Billick fined for remarks after loss to Bengals

OWINGS MILLS -- Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick was fined $15,000 by the National Football League for criticizing the officiating after losing two instant replay challenges in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, according to a league spokesman.

Although NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue rebuked Billick publicly on Thursday at a league meeting in Chicago for the coach's widely-publicized remarks Sunday after the Ravens' win over the Denver Broncos, NFL vice president of public relations Greg Aiello told the Carroll County Times that Billick was not and would not be fined for those comments.

"Brian didn't cross the line of criticizing the officiating in that instance," Aiello said. "He expressed his opinion about the instant replay system, as have many other coaches. "This was different from the Bengals game where he crossed the line of criticizing the officiating and referee Johnny Grier to draw the fine. What Brian said Sunday isn't a finable offense because he didn't question the credibility of the league or the officials."

Aiello said Billick was informed of the fine in a letter that was mailed Monday. Billick has reiterated publicly several times that his frustration lies with the current format, not the officials that oversee the instant replay system.

"I don't know that Johnny [Grier] wasn't looking at pictures of his kids in that little booth," Billick said the day after losing to the Bengals. "I'm still an advocate of instant replay, but I've long been an advocate of taking it off the field. Let's take it upstairs.

"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."

The Ravens were assessed a season-high 13 penalties in losing to the Bengals on the road,. "When you throw 13 penalties on top of it, both real and imagined, that's going to affect it," Billick said. "Those that we can find, which was tough, we'll address the players and say, 'You've got to be careful when your hands are here or there.'"

In his post-game news conference Sunday, Billick expressed his displeasure again about the instant replay system after having a touchdown pass to tight end Todd Heap turned over in a replay challenge by Denver coach Mike Shanahan. Billick's challenge of a separate incompletion ruling on a pass to Heap was also denied.

"I quit. I give up," Billick said Sunday. "I've tried to be an advocate for instant replay, but dump the whole [expletive] thing. I've tried to do the company line. "We have spent so much money on this thing and it doesn't work. League, I'm sorry. Get rid of the whole damn thing."

Tagliabue said Thursday that he believes instant replay will continue to be a part of the game, going on to criticize Billick's comments from the Broncos' game.

"I think what Brian Billick said about replay was intolerable, unacceptable, uncalled for and he should be fined," Tagliabue said. "I don't know if our staff's going to do that or not, but that's my own humble opinion about what he said because it's a direct and severe violation of our rules about criticizing officiating publicly."

In fact, Aiello said, Billick's remarks won't draw a fine from league director or game operations Peter Hadhazy, whose office handles punishment stemming from criticism of game officials.

After Friday's practice, Billick declined to respond to Tagliabue's comments regarding his comments. "No reaction," Billick said. "I've made my views clear about these issues and I will move on to the next game."

NOTE: Billick said cornerback Corey Fuller (groin, hamstring) will not play on Sunday. Free safety Gary Baxter will start at cornerback with Will Demps starting at free safety.

Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

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