Today marks the 10th anniversary of when the NFL approved Steve Bisciotti’s purchase of the Baltimore Ravens.
A lot has happened since April 9, 2004, but Bisciotti’s involvement, as renowned author John Feinstein points out, began long before that.
In his book entitled Next Man Up, Feinstein chronicles the Ravens’ 2004 season. During the introduction, Feinstein talked about Bisciotti being his first Ravens contact. Feinstein wrote, “Bisciotti is one of the most remarkable people I’ve ever met.”
In the book’s second chapter, Feinstein gives the account of how the transfer of the Ravens ownership took place.
On December 17, 1999, Bisciotti “agreed to pay Modell $275 million in exchange for 49 percent minority ownership in the franchise and the option to buy out Modell for a total price of $600 million in four years. There was never any doubt that Bisciotti would exercise the option. The only reason for the four-year delay was to give Modell and his family time to adjust to the notion of no longer running the team.”
$600 million seems like a lot of money. It is. But Bisciotti is no fool. He recognized the enormous opportunity in front of him. Investing a quarter of a billion dollars before the Ravens had yet to post a winning seasons was gutsy, but Bisciotti liked what he saw. Completing the $600 million sale three months after the 2003 season ended in a first round home playoff loss further validated his loyalty to the organization.
2003 was a very good season for Baltimore. It was one of two seasons in franchise history when the team ended the season with both the offense and the defense finishing ranked among the top 10 units in the league. Jamal Lewis set a single-game rushing record when he ran for 295 yards against the Browns on September 14. He also finished the season with 2,066 rushing yards, which still ranks as the third-best all-time total.
Since he became majority owner, Bisciotti has given the Ravens every opportunity to win. He knows people, and he knows that if they can come to work excited and leave work encouraged, they’re going to be more productive than most.
A big step toward that end was taken when he shelled out $32 million for what is now known as the Under Armour Performance Center. I can tell you from first-hand experience, that place is plush and pristine.
When you’re a free agent being courted by the Ravens and you step foot inside the Under Armour Performance Center, you don’t even need to see the Lombardi trophies. It’s an amazing work of art that would entice anyone to come to work early and stay at work late.
As far as results on the field, Bisciotti hasn’t called plays, made challenges or scored points, but he has given a vision and direction to all of his employees. They know he’s not just happy to be in the exclusive club of NFL owners. They know that although he isn’t publicly outspoken, he expects results.
Since 2004, the Ravens have compiled a record of 104-70 (playoffs included). That comes out to a winning percentage of 59.8 percent, or about 10 games per year. I’m not saying that’s all due to Bisciotti, because it’s not. However there’s no denying his hand in the team’s success.
Bisciotti was born in Philadelphia but grew up in Severna Park and went to college at Salisbury (State) University. Along with his cousin Jim Davis, Bisciotti started a staffing firm called Aerotek (now known as the Allegis Group). Bisciotti and Davis grew that company from two employees to 98,000.
After reading that, it’s no surprise that the Ravens’ value has spiked since Bisciotti became owner. The franchise that cost him $600 million in 2004 is now worth $1.157 billion, according to forbes.com. That’s a profit of $557 million.
Ten seasons, six playoff trips, two AP NFL Defensive Players of the Year (Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs), one Super Bowl MVP (Joe Flacco), one Super Bowl championship, and an average yearly profit of $55.7 million.
Did I mention Bisciotti turns 54 tomorrow?
I’d say he deserves to celebrate.