Former Ravens head coach and current NFL Network analyst Brian Billick just exited the podium at the NFl Scouting Combine. He was his engaging and interesting self, calling Stanford's Andrew Luck the best quarterback prospect since John Elway and relaying a story where he once asked an NFL prospect with character questions, "Are you a thug or are you stupid?"
He also discussed the difficult decisions former players - Ray Lewis and Ed Reed - will face in deciding when it's time to hang it up and call it quits on expected Hall of Fame careers. Lewis and Reed have both said that they will play next season.
"It’s eventually going to happen for everyone," Billick said. "Ed Reed is a little bit different because of the injuries. ... Ed, as you know, is very in tune to that. The demands on his body and the hits that he takes, at some point. Ed will be prudent that way. It may take for the entire offseason. When we had Jonathan Ogden, Jonathan could have continued to play but Jonathan knew because the toe injury at the end, ‘You know what? I’m not going to do what I know how I have to do in the offseason to come back and play. Yeah, I’m going to keep playing but I know what that offseason has to be.’
"Ed Reed, I think, has the intelligence obviously to [say], 'You know what, I just know that I can’t and won’t do the things that I have to do in the offseason in order to play.' Ray, gosh, it amazes me. I thought a couple of years ago he was a bit of a liability on third down and he seemed to bounce back in only the way Ray Lewis can, and needed to be on the field every snap. Amazing. But even for Ray Lewis, at some point. Ray has such a high expectation for himself and again, it’s hard for a player sometimes to truly recognize where are you. I’ve had a number of my former players – typically the smart ones – that will call outside sources and say, ‘Coach, look at my film, tell me if it’s time for me to go.’ It’s a tough question."
Billick, who led the Ravens to their lone Super Bowl championship, also offered high praise for his successor. Ravens coach John Harbaugh has gone to the playoffs in all four of his seasons, and has taken his team to two AFC championship games.
“John has been brilliant," Billick said. "Part of it is because he came into a team that was – I don’t want to sound self-serving – but was pretty good, and a good, sound organization. It’s the same reason whether it be a Bill Belichick or now Tom Coughlin, a Mike McCarthy. Once you have a certain level of success, it’s kind of assumed so you don’t give them credit for continuing to have that success. But John’s been brilliant in what he has done in Baltimore and has them on the cusp. They’re going to be there again next year."