After his 13th season in Baltimore, Harbaugh’s resume is among the best, but it is the relationships with his players that have had the greatest impact on his career.
A detailed report by Dan Pompei of The Athletic’s detailed Harbaugh’s evolution as a head coach, and how the 57-year-old became a figure that current and former players gravitate to.
“Anyone who was with Harbaugh when he started coaching the Ravens but hasn’t been with him since then may have a hard time believing their relationship is real,” Pompei wrote. “But after 12 seasons in Baltimore, Harbaugh is no longer the same coach as him. ”
The Pompei report began to speak of Harbaugh’s early years as a head coach. Succeeding Brian Billick in 2008, Harbaugh established an old-school approach derived from his father.
“The training started at 1:00 pm and each player had better be on the field at 12:45 pm, he warned,” wrote Pompei. “Everyone had to wear shoes of the same color for training. The thigh pads were not optional, nor were the hip pads. They hit as much as the rules allowed, every other day, even during the preseason. Tired? Sore? He did not do it. On travel days, players were not allowed to wear jeans, sports shoes or sandals. A collared shirt was necessary.
“Veterans who did not play with special teams, such as linebacker Ray Lewis and ball carrier Willis McGahee, were used to having free time during the special teams’ training game. But Harbaugh insisted that they be present and watch. And then he made them run down on the kick-off return on the scout team. ”
Pompeii wrote that veterans like McGahee, Terrell Suggs and Antwan Barns had grown back. In one case, Suggs and Barns were not allowed on the team bus before an away game because they were not wearing dress shoes. They were sent home to get new shoes before being allowed to join the team.
With strict guidelines, success began at the start of Harbaugh’s head coaching career. The Ravens reached the playoffs in their first five seasons, winning a Super Bowl in 2012.
But Harbaugh told Pompeii that he was concerned about some of his relationships with his players, so he formed a board of directors of veterans to help him. Locker room leaders like Lewis, Ed Reed and Joe Flacco helped organize the issues and Harbaugh took detailed notes.
“He took notes on training, on team meetings, on relationships with players who were going well and others who were going bad, on motivational techniques, on game plans, on his discussions with [former NFL Head Coach Dick] Vermeil, on the books, on his daily Bible study, on the brainstorming sessions with his father and brother Jim, now Michigan head coach, “wrote Pompei.
Harbaugh attributed his development as a head coach to staff relations. He also gained a different perspective by looking in the stands as a parent while his daughter, Alison, who will attend Notre Dame University this fall as the first year for playing female lacrosse, has grown.
“He had to be quiet and let the referees do their job,” said Harbaugh’s wife Ingrid. “He couldn’t say things to the coach. Other parents are screaming and screaming, and I’m sure people expect him to do the same, but he didn’t want to draw attention to him. It was good for him to tend to take it. ”
“It has taken me all these years to improve, and I continue to fight with him as a leader,” added Harbaugh. “But I’m much better at it, more persistent in being patient than I am. ”
Last season, Harbaugh led the Ravens to a 14-2 franchise record and was named the NFL Coach of the Year. Throughout the season, we witnessed the emergence of “Big Truss”, press conferences and lively post-game locker rooms.
It comes from a real connection between a head coach and his players.
“He is working on his relationship with all the players on the roster and just about everyone in the organization,” wrote Pompei. “In training, he moves around the field and makes it a point to speak with players from all the position groups. It can take him as long to get from his office to the cafeteria at the Under Armor Center as it takes to drive from his suburbs. at home at M&T Bank stadium because he stops talking to almost everyone. ”
The Ravens have made it clear that their goal is to win a Lombardi Trophy this season. But now 13 years wiser as a head coach, Harbaugh has a full perspective on his journey.
« [H]This journey as a coach focused on relationships as much as on wins and losses. He realizes that now, “wrote Pompei. Sometimes it’s funny the things that happen in the pursuit of domination. ”
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