First Team Meeting Of 2013
It was the first time the full 2013 team assembled when John Harbaugh stepped in front of them at last Monday night's team meeting.
Shouldn't reveal everything the head coach talked about in the meeting – that belongs to the team – but, it was impressive. John talked about discipline and being innovative.
As always, he invited the players to give their input into all the team does.
Other words Harbs used included: "legacy," "destiny," "how good…how tough…how fast," "competent," "efficient," "physical," and "can't wait."
All words you can associate with Ravens teams and players.
I will share this: Coach Harbaugh looked around the room, smiled and said: "Here's what is guaranteed: We will have adversity. It will be hard at times, and that's what makes this journey great."
He then showed a video of highlights from the 2012 season, including big plays from last February's Super Bowl victory over the 49ers. When the action ended, the screen was filled with this quote from General George Patton, considered one of the great combat leaders in U.S. history who is best known for his successful invasion of Germany near the end of World War II:
"IN THE CAMPAIGNS OF MY LIFE, I'VE NEVER BEEN SATISFIED
* WITH ANY RESULT AND HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED TO THE NEXT*
The quote stayed on the screen for a few seconds, and then you realized it was the last page of a book. When the cover closed over the page, the front read: "Baltimore Ravens, 2012 Season, Super Bowl Champions."
Yes, the book is now truly closed on our championship season. As the players got up from their seats right after the video, they all heard the head coach state strongly and simply: "Let's go to work."
Love it. That's what Ravens teams do. They go to work.
Super Bowl Winners Don't Repeat
We have all heard the mantra from many members of the media: "Super Bowl teams don't repeat." I'm not going to mention that to Harbs, Ozzie Newsome or any of our players. My sense is they don't believe that.
But, if you go by recent history, this mantra is true. The 2011 champion Giants did not make the playoffs last season. The previous Super Bowl winner, the 2010 Packers, did earn the postseason the following year, but lost their first playoff game to the Giants (37-20). The 2009 champion Saints made the playoffs in '10, but they also lost their first playoff contest (41-36 vs. Seattle). Pittsburgh won the title in 2008 and did not make the playoffs in '09.
All four of those teams tried to maintain the same roster the following season. We obviously have not. The Elias Sports Bureau, the bible for all professional stats, reported that no reigning Super Bowl champion has ever lost more than five starters. Until now. We've lost nine (Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Anquan Boldin, Matt Birk, Vonta Leach, Dannell Ellerbe, Ma'ake Kemoeatu, Cary Williams and Bernard Pollard), plus Paul Kruger.
What does it all mean? We'll all find out. Here's what one of our top personnel experts told me yesterday after he watched our third mini-camp practice. "We're pretty good, younger and faster than a year ago. I like this team already." Ray Rice walked by me before the start of that practice and said: "Think we're going to be pretty good."
White House Visit
No doubt the visit to the White House on June 5 was a highlight for all of us. It's the center of the free world, and the power of the building and those who have been in those rooms had all of our attention.
Before we entered the House, security was clearly evident. We showed our IDs when we got on our buses, when we arrived in D.C. and at two other checkpoints. (After we parked, a Secret Service specialist walked a service dog through the buses before we could get out.)
Inside the home of the President, the team had almost two hours before the actual ceremony. Presidential aides put us through a "walk through" of the ceremony, and then we were allowed to wander through five rooms of the house. Players took pictures of each other in front of various portraits of presidents and at the podium where Barack Obama would speak. It was fun to see the smiles and enthusiasm during this special visit. When Torrey Smith stood at the podium, Jacoby Jones shouted out: "Senator Smith." Maybe a premonition.
Ozzie and Harbs were thrilled when they got to spend about 12 minutes alone with the President before the ceremony. "We told him we wouldn't want his job," Ozzie said. Newsome said the President joked that we had players who sometimes didn't do what we taught them, but "You guys can put in subs. I don't have subs. I have Congress."
The Ring Ceremony
That was a special, special night last Friday. Thrilling, triumphant, touching and just plain fun – the party had it all. Both David and John Modell, with tears in their eyes, showed me their rings. Each Super Bowl ring had either a jersey number (for players), title or department engraved on the ring. On that spot on the Modells' rings were these three letters: "Art." I know that was Steve Bisciotti's idea, and the Modells were deeply touched.
There was a DJ, and guess who was the first player on the dance floor? Who else? Jacoby Jones. And when Jacoby took his date – his mom – on the floor, many players and staff surrounded the couple and applauded at the end of the song.
Saw Terrell Suggs, who can dance, ask the DJ for a song, and Nelly's "Hot in Here," the song to which Ray Lewis was introduced at our home games, was played. Everyone crowded the dance floor to see the "squirrel" dance one more time. Ray, who brought his two daughters to the party, was reluctant. Teammates literally pushed him toward the floor. Suggs yelled: "Start it again!" The DJ did, and Ray did his thing, including faking to pick up some grass from the ground. The whole room roared its approval.
Now that book is closed. The 2012 Ravens will always walk as champions. The 2013 Ravens are here, and smart people like Ray Rice believe that this team can be pretty good, too. Can't wait.
Talk with you soon,