Billick's Week Three assignment seems a little curious

While perusing page 7C of Friday’s USA Today, which previews the Week Three NFL games, we noticed an intriguing fact regarding the FOX broadcast of the ultra-huge division showdown between the Falcons and the Saints.

The announcers for the game are Thom Brenneman and Brian Billick.  But Billick has a connection to one of the coaches in the game. 

They’re brothers-in-law.

As MDS explained it in a FanHouse.com item from a couple of years ago, Billick arranged a blind date between Falcons coach Mike Smith and Billick’s wife’s sister while both men were coaching at San Diego State.  And Smith ended up marrying Billick’s wife’s sister.

MDS also pointed out that Smith got his first NFL opportunity in 1999, when Billick became head coach of the Ravens.

The assignment of Billick to any Falcons game presents an awkward situation for Billick, Smith, and the team facing the Falcons.  The announcing crew gets access to inside information via production meetings.  They also attend at least one practice, usually on Friday. 

This isn’t about whether Billick, who has helped his brother-in-law’s career in the past by getting him an NFL job, would abuse the privileges he receives in order to properly perform his current job.  We’ve got no reason to question either Billick’s or Smith’s integrity.  But it’s the kind of situation that gives rise to the appearance of potential impropriety, and we think that someone should have raised a hand and said, “Um, guys, don’t we think the team playing the Falcons may be a little uncomfortable with having the brother-in-law of the Falcons’ head coach having access to strategic information?”

The question apparently didn’t come up this week.  And it apparently didn’t come up last week, when Billick and Brenneman worked the Cardinals-Falcons game.  Presumably, it hasn’t come up as to any Falcons games Billick ever has worked.

If the question ever comes up, the answer should be clear — Billick should be assigned to a different game in order to ensure that no one will be placed in an awkward situation.

Though we realize that there are only so many games to which Billick can be assigned in a given week, we think he generally shouldn’t be assigned to work Falcons games.  It puts Billick and Smith in a delicate situation (especially if the men get together for dinner), and it surely makes the opposing coach for the upcoming game less inclined to share any secrets with the husband of Smith’s wife’s sister. 

66 responses to “Billick's Week Three assignment seems a little curious

  1. Billick called the Cards-Falcons game last week and even mentioned during the game that he and Mike Smith are brothers-in-law

  2. There is conflict of interest almost everywhere in the NFL if you look hard enough, Florio. This is a non-story.

  3. Technically Smith is Billick’s wife’s brother-in-law, but not Billick’s. Other than that… if Troy Aikman is still allowed to do the color analysis on Cowboy games despite being nauseatingly pro-Dallas, I have no trouble with this.

  4. If he was a ref this would be a major story.
    He’s not…It ain’t.
    HE’S AN ANNOUNCER!! What could possibly happen if someone told him information?!? some fans would hear it during the game? OHH NNOOOOOOOO!

  5. Billick has broadcast Saints games in the past. During the games and and on his stints on NFL Network, he comes across as a non believer in the Saints. He attributes most of their greatness as dumb luck.

  6. This has been a non issue for years, ever since Bob Griese worked at ABC and did Michigan games while Brian was the quarterback there. Next….

  7. Yea, players who are tight with their former team doing games is a much bigger deal and it happens all the time (Steve tasker)

  8. goodness florio…you are one uptight dude…you thinks controversy in everything….like the first poster mentioned he did the Atl/AZ game last week, and it was mentioned…not only is this story not news…you are a week late with your “the sky is falling” garbage

  9. Sounding kind of preachy on a topic that, in your own admission, is really a non story.
    Did someone pee in your coffee?
    Now, get off of your soapbox and dream up another story about your dreamboat Fav-rey.

  10. Brother in Law Shmother in law….GET TROY AIKMAN OFF THE COWBOYS GAMES FIRST! He literally calls almost every Cowboys game. CERTAINLY every cowboys eagles game- you know, the games where the cowboys Kieth Brooking explains “we know everything they are running before they run it…” Then we can talk about billick. If you don’t think Troy Aikman and Jerry Jones create a more substantial appearance of impropriety that two brothers in law, you’re fooling yourself. Post an article about this, if you have the balls. I bet you don’t.

  11. patpatriotagain – um, that would be a non-issue if fans heard info, you’re right. In fact, announcers go to those practice SO THAT they can tell the fans what they saw in practice. That’s actually the reason… But Billick attending the falcons opponents practice, then attending the falcons practice, and then discussing the opponent’s practice “in passing” with his bro-in-law Mike smith is, correct me if I’m wrong, something that “could possibly happen.”

  12. Wow. Quite a reach there. “wife’s sister’s husband?” Child, please.
    Why have you never brought this up when Fox puts their #1 team on a Cowboys game because Aikman would have inside access? He’s obviously still a Cowboy homer. Has Phil Simms ever worked a game with a team that his son was on?
    There are numerous cases of conflict of interest that are far more egregious than this one.
    Must be a slow news day.

