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Ravens Said To Eye Releasing Him

December 16, 1999

OWINGS MILLS, Md. _ Tony Banks, who has flourished as the Baltimore Ravens’ starting quarterback, was told before the season that he could leave the team if he couldn’t cope with being No. 3 on the depth chart.

The Ravens are 4-3 since Banks became the starter in late October. But after he emerged from training camp as a third-stringer, Banks was offered the chance to find a spot on another team.

``I told him, `Tony, this is what we’re going to do. I’m going to make this move, now where do you want to go with it?‴ coach Brian Billick said Wednesday.

``He gave me that option to see if I wanted to go somewhere else, which was a surprise to me,″ Banks confirmed. ``But I didn’t come here to give up.″

The story was first reported by ESPN, which also said Banks was dropped to third string because he had his shirttail out on the sideline during the Ravens’ exhibition finale against the New York Giants.

``It insults me and it insults the intelligence of the viewers to honestly think that I would keep a quarterback from playing because his shirttail was out,″ Billick said.

Said Banks: ``I know he is a stickler for things like that, but I don’t think that was a leading factor.″

Banks eventually moved up the depth chart past Scott Mitchell and Stoney Case and got his first start Oct. 31. He has 13 touchdown passes compared to just three interceptions and is a big reason why the Ravens (6-7) are in position for their first winning season.

Back in September, following a lackluster preseason, Banks seemingly had no place in Billick’s offense.

``I knew I was going to get an opportunity,″ Banks said. ``I know there were other teams out there that wanted my services, but I didn’t want to leave.″

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