One of The Chancellor of Football’s all time favorite teams!

35mainRay Lewis (The U) was most valuable player in a defensive game for the ages 34-7 over the NY Giants.  Ravens allowed 165 points for the season and would have won more if they would have stayed with a 4-3 defense and kept Trent Dilfer in 2001…yet I digress

What was crazy about this was the team meeting at the beginning of the offseason where Billick had Jim Brown talking to the team and he pulled Ray Lewis up.  Ray proceeded to address the team and told them he saw them winning the Super Bowl in a vision during his tumultuous off-season.  He gave an impassioned talk, in a grey t shirt and wearing a fishing hat, to his team of the need to be great and that he had to fulfill that prophecy in getting to Tampa. Wow!

Consider this is a team that had never been to the playoffs to that point. Not even close in their first 4 yrs from being borne of the Cleveland Brown ashes. Art Modell (Red Right ’88 /The Drive/ The Fumble) was supposed to be snake bitten. He carried the baggage of all the heartache from Cleveland playoff meltdowns.

35sideBoth Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks, the teams QBs, were cast off from other teams.  This was a true free agency Super Bowl champion with players who brought any real playoff experience was limited. Corey Harris (couple with Packers early 90s), Tony Siragusa (95 Colts run), Rod Woodson (mid 90s Steelers), Dilfer (97 Bucs/injured for 99) and the only player on the team I can think of with a Super Bowl ring was backup WR and special teamer Billy Davis (95 Cowboys)!! And head coach Brian Billick had been hired for his offensive acumen after leading the 1998 Minnesota Vikings to the NFL record of 556 points in a season.

The Chancellor of Football loved watching this team win it all because they did one thing…understood who they were and stayed with that belief.  I get so sick of teams copying “oh we’re running the west coast offense” blah blah blah…blow me! Develop who you are and game plan based on your personnel!! Defeat someone with something different than playing their same playbook!!

This team didn’t have the Vikings fleet receivers that Billick had in Minnesota, nor the quarterbacks. They learned early on “Hey we’re a running team and we have to play good defense and keep the score down.” Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa plug up the guard/center/guard and allow Sugar Ray (did I mention he’s from The U) to roam tackle to tackle and smash, Jamie Sharper smacking TEs…yikes!  Was there a better CB tandem on a Super Bowl champion than Starks and McAllister? Really? Woodson and Kim Herring were great as a tandem.  There just were no holes!

If they were still playing Super Bowl XXXV (15 yrs later) I still don’t think the Giants would have scored a touchdown yet on offense. By the time they reached the Super Bowl it was too late to derail them. It was facing the defending AFC Champions in Tennessee is where many experts thought would be an issue.

By the way… Tom Jackson took Tennessee that day on NFL Countdown… don’t let him fool you

It was beyond too late when they made the AFC Championship in Oakland as well

To watch them bludgeon their way to the Super Bowl was artful. I remember betting 3 friends at Fullerton Dodge that in the AFC championship that not only would the Ravens win, but they’d be the first team since 1970 to hold the host team without scoring a TD in their own stadium.  I won both bets! Lional Dalton claims I owe him money plus interest and it shut up Raider fans…Andre Rison pushed off and it was offensive pass interference.

35logoStrong team, strong character, and staying the course are what this team taught.  Even had a string of 22 quarters or so without an offensive touchdown…just keep going!

2000 Baltimore Ravens-powerful Super Bowl champion!

‘Cleveland ’95: A Football Life’ – A Look Back

Looking forward to this episode of a football life. Bill Belichick and the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs in 1994. Who did they lose to?? Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots. After being fired by Cleveland once they decided to move and start in a new city with a new coach, Belichick reunites with Bill Parcells as his defensive co-ordinator for the Patriots in 1996. The result?? They make it all the way to Super Bowl XXXI. However, what would have happened had the Browns not announced they were moving and demoralizing the fanbase and the team?? If you look at the coaching staff that Belichick had amassed, they were eventually going to get the players to make it work. Current Alabama coach Nick Saban was on that staff as well.

The move of the team gutted the heart of all of Ohio, not just Cleveland. Yet it was this move that also taught where the NFL Championship Trophy was. Since the league mandated the Browns colors and memorabilia stay behind, this included the trophies won by the team. As the officials looked for the championship trophies from the 50’s and 1964, they couldn’t find them. Well, conferring with the Pro Football Hall of Fame they came to find out the NFL championship trophy moved around on a rotating basis. The champion held it like the championship belt of a prize fighter. So after winning it all in 1964, they defended their title in Green Bay for the 1965 championship. Well Green Bay won 23-12, in Jim Brown’s last game and kept the trophy. With the following season, 1966, the Super Bowl ushered in the era of a new trophy each season for the winner to keep.

Many, many reasons to watch this interesting story.

They Call It Pro Football - Official Blog of NFL Films

On Wednesday, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m. ET on NFL Network, the fourth episode of this season’s A Football Life series premieres.  This week’s feature is on the chaotic and controversial relocation of the 1995 Cleveland Browns to Baltimore. 

Here’s a look back at former Browns’ head coach Bill Belichick’s first win with Cleveland during the 1991 season – ironically against his current team, the New England Patriots.  And don’t forget to tune in Wednesday night to Cleveland ’95: A Football Life, to see the untold legacy.

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