"To not to resign there, I was so flabbergasted by the situation," Dilfer said. "To this day, I can't wrap my brain around how that decision was made."

Dilfer said that he played most of the year in Baltimore trying to overcome injuries he sustained the previous season in Tampa, and played the season "at about 65 percent" after sustaining a pelvic injury that made it difficult for him to stand up straight, A personality clash with Ravens coach Brian Billick didn't help.

"I know for a fact that Brian did not like my [strong] personality," Dilfer said."That's fine because I probably wouldn't if I was a coach that at the time."


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Dilfer, who wound up playing with Seattle, Cleveland and San Francisco before retiring after the 2008 season, admits that he was hurt by the Ravens' decision to go with Grbac.

"I have a little compartment in my soul, I just stuck that one away so that the pain and the disappointment wouldn't affect me moving forward," he said. "I had to do it for self-preservation."

When Dilfer returned during the 2003 season he was Matt Hasselbeck's backup in Seattle.

"It wasn't an overly emotional situation," he recalled. "There was some anger that came out when I was there. I was aware of it enough not to let it affect me or my teammates. Some of them wanted to make a big deal of it but I didn't want it to be a distraction."

Dilfer said that he still uses his one season in Baltimore in other facets of his life, which includes running a charitable foundation for his late son, Trevin, who died in 2003 at age 5 from a heart disease.

"When you win a championship, there are a million things that you can talk about. When I look back at the last 10 years and the lessons I have learned that I have shared with others — how I view football, how I view team structure — came from my experience in Baltimore," he said..

"What struck me that year and since that year is when you get a group of people who believe in one cause, one philosophy. It's easy to read in book. It's easy to hear someone speak about it, but a lot of times we don't know what it looks like because we haven't experienced it. To go through it, to learn the lessons from it, have been invaluable to me."

'You can dream anything big'

Peter Boulware's memories of his eight seasons with the Ravens are mostly sweet, yet they are mixed with the painful reminders of the injuries he sustained and that eventually ended prematurely.

"I don't feel cheated. Naturally I wish I had not gotten hurt. I wish I would have played longer, but I played the amount of time I was supposed to play,' said Boulware, the team's No. 1 pick and the fourth overall pick in the 1997 NFL draft. " Fortunately during that time, I was able to win a Super Bowl, which a lot of guys can't say.

The sweetest memory, of course, is from the 2000 season, but that too had its difficult moments.

"We started that year we knew we had a good team, but I couldn't tell you winning the Super Bowl was definitely going to happen; a lot of things that year turned out right," Boulware said. "There was a time that season when we were really struggling. We lost a few games in a row. For some odd reason, we turned the season around.

"If I learned one thing that year is that you can start off one way and everyone gets on the same page, the ship can quickly turn around and you can dream anything big. I think that's what we did that year. We came together as a unit and we were tough to beat."

Boulware said that he has used what he learned playing football after he retired in 2006, first in a successful business career that includes owning a Toyota dealership in Tallahassee, where he played at Florida State, as well as a short-lived run for political office.

"What you're trying to do in a company setting, most athletes know how to work with a team. They know if we're going to be successful and we're going to win, it takes sacrifice. They know everyone has to play a role and has a responsibility to play. They value hard work," Boulware said. "Most athletes know when they lose, they pick themselves up and help the ship go back in the right direction."

That lesson was particularly helpful during Boulware's most public moment after retiring from football came when he ran — and lost — for the state legislature in 2007. After winning the Republican primary for a seat in the state legislature, Boulware ended up losing the election by 430 votes.

"I think it's about the same thing. In the political arena, you campaign and you work hard for a couple of years,' said Boulware. "You give everything you have for one day — one Election Day. If the votes don't go your way, all the work you've done it's really for nothing.

"There is a great correlation between politics and sports because as tough as it was after I lost, I felt because of my sports background I was able to pick myself up and use this as an experience to make myself better."

don.markus@baltsun.com

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