Ravens' coach vented after Bengals loss

Originally Published: October 31, 2003
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The NFL has fined Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick $15,000 for his criticism of referee Johnny Grier the day after an Oct. 19 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

On Friday, league vice president of public relations Greg Aiello confirmed the sanction levied by Peter Hadhazy, the NFL's director of game operations. Billick's comments were viewed as a violation of the NFL policy against public criticism of game officials.

At a league meeting in Chicago on Thursday, commissioner Paul Tagliabue termed Billick's remarks "improbable, unacceptable and uncalled for," and noted they were a "direct and severe violation" of league rules. Tagliabue opined at the time that, while fining Billick was not directly under his purview, he felt the coach should be sanctioned.

In the defeat at Cincinnati, Billick lost two instant replay challenges. The next day, in his normal Monday review of the game, Billick told the media: "I don't know that Johnny wasn't looking at picture of his kid in that little (replay) booth."

The Ravens coach contended he was not specifically criticizing Grier but rather venting about the instant replay system.

Billick was also critical of instant replay following last Sunday's victory over the Denver Broncos. In a rant in which he suggested the NFL "dump the whole damned thing ... because it doesn't work," Billick said he could no longer support instant replay in its current form.

Aiello said that Billick will not be fined for last Sunday's remarks because they merely reflected his view on replay. Other individuals, most notably Indianapolis Colts team president Bill Polian, have recently said they will no longer support replay.

Tagliabue said Thursday that, despite the perception momentum is perhaps headed away from replay, he believes the system will continue. Replay is in the final season of a three-year initiative and must be renewed by owners at the league's annual meeting in March to continue as a part of the game.

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