Steve Bisciotti is coming off his most successful season as the Ravens' majority owner, winning his first playoff game and coming within one victory of the Super Bowl. At the NFL annual meetings Sunday in Dana Point, Calif., Bisciotti talked with Baltimore Sun reporter Jamison Hensley about the future of his franchise, from locking up Terrell Suggs to increasing ticket price to the chances of bringing another championship to Baltimore.
How did it feel to get your first playoff win as the majority owner?
People might not agree with me, but when you get a bye [like the Ravens did in 2006], it's the same as a win as far as I'm concerned. They won't agree with me, but when you go 13-3, it meant you're a very good team. If you've earned a bye, it's as good as a win to me. But when I saw that [playoff win drought] in print, I guess I wanted to win one game. I don't want to say I would have been satisfied with one game. But I didn't go into the season expecting a playoff performance anyway. To me, it was all gravy.
So what expectations did you have for the 2008 team?
Bisciotti: I'll be honest with you. I told John [Harbaugh, Ravens coach] at the beginning of the year that if he secured his spot as a leader of this organization and we drafted a quarterback that may well be our franchise quarterback, I really didn't care about our record. I would consider it successful if I had my coach and the quarterback of the future. It was all a bonus.
The success vindicated me a little bit in the tough decision that I made. Certainly, it gained the respect of the players to see John manage a team all the way through the playoffs with a rookie quarterback. It certainly gave Joe Flacco an experience as a rookie that not many guys ever get a chance to experience.
What are the chances that the Ravens sign linebacker Terrell Suggs to a long-term deal?
Bisciotti: My hometown discount theory didn't seem to go over real well in the Ray Lewis negotiations (laughter). Suggs deserves to be paid as one of the top defensive players in the league. I have faith in Ozzie [Newsome, general manager] and his guys that they'll get it done. I know Suggs really wants to be here, and I know we really want him. So, I certainly hope it doesn't drag on as a franchise situation any longer.
Do you envision Suggs to be a long-term Raven like a Ray Lewis or Ed Reed?
Bisciotti: Yes. There's no doubt in my mind that we'll get a long-term contract done with Suggs. I think the way the contracts get accelerating -- and everybody keeps passing each other as the highest paid this or that -- I think it puts more pressure on Ozzie. But Terrell is a wonderful personality to have on your team. I'm pretty encouraged that they'll work it out.
Were you disappointed in how Ray Lewis handled himself this offseason in regard to talking about other teams?
Bisciotti: No. It humored me.
How did it humor you?
Bisciotti: We already had an understanding of what he was doing. I wanted Ray to explore his options. So, when he came back, he was 100 percent comfortable that Ozzie had given him a legitimate contract. It didn't bother me at all because Ray is one of the great self-marketers. I think he's a brilliant guy. I would have been disappointed had he not done the best to try and generate interest from other teams. I was just amused.
Did it surprise you that wide receiver Derrick Mason has publicly asked for an extension?
Bisciotti: When you initially hear it, it does. It seems like the corners and the wideouts are the press-getters in the league. We've always appreciated that Derrick goes out in that yeoman-like fashion and gets his 85 catches a year. Yet the minute I hear it, you realize why wouldn't he do this. He doesn't want to be one year further along, be a free agent and wonder where he's going to end up.
I think he loves Baltimore. He's happy here. It's only his second city, and I think he would like to just make it two cities. He's older. He's got kids. And he wants to know that he doesn't have to pack up and move at 36 years old next year. It may have surprised me because I didn't see it coming. Once he said it, I didn't take offense to it. He made his intentions known, and I think he got Ozzie's attention.
Will you consider it?