake in January, once my wife was getting better after spending most of three months in Johns Hopkins fighting leukemia again, and he and his brother are excited to be joining us on May 19th the Baltimore Harbor Hotel to raise awareness for There Goes My Hero.

By the way, Ma’ake said that Dick Cass was one of the first people to call him to give him some comfort that he’d be OK after the procdure to save Chris’ life.

Then, there was the call to Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, whom I’ve strangely befriended along life’s twisted highway. I wrote about it when I did a mini-series on our 30-30 MLB #GiveASpit Tour last summer. You can read my whole “back story” with Tomlin here.

Tomlin text me back immediately: “I’m two feet in…”

He then mentioned something about needing security. LOL!


So, on Thursday, May 19th we’ll all gather – fierce foes on the football field and the stands but united for an evening of civility to discuss the journey and paths of these six men: coaches, heroes and survivors. Obviously, the Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore rivalry will set a backdrop. But remember: there’s a story of a Raven saving a Steeler on stage with us, a brother giving a kidney to save a brother’s life. And a sister who saved a brother. And the audience will be peppered with people like my wife, who’ve had their lives saved by complete strangers.

That’s what this is all about!

I hope you join us and bring along some friends for “An Evening of Heroes: Survivors and Champions.

We hope to make this an annual event to benefit There Goes My Hero every third Thursday of May.

Tickets are on sale now. We have discounted single tickets through THIS MONDAY ONLY!!! Regular price will be $150 each but it’s just $125 for the early birds who want to commit to joining us.

If you are a business owner, I’m sweetening the pot with a free month of gold-level advertising on WNST.net & AM 1570 for all local shops who buy tables.

And if you have any questions or need me: nasty@wnst.net always finds me via email. Save the date and help us save more lives via our friends at There Goes My Hero.

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Ravens-related thoughts on Super Bowl 50

Posted on 08 February 2016 by Luke Jones

You couldn’t help but notice parallels between Peyton Manning’s improbable run to a win in Super Bowl 50 and Ray Lewis finishing his “last ride” with a championship in New Orleans three years ago.

The future Hall of Famers both missed substantial time with injuries in the regular season before returning in time for the playoffs. Each made important contributions on the playoff path to the Super Bowl as Lewis averaged just under 15 tackles per game in the first three rounds of the 2012 postseason and Manning threw for 222 yards against Pittsburgh — overcoming a number of dropped passes — and had two touchdown passes against New England in the AFC championship game.

But as much as we might have enjoyed seeing two of the greatest players in NFL history go out on top, it was apparent that each needed to retire after watching them play in the Super Bowl. While we remember Joe Flacco earning Super Bowl XLVII MVP honors, we try to forget Lewis looking slow and hopeless covering San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis or chasing after 49ers running back Frank Gore in that game.

Like the great Ravens linebacker against the 49ers, Manning had little to do with Denver winning its third Super Bowl title as the Broncos defense suffocated Carolina on Sunday night. Perhaps the 39-year-old Manning was owed one by the football gods after playing with some less-than-stellar defenses over the years in the same way that Lewis had some of his best years wasted by ineptitude on the other side of the ball.

If you’re a Ravens fan struggling to be happy for the quarterback who twice broke Baltimore’s heart in the playoffs — including the 2006 postseason defeat that was the most devastating home loss in franchise history — don’t forget his touching gesture in the playoffs three years ago. More than an hour after the Ravens had defeated the Broncos in an epic double-overtime contest in the divisional round, Manning and his family waited in the Baltimore locker room to congratulate Lewis personally.

Despite dealing with one of the most disappointing losses of his storied career, Manning still wanted to offer his respect to Lewis after the last of their many entertaining chess matches over the years.

It doesn’t matter if Manning — or Lewis — was no longer the same player when tasting championship glory for a final time. Seeing one of the all-time greats exit that way is special and rare.

Let’s just hope Manning actually retires now as most people expect.

Miller time

Four-time Pro Bowl outside linebacker Von Miller already had a résumé impressive enough to land a lucrative contract this offseason, but the Super Bowl 50 MVP took his performance to another level in the postseason.

Scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in March, the 26-year-old had a combined five sacks, two forced fumbles, and an interception in the AFC championship game and Super Bowl. That’s the kind of timing that Flacco can appreciate after the Ravens quarterback threw for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in the 2012 postseason to fetch a six-year, $120.6 million contract a few weeks later.

ESPN has already reported that Denver will use the franchise tag if a long-term deal isn’t reached, meaning Ravens fans should stop dreaming about Miller reuniting with Elvis Dumervil in Baltimore.

Kubiak turns to dark side

Former Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak did a masterful job of handling a difficult quarterback situation this season.

Leading 16-10 and facing a third-and-9 from his own 26 with less than six minutes remaining, the Broncos head coach didn’t allow Manning to even attempt a pass and ran the ball with C.J. Anderson before punting. It was both the right decision and a clear sign that Manning needs to retire.

Possessing a championship defense, the offensive-minded Kubiak turned to the “dark side” in a way reminiscent of how Brian Billick handled the 2000 Ravens by deferring to his defense and being conservative. The difference is that it was much easier to do such a thing with Trent Dilfer than with one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.

Stewart shines

Darian Stewart was a nondescript performer in his lone year with the Ravens, but the Denver safety stood out in the Super Bowl.

He collected three tackles, a sack, two pass breakups, and a forced fumble when he put his helmet right on the ball to knock it away from Panthers fullback Mike Tolbert. It wasn’t just a one-game aberration, either, after Pro Football Focus graded Stewart 14th among NFL safeties during the 2015 season.

It really makes you wonder where that player was in Baltimore a year ago.

False start

After Panthers left tackle Michael Oher committed a false start late in the second quarter, you couldn’t help but be amused by the social-media reaction of Ravens fans who had seen that act often in Baltimore.

The 2009 first-round pick deserves much credit for working hard to get his career back on track in Carolina, but Super Bowl 50 was a forgettable performance for him and the rest of the Panthers offensive line.

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Super Bowl XXXV provided happy end to long wait for Baltimore

Posted on 28 January 2016 by Luke Jones

“They don’t know how fast we are. They don’t know.”

Those words were uttered by Ravens coach Brian Billick in the opening moments of Super Bowl XXXV 15 years ago, a game for which Baltimore had waited a very long time.

It had been 30 years since a team representing Charm City had played in the Super Bowl, a period of time that included the final gloomy seasons with the Colts before they left for Indianapolis in 1984 and the 12 years that followed without an NFL franchise. In their first four seasons, the Ravens were only known to the rest of the league as Art Modell’s renamed franchise that had broken hearts in Cleveland by moving to Baltimore in 1996.

Even as the team rose to prominence in 2000, the dark cloud of Ray Lewis standing trial for murder earlier in the year was all the rest of the country saw as the Ravens advanced to their first Super Bowl by winning the AFC championship in Oakland. The two weeks that followed consisted of media predictably rehashing the trial and then crushing Billick for lashing out at reporters for doing so. And despite the Ravens being the favorite in Las Vegas, many continued singing the praises of the New York Giants after their 41-0 demolition of the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC championship game.

But, finally, the day had come in Tampa.

The game on Jan. 28, 2001 wasn’t as much a challenge as it was validation for the Ravens and their fans. What the rest of the country saw as arrogance from the hated Lewis and his teammates was merely knowledge of the inevitable after the Ravens had beaten Tennessee in the divisional round, the game that proved to be the unofficial Super Bowl of the 2000 season.

The Ravens knew they were going to beat the Giants. Now was the time to show everyone else — whether they liked it or not — just how fast and how great they were.

The three-plus hours that followed showcased how special the Ravens defense was, holding New York without an offensive score and forcing five turnovers in a 34-7 blowout. Baltimore was back on top of the football world before Indianapolis had ever reached the pinnacle and after Paul Tagliabue had callously suggested the city build a museum when an expansion bid was unsuccessful seven years earlier.

The NFL commissioner was now forced to hand over the Vince Lombardi Trophy.

