Looks, Smells, Sounds Like Football…With New Rules
The clanging of weights, the flying of chalk dust, the loud music that serves as background for the constant ribbing teammates give each other…
The players are back in the building.
The weather feels and smells like training camp despite the mid-April calendar.
The locker room is buzzing.
The weight room is filled.
The Ravens' offseason conditioning and strength program has started.
The 2012 NFL schedule is expected soon. The NFL Draft is 10 days away.
HOW COOL IS THIS?
It's time for football.
Has Been Quiet Around Here
This is the first offseason under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement between the players and the NFL. In the past, players were in the building by mid-March, working to become better players. This year, mid-March until now has been rather quiet around Ravens headquarters.
"Here's a reality of this league," John started, "you never pick up where you left off the season before. We're never back to a minute left in the AFC championship game ready to take it to the Super Bowl. We're not there until we earn our way back there again. Every team starts over, and the foundation for us starts right now. We build the whole thing from scratch.
"My point is," the head coach continued, "this is the beginning. That game, that loss, was tough. We all still feel it inside. Will we ever get over the sting and disappointment? Our way of moving forward is to have the best offseason and the best training camp of any team in the NFL. Then, when we start the season, we will be the most prepared team in the league. We'll go to work and do the things we have to do. We'll see how good we can be today and then tomorrow and then the next day."
Coach Harbaugh closed, noting the importance of good, hard and smart work every day: "If you put in a full day's work today, just go at it today and not worry about tomorrow, you will get one percent better. Then, men, when you stack up the 70 days at the end of our program, you will be twice the pro you are today. You'll look back and say, 'I'm pretty good. I have come pretty far. I know a lot more. I'm stronger.' Just do it every day. Don't put it off to the next day. You'll get better by doing it today and keep stacking those days."
A simple, but I think very effective message. In many ways, the 2012 Ravens started today. We'll keep "stacking" the days, as Harbs called it, and see where it takes us. It will be a long, tough journey, and recent history – four straight seasons in the playoffs – says we have just the men for it.
It's great to have a lot of players back. Love the energy in the building. Talk with you next week during the draft.
Kevin Byrne, a Ravens senior vice president, has worked in the NFL for 32 years. Byrne has been with the Ravens since the start of the franchise in 1996. Earlier in his career, Byrne was the sports information director at Marquette University, his alma mater, when they won the 1977 NCAA basketball championship under coach Al McGuire.