Excellent In-Depth Feature Story On John Harbaugh
Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh is a better coach than Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, even if the older brother swears he isn't, says Jim.
John says Jim is still "ticked off" about the Super Bowl.
John and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had a silent locker room protocol struggle.
John was "pissed off" at Tom Brady for his "study the rulebook" comment, but the Patriots quarterback has since made things right.
John wants to climb higher on the Patriots' top villain list.
John doesn't want to be known as the best coach in the NFL, he wants to be the best.
These are just a few of the golden nuggets from the excellent 5,200-word feature on the Ravens head coach, written by ESPN's Ian O'Connor. I highly recommend taking the time to read it in its entirety to better understand Harbaugh.
Until then, here are my CliffsNotes:
Who Is The Better Coach?
There's no doubt Jim grabs more headlines, and therefore, might be the more popular Harbaugh. After all, Jim climbed a recruit's tree, jabs opposing coaches on Twitter (660,000 followers), hosts controversial satellite camps and is even in a rap video.
But if you ask Jim who the better football coach is, he says it's John, "even if John swears Jim is better," wrote O'Connor.
"John is the best coach I know, the best I've ever come across or competed against," Jim told O'Connor. "I'm envious of the grasp he has of the entire game. I think offensively and with quarterback play, I'm right there with him. But I've got a ways to go in terms of special teams and understanding defense the way he does. I'm half as good as John is, but I'm trying."
Jim Is 'Ticked Off To This Day' About The Super Bowl
The two brothers, born just 15 months apart, have always been extremely close, but also competitive. We all know about them running tape down the middle of their shared childhood bedroom. We've also heard about their games of "chicken," in which they'd throw footballs at each other from closer and closer ranges until someone dropped out.
That brotherly love and competitive nature were put on full display for the world to see in Super Bowl XLVII. They competed down to the last snap, and everyone knows that Jim wasn't happy with the 49ers' final offensive series, believing that Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith should have been called for defensive holding on fourth-and-goal. Jim was screaming at the refs for the flag, but it never came.
Per John, the brothers didn't talk for several days after the championship game. He said he got a call from Jim on the Thursday after the Super Bowl while on his way to New York for an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman." John told O'Connor that he thinks Jim called out of fear that he'd say on national TV that they still hadn't talked.
"He's still ticked off to this day about the game," John said, "but he was great on the phone until he brought up the official's call. Jim said, 'You know that was defensive holding.' And I told him, 'No, I don't think your receiver ran the right route, and what's the corner supposed to do, get out of the way? And what about Joe Flacco getting hit 4 yards out of bounds, and they didn't call a personal foul there? And how about Akers getting that 5-yard penalty against us [on a missed field goal]? Either one of those two plays ends the game, and you don't even have that late drive.'
"Silence on the other end. So it was a classic Jim and John Harbaugh conversation."
Locker Protocol Struggle With Terrell Suggs
Harbaugh has told stories before about struggling with his relationship with Ed Reed, and how they could go weeks without speaking to each other. Reed finally came around and told Harbaugh after the Super Bowl, "Coach, I see it now."
Harbaugh calls it "one of my greatest moments as a coach."
Turns out, there was another struggle going on with defensive leader Suggs. When Harbaugh came to Baltimore, he noticed that Ray Lewis and Suggs each occupied two lockers. Harbaugh talked to them about it, and Lewis willingly moved into just one locker. Suggs wasn't as easy to convince.
Years later, Harbaugh had an equipment guy board up Suggs' extra locker. Suggs didn't approach Harbaugh, he just took the boards down and put his gear back in.
"Suggs doesn't say anything to me," Harbaugh said. "It's one of these classic, under-the-radar struggles that's going on. I said, 'Well, just put it back up.' So this goes on for four weeks. I board it up, Suggs tears it off. I board it up, Suggs tears it off. I board it up, Suggs tears it off. He and I never have a word about it. It's, 'Hey Siz, how you doin'?' 'Hey Harbs, how you doin'?' It's business as usual. Finally, he gets tired of tearing the boards off, and it stands the rest of the year, and we're fine."
