Billick fined $15,000 for comments on officials

Updated: October 31, 2003, 5:29 PM ET

NEW YORK -- Baltimore coach Brian Billick was fined $15,000 by the NFL for his criticism of officiating in the Ravens' game in Cincinnati on Oct. 19.

The fine was leveled by Peter Hadhazy, the NFL's director of game operations in a letter sent Monday to Billick. That was three days before commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested at the league meetings in Chicago that the Ravens' coach should be fined.

The fine came a day after Billick criticized instant replay following his team's 26-6 win over Denver. He was not fined for that but for comments made following a 34-26 loss in Cincinnati a week earlier.

After that game, Billick criticized the officiating and said he was still in favor of instant replay. Last week, following two replay calls that went against him in the Denver game, he said he would oppose instant replays at the league meetings in March.

However, Hadhazy leveled the fine for Billick's specific criticism of the officiating in Cincinnati by the crew headed by Johnny Grier, who has more games as a referee than any active official in the league.

"I don't know that Johnny wasn't looking at pictures of his kids in that little booth," Billick said.

"With the current system, I've got to expend a timeout, embarrass the officials and throw a red flag out on the field, let him go in and look at God knows what on the internet, and come out and tell me I didn't get a definitive view to overrule it."

After the Denver game last week, in which two calls favorable to the Ravens were overturned, Billick said:

"I quit. I give up. I've tried to be an advocate for instant replay. I've tried to do the company line. I've said the right things.

"League, I'm sorry. Dump it."

Tagliabue said Thursday that Billick's comments were a "direct and severe violation of our rules about criticizing officiating publicly."

"I think what Brian Billick said about replay was intolerable, unacceptable, uncalled for and he should be fined," he added, saying he didn't know if that would happen.

It turned out it already had happened.

League officials said there is nothing wrong with a coach or team officials giving an opinion on replay. Both Bill Polian, president of the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Dungy, the team's coach, have said recently they oppose instant replay in its current form.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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