As Ravens General Manager Eric DeCosta begins his new role, he is looking forward to a long alliance with Head Coach John Harbaugh.
DeCosta was disappointed by rumors that differences between DeCosta and Harbaugh caused a delay in Harbaugh signing a new four-year contract last week. Not only have DeCosta and Harbaugh worked together for 11 years, they are neighbors and friends. In his first press conference as general manager, DeCosta said his working relationship with Harbaugh remained rock solid.
"We live about 100 yards apart from each other, and I can tell you this, John is the only coach I want to work with," DeCosta said.
DeCosta took exception to seeing his relationship with Harbaugh portrayed negatively. How well a coach and general manger coexist can play a major role in any franchise's success or failure.
"Yes, it did bother me," DeCosta said. "But there's a word I like to use sometimes – I was an English major – and it's called subterfuge. I would see that, and I would read it, and all I would think to myself is, 'We have enemies out there who are trying to create divisions and cracks and fissures and things like that.'
"I get it. It's what we do around draft time. I stand up here at draft time and tell you guys things, and sometimes I have an agenda. So I get it. But it did upset me a little bit I think because it just wasn't true, and it was a personal thing. It wasn't work-related; it wasn't a game or something that would affect the outcome of a game or strategy. It was personal, and it was simply not true."
DeCosta has been with the Ravens since the franchise's inception in 1996, and he was already in the front office when Harbaugh arrived as head coach in 2008. DeCosta has watched Harbaugh handle almost every conceivable situation a head coach could face. Asked why Harbaugh was the only head coach he wanted to work with, DeCosta did not hesitate.
"I think his determination, his drive, his love of his players, the respect he commands in the locker room, his passion," DeCosta said. "I think he's a man of integrity, honesty, great character."
This is a new front office era for the Ravens, with Ozzie Newsome stepping aside as general manager earlier this month, although he remains in the front office with a yet-to-be-named title. Both DeCosta and Harbaugh share a close relationship with Newsome.
Now that DeCosta has officially moved from assistant general manager into Newsome's former office, which is directly across from Harbaugh's, he expects the change to be seamless for Harbaugh. Harbaugh said last week that he did not make a grab for more influence over roster decisions when negotiating his new contract.
"John's had such a great experience with Ozzie, and I think in his heart, he knows it's going to be the same way," DeCosta said. "John's also a very humble person. He just wants to do what's best for the organization. What we've done has worked in the past. He and I have a good relationship. I think he respects me, and I respect him very, very much. I think it will be a great partnership."