Friday, May 25, 2007

Meeting the enemy

Since the guy who owns the company where I work is a board member of the Winged Foot Scholarship Foundation, I got to attend the scholarship award banquet last night. The keynote speaker was none other than Brian Billick, coach of the disgusting Barftimore Ravens. Although I had promised the boss I would be on my best behaviour, I was fully prepared to crap all over Billick if the opportunity presented itself. As it turned out, Billick was unbelievably nice, charismatic, and likeable. He made a round of the tables prior to the ceremony, and when I told him I was a rabid Browns fan and that his Superbowl ring belonged to the city of Cleveland, he chuckled, gave me an up-close look at the ring, and busted my chops about the frustration of rooting for the Brownies. Two things about him that stood out: he’s very tall, as you can see in the photo, and he projects an aura of genuinely loving his job.

The only shaky moment of the evening occurred during his speech, when he talked about how supply and demand shaped the salary distribution among his team. He gave us the salary cap figure for each NFL team ($109 million, if memory serves right), and talked about the difficult decisions GM and Über-traitor Ozzie Newsome has to make regarding how that figure is distributed among his 53 players. If he had his “druthers,” Billick said, he would wheelbarrow the money into a room, lock his players in it, and let them decide how to divide the $109 million. His punchline: “The problem is, Ray Lewis would walk out with all of it!” I hastily added my own punchline, not quite under my breath: “Yeah… he’d walk out with all the money, and with a bloody knife!” I got a couple of dirty stares for my troubles, but it was well worth taking a shot at Raykiller.

After the festivities, someone asked me if I would become a Ravens fan now. My answer? Of course not. I’ll still wish the entire Ravens team plane crashes into a fiery cauldron of fused metal and charred body parts. I will, however, wish for Billick to be spared (I think).

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