Ismail: Ravens Didn't Have Curfew Week Of Super Bowl XXXV

Rules? What rules? Brian Billick let the 2000 Ravens do their thing prior to the Super Bowl

The DA Show
January 21, 2020 - 10:16 am

As Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan prepare for Super Bowl LIV, they will certainly watch film, design plays and develop a game plan. But they’ll also take the pulse of their team and determine what they need – and don’t need – between now and kickoff on Feb. 2.

Super Bowl champion Qadry Ismail knows firsthand just how important that is. He helped the Ravens to a 34-7 win over the Giants in Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001 in Tampa.

“We literally got to Tampa, and if you were a veteran player, you get your own rental vehicle waiting for you in the parking garage,” Ismail recalled on The DA Show. “We had zero curfew the entire time. I think toward the end of the week, we might have had, ‘All right, guys, just be in your rooms.’ We didn’t have a coach come around checking your rooms. That was our team. When we got to the locker room, the music was blaring every single day. We had celebrities come to our practices every single day. It just didn’t matter.

“At the same time, we had guys in Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson who basically helped guys like a young Ray Lewis really hyper-focus in and know the assignments,” Ismail continued. “We had a guy who was looking to prove himself in Trent Dilfer who was not going to let this moment slip on him. I think all of us as players, we recognize that we’re going to have fun because we did that the entire year.”

The Ravens went 12-4 in 2000 and beat the Broncos, Titans and Raiders to win the AFC Championship. They allowed just one touchdown combined in those wins.

“We had fun along the way,” Ismail said. “You got to be you, and that’s something that the head coaches have to be keenly aware of. What’s your team and how do they get there? Do what you’ve done all year long for you to get there so you can succeed and do your best.”

Brian Billick, then 46, knew how important that was.

“Absolutely,” Ismail said. “I think that’s the biggest thing that I look at. When I went out for pregame, it was like, ‘Wow, this is amazing. This is all that.’ But we’re just going to be us. Everybody has got one another. We’re a team. We’ve played the role of the underdog. We’ve been to different hostile environments. This is our time to shine. And 34-7 later, we’re hoisting up the Lombardi.”

Ismail, though, has at least one pregame memory he will never forget.

“Ray Charles sang America the Beautiful,” he said. “That was probably the only time where I literally let my guard down and soak up the Super Bowl moment. I was like, ‘Whoa, that is amazing.’ You got Ray Charles and the flyover and all that. As a kid, I’m watching Whitney Houston at the same location, she’s singing the national anthem and belting our arguably the greatest national anthem ever sung. And at the same time, here I am living out a childhood dream of mine to play in the Super Bowl. I’m looking at Ray Charles like, ‘Oh, wow.’ 

“But as soon as that was over, I put on my helmet and I was like, ‘All right, let’s go out there and win,’” Ismail continued. “That’s something that, you as a football player, you know you, your teammates know you, you know your teammates, your coaches got the game plan and everything all set. It’s imperative that you go out there [and do] whatever you need to do to get yourself ready as a coach so you can help your players play their best.”