The National Football League is reviewing comments Baltimore Ravens Coach Brian Billick made this week about his team's upcoming game in Cleveland.
During a news conference on Monday, Billick said: "I know darn well we are not going to get a call in Cleveland, no way, no shape, no how. The league would really like to see Cleveland beat us."
An NFL spokesman said George Young, the league's senior vice president of football operations, faxed a letter to Billick on Tuesday asking for an explanation of his comments. The league office continues to review the matter.
On Sunday, Baltimore will play in Cleveland for the first time since the franchise moved from that city three years ago. Billick's comments were not well received by Browns President-Chief Executive Officer Carmen Policy.
"Brian Billick impugned the integrity of the league, the officiating and demeaned the stature of the Cleveland Browns," Policy told the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer for a story in Wednesday's editions. "This is a serious enough infraction that the league should pay attention to it."
Meantime, Billick seemed to back off his remarks today.
"I think it's a classic case of maybe all parties involved not surveying all the facts," Billick said. "I in no way, shape, form or method tried to insinuate that the league or the officials would do anything that would be contrary to the integrity of the league."
Ravens owner Art Modell stood by his coach.
"I have absolute confidence in Brian Billick's integrity," Modell said. "I also have unqualified confidence in the integrity of our officiating people in the league. This is my 39th year in the National Football League, and I think they are the most honest people imaginable. Their judgment is flawed sometimes, but their honesty is beyond reproach. So whatever Brian tried to say, didn't say, made it sound . . . I don't know. All I can say is no way does he feel that way, because I don't. I wouldn't allow it."
Policy angrily condemned Billick for insinuating that the NFL sided with the Browns in this matchup.
"Who is Brian Billick to suggest that the league would favor us and that it would spill over into the officiating?" he told the Plain Dealer. "He did not treat Cleveland, the NFL or the officials with the respect they deserve. And this is coming from a rookie coach who's gotten a lot from this game. . . . Here's a guy who has no respect for anybody, least of all the team he's coming in to play. His remarks were ill-advised and irresponsible. I can only hope for his sake that he was grossly misquoted."
Billick said he and Policy have had a good relationship in the past. When Cleveland won its first preseason game, Billick sent Policy a bottle of wine to celebrate the victory.
"I was probably inadequate with the way I pieced it [my comments] together," Billick said. "It did not come out right. . . . If there is any culpability on my part, it is the fact that I did not handle the situation with [the media] as adroitly as I should have."
Ravens Notes: Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis did not practice today because of stiffness and soreness in his knee. Lewis, who leads the team with 102 tackles, injured the knee Sunday against Buffalo. He is day-to-day.