On Saturday, we posted an item pointing out that FOX assigns former Ravens coach Brian Billick to work games involving the Falcons, whose head coach is Billick’s brother-in-law.
We pointed out that the assignment created an awkward situation for Billick, Falcons coach Mike Smith, and the team facing the Falcons. “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,” we wrote. “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.”
On Wednesday, Billick appeared as a guest on The Dan Patrick Show. And Dan asked him about the issue.
Without specifically calling us out by name, Billick called the suggestion of a potential issue “the most ludicrous thing I’ve ever heard.” But then Billick offered up an observation that pretty much proved our point: “I can understand a team might be uncomfortable.”
Indeed, that’s the point. The Saints might have been uncomfortable with Mike Smith’s brother-in-law having access to practice and production meetings. The week before that, the Cardinals might have been uncomfortable with it, too.
Given that Billick seems to realize the core concern — that the family relationship gives rise to the appearance of potential impropriety — his complaint regarding the fact that we raised the issue seem hollow and self-serving.
“You got nothing else to write about,” Billick said. “I know someone blogged on it, whatever, don’t know football whether it’s stuffed or pumped, so let’s come up with some asinine, ‘Well, they’re brother-in-laws so I don’t know that he should be doing the game.’”
Coach, we realize you think that you can be trusted not to share the inside information you receive with your brother-in-law. But you shouldn’t have to be trusted not to share it, and your brother-in-law shouldn’t have to be trusted not to ask for it. The family relationship rises to a higher level than the various friendships and acquaintances that exist throughout the sport. FOX should have realized this, and FOX should have made its assignments accordingly.
“I can understand a team might be uncomfortable.” From FOX’s perspective, that’s all they need to hear to conclude that Billick shouldn’t be doing Falcons games.