John Harbaugh Cautions Players Before Heading Into Offseason


Last offseason was one to forget in Baltimore.

Four different Ravens were arrested: running back Ray Rice, wide receiver Deonte Thompson, running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and guard/tackle Jah Reid.

As the Ravens head into this offseason, Head Coach John Harbaugh stressed the importance of good off-field behavior while also leaning on educational classes the players received this season. 

The Ravens had NFL-mandated and team-sponsored counseling sessions regarding domestic violence at different points this year, which Harbaugh said has been "attacked with enthusiasm," especially with the younger players.

"As we left the building, I think it was enough to  remind the guys that how we handle ourselves is always important," Harbaugh said. "Our name is the only name we have."

While Harbaugh  did all the reminding, the NFL has also laid down stricter rules, and will do much of the enforcing.

Under the new personal conduct policy, any time the league becomes aware of conduct that may violate the policy, an investigation will be conducted by the NFL, separate of any law enforcement investigation.

An individual may be put on paid leave if formally charged with a violent crime or sexual assault, or if the NFL investigation finds sufficient credible evidence suggesting a violation of the policy has occurred. Paid leave lasts until the completion of the investigation.

Any violations involving assault, battery, domestic violence or sexual assault will result in a baseline six-game suspension without pay. A second offense results in banishment from the NFL.

The new policy applies to all NFL personnel, from owners to coaches, players, other team employees, referees and league office employees.

"Everybody is going to be under a different type of scrutiny from here on out," Harbaugh said. "And that's a good thing.  Understand that it's real, it's serious, and they need to be aware of that."

Harbaugh was asked whether his "threshold of tolerance" for poor choices will change this offseason.

"That's an organizational decision," he said. "It's hard for me to stand up here and say that my threshold is the determining factor, because it's not. It's something that we all get together and talk about as a group."

Harbaugh said the Ravens' stance on such issues will likely be discussed further when he gets together with Owner Steve Biscoitti, President Dick Cass, General Manager Ozzie Newsome and others in Florida following the Pro Bowl.

"It's a privilege to play in the National Football League," Harbaugh said. "It's a privilege to be a part of the Ravens. There's a standard to uphold there, and we expect them to [do that]. We've always expected them to do that. But I would think that it will be a little bit shorter leeway, maybe than it's been in the past."

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