Ditka: Billick should fine players

OWINGS MILLS -- Iron Mike Ditka believes that Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick needs to wield an iron fist. One day after Billick announced that he won't fine his players on top of any potential league sanctions for their franchise-record 21 penalties in a 35-17 loss to the Detroit Lions and two ejections for making contact with officials, Ditka sharply criticized Billick for not using harsh disciplinary measures.

"I love Brian, but he's the only one that can put a stop to it," said Ditka, the former Chicago Bears coach, on ESPN radio. "By not fining them, you're saying, ‘Do whatever you want. I don't care.'

"It's a complete lack of discipline. You have to stop them from doing that and the only way to do it is to hit them in the wallet. They understand that."

Billick, who reportedly has two years remaining on a contract that pays him $4.5 million a year, has been criticized for having no curfew during training camp and moving practice indoors during inclement weather. Moving forward, Billick said he'll stress accountability and coach players on how their lack of self-control can affect the team.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the Ravens' emotional meltdown is that Billick counseled his players at halftime not to talk to the officials. However, Terrell Suggs was still ejected for vehemently arguing with and appearing to bump into referee Mike Carey.

"They listened to me, but they couldn't contain themselves," said Billick, whose team has lost seven of its past 10 games. "I hope it's a one-game aberration."

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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