Six years removed from being the Ravens' Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Trent Dilfer is more emotional about the events that followed the victory.
Dilfer remains extremely bitter about Brian Billick's decision to replace him with Elvis Grbac after the championship season and doesn't plan to speak to the Ravens coach again."He grossly misunderstood the talent of that football team, myself specifically," said Dilfer, who is working for the NFL Network at this year's Super Bowl. "I totally agree with so many things he did. But to this day, I am so sad I didn't have the chance to face the challenge of repeating."
Dilfer was highly complimentary in regard to Billick's handling of the leaders and personalities of the Ravens' Super Bowl team.
But he is still steaming about being the first quarterback in NFL history to win the Super Bowl and lose his job before the next season.
Dilfer went 11-1 as the Ravens' starter after replacing Tony Banks midway through the 2000 season but struggled at times with his accuracy. Because the Ravens had such a dominating defense, there was a perception that the Ravens won in spite of Dilfer.
Since winning the Super Bowl, Dilfer said he has not had a substantial conversation with Billick.
"I have absolutely zero desire to talk to Brian Billick," Dilfer said.
Dilfer said he has spoken with former teammates Rod Woodson, Shannon Sharpe and Brandon Stokley, all of whom said they wished he could have returned as quarterback.
"Those guys will go to their graves swearing to God that we would have won two, three Super Bowls if they would have kept me," Dilfer said. "I'm not going to say that; I have no idea. But I sure would have liked the chance to face the challenge. I would have loved that opportunity."
The decision wasn't made by Billick alone. The Ravens chose to make a change at quarterback after extensive personnel meetings that were headed by general manager Ozzie Newsome.
Billick also met with several team leaders after the Super Bowl, and they reinforced his decision to go in another direction at quarterback, a league source said.
Former Ravens safety Woodson said yesterday that he always favored bringing Dilfer back.
"I don't want a guy with gaudy numbers; I want a guy that wins. I want a guy like Trent Dilfer," said Woodson, who also works for the NFL Network. "I think we could have won another Super Bowl with Trent as our quarterback."
Billick could not be reached to comment yesterday.
"We loved what Trent did for us," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens' senior vice president of public relations. "He's a tremendous competitor."
Dilfer's name has become a popular one at this Super Bowl, but it's not been used in a positive light.
The national media are labeling Chicago Bears quarterback Rex Grossman as one of the worst quarterbacks to reach the Super Bowl, a group that often includes Dilfer. In fact, Grossman is trying to become the first quarterback not rated among the top 10 passers to win an NFL title since Dilfer.
Asked whether he could relate to how Grossman has been repeatedly beaten up by the Super Bowl media corps, Dilfer said: "Yeah, I lived it. The difference is I didn't listen to it as much. Listening to him talk, he obviously hears it."
Dilfer's advice to Grossman is to isolate himself.
"Turn your TV off, don't read the paper, turn your cell phone off and don't get on the Internet," Dilfer said. "Shut your world off because all you're going to hear is stuff that's going to change the way you're going to play. He needs to stay focused on what he's been focused on during the playoffs.
"The greatest challenge of my career was staying comfortable during this week."
Dilfer also has a heartfelt connection with Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy.
Dilfer's son, Trevin, died in 2003 at the age of 5 - 40 days after contracting a virus that attacked his heart. It was only 13 months ago that Dungy's 18-year-old son, James, committed suicide.
"I gained a lot from it in talking to him," said Dilfer, who was coached by Dungy for four seasons in Tampa Bay. "He's taken the perspective to use that personal pain to help others. He's mentored people going through similar tragedies."
Since winning the Super Bowl with the Ravens, Dilfer has played for three teams (Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers) in six seasons, making 23 starts.
Dilfer, 34, isn't thinking about retirement, saying they would have to "drag me out by my toenails."
"I didn't have to play a snap this year," he said. "I feel I'm 28 again."
For the most part, Dilfer is looking ahead and not reliving his championship past.
He wasn't wearing his Super Bowl ring as a TV analyst, and he said he has never watched the Super Bowl in its entirety.
"I can't remember half the game," Dilfer said. "To be honest, it doesn't validate anything. I never ever think about it. It doesn't define who I am or what I am about."