Inside First Team Meeting Of 2015
By 6:57 p.m. Wednesday night, most of the players were already in their seats at the Under Armour Performance Center. John Harbaugh stood to the side greeting players, waiting for the clock to turn to 7:00.
This was the first full-team meeting for the 2015 Baltimore Ravens.
There was a buzz in the room, laughter from some and determined silence from others.
A steady clap started at 7 p.m.
"Is Perriman ready? Should we save him for another time?" Harbaugh asked.
Ravens first-round choice Breshad Perriman looked quizzically at the head coach. "Me? Ready for what?"
Terrell Suggs shouted: "He ain't ready. Save him. Our guy is ready, Carl get up there."
The 6-foot-5, 320-pound Carl Davis, the defensive tackle from Iowa and our third-round draft choice this year, stood and walked to the front of the room.
"What do you want me to do?" Davis asked in a softer voice. "Do something," Steve Smith Sr. said from the second row of seats.
"Give us your name, your school and signing bonus," Suggs encouraged. Davis did that to the hoots and hollers from his new teammates.
"Now, give us a song," Sizzle continued. Davis asked the room what they wanted to hear, but didn't get many suggestions until Suggs said: "Sit down. You're not ready. Coach, I don't think the rookies are ready yet." Davis, smiling broadly, left the stage to a loud chorus of boos from the veterans.
Harbs then looked over at Justin Tucker. "'Tuck,' you want to show them?" Tucker leaped from his seat and bounded up to the front of the room.
"Here's an example of how you do it," Harbaugh introduced.
"How about a little Christopher Walken?" Tucker asked as he mimicked the actor. Not getting much response, Tucker broke out into "March of the Toreadors" from the opera "Carmen."
It was impressive as the Pro Bowl kicker's voice filled the room.
Harbs then asked the members of the Leadership Council to stand and told the team that these were the players they selected in a vote at the June mandatory minicamp. Players like Justin Forsett, Joe Flacco, Suggs and Marshal Yanda stood.
Harbs said "Let's get started." And, the video of Suggs on "Celebrity Family Feud" appeared on the giant screen that fills the front wall of the team meeting room.
Hanging from the ceiling are two smaller screens that rotate messages. These run throughout player meetings held in that room. As Harbs began to review and explain the training camp schedule, I glanced at the smaller screens:
"BE YOUR BEST YOU. YOU'RE THE ONLY ONE YOU'VE GOT."
"Everything we do in training camp is done to make us a better team. We'll chase perfection in everything. That's how we'll practice," Harbaugh said. These words appeared on the large screen:
"Tell me, and I will forget.
* Show me, and I will remember.*
* Involve me, and I will understand."*
The head coach then told the players that this will become their team, and they will be part of the entire process. "The Leadership Council will be involved in how we practice and what we do, but all of you will have a voice. Over the next week or so, we'll talk about what we will become. You'll hear from teammates, new players, players who played for other teams. We will discuss what is The Ravens' Way."
Harbs continued, talking about what it is to be a Raven and what it means. He talked about expectations. Those words should remain with the men battling to become part of this year's team.
(By the way, John did mention to the rookies that, "We are not a hazing team. We are all teammates, and we don't demean each other. But, we do have fun, and we want joy in this room, and you rookies will be bringing some of that joy [with your singing.])"
As the head coach talked about "winning every practice and stacking good day after good day," these words were on the smaller screens:
"NO ONE EVER DROWNED IN SWEAT."
Before sending the offense and defense off for separate meetings, which ended at 9 p.m. later that evening, Harbs talked about the need to have faith in one another, adding, "We will have a smart, great training camp. We will become a band of brothers." With that, John concluded: "Let's go to work!"
I looked up at the small screens one more time as the head coach finished. Loved these words:
"WORK ETHIC ELIMINATES FEAR."
The Ravens are working hard. That will continue. We will be relentless in our pursuit of getting better every day. Come see for yourself Monday night at M&T Bank Stadium. Practice is at 7 p.m. Autographs for the kids and fireworks follow. Think you'll like what you see.
Talk with you next week,