The "Bullies of Baltimore" 30-for-30 documentary aired Sunday night on ESPN, giving the NFL's greatest defense of all time its long-deserved spotlight.
It was a tribute to the Super Bowl XXXV-winning team and some of its special characters, filmed during a "Championship Celebration" in May at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.
Those on the stage were former Head Coach Brian Billick, linebacker Ray Lewis, defensive tackle Tony Siragusa, tight end Shannon Sharpe, running back Jamal Lewis, safety Rod Woodson, Defensive Coordinator Marvin Lewis and Linebackers Coach Jack Del Rio. Former Ravens Executive Vice President of Public & Community Relations Kevin Byrne was the emcee.
The film is a must-watch for Ravens fans, but in case you need the cliff notes, here are some takeaways and best moments:
It was a refresher on the defense's sheer dominance.
In case you needed the stats on who had the best defense ever, former Billick provided them at the top.
"I don't mind having that argument because I have all the numbers on my side," he said.
The Ravens gave up 165 points in 16 regular-season games. That's 10.3 per game, a mark that has never been topped.
"The great thing is that record is never going to be broken," Billick added. "The things we were known for, the physicality, the hits on the quarterback – they've been legislated out of the game."
The Ravens would have pitched a shutout in Super Bowl XXXV had it not been for a kickoff return for a touchdown by the Giants. New York passed the 50-yard line just once and put up 152 yards of offense. The Ravens defense forced five turnovers and registered four sacks.
It was domination from the start of the season (a shutout of the Steelers) to the end.
"We made it simple. If they don't score, they don't win," Lewis said.
One of the most illustrative moments of the defense's domination was a scene from a Week 4 shutout of the Bengals. Cincinnati rushed for just four total yards. Star running back Corey Dillon was shown walking off the field and to the bench while his head coach motioned to get back on the field.
"We had people tapping out because playing against us was hell," Lewis said.
Tony Siragusa was the star of the show.
Tragically, Siragusa passed away a month after the "Championship Celebration" and the documentary was recorded. Now, it will stand as a lasting homage to a great father, teammate, player, and comedian.
Siragusa's larger-than-life personality, laced with plenty of colorful language and rich storytelling, took center stage in the documentary.
He told a story about being given an enema a couple hours before a game against Washington. The team was wearing all white for that game. Siragusa told the trainer, "If I'm laying on my back on that field, do NOT turn me over. That was the most petrifying game I ever played."
Siragusa told another story about a run-in with CBS broadcaster and former quarterback Phil Simms, who went on a rant about how illegal Siragusa's belly flop on Rich Gannon was in the AFC Championship, which knocked Gannon out of the game. Siragusa felt Simms was part of why he was fined $10,000 by the league for the hit, which did not draw a flag.
During production meetings before Super Bowl XXXV, Siragusa told Simms that he knew he was putting up new landscaping at his house (they both lived in New Jersey), and that if he saw those plants dug up, he would know where to find them.
"Phil Simms can kiss my [butt]," Siragusa said.
Siragusa had extra motivation against the Raiders. He said late Raiders Owner Al Davis offered him a deal in 1996, but when Siragusa came in the next day to accept, Davis lowered the offer by $50,000.
As he left the field after the Ravens' victory in Oakland, Siragusa bumped into Davis in the tunnel and told him, "'I bet you're glad you saved that $50K. It cost you a Super Bowl.' He was pretty pissed off. I didn't give a [crap]."
Ray Lewis took inspiration from the movie "Gladiator."
Lewis said he used to watch "Gladiator," which was released in May of 2000, before every game and took much inspiration from the film.
"Every time I stepped on the field, I was Maximus," Lewis said.
The character especially resonated with Lewis because he was still facing the backlash from murder charges, which were eventually dropped, earlier that year. The line from the movie, "win the crowd and you'll win your freedom" rang in his head.
"That movie changed my life," Lewis said. "And I brought that swagger back to my team. What we do in life, it echoes into eternity."
Trent Dilfer was candid, including about his stolen playbook.
In a recent ranking of Super Bowl quarterbacks by NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, he ranked Trent Dilfer at the bottom of those who won the big game. Being the quarterback on a team led by the greatest defense of all-time will forever be Dilfer's lasting legacy.
As the quarterback of an offense that didn't score a touchdown over five games, the expectations were low. They needed just enough points to complement the defense, and it wasn't much. Dilfer was very realistic about that role.
"You better know who you are as a player," he said. "At that point of my career, I was banged up, I was not very athletic. I was not very good, to be honest with you.
"But I knew who we were as a team. And I knew that most games in the NFL, teams give away more than people go get them. I was like, 'If you play this right as the quarterback and you can take your ego out of it, everybody is going to give the game to us.'"
Dilfer shared a story about his playbook being stolen after the Ravens' regular-season win in Tennessee – the team's chief rival at the time. Many years later, Gregg Williams, who was the Titans' defensive coordinator in 2000, admitted to Dilfer that he stole it.
"To this day, it pisses me off," Dilfer said. "I see Gregg Williams somewhere and he says, 'Man, that must have been rough knowing that we had your playbook.' So not only are you playing a great defense, but you're playing a great defense that has the answers to the test before the test."
Dilfer was also candid about the team signing Elvis Grbac in free agency the following offseason. Grbac and the Ravens went back to the playoffs but had an early exit and Grbac retired.
"It was the hardest thing in my career that I've had to get over, was being told that you weren't good enough after just winning a Super Bowl," Dilfer said, adding that it's only within the past five years that he's finally come to peace with it.
Brian Billick was the perfect match for this team.
There was plenty of swagger on the 2000 Ravens defense. Sharpe was the offensive ringleader in that regard. The team's head coach had plenty of his own too, and he allowed their big personalities to shine.
Lewis said the Ravens players used to call Billick "Birdman" because he would walk around with his chest out.
"He talked just as much as us if not more," Sharpe said.
There was never-seen-before footage from inside the locker room after the playoff win in Tennessee. Billick was riled up by the Titans playing a video on their stadium boards before the game, showing him telling his team that the Titans were maybe the best team in the league "but not today" after the Ravens' regular-season win."
After Baltimore won in their stadium again, Billick ordered all cameras in the post-game locker room to be turned off. One was lowered so nothing could be seen, but the audio was still running.
"F--- THE TITANS!" Billick yelled, sending the room into an eruption of cheers.
Billick's confidence and bravado rubbed off on his team.