For Baltimoreans who remembered the Colts, the success of the Ravens had helped make their football history whole again. And younger fans now understood what they’d been missing all those years as their parents and grandparents shared memories of Johnny Unitas and Lenny Moore and Bert Jones on lonely Sundays in the fall.

Those hugs and embraces with loved ones in the closing moments of Super Bowl XXXV were so special as was the celebratory parade in the pouring rainy just a couple days later.

It was a long wait, but the Ravens had finally shown the rest of the football world that Baltimore was good enough after all.

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Brian Billick talks all things NFL

Posted on 09 November 2015 by WNST Staff

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Brian Billick on a stunning loss to the Cleveland Browns

Posted on 13 October 2015 by WNST Staff


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Brian Billick’s take on the Ravens slow start

Posted on 07 October 2015 by WNST Staff

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Billick’s speech to Ravens should be step toward Ring of Honor

Posted on 05 August 2015 by Luke Jones

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — A familiar face addressed the Ravens after Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills.

Of course, Brian Billick may not be as easily recognized by current Ravens players — Terrell Suggs, Sam Koch, and Marshal Yanda are the last holdovers from his nine-year tenure — but it was still a feel-good scene when the former head coach and Super Bowl XXXV champion spoke to the Ravens at the request of John Harbaugh. It’s been more than seven years since Billick was fired at the end of the 2007 season, but Harbaugh asking his predecessor to address the current team just felt right.

“Here’s a coach that coached a lot of bad-ass Raven football teams around here,” Harbaugh said. “It was pretty fun to listen to him coach, and I think it meant something to him. It meant something to all of us. He did a great job, and we’re proud to have him back.”

Billick was in Owings Mills as part of the NFL Network’s training camp coverage, but one can only hope the invitation to speak was an important step toward a much-deserved honor for Billick. Some time needed to pass before the subject was finally broached, but now seems an appropriate time for the Ravens to add Billick to the Ring of Honor.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with the decision at the time, it’s difficult to argue with owner Steve Bisciotti’s dismissal of Billick when you see how successful the Ravens have been under Harbaugh, but that shouldn’t take away from the accomplishments of the former. In 1999, Billick took the reins of a team that only knew losing in its first three years before leading the city of Baltimore to its first NFL championship since Super Bowl V in his second season as head coach.

He wasn’t perfect as his inability to develop a franchise quarterback ultimately led to his downfall, but a Super Bowl championship, two AFC North titles, and four playoff appearances in nine years comprise a resume that’s worthy of a spot on the M&T Bank Stadium facade. And he will surely be joined by Harbaugh one day, just as the two stood side by side on Wednesday.

Seeing Billick speak to the Ravens was not only a fun trip down memory lane, but it was a reminder of what needs to happen sooner rather than later.

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A personal note for all friends, fans and supporters re: changes at WNST

Posted on 22 August 2014 by Nestor Aparicio

SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, DURING THE SUMMER of 1998, I had an amazing opportunity to create and develop Baltimore’s first all sports radio station – a dream come true for a Dundalk guy who was a fanatic and devotee of journalism, learning and all things local sports. WNST-AM 1570 – affectionately dubbed “The Station With Balls” – was to be “all day, all night, all sports.” There were only a handful of radio stations in America that had such a format.

Roch Kubatko, now an employee of Peter Angelos and MASN, inked a mostly skeptical and mostly accurate front-page sports story in The Baltimore Sun three months after we launched. It even allowed then market-leading WBAL general manager Jeff Beauchamp and others in the marketplace to scoff at me, pile on and go on the record as giving “Nasty Nestor” very little chance to succeed. (WKDB was the original call sign for our AM signal.) You can read it here.









As we quietly celebrated our 16th anniversary at WNST on August 3rd, and now in our seventh year of partnership with Super Bowl winning head coach Brian Billick and offering 5% of all of our company’s operating profits to The Living Classroom Foundation to benefit Baltimore youth initiatives, I can’t help but stand tall and proud of all that we’ve accomplished over the past two decades. We’ve given many aspiring journalists and sportscasters a chance to follow a dream, sit in front of their first microphone and start a career. That was my goal and dream all along – to create something great and to give others a chance that folks like me weren’t given on my way into the business.

