In covering the Baltimore Ravens, the lasting memories of their Super Bowl victory 15 years ago today -- Jan. 28, 2001 -- can all be traced back to attitude.
The Ravens didn't just bring a record-setting defense and a bruising run game to Tampa, Florida, that year. Baltimore brought a swagger that few teams have ever replicated.
It began a few hours after the Ravens' plane landed for Super Bowl week, when coach Brian Billick went on the offensive in defense of Ray Lewis, who was charged with murder after partying at the Super Bowl the previous year. The charges were eventually dropped, and Lewis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of obstruction of justice.
"As much as some of you want to, we are not going to retry that," Billick told a room filled with reporters from across the country. "It's inappropriate, and you're not qualified."
If that wasn't enough, one media member asked what gave Billick the right to lecture 200 reporters. "I have the podium, and you all are here to listen to me," he said.
The Ravens were boastful and bold. Some teams guarantee victories leading up to the Super Bowl. The Ravens talked about a shutout.
“They don’t score, they don’t win,” Lewis said. “I’ll predict a win.”
This brazen attitude was a driving force for this team. At that time, the Ravens were still a fledgling franchise, a handful of years removed from their bashed relocation from Cleveland. They never had a winning season previously, much less a playoff win.
But, taking a nod from their self-described arrogant head coach, the Ravens embraced the "us against the world" mentality even up to the game's biggest stage. What gets lost in the bravado was the number of characters on this team, from Shannon Sharpe to Tony Siragusa.
Throughout the week, the popular storyline was where the Ravens' defense stood among the all-time greats. Regarding comparisons between him and William "the Refrigerator" Perry, Siragusa responded, "I like opening one, not being compared to one."
The defense staked its claim to being the best ever in the 34-7 Super Bowl win over the New York Giants, and they did so with their ultra-confident style.
"I told Shannon (Sharpe) to get us 10 points and that would be enough," Lewis said. "At halftime, I told him they did their job and we would do the rest."
Fifteen years later, you still don't have to like how the Ravens talked and talked. But you do have to respect how they backed it up.