"20 Ravens Relics In 20 Years" is a series celebrating the team's 20th anniversary that will tell the story behind 20 key objects in franchise history. The stories and photos of the relics will be unveiled before each 2015 game. Fans can view all of the items featured in our Ravens Relics series on permanent display at the Sports Legends Museum and in an interactive display on Ravens Walk before every home game.
John Harbaugh was the Harbaugh that lasted in Baltimore.
Jim Harbaugh … not so much.
Jim Harbaugh was the Ravens quarterback for one season in 1998. He went 5-7 as the starter, threw for 1,839 yards, 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
But it was Harbaugh's grit and determination that, even though nobody knew it at the time, was a preview of what the Ravens would get in their head coach a decade later.
"He was fiery," recalled Sports Legends Museum Executive Director Mike Gibbons. "He was a tough guy who on fourth-and-1 would put his head down and get the yard."
Harbaugh was the Ravens' next quarterback after Vinny Testaverde. According to the New York Times, the Ravens were also considering Bills star Jim Kelly, who was considering a return to the NFL, but his demands were too high.
Harbaugh was a natural fit with Head Coach Ted Marchibroda, who developed great admiration for Harbaugh while coaching him for two seasons in Indianapolis.
In 1998, Harbaugh took the Ravens' first offensive snap ever at M&T Bank Stadium. But, he hyperextended a finger on his right hand, knocking him out of the game. In unsurprising Harbaugh style, he tried to play through it. He started the next two games, but didn't make it to halftime in either.
Marchibroda replaced Harbaugh with Eric Zeier, who wasn't effective and suffered a thumb injury in a game against Green Bay. Harbaugh started every game from that point forward. The team stumbled to a 6-10 finish and Harbaugh was traded to San Diego two months after it ended.
Harbaugh's tenure in some ways defined the Ravens' quarterback carousel in the early years.
After Testaverde and Harbaugh, Baltimore had starters Scott Mitchell, Jeff Blake, Stoney Case, Anthony Wright, Trent Dilfer, Elvis Grbac, Kyle Boller and Steve McNair. Between 1998 and 2008, the Ravens offense never ranked higher than 14th in the NFL. The average ranking was 22nd.
Only when the other Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco arrived together did the Ravens finally find stability under center.