Five Things to Know About Don 'Wink' Martindale


Don "Wink" Martindale is the Ravens' new defensive coordinator after spending six years as the team's linebackers coach.

Here are five things to know about him:

  1. His nickname comes from a game show host

Just about everybody calls Martindale "Wink." The nickname comes from his freshman year at Defiance College in Ohio, where he played linebacker. Donald Brown, who ended up being one of his best friends, called him "Wink" on his first day there and it stuck. Wink Martindale was a famous game show host, including of "Gambit" in the early 70s.

  1. He coached with Jack and John Harbaugh in college

Martindale's coaching career started at his alma mater, Defiance College. After a two-year stay at Notre Dame, he went to Cincinnati and met a guy by the name of John Harbaugh. Harbaugh was the special teams coordinator in 1996 and the two worked together for that one year before Harbaugh left for Indiana.

Four years later, Martindale jumped to Western Kentucky to work for Harbaugh's father, Jack, who was the head coach of the Hilltoppers. In 2002, the two won the NCAA Division I-AA national championship. Martindale linked up with John Harbaugh again in 2012 as the Ravens linebackers coach and they won Super Bowl XLVII together in that first year.

"I call Harbs 'Harbs.' I call Jim 'Jim.' Jack is 'Coach,'" Martindale said. "What a great experience. And then to be able to win a national championship with him. The only thing cooler than that was winning the Super Bowl with his son."

  1. He is basically a third Ryan brother, and very aggressive

Harbaugh wasn't the only great coach Martindale worked with at Cincinnati. Rex Ryan was the team's defensive coordinator for two years (1996-1997) and Martindale was his linebackers coach. When Martindale got his first NFL job with the Oakland Raiders in 1994, he became the linebackers coach under first-time defensive coordinator Rob Ryan (Rex's brother). Martindale and Rob worked together for five years there. Martindale is extremely close to the two brothers – so much that he's almost considered a third Ryan brother.

Rex and Rob Ryan are known as two of the most aggressive coaches in the NFL. They love to blitz and will take chances with their play-calling. Martindale is in the same mold.

"I’m an aggressive guy by nature," Martindale told the Denver Post in 2010. "I believe in physical, smart football, and I have an aggressive attitude about things."

  1. He groomed and recruited Elvis Dumervil

Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil came into the NFL as a fourth-round pick in 2006. He immediately became a breakout pass rusher with 26 sacks in his first three seasons, but his best two years came under Martindale's direction. Martindale became his coach in 2009 and Dumervil went on to notch a league-leading 17 sacks. The two reunited in Baltimore four years later and Dumervil again posted 17 sacks. Martindale was a big reason why Dumervil signed with the Ravens in 2013. Martindale did some recruiting.

"We have more of a family-type friendship; me and him speak often," Dumervil said during his introductory press conference. "I've always seen him as a good mentor. He's always been honest with me. He's always been a straight shooter. I've always admired that about him."

  1. He got his first defensive coordinator job over Dean Pees

Back in 2010, when Martindale got his first NFL defensive coordinator job with the Denver Broncos, there was another man who a lot of media members viewed as the front-runner for the job: Dean Pees. Josh McDaniels was the head coach, and when Pees left New England, where he coached with McDaniels, many expected him to bring Pees on board. Instead, McDaniels promoted Martindale, who was then the Broncos linebackers coach.

"I think people were trying to make this into a two plus two equals four," McDaniels told the Denver Post at the time. "Dean's a really good football coach, and it so happened our opportunity came at a time when he was not on anybody's coaching staff. I don't think it was anything more than that.

"Wink's the right guy for us. He shares our philosophy in terms of being aggressive, being physical. We think we took a good step toward that last year, and we expect to improve on that this year."

Martindale came to Baltimore to join up with Pees in 2012, who had just been elevated to defensive coordinator. The two won Super Bowl XLVII together and now Martindale will replace Pees, who has retired.

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