John Was 'Pissed Off' At Brady, But They're Good Now
Remember the "study the rulebook" comment from Brady?
He said it after the Ravens-Patriots divisional championship game in Foxboro in January 2015. Baltimore had two 14-point leads over New England, but ultimately lost the game. In that game, John purposely took an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to get the referees' attention about the Patriots running plays with normally eligible skill-position players reporting as ineligible.
It threw off the Ravens defense because it didn't have enough time to identify who to cover (the wording of the rule was later tweaked, making an eligible receiver who reports as ineligible line up within the tackle box). He wasn't upset with the Patriots for being creative, he was upset with the referees' handling of it. Harbaugh still insists that the referee who announced the ineligible receivers should have given more time to the defense to adjust.
But Brady said after the game, "Maybe those guys gotta study the rule book and figure it out."
"I was pissed off," Harbaugh said. "It was uncalled for. And the rules are deeper than that, and I know the rules, and I stand by why that play shouldn't have been allowed. ... So yeah, that should never have been said."
Per O'Connor, Brady made things right five months ago when Brady and Harbaugh shared a private plane back from Michigan after attending Jim's national signing day event. They never talked about the rule book comment. Instead Brady talked about his journey as part-time Michigan starter to a backup in the NFL to one of the greatest ever.
Harbaugh's daughter, Alison, who plays lacrosse, was on the plane ride soaking in Brady's story.
"We'll go to practice now, and sometimes she'll say, 'I'm gonna Brady 'em today,'" Harbaugh said. "Which means, basically, 'I'm going to win everything in practice.'"
John Wants To Climb Patriots' Villain List, Become Best NFL Coach
Even though Harbaugh and Brady seem to be in good standing, O'Connor wrote that the head coach is still focused on reestablishing his Ravens as a real threat to the Patriots in the AFC. Bill Belichick is considered the best coach in the NFL, and Harbaugh is one of the few to consistently challenge him.
"There was a thing that just came out that I happened to catch, the 25 worst villains of the Patriots," Harbaugh said of a list published by MassLive.com. "I think I was like 20th or 21st [19th]. I think that's a little low. I plan on making that higher in the future."
Speaking of rankings, a recent list compiled by NFL.com and USA Today was brought to Harbaugh's attention. It ranked him as the seventh-best head coach in the league today despite having the most postseason wins since he was hired in 2008.
Harbaugh was asked if seventh was too low.
"You know I'm not going to answer that," he said to O'Connor with a laugh. "But everything motivates guys like me, right? ... So you always want to be the best. If you don't want to be the best, then what are you doing it for?"
Does it matter to him if he's known as the best?
"Sure. Absolutely," he said. "But I would rather be the best coach in the NFL. I'm working for that. I'm trying to get there."
Cam Newton Made Sure Baltimore Homeless Man Ate Well For A Night
Panthers quarterback Cam Newton did a good deed while in Baltimore that he tried to keep low-profile, but it was caught on camera.
Candace and Danmon Gregory were walking through Baltimore's Inner Harbor on Wednesday when they saw Newton give a large bag of food to a man with a sign that said, "Homeless Please help hungry — food."
Newton and some teammates visited Sullivan's Steakhouse while in town for the preseason opening game against the Ravens and simply ordered extra food to give to the homeless man.
"They were walking in a group and he slid over, gave the guy the bag and kept moving," Candace said, per ESPN. "It was a quick, smooth motion, like he was handing the ball off to a running back. He didn't linger. He didn't talk to the guy. You could tell he was trying to be discreet about it."
James Harrison Responds To Michael Phelps' Steelers Jab
I've never really liked Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison, just because he's been a thorn in the Ravens' side. It's hard not to respect his continued dominant play, however.
And as much as I hate to admit it, I love his response to Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, a die-hard Ravens fan, talking smack about the Steelers in Rio. Phelps saw a reporter wearing Steelers gear and literally shuddered at the sight.
Here's Harrison's response …
•This video is simply amazing. Twitter user, Ryan Stickel, put together a video of our friends at Orioles in a "Full House" montage. It is perfect in every way.