  13. The announcers job is to entertain the viewers. Whether they do it through thoughtful analysis or anecdotes about things that happened when they were in the league, their job is to entertain. Although it would be nice to think that the announcers would be fair, they really don’t have to be.

  14. Human Howitzer, technically you are incorrect. All 3 of the following qualify as one’s brother-in-law according to Dictionary.com
    1. The brother of one’s husband or wife
    2. The husband of one’s sister
    3. The husband of one’s wife’s or husband’s sister.
    According to #3, Billick and Smith are brothers-in-law.

  15. My God, you are like someone’s annoying old biddy of a grandma…always telling people (the NFL) what they SHOULD do. Get over yourself already.

  16. The reason the question never came up is that unlike Lord Florio and the rest of the PFT staff, no one is worried about conspiracy and such!
    Grow up Florio and get a life!

  17. This is no more a story than Aikman doing Dallas games, Theismann doing Redskin Games, Madden doing Raider games (or games involving Favre) etc. I know he retired but you get the point.

  18. A non-story…Billick could care less. There are ex Billick coaches all over the place. Mike Smith, Marvin Lewis, Jack Del Rio, Mike Singletary, Mike Nolan, Rex Ryan..plus some I’ve probably forgotten.

  19. Is it me, or has Florio gotten especially preachy the past couple of weeks? Either he’s vying for Dungy’s halo or trying to restore the “edge” that he’s lost shilling on network TV.

  20. If you truly believe that ANY team is giving any members of the Media strategic information before a game you are dumber then you look.

  21. Did you know that John Gruden is calling the Packers/Bears Monday night game? The last time he called a Packer game he sucked the dick of every Packer player and coach on the field just because he used to coach for the Packers. So what’s the big deal with Billick calling the Falcons game? Get over it!!!!!! The NFL always loves story lines right?

  22. that isn’t news, it’s pretty widely known…it’s not like it has been some kind of secret. what’s the problem?

  23. @mp42245
    WHAT greatness? They won a Super Bowl. But in recent history, they haven’t even owned their division.
    They had ONE amazing year where EVERYTHING went right for them. Their defense got an insane amount of turnovers. But if you think back to last year… they should have lost to the REDSKINS. But after the Skins intercepted the ball… the corner decide to hand the ball back over to Robert Meachem and let him score a touchdown anyway. THAT’S THE “DUMB LUCK” you are speaking of.
    The Saints have talent, but they’re not “great.” They’ve had one good season. They might be great in the future. We’ll see. Right now, it looks like nobody in the NFC wants to challenge you. So you’ll probably enjoy another year of all the AFC teams beating eachother up in the playoffs while you coast against overrated teams.

  24. Maybe Billick would end up hurting the Falcons. He might recommend that they sign shitty quarterback in free agency.

  25. Billick is a good guy, very knowledgeable about the game and doesn’t just fill the air waves with noise.
    I highly doubt he’s going to use his job to job a coach. Not just would he lose his sports casting job, but also any chance of getting another coaching job.
    Really, have you guys ever met him? He’s one of the nicest guys around and when he does Packer games I turn up the sound.
    Better than listening for the Aikman whoopers. I dunno if the guy is just trying to fill dead air, but I’ve heard the dumbest things come out of that man’s mouth.

  26. is it the offseason already? because this is about as non-football related, filler of an article as you can get.

  27. I checked and Billick didn’t call any of the Falcons games last season. We have to keep in mind that FOX (and CBS for that matter) rank the games ahead of time and send broadcasting teams to the games that correspond to their rank. This week, then, ATL/NO was seen as the #3 game, so the #3 team goes to it.
    I don’t think there is any nepotism in place here. If Billick starts fetching coffee for the Falcons, then maybe we’ll have something else to talk about…

  28. Who really cares? What is your point? He is just announcing a game! Nothing sensitive at stake such as money, promotions, jobs, etc.

  29. You know I saw someone bring this up when Jeff Van Gundy commentates his brothers game…Oh wait no I didn’t BECAUSE it doesn’t matter…He has no effect on the game because he is commentating….Once again stop with the filler stories I would rather see 5 posts a day then 15 and have to sift through the B.S.

  30. How about Aikman doing the color for the Dallas/Chicago game last week! Think he had any access to “strategic information.” What a homey call that was! YIKES

  31. Really? Your going to go down this road? It’s announcing for hell’s sake.
    An analyst who has no relation to a coach but holds a grudge against him (and there are more than a couple out there) is the one you have to worry about when it comes to divulging confidential information.
    Get over yourself.

  32. The question apparently didn’t come up this week. And it apparently didn’t come up last week, when Billick and Brenneman worked the Cardinals-Falcons game. Presumably, it hasn’t come up as to any Falcons games Billick ever has worked.
    Maybe because it is a stupid question. And a non-story. There’s not a single color guy in NFL broadcasting that doesn’t have some kind of special connection to a team or two.

