Twenty years ago today, Trent Dilfer and the Ravens won Super Bowl XXXV. Dilfer was, frankly, possibly the worst quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, and the Ravens were led by a dominant defense. So it wasn’t a big surprise after the season when the Ravens let Dilfer walk in free agency and signed Elvis Grbac to replace him.
But that move turned out to be a flop: Grbac had the worst season of his career and was cut by the Ravens after one year. And all these years later, Dilfer is still bitter about it, saying his struggles during the Super Bowl season were the result of playing through an injury, and the Ravens showed no appreciation for him putting his body on the line for the team.
“You know, I’ve been through a lot in my life and I try not to be bitter about anything,” Dilfer told ESPN. “I’d say that’s one I’m still harboring a little bit of bitterness because of the why. It was so poorly evaluated on their behalf. They knew I was hurt.”
Dilfer said Grbac was lacking in the kind of toughness the Ravens needed, and then-coach Brian Billick should have realized Grbac was wrong for the team.
“I’ll take a shot at Elvis because it doesn’t bother me at all,” Dilfer said. “The core value of that team was toughness. And Brian didn’t realize that. It wasn’t their coaching. It wasn’t their talent evaluation. It wasn’t all the things that they think it was. The core value of that team was mental and physical toughness, and that’s who I am and that’s the opposite of who Elvis is. They set their identity back light years by getting it wrong.”
The Ravens took a step backward from there, missing the playoffs four of the next six years and never getting back on track until John Harbaugh replaced Billick in 2008. There’s no guarantee that things would have been any better if they had stuck with Dilfer, but keeping Dilfer, drafting a young quarterback and using the cap space they spent on Grbac’s big contract on other positions instead would have been a wiser course of action. It’s understandable that Dilfer is still bitter about it.