Starting this Wednesday and continuing every Wednesday up to the Super Bowl, Brian Billick will write a weekly column looking in depth at different aspects of the modern NFL, and discussing experiences and insights he gained while coaching and broadcasting. Make 'Wednesdays with Billick' part of your weekly reading.
When the Baltimore Ravens began the 2001 season as the NFL's defending champions, we started the new campaign with ... just another home game -- a 1 p.m. ET kickoff on Sunday, Sept. 9, 2001, against the Chicago Bears.
No national TV.
No prime time.
The only thing that happened out of the ordinary is the team raised its world championship flag before the kickoff. Then we went out and played football. We beat a very good Bears team 17-6. It was a terrific game and a great matchup -- both teams would go to the playoffs that year -- but only the people in Baltimore and Chicago saw it.
A lot has changed in 11 seasons. When the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys kick off...