  33. Human Howitzer says:
    September 25, 2010 8:25 AM
    Technically Smith is Billick’s wife’s brother-in-law, but not Billick’s. Other than that… if Troy Aikman is still allowed to do the color analysis on Cowboy games despite being nauseatingly pro-Dallas, I have no trouble with this.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Ditto

  34. From watching a ton of football, like all of us have, I’ve noticed there are connections…ALL THE TIME! It is literally impossible to have any announcer who doesn’t have a close affiliation with either team.
    I’m sure if you probed hard enough, Billick has a close friend on the Saints, as well.
    If Tom Coughlin can draft his son-in-law, Billick can comment on his brother-in-law’s games.

  35. Very compelling story! Must be a pretty slow news day is you are able to put out a 9 paragraph story about a non-story. You’re better then that florio. On a scale of 1 to 10, definitely a 1.

  36. I’m sure the fact that one of the announcers is related to the Falcons coach will be a huge advantage for the Falcons.
    I have long suspected you’re paid by the word Florio, thanks for the confirmation.

  37. Why the concern now Florio? Aikman and Buck do practically every Dallas game and they are totally biased. It’s sickening to listen to those do cover up for Dallas week after week.

  38. The real problem will arise when Billick’s wife’s sister’s daughter becomes an analyst and wants to be kissed on air by Namath, whose nephew had a friend who married Mike Smith’s great aunt.

  39. Florio, are you desperate for stories again? Couldn’t think of anything to say about Favre, so you posted this silly nontroversy?

  40. So. Billick had access to a couple of production meetings and a Friday practice. Sean Payton didn’t bring this decimated Saints team to a SB Champion by being stupid. Fans have access to certain practices too. He’s careful about what he runs during those practices. Also, I’m sure he doesn’t divulge “ambush” plays during any production meetings attended by outsiders. I’m worried about Michael Turner NOT Brian Billick.

  41. Thom Brenneman & Billick are the lower on the totem pole announcers for FOX, so obviously they cover games for teams like the Falcons, Cardinals, and flash in the pan Saints. The big guns of Joe Buck & Aikman get the high profile gigs of the Cowboys, Giants, etc..
    End of non-story.
    Falcons 27 Saints 21 (The crystal ball sees Matt Bryant missing a field goal though.)

  42. Florio, if you force FOX to have the horrible Ron Pitts doing Falcons games, I will personally come up to West Virginia, or wherever you stay now, and kick your ass . . .

  43. When has an announcer ever impacted the outcome of a game? There is no conflict of interest.
    If Maurice Clarett is seen hocking bags of popcorn in the stands of a Broncos game, is that a conflict of interest too?

  44. “This isn’t about whether Billick, who has helped his brother-in-law’s career in the past by getting him an NFL job, would abuse the privileges he receives in order to properly perform his current job.”
    ok, it’s not about ‘that’… gotcha. uh, what the hell is the point of the article then?? if you’re not questioning his integrity, then don’t write the freaking article.
    what a dolt…

  45. yeah right, as if the nfl is overly concerned with implications of impropriety.
    Let’s see: the lions score a td that ruins league darling chicago season opener. it is disallowed. hmmmm.
    brady’s tuck rule, you aren’t allowed to even graze him with a finger: hmmmmmmm
    jones drew takes a knee on the 1 yard line with the jags behind on the scoreboard and the endzone yawning open in front of him. the touchdown would have changed the point spread outcome AND the over under outcome: hmmmmmm
    troy polamalu intercepts a pass and scores a touchdown. the touchdown is not allowed to stand. the only explanation given by the league was that “it didnt matter”: hmmmmmmmm
    superbowl 4o: hmmmmmmmmmm
    the pats and colts win a lot due to anomalies of the stadium timekeeping that allow fieldgoal attempts and extra plays after the time has runout, bizarre first down spots, and wildly innacurate 95 yard pass interference calls that occur at the crucial moment in big games against the texans: hmmmmm
    pittsburgh vs the vikings last year: hmmmmmmm
    pittsburgh vs arizona in the superbowl: hmmmmm
    the dallas cowboys will get some special “luck” this sunday vs the texans: hmmmmmmmm………

  46. Has Troy Aikman ever done anything but Cowboys games?
    I remember seeing him doing like a Bengals Raiders game and I was like…
    does he know that there is no Star on either helmet in this game?

  47. YP2K, Ron Pitts horrible?? Are you outta your mind? Pitts is great. He should be doing the top game each week.
    Cripes, who can’t like a low ego guy who knows football?

  48. Troy Aikman and Joe Buck are the worst two in the business and right behind them are Jaws and Thisesman
    The only good part is seeing the glazed look in Troys eyes knowing he is dead from the neck up
    Collingworth and Gruden are the best two when it comes to calling games
    And Aikman doing a Bengals Raiders game thats the AFC fox is the home of the NFC.

  49. mp42245 says: September 25, 2010 8:29 AM
    Billick has broadcast Saints games in the past. During the games and and on his stints on NFL Network, he comes across as a non believer in the Saints. He attributes most of their greatness as dumb luck.
    ____________________________
    Is he wrong? I guess this year will tell….Saints looking relatively good but they aren’t playing like the Champs right now. Let’s see how they do against the Falcons.

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