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John Harbaugh: Moving Home Opener Disappointing For Fans


John Harbaugh is happy to play anywhere, against anyone, to open the 2013 season.

The reason he wants to begin in Baltimore is for the fans.

The Thursday night season-opening game, and the 10-year NFL tradition of celebrating the home team's Super Bowl victory, is in doubt due to a scheduling conflict with the Orioles.

Harbaugh doesn't have much involvement in the outcome (that's largely in the hands of the two sports' commissioners now), but he has a stake in it on a sentimental level.

"The team belongs to the fans, the team belongs to the community. You say whose team is this? It's the community's team," Harbaugh said.

"This is pro football, it's about the greater Raven nation so to speak. That's what it's all about. To have that home game after the Super Bowl has kind of become tradition. It's something that we would cherish. It would mean a lot to our fans."

Harbaugh, however, does not want to move the game to Sunday to keep it at home. He would rather play on the road Thursday night for strategic reasons. It would mean the Ravens would get more rest before their Week 2 game.

While Baltimore has won its season opener every year under Harbaugh, the Ravens have lost in Week 2 for three straight seasons. Harbaugh wants to put his team in the best position possible to break that trend.

"From a football standpoint, that's a plus and you feel like you've earned that," Harbaugh said.

"You know, last year, we played four games in 18 days because we opened up on Monday Night and then the fourth game was on Thursday. That was tough. I'm not sure that physically, we ever completely recovered from that throughout the course of the season. It is a benefit playing on Thursday."

Playing on the road or at home first doesn't make a difference to Harbaugh, nor does the opponent.

If the Ravens have to play on the road, it would be against one of their three AFC North foes, or Denver, Detroit, Chicago, Miami or Buffalo. Considering the league likely wants to open the season with a marquee AFC matchup, the Steelers or Broncos appear to be likely contenders.

"As far as the football team, we'll play them anywhere," Harbaugh said.

"We don't care who you schedule us against. We know who we're going to play and we're going to play them. We have to play eight on the road and eight at home anyway so if they send us on the road, we'll happily play in that game. But I will be disappointed for our fans."

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