By DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
December 31, 2007
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -- Brian Billick was fired as coach of the Baltimore Ravens on Monday, less than a day after his team concluded a disappointing 5-11 season.
Players were told of the dismissal as they packed up their lockers at the team's practice facility.
Billick won the 2001 Super Bowl in his second season with the Ravens, and led the team to a franchise-best 13-3 record in 2006. But Baltimore lost a team-record nine consecutive games this season before ending the skid Sunday with a 27-21 win over Pittsburgh.
"This is the reality of our business," cornerback Samari Rolle said.
Billick's nine seasons with Baltimore was tied for third with Philadelphia's Andy Reid as the third-longest current run with the same team. He took the Ravens to the playoffs in 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2006, but Baltimore won only one postseason game since its Super Bowl run after the 2000 season.
"Sometimes the message can get repetitive after a while," 12-year offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said.
Ogden said this month that Billick had informed the team he would be returning in 2008. But owner Steve Bisciotti evidently changed his mind.
The Ravens expected to compete for a world championship this season after bringing back almost every starter from last year's AFC North champions. But injuries and a turnover-prone offense contributed to a complete collapse after a 4-2 start, and Baltimore finished last in the division.
"This year the injury bug not only hit us, (it) hit our prime-time players," linebacker Bart Scott said.
Billick, 53, was hired as Baltimore's second head coach in January 1999, succeeding Ted Marchibroda. In Billick's first season, the Ravens reached .500 (8-8) for the first time. Then he led Baltimore to a 12-4 record and a berth in the Super Bowl, where the Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7.
Billick was 80-64 as Baltimore's coach. He was the offensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings before being coming to the Ravens.
"I'm not saying I agree with it," kicker Matt Stover said of Billick's dismissal, "but sometimes things have to change."