JERRY ROSBURG & CHRIS HORTON PRESS CONFERENCE
Head Coach John Harbaugh, Associate Head Coach/Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg
& Special Teams Coach Chris Horton
John Harbaugh Opening Statement:"OK, so good to see you guys and thanks for coming. I know you're looking at the stage – first of all – and as Kevin [Byrne, executive vice president of public and community relations] said, it's not what you expected. We're going to have a two-phased press conference today. The first one is to announce something that one half of me is really sad and the other half of me is really excited and happy for everybody involved. Jerry Rosburg, coach Rosburg, our associate head coach and special teams coordinator for the last 11 years, is going to retire. Chris Horton is going to take over as the lead special teams coach. Chris has been here with us for … How many years has it been, five years? Five years – the days are long, but the years are short – and [he] is more than ready to take over. Just to talk about Jerry a little bit, first of all … We came in together, 11 years ago. Even before that, I would say that Jerry has been my best friend for 25-30 years. So, when we first started, the thing that I talked to Jerry about when we pried him out of Atlanta, which was not an easy task because they were not happy about it and didn't want to let you go ... That's another story. It was really important to me to have coach Rosburg by my side in this new challenge. I would say that we've been shoulder to shoulder ever since. We've been side by side in every decision. Jerry has not only been the best special teams coach in the league for the past 11 years-plus, he has been the best associate head coach and the best friend that a head coach could have – or that I could have, personally. I can tell you that without Jerry Rosburg here, there's no way we would've had anywhere close to the success we've had; we probably wouldn't be sitting up here today. We joke a lot of times … Jerry, obviously, coaches special teams, which to me, is the closest thing to being a head coach anyway, and he does all the things that, from a roster standpoint, and a situation standpoint, that the position calls for. Some people will say, 'What does an associate head coach do?' And what do we usually say?"
Jerry Rosburg:"Whatever John wants me to do." (laughter)
Harbaugh:"And I say, 'Whatever I don't want to do.' (laughter)And Jerry is just phenomenal in that way – great with people – and has just been a great friend, a great colleague, a great coach from Day One. And then we get to move on to Chris Horton. Chris is a guy [who] when Jerry and I were both coaching special teams in the league, we had to go against this guy when he was playing safety and special teams in Washington and at other places. We had nothing but respect for him. Now, you had the dreads back then, right?"
Chris Horton:"Oh yeah."
Harbaugh:"Flying down the field, knocking people over, playing hard. We found out five years ago that Chris wanted to coach – he was at UCLA as a young coach – and we were just fortunate enough to talk him into coming here to begin his coaching career, and it's been nothing but a plus ever since. He's been great with the players, he knows the game as a player, which is a big plus, but he also now knows the game as a coach. He has done a great job of shadowing Jerry and learning everything, but also, at the same time, putting his personality into things. He has been responsible for phases of our special teams. He's also been responsible for aspects within the phases and has earned this opportunity, and I know he is going to do a great job with it. So, I'll turn it over to Jerry."
Jerry Rosburg Opening Statement: "Thank you for your kind words, John. First of all, I would like the people of Baltimore to know that they have a great man as their head coach of their football team. I had the best job in the world while I was here with the Ravens, with the best boss in the world who also is the best friend a man could ever have. John will no longer be my boss, but he will be my friend for eternity. That won't change.
"I would like to state that the reasons for my retirement are numerous, all of which are personal, none of which are professional. The timing of this announcement … At the end of the season, John and I talked about this. After some time off, I asked him to postpone it until after the Combine, because there were some things that I wanted to accomplish at the Combine that I didn't want to enter into in a diminished state, and he accommodated that request. I will also say that I will stay on for a period of time to be a resource for Chris and anyone else during that transition.
"I have a lot of plans. I am healthy; I will remain active. I am not going to let that 'old man' in. Many of my plans center around my family. I don't want to miss as many hockey games and volleyball games as I have. Our days are limited on this earth, and there are some things that I am missing that I don't want to miss anymore before the wind sweeps me away.
