What Jimmy Johnson said that persuaded Brian Billick not to return to coaching

Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens
Clark Judge

https://soundcloud.com/talkoffame321/0604-tof

(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the Brian Billick interview, fast-forward to 12:50 of the attachment above)

Two decades after taking over the Baltimore Ravens as head coach, Brian Billick has been inducted into the Ravens’ Ring of Honor.

The franchise’s second-winningest coach, Billick delivered the Ravens their first Super Bowl victory and oversaw one of the game’s greatest-ever defenses—one that yielded two first-ballot Hall-of-Famers, Ray Lewis, Rod Woodson and, later, Ed Reed.

Yet Billick, who works now as an analyst for the NFL Network, confessed surprise when Ravens’ owner Steve Bisciotti notified him late last month that he would be inducted into the Ravens’ Ring this year.

“It was greatly appreciated,” Billick said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast, “and very much a surprise. I can’t wait to see my name go up as a permanent fixture on that stadium. It’s been 20 years since I came to Baltimore, and coaches’ years are like dog years. That’s a long time.”

In his nine seasons with the Ravens, Billick won three division titles, went to the playoffs four times and won Super Bowl XXXV. He also had an 85-67 record, including 5-3 in the playoffs. Yet he never coached again after his firing following the 2007 season.

That’s more than unusual. It’s extraordinary. So what happened?

“I remember when I got out of coaching and went into broadcasting I fully intended to come back to coaching,” he said. “And I remember (former coach and now FOX analyst) Jimmy Johnson pulled me aside.

“I didn’t know Jimmy that well, (but) he was at FOX, as well. And he said, ‘Look, Brian, I don’t know you that well, but let me give you some unsolicited advice: Don’t go back unless it’s in your bones. Too many of us go back.’

“And Jimmy said, “I was one of them. I went back for the wrong reasons. If you go back for ego, if you go back for money, it’s the wrong reason.’

“I had a pretty good first marriage with (former Baltimore GM) Ozzie Newsome and the Ravens. I kind of knew what that looked like, and the opportunities that came my way the first couple of years afterward really didn’t seem to size up right for me. And I didn’t want to make the mistake of just going back.

“And then there came a point where I enjoyed the life that I had; that we had developed in the media that I was doing. And more free time for yourself.

"(Coaching) is a grind. I always say that job will kill you. And if you can do without it, you’re probably pretty smart in doing so.”

Apparently, Billick is pretty smart. He’s done without it the past decade, working for FOX and the NFL Network. However, he said he might be tempted to return if the right offer came along … and let him explain.

“I’ll say right now: ‘I’m half the coach Jon Gruden is. So give me $50 million, and I’ll come back,’ " he said laughing.“ ‘Fire me after one year, but you’ve got to make the contract guaranteed. And life would be good.’ Now that I would do.”

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