When I heard that Brian Billick had written a book, I was pretty stoked. Finally, I thought, we’ll get the inside story on his surprising dismissal by the Ravens, his up-and-down relationship with Steve Bisciotti, that strange Super Bowl press conference during which he chastised the media for its treatment of Ray Lewis…and a lot of the other behind-the-purple-curtain stuff that we’ve all been wondering about since he was fired after the 2007 season.
So, when the publisher sent The Sun an advance copy of the manuscript – entitled “More Than a Game: The Glorious Present and Uncertain Future of the NFL” – I waded right in.
I’ll give Billick this much, he delivers an interesting take on the state of the sport and – in the early chapters – a primer on what it’s really like to be an NFL head coach. He brings along some additional wisdom from the guys he coached for and against, including Bill Walsh, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher and more. And he proves that even a super-focused NFL coach is capable of seeing beyond his own horizon.
In the course of the 250-or-so pages, he travels across the football spectrum, explaining the Cover 2 defense in one chapter and the intricacies of the NFL Network’s various cable and satellite deals in another.
What he doesn’t do is what most readers in Ravenland probably will wish he had. He does not dish on the Ravens front office and Bisciotti. He has very little to say about the dynamic players who helped him win a Super Bowl. There is the occasional rationale for the way he handled a certain situation – the ill-fated attempt to develop Kyle Boller into a franchise quarterback comes to mind-- but the book is really not about the Ravens.
It’s more about Billick expanding his image as a major player on the NFL scene, which should be helpful in his new career as a television analyst and won’t be hurtful to any future opportunity to coach another NFL team.
I don’t know if he was consciously playing it safe for future employment reasons, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I mean, I’ve seen the guy punt on fourth and short inside the 35 yard line. What I do know is that Billick is not interested in fading out of the NFL picture, and this book allows him to project himself more as a football statesman than just somebody manning the Telestrator in the FOX broadcast booth.
I’m not going to give away the ending, but Billick takes a look at the gathering labor storm that is threatening the NFL and offers advice to both the owners and players on how to navigate through it without damaging an extremely successful industry.
The book, which is co-written by Michael MacCambridge and hits the shelves next week, is a quick read that may enlighten you to some of the challenges of putting a winning – and losing – NFL team on the field, but you’re probably not going to come away feeling like you know a whole lot more about Billick and the Ravens than you did when you cracked it open.
Now that I’ve piqued your interest, I’ll be back in awhile with some more specific observations about Billick and his new book, including his aforementioned explanation for why Boller didn’t pan out.
Sun file photo
POLL: Will former Ravens coach Brian Billick coach again, and if so, at what level?