Rant of the Week: The Truth About John Harbaugh

-Chris Schisler

Call me a Ravens apologist, call me blindly loyal, but people need to learn the truth about John Harbaugh. The man has his flaws, here is a newsflash: everybody does. My question is simply, how can we complain about the results? Harbaugh has a Super Bowl ring and has more playoff appearances than Brian Billick did in his 9 year tenure as the Ravens head coach. Most fan bases would kill for this success.

I had a Twitter argument recently with a Harbaugh basher. He claimed that John Harbaugh ran Bernard Pollard, Ed Reed and Anquan Boldin out of town so he could be the only alpha dog. This claim is so ridiculous on so many levels. He did not have a problem with Ray Lewis. He surely has no qualm with Terrell Suggs. The Ravens are full of “alpha dogs.”

I criticize the Ravens when it is deserved. This guy, who I will not name for his sake, was being critical as if it made him a superior fan. It is almost as if he thinks hating on Flacco, Newsome and Harbaugh makes you objective. It only made him seem ungrateful. I defend those who do their jobs at a high level, so naturally I defend John Harbaugh here.

Bernard Pollard was not run off because he was an alpha dog. Ozzie Newsome decided not to invest in a player who honestly was not that good. Pollard struggled as a one dimensional safety. With a specialty in hard hits, Pollard became a fan favorite. We forget however that Pollard was not a leader and did have an attitude problem. There is a reason Pollard has been on 4 teams in 7 years. His act wears people out, and he is truly not good enough to be such a tool. Ozzie Newsome had a plan to get younger at safety, locking up the positions long term. Terrence Brooks and Matt Elam are evidence of that. John Harbaugh did not run Pollard out of town. Ozzie Newsome decided he was not worth bringing back; he was right.

In hind sight the Anquan Boldin trade was a mistake. Yet again, this is a decision made by the general manager. It looked like John Harbaugh did his brother a favor, but it was strictly business.

I don’t believe that Harbaugh was threatened by Boldin’s Alpha dog status. I don’t buy that there was a problem between the coach and the player. Anquan Boldin is the embodiment of everything John Harbaugh preaches. He is about work ethic, heart and yes has the heart of a lion.

The truth is that Harbaugh is a players coach. He encourages players to speak their mind with an “open mic” policy. The truth is that Harbaugh does not feel the need to be the loudest voice in the world. The idea that John Harbaugh would let his ego get in the way of effectively doing his job is not evidenced based.

John Harbaugh is often grilled for his game management via sports radio. I’ll admit sometimes his timeout and challenge usage makes my blood boil. However, as I have already said, you cannot forget the results. The Baltimore Ravens have won a lot of close ball games in the Harbaugh era. They have regularly stepped up to the big moments. This is evidenced by having at least one playoff win in each of Harbaugh’s first 5 seasons.

John Harbaugh has a tougher than nails resolve that is reflected by his team. Harbaugh, like his quarterback is as poised as they come. Sometimes however, his stoicism hides his never fading flame for the game.

The greatest quality that John Harbaugh has is the ability to battle through adversity. In 2012, Harbaugh fired Cam Cameron after the Ravens lost three miserable games in a row. For any of you still bashing his ego, this had to crush Harbaugh. He fired his friend, who at one time was his mentor. Harbaugh is loyal to a fault, which is why Cameron lasted so long. At the end of the day he did what he had to do and won the Super Bowl. Harbaugh listened to the players, letting them be brutally honest.

Firing Cameron was the moment that John Harbaugh earned my undying admiration. The decision he made hurt his longtime friend. He did not do what he wanted to do in his heart. He did what he knew he had to do for the good of the team. Anyone who knows anything about the Harbaugh’s knows they are stubborn. This was not easy for John Harbaugh; this is why the firing made such a statement to the 2012 Baltimore Ravens.

In the worst season of his career, 2013, the Ravens went 8-8. It was a miserable season where nothing could go right for the Ravens. Injuries worsened an already bleak offensive line and receiving core. The Ravens could not run the ball, they could not protect Joe Flacco. The Ravens were straight up bad in 2013. At any point in the season the Ravens could have given up, and thrown in the towel. The Ravens however were able to pull out a 4 game winning streak late into the season. In the final two weeks of the season the Ravens had a chance to lock up a playoff spot. The team just wasn’t good enough. The fact that the team stayed together and fought (until they were put out of their misery) is a strong statement about the merit of John Harbaugh.

John Harbaugh is the ideal frontman of the organization. He is gracious to the media, without telling them what he can’t. He also shows a true appreciation for the fans of the Baltimore Ravens.

Most Ravens fans understand the value of John Harbaugh. He is a great coach, which is evidenced by the success of his team. Most fans get it. To the unhappy fans I ask, what can he possibly do to earn your appreciation?


  • I have neighbor from Pittsburgh, die hard Steeler fan in his sixties. He has told me many times that he wishes his team would have picked up Harbaugh instead of Tomlin. Compares him to B Cowher.

  • Good article! I tend to believe the true fans get it, while as the ones who heavy criticize Harbaugh and Flacco are missing the bottom line. Withstanding last season’s performance this team has become a perennial playoff contender and in the top tier of the best NFL franchises. Oddly enough neither coach or quarterback are mentioned in the elite class of the league. Rest assured these two will win another championship before their time ends in the purple and black.

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