Billick and Tice go way back

BALTIMORE -- The first time Brian Billick encountered Mike Tice, Billick had a lot of work to do to gain credibility and respect with the eventual Minnesota Vikings' head coach. Back in 1992, the Baltimore Ravens' head coach was a rookie assistant coach working with the Vikings' tight ends and Tice and Steve Jordan were veterans approaching the end of their careers.

"My plea was, ‘Act like you're learning something, okay, so I can keep my job,'" Billick said prior to Sunday night's 30-23 win over the Vikings. "They had something like 35 years experience. I would say, ‘Tell me what you want to do and act like it was my idea.'

"You knew Mike would be a great coach and he was willing to commit himself to it. Mike and I have a very close relationship and he was a great guy to work with."

Tice and Billick, who were assistants together under Dennis Green when Billick coordinated the Vikings' 1998 offense that set an NFL record for most points in a single season, remain close friends.

"I talked to Brian about three weeks ago to see how he was doing," said Tice, an imposing former University of Maryland quarterback. "I know he was under a little bit of heat. Of course, I know what that is like so I figured I'd see how he was doing, since normally five or six times a year he calls me to see how I'm doing.

"We have stayed in contact every year since he left. We worked diligently, hand in hand together, building this offense back in the 1990s. We had a lot of fun together."

Both Billick and Tice have been the subject of rampant speculation about their coaching futures, although buzz about both being dismissed has cooled somewhat recently.

Tice has won six of his past seven games, and the Ravens have won three of their past five.

Tice recounted his initial reaction to Billick, a fired-up rookie assistant eager to put his players through their paces.

"As a player, he couldn't teach me anything," Tice said. "He tried to make us do drills that you would make a rookie do, and we turned and looked at him one day in practice and said, ‘Are you kidding me? What are you trying to do kill us?'

"He is a detail guy. He really was the one that taught me about tendencies. There are some stories probably floating around the building about Brian and I and our heated conversations about the game plan. We have had a few infamous discussions."

Yet, those debates haven't threatened a friendship that extends beyond the gridiron.

And Billick, who has endured several of his players' involvement in high-profile legal entanglements since becoming the Ravens' head coach in 1999, has advised Tice about dealing with the major distraction of an infamous sex scandal that has indicted four players and affected the entire team's reputation.

"I have a huge amount of respect for Mike for what he has been able to deal with this year and overcome," Billick said. "For them to fight their back out of it, particularly with all of the external circumstances, I think is amazing."

QUICK HITS: Wide receiver Derrick Mason eclipsed Michael Jackson's single-season team record with his 77th catch during the first half. Jackson caught 76 passes in 1996, the Ravens' inaugural season. … Wide receiver Mark Clayton returned punts and running back Chester Taylor ran back kicks with B.J. Sams out with a knee injury. …

The Ravens deactivated kicker Aaron Elling, wide receiver Patrick Johnson, quarterback Brian St. Pierre, Sams, linebacker Mike Smith (hamstring), linebacker Zac Woodfin, tight end Daniel Wilcox (ankle) and wide receiver Clarence Moore. … The Vikings' most prominent inactives were linebacker Keith Newman, offensive tackle Marcus Johnson and former University of Maryland center Melvin Fowler.


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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