"Jack Harbaugh has these precious little nuggets that he shares with young coaches. In particular, at the top of his list of suggestions is 'marry wisely.' I don't know how much wisdom I possessed 27 years ago, but God had a plan, and He covered for me and brought my wife, Sherry, into my life. These are times that I think of my family. Like many coaches, she has taken up the mantle on the home front for all these years and is wholly responsible for the successful development of our three children – Megan, Jerad and Margaret. Whatever deficiencies they may possess can be attributed to my role in that relationship. (laughter)These "coach's kids" have had the opportunity to share in many Ravens moments throughout the years thanks to the inclusive environment that John has created in the Ravens' culture here for family. The children have also had to endure many moves around this nation. They have left friends, schools and sports teams behind, only to start up in another town. But despite these obstacles, they have all found their way, and I am very proud them. I am very grateful to Sherry for her role in all this. I'm very grateful for our three children, and I love them all very much.
"Very early in the head coaching career of Tom Izzo, a reporter asked him and framed a question that if a certain area of his team could improve, that they would have a good team. Tom's response was, 'I'm not trying to have a good team. I'm trying to build a program.' That's really what we've tried to do here with the Ravens and special teams, and John has been so instrumental, as have many others that have helped us along the way. We've tried to build a program of special teams and have it be part of the nature of the Ravens. I'm proud to say that we have done that.
"I want you all to know, too, that the Ravens' special teams are going to be in very good hands. For the past four years, as John described, Chris Horton has been a skilled, diligent, faithful assistant and been very important in our success. He has shown a great deal of initiative that led to improvements in our systems and improvements in our players. He has an excellent rapport with our players. It's now his time. He was in high demand at the end of the season. Chris played the game the right way when he was a player, and he is going to continue to coach the game the right way as he takes over the special teams.
"Randy Brown has been commuting 130 miles each way [to and from New Jersey] to coach our specialists these last 10, 11 years. He has been so very instrumental in the success of our specialists over the years, and he'll now be here full time, and that's going to help us a lot.
"Clarence Brooks often said, in Clarence's own way, 'This game is about the players. It always has been, and it always will be.' And, another reason the Ravens' special teams are in good shape is because The Wolfpack returns. Sam Koch, Morgan Cox and Justin Tucker are the best in the business – of historical proportions, in my view, and I would also add Anthony Levine to that group. He's kind of an honorary member of The Wolfpack. It's not a coincidence that the Ravens' special teams really took off when these men came together – along with Jacoby Jones and Albert McClellan and many others. I am very, very grateful for this group of men who we've worked with and all the great Ravens players that I have had an opportunity to work with over the years.
"I cherish these relationships that I have had with these players and the coaches that I've worked with in the last 40 years. In our business, we often move around and to the next stop, and we move on. We don't have time to reach out and communicate with others as much as we'd like. These people have been very important to me and have had a huge impact on my life – from high school coaching to the NCAA and all the way through the NFL. I will carry with me many, many amazing memories of our experiences together.
"A very wise man, whose mission in life was much more impactful and more treacherous than mine, once said, 'I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.' I'd like to think that I have strived to do the same thing in my coaching career.
"I leave you all with a heart full of gratitude. I have been blessed beyond measure. 'My cup runneth over.' Thank you, and farewell." (Rosburg exits the stage to an ovation.)
Harbaugh:"I thought Jerry was going to take a question or two. (laughter)That was just classic Jerry Rosburg. Would you all agree? I mean, what did Douglas MacArthur say? 'Old soldiers never die, they just fade away.' Right? Before we turn it over to Chris [Horton], and Jerry alluded to it, we've been incredibly blessed here to have Randy Brown. You all know Randy; he has been here for 11 years. We've coached together, mostly on and a lot less off, for the last 20-plus years. He has done a tremendous job with The Wolfpack. He has been coaching the kicker, the snapper, the punter and working with our returners for the last 11 years. The product speaks for itself. He's a tremendous coach. He's also had obligations at home with his business and with being a mayor, and he's made the decision to make [coaching] full-time. Obviously, he's a great special teams coach, as well, so he continues to make us stronger, and we're just really excited to see where we're going. So, as coach Rosburg said, our special teams is in very good hands. With that, I'll turn it over to Chris Horton."
