The Baltimore Ravens had mapped out their NFL draft strategy a day in advance, and University of Illinois defensive end Simeon Rice was the wild card.
If Rice was the third player chosen in the draft, then Baltimore had a decision to make.
The 6-foot-8, 318-pound tackle was the fourth player chosen and the Ravens' No. 1 pick yesterday.
All around the Owings Mills complex there were smiles on the faces of the Baltimore front office staff as the Ravens landed the most coveted lineman in college football, and the city's first No. 1 pick since the Baltimore Colts selected quarterback John Elway in 1983.
"We were ecstatic when Arizona passed him up and we still had a shot at him," said Ozzie Newsome, the Ravens' director of football operations. "I think his biggest asset is his ability to run and make blocks in the open field. I think he is going to be an anchor for us for a long time to come."
He pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor and has gone to counseling, paid for his victim's counseling and publicly apologized.
"I had no qualms about taking him, because I felt, based on our investigation, that he was subject to quick and complete rehabilitation and that he would have been a class-A citizen and a man the city of Baltimore would have been proud of," Modell said.
Only in the last 10 days did Rice's stock start to rise.
On Friday, Newsome, Modell, executive vice-president Jim Bailey and director of college scouting Phil Savage worked out 15 possible combinations of the two possible remaining players if Rice was chosen in the top three.
"There was Phillips vs. Johnson, Phillips against Hardy, and Hardy against Johnson," Modell said. "Hardy and Phillips would have been a tough call."
Newsome agreed. Finding a linebacker was one of the Ravens' biggest needs.
"Hardy and Phillips? That was a real tough one," said Newsome. "It would have been Hardy."
The Ravens didn't have to make that choice, but they had some tempting offers to trade up before their pick.
Each team is allowed 15 minutes to make its choice in the first round, and while Jacksonville was debating its No. 2 pick, the Jaguars kept phoning the Ravens about trading up to Jacksonville's slot.
Arizona had similar thoughts. The Cardinals called Baltimore about swapping the third and fourth picks, and reportedly offered the Ravens two mid- to late-round picks. The Ravens declined, but Arizona was not finished.
Newsome said the Cardinals' table was next to Baltimore's at the draft headquarters in New York. The Cardinals wrote Phillips' name on their selection card and announced it loud enough for the Baltimore contingent to hear.
The Ravens didn't fall for the bluff.
"No one called us during our time, and we didn't call out," said Modell. "Every team uses their 15 minutes in the hopes they think some team will call up and offer their piggy bank [a better deal]. No piggy bank."
"He was the cleanest of all the guys on the board," said Newsome in a rare slip.