The lessons that Baltimore taught John Harbaugh, Ravens

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh sits down with the Talk of Fame Network to discuss how the Ravens tried to help out with the civil unrest in Baltimore two weeks ago and the lessons he ... and his team ... gained from the experience.


(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

Talk of Fame Network

It’s not easy being the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, but, apparently, John Harbaugh missed the memo.

In seven years with the Ravens, he qualified for the playoffs in all but one season, won at least one playoff game each time, produced a higher winning percentage (.642) than Hall-of-Famers Paul Brown, Tom Landry and Joe Gibbs and won the only Super Bowl he reached.

But sometimes coaching a football team is not all about coaching a football team. Sometimes it’s about being part of your community, and Harbaugh and the Ravens gained a first-hand lesson two weeks ago when civil unrest erupted in the streets of Baltimore.

“Like everybody else,” Harbaugh recalled on the latest Talk-of-Fame broadcast, “we were watching it. We had a lot of police officers friends who were down there working triple shifts, overtime and everything like that ... (guys) that we’d text every now and then and pray for. And (we had) friends down there -- clergy members, teachers and coaches that we know – high-school coaches that were involved.

“It hit home because it was home. This is right in our backyard. We had a chance to get down there on Thursday. The team went down there, pretty much everybody. We had over 55 guys go with us, everybody who was working out with us. Joe (Flacco) was there. Ray Lewis went down there with us. The whole coaching staff. I’ve said it was one of the best days of my life.

“That was after things had calmed down, just a little bit, and things were still kinda smoldering a little bit. And we had honest conversations with high-school kids. We went to Frederick Douglass High School, (and) an elementary school, (and) we were passing out food via Giant Foods and the Food Bank. But people were coming out of their cars, coming out of their houses, coming off the street and out of their workplace just to hang out and high-five and laugh and tell stories and get pictures.

“To me, that’s what it’s all about. The community is a family. The team is a family. That was one of the more powerful moments. Baltimore has a lot of great heart; a lot of great people, a lot of people who want peace … but they want things to be right, too. So it was a pretty amazing experience. Hopefully, lots and lots of good will come out of the whole thing.”

Harbaugh addresses several issues on last week's program, including the Ray Rice incident, Joe Flacco’s place in history and the Ravens-Steelers rivalry. And he finally pulls back the curtain on a family where father and brother are coaches to reveal who runs things (“Mom, without question. She’s responsible for everything”) and how much he cherished coaching Super Bowl XLVII against brother Jim’s 49ers.

“Before the game,” he said, “I wanted to go out there and enjoy it a little bit, but Jim was trying to avoid me. I chased him all around the field for about 10 minutes. I’m talking to (former kicker David) Akers because David and I had some time together in Philly (where John was a special-teams coach), and he comes over and goes, ‘Are you trying to get in my kicker’s head?’ I’m like, ‘Oh, my gosh. You’re crazy. We gotta talk. We’re brothers. We gotta talk. It’s the Super Bowl.’ And he laughed. And we chatted a little bit.

“You’re caught up in play-calling and substitutions and clock management or whatever it might be during the course of the game … but you do take a deep breath and look across the field and go, ‘Man, that’s my brother over there.’ It was really true the Thanksgiving game (in 2010) the first time we played them. It was almost like I couldn’t believe we were standing on the opposite sidelines.

“But the other thing in that Super Bowl game is that we did have, I don’t know, a little bit of a moment to reflect there – like about 36 minutes of time to reflect when the game stopped. Remember that? (There was a blackout) Yeah, had a little time to think about things. That was a great moment … even better because we won. I look back on that afternoon very fondly.”

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