*Each week leading up to a Ravens home game, a different Baltimore Football Alumni member checks-in with BaltimoreRavens.com. Be sure to continue to check back throughout the 2009 season to see what your favorite BFA members have been up to. *View Past "Where Are They Now?" Features »
Name: Harry Swayne
Team: Baltimore Ravens
Position: Offensive Tackle
Years Played in Baltimore: 1999 – 2000
After your playing career in Baltimore was complete, what did you do?
Well Baltimore was the only team to cut me, in fifteen years – I don't hold that against them. But, I left here and went to Miami, and I got there the night before 9/11 – I took the last flight from Dulles to Ft. Lauderdale. It was my last year, and my last game playing was against the Ravens – it was a playoff game. If I would have won that game, I would have had an NFL record to myself – 12 consecutive playoff victories, but I knew we weren't going to beat the Ravens.
So I played my last year in Miami, then I came back here and did an internship with the chaplain [Rod Hairston] because I wanted to go into the ministry. I interned here for the whole year doing Bible studies, hosting chapels, and went on the road a few times. After that year here, I was placed in Chicago, so I was the team chaplain with the Bears for five years.
What lead to you returning to the Baltimore Ravens organization as the Assistant Director of Player Programs?
I got a call from Ozzie [Newsome – Executive Vice President/ General Manager] that they needed some help in Player Development and my old teammate [O.J. Brigance - Baltimore Ravens Linebacker: 2000] had just gotten diagnosed a year before with ALS – so that was an easy decision.
What is your favorite part about your current job with the Baltimore Ravens?
Any interaction I have with the players. I mean programs are programs, but people are more up my alley – and that is the best part of it. That's probably the biggest part I miss about not playing anymore – the relationships with players, being around the game, the jokes to relieve the stress, and even the stress.
What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Probably the biggest time consuming thing I do on a day-to-day basis is pointing players to the right resources because sometimes that means the right person. There are a lot of people out there, and they've got a lot of things that can help the players, but it's not always what they say it is, so deciphering from that stuff.
Can you speak about the relationship you have with O.J. Brigance?
It's been great. Being back with O.J., we were teammates before, but with this challenge, it's so much more than teammates. Being teammates is a mild taste of what this part of his life is about. It's been tough, but it's been good too.
What has O.J. taught you both in Player Development and in life?
O.J. is going through something hopefully none of us will have to go through, however he has chosen to go through it in front of everybody. Since he is doing that, he has really taught a lot of people without even saying a word how to enjoy life despite the circumstances, so O.J. just has a great attitude.
I read him this quote when I first got here because this quote epitomizes O.J. – "A man with a great attitude makes the most of it while he gets the worst of it." He is getting it right now, but that doesn't waiver his positive attitude. And because of that, he has a tremendous influence.
As far as Player Development goes, he has really taught me how to care for players and where they are. We have players who are borderline, players who are potential Hall of Famers, and we got guys who have been in the league for a longtime – we've got guys from all over the map. Each one of those require a specific approach, and each one of those guys have different peculiarities and O.J. has found a way to deal with and care for each one of those different kind of players on their level to communicate what he needs to communicate to them. He's just got an uncanny ability to care for people no matter whom they are and where they're at.
What do you see yourself doing 20 years from now?
I've got four letters up there on my board [in his office] – L, M, H, C (licensed mental health counselor). My major in college was Sport Management, and I think if I had known my passion for being around people and helping them, I probably would have changed it to something in human behavior. I actually just started pursuing my master's degree in Counseling - a lot of what I do already, but more in a specialized field.
What was your fondest memory playing football in Baltimore?
We were playing Jacksonville in Baltimore, and we had to score a bunch of points to come from behind to win. Shannon Sharpe catches a touchdown to win, and that was just a great memory. That was one of the games that really put us as a team over the hump. You've got a team who around the league is looked at as a perennial loser, even though it was a young franchise, and you are tagged a perennial loser when you don't have an identity. So when you get one [a big win], there's a snowball effect, and all of a sudden the defense gets a lot of attention, when they had been doing it all along.
Do you wear your Super Bowl ring?
No, almost never. I probably should keep it locked up though. I just keep it in a drawer with my socks because their cushy, but I'll wear it if I go to a specific football function. I just wore it to the AFC Championship game, and I wore it all that week. It's like having a whole trophy on your hand.
I actually recently had it resized because my hands have shrunk since I played, and they were falling off. One fell off in an airport and went down the concourse – "ding, ding, ding..." so I had to get it resized.
Do you have any advice for kids today who want to be professional football players?
Don't just get into college, but finish college. Guys in the NFL aren't guys who are quitters, but guys who finish what they start.
The next Q&A will be Rick Volk (Monday, October 26th).
Baltimore Football Alumni Section| *Ring of Honor Section*