Sure, I fought the power. If I hadn’t, nothing good would’ve ever come from my life. And I certainly wouldn’t now have the power that you’ve given me to help other people and pay forward all of those deeds and endorsements from the many who have supported me during my darkest hours.

And now, entering 2015, via the power of new media and no longer encumbered by a 5,000-watt AM radio signal with 1948 FCC rules and regulations – I’ve been given the chance to chronicle every moment of Baltimore sports moving forward in real time.

Beginning with my first broadcast in December 1991 with Kenny Albert at WITH-AM 1230, I’ve seen modern day media morph into something much larger and more useful than just “local radio.” I remember back in the 1980s when the only way the public could know what I was thinking was if my editor at The Baltimore Sun would send me on an assignment. And my byline would be in the newspaper the next day with a few paragraphs of information in black and white words. Now, every tweet, status, video and thought is instantaneous and in high definition, like something I could only then imagine on an episode of The Jetsons.

And through all of the accomplishments of my employees, our reputation for excellence and accuracy and my own personal achievements over 30 years in doing Baltimore sports media beginning at The News American in January 1984, I’m proudest of what WNST has done in the community over the years. With your help and love and support, we’ve raised nearly $1 million in goods, services, coats, food, donations, checks, goodwill, promotion, publicity and power for too many local causes to list. I’d also like to believe that we’ve helped create many magical memories for tens of thousands of Baltimore sports fans over the years. Somehow, someway, you’ve been affected by what we do at WNST and I’m very grateful to have shared that experience and to have your trust and loyalty after all of these years.

Maybe it was at Whiskey Joe’s in Tampa in 2001 or on the Natchez or during the Super Bowl march in New Orleans in 2013? Maybe you were in the upper deck at “Free The Birds” doing the right thing in 2006? Or maybe you just called in one time or met us on a road trip ­­–­ we’ve now taken over 10,000 people on trips with the Ravens, Orioles, Terps, Caps and others – or at one of our hundreds of live Ravens players shows since The Barn in 1996 that began, appropriately, with Ray Lewis.

And if we’ve made you smile, you probably have the pictures and same incredible memories that I do of all that we’ve accomplished, celebrated, discussed, grieved and protested over the years since I took the microphone on Dec. 13, 1991.

If you’re here reading this – in some way – WNST has had some positive effect on you to keep you here through all of the years. Please let me begin this note with a gigantic THANK YOU for all that you’ve done to support me – and my family – over the past three decades.

As you might have heard, I’m going through some changes in my life these days.

Today, I announced the departure of several veteran folks – Drew Forrester, Glenn Clark, Ryan Chell and my office staff of general manager Paul Kopelke and Ashley Bishoff – in effort to create a basic change in the way we’re doing content and our radio format at WNST.net & AM 1570. They came to work every day and they gave everything they had to WNST. They’re good, hard-working, honest people and I wish them absolutely nothing but the best in their future.

I also want to thank everyone who has worked at WNST over the past 16 years. Many staffers and interns have come through our doors and learned the sports media and radio business from me, and several have gone on to further careers in the business, here in Baltimore and in other markets. All of them helped in some way to build WNST and make it great.

As most of you probably know by now, my wife was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia on March 20 and this sent my life into a place I’ve never encountered and could never recommend. She’s been fighting for her life every day over the past 160 days and it’s been an honor to serve her and watch her battle cancer. Every facet of my life – and my life together with my wife – has been put on hold through her remarkable journey except for the comeback of my daily radio show, The Happy Hours, from 3-6 p.m. on WNST.net & AM 1570, which was something we planned together for many months.

Since returning to the radio on April 1 as host of The Happy Hours, WNST.net has retained 17 new sponsors directly related to me coming back on the radio on a daily basis. All of these companies stepped up to help

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Running game marriage between Kubiak, Rice will be interesting to watch

Posted on 30 January 2014 by Brian Billick

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