While his brother Jim is one of the more tight-lipped coaches in the NFL, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has managed to find ways to be a bit more freewheeling, especially when talking to reporters. This was never more evident than at Tuesday's AFC media breakfast at the owners meetings in Florida. When it was Harbaugh's turn to talk, he first got a bit existential about one sore subject -- the Ravens' AFC championship game loss to the New England Patriots.
"I think probably forever," he said, when someone asked him how long that loss would stick with him. "It will be there forever. Well, forever is a long time. Until I die, which might be forever, most likely. Unless there's something I'm not aware of. Maybe they'll come up with something in the meantime. Science is really moving things forward."
Indeed, and it's good to see that coach Harbaugh is ready for the cutting edge in medical technology. What about the retirement of running back Ricky Williams, who played for Harbaugh in 2011, gaining 444 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 108 carries? Has the coach spoken to Williams since that Feb. 7 event?
"I have not since a couple days after," Harbaugh said of the 34-year-old yoga-centric running back. "Where is he? Is he in the United States. Ricky, where are you? We're looking for you Ricky Williams.
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"Ricky was awesome. Ricky was tremendous. I learned a little yoga, a little meditation, some fruits I wasn't familiar with. He's a normal guy; a lot of great conversations, a hard-working guy, knows pass protections inside and out. A ballplayer, a good guy."
Well, maybe some of that strange fruit can get Harbaugh a bit closer to the eternal life he seeks.
Despite his endorsement of the scientific extension of life, Harbaugh is very much a fan of sudden death -- at least as it applies to football. He made it clear that he would prefer that the proposal to extend the playoff overtime rules to the regular season, a proposal that has since passed the required vote, didn't happen.
"Personally, I think sudden death is fine," Harbaugh said. "I'm a sudden-death guy. I like sudden death. I don't know how the Ravens are going to vote right now, but my two cents says sudden death. It's been around forever and it's worked out pretty good. But we said that last year, so that's where we're at.
"You cover a kick, you play great defense, you get the ball right around the 50, now you have the advantage. I think it's a wash, I really do. To me, there's a really bit of an advantage to be the team that gets the ball second. If there's a field-goal kick, they get a chance to march the ball down the field in four downs. When you talk about an advantage to the offense, that's a staggering advantage to the offense, if it comes to that. A lot more strategy comes into it this way, especially if you play defense the way we've played defense historically."
Harbaugh had a few more things on his mind.
On improving the Ravens' offensive line: "I think we have to upgrade the offensive line. You ask, 'Can we upgrade the offensive line?' We have to upgrade the offensive line."
On the ongoing contract negotiations with franchised running back Ray Rice: "Pat Moriarty is our negotiator, he does a great job. [Ravens general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] knows what he's doing. They all want a deal. Ray's agent wants a deal. I pray. I cross my fingers and my toes. Does that count?"
On the Ravens' No. 3 receiver spot: "It's funny, because everybody wants to talk about the one spot, the two spot, the three spot. What does that even mean? We've got guys on our team that can play so you need to pigeon-hole players into those spots. All of those guys that you just mentioned will be playing next year for us unless somebody comes in and beats them out. If a better player comes in and beats those guys out and pushes one of those guys back or two of those guys back, it would make us even better. But those guys will all be playing in that No. 3 type, if you want to call it that role, three or four receiver. Some guys play inside, some guys play outside."
(Note to coach Harbaugh: You don't actually NEED a third receiver, because current offensive coordinator Cam Cameron hasn't called a three-wide play in the last decade.)
On quarterback Joe Flacco: "I think he's a very exuberant fellow. He's a fiery, hard-nosed competitive guy, but I don't think he's one of those guys where it plays out on camera and whatever that body language is. I don't even worry about that."
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- John Harbaugh
- Ricky Williams
- the Ravens