Chris Horton Opening Statement:"Thank you, coach. I would like to start by thanking coach Harbaugh, thanking Steve Bisciotti and Eric DeCosta for this opportunity. I'm really grateful, and I appreciate it. I was once asked, 'Why special teams, of all phases? Why not defense?' And my answer was that special teams is made up of special players. It takes unselfish players to go out there and play one play and give all you've got for one play. That's why I chose coaching special teams over coaching defense. I wanted to be around special guys – guys that understand the standard and how to affect a play on one down. That's why I chose special teams. Honestly, I've got to give thanks to Jerry [Rosburg]. Jerry kind of brought me up, he brought me along, and he showed me the way. He taught me the idea of seeing football through a bigger lens. Even though I played football, I only saw it from a player's standpoint. Jerry taught me to see it from a bigger lens and understand the whole game. I always call him 'The Encyclopedia.' He's got a lot of knowledge, and I always lean on him. He's going to be here – he's always going to be a text away, a phone call away. I can always call him and count on him. I've had some great mentors throughout my coaching career, throughout my playing career. One of my biggest mentors is my mom. My mom is a single parent. She force-fed us [the idea] that we could go out and be anything we wanted to be. I wanted to be an NFL football player, and I got a chance to do that. When I was done, I said I wanted to be a coach. Here I am, sitting on this podium today.
"Thanks to coach Harbaugh for giving me that opportunity to be that coach. I'm excited about the opportunity. From a special teams standpoint, the foundation has been laid. It's my job to come in here and get the most out of the guys and uphold the standard. The foundation is built on fundamentals and effort. I can guarantee you, when you watch the Ravens' specials teams play, that's still going to be what we stand on each and every week. I know with taking over this special teams unit, I get to sit here with two [of] probably the best all-time special teams coaches in Jerry Rosburg and John Harbaugh. I wouldn't want to be with any other team or in any other place or coaching with better guys. I'm excited for the opportunity, and I look forward to it."
Initial attraction for you in coming to the Ravens, making that choice … Clearly this path here, to moving up the ladder and being promoted as a young guy, [what went into] the choice to come here initially? _(Nestor Aparicio) _
Horton:"The choice was … How it all started out … I was at UCLA. I had just finished playing, and I wanted to get into coaching. I emailed every head coach, general manager, special teams coordinator, defensive coordinator, and I thought it was going to be a long shot. The Ravens were starting an internship program, and there it was. I had just gotten married, had a kid, and they said, 'Hey, we want to bring you out for an interview.' I knew right then and there that if they were calling me to give me this opportunity, I wasn't going to say no. That's really what led me here. This organization – it's the best in the business. I had an opportunity to be in a couple of other places, and this organization, being around these coaches, it's literally the best in the business. So that's really what attracted me to this place."
Chris, you've played in a couple of places. Is there a different focus on special teams here? Is it a different standard here than maybe in some of the other places around the league that you've been around? (Jeff Zrebiec)
Horton:"I would say there is. It really just depends on what that coach is demanding. Coming to Baltimore, you know you're going to be built on two things: the idea of playing special teams with great fundamentals and having high-energy guys going out and competing. A lot of different places, they build their identity on different things. Some guys try to lean on technique and some guys just go out and play. But here, it's so detailed out, it helps you become a better player."
John, were you surprised at all when Jerry told you at the end of the season that he was leaving this way? Or, did you have a sense that this was coming for a while? (Childs Walker)
Harbaugh:"That's a great question. Both. I know Jerry so well and we're so close. The challenge and the tug of his family … His oldest daughter, Megan, played at American [University] – played volleyball – and his youngest daughter, Margaret, is now playing volleyball at St. Louis University; she has two more years left. And then, Jerad maybe has one more year at Michigan State playing hockey or he could be trying for the NHL after this year. So, I think Jerry has missed that. The other side of the coin was that he just felt a responsibility to us, right? He wanted to be here and be a part of that and go as long as he could and get us as far as he could, so I think this year really mattered to him, for all of us. I couldn't be grateful enough for that. I knew it was coming, but I guess maybe I was hopeful that he would change his mind. In the end, I knew he wouldn't, because the family priority was so important to him."
Chris and John, is this something that K Justin Tucker, P Sam Koch, those people know about already? Is this something that they know about yet? I'm guessing that they would have been informed. (Bo Smolka)
Harbaugh:"I don't know."
Horton:"I'm not sure, but I would think Jerry would have probably called them and gave them a heads up about it."
Harbaugh:"Now, if Jerry were here, he could answer that question for us! (laughter)My guess is you won't get a chance to ask him." (laughter)