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John Harbaugh nearly faced a mutiny in October

John Harbaugh AP

The Ravens are 9-2, but it hasn’t been an easy season.  Apart from key injuries and periodic ineffectiveness and a defense that ain’t what it used to be, coach John Harbaugh had to deal with an unexpected uprising last month.

The moment came, according to Mike Silver of Yahoo! Sports, on Halloween morning.  Back from a bye-week break after a backbreaking loss to the Texans, Harbaugh told the team that they’d be practicing in full pads.  Several veteran players openly challenged their head coach.

It was practically a mutiny,” a Ravens player told Silver.  “It came very close to getting out of control. But the way Coach Harbaugh handled it was amazing.  He let people have their say, and he listened, and he explained himself, and pretty soon it was like a big group-therapy session.  In the end, a lot of positive things were said.  We didn’t practice in pads, but we came out of there stronger as a group.”

Coincidentally (or not), the Ravens haven’t lost since then.

“I’ve never seen a head coach handle anything like that as well as he did,” a Ravens assistant who attended the meeting told Silver.  “There were some things said where we were like, Damn.

“A lot of coaches would have acted like dictators and been very sensitive about the way their authority was being questioned.  John said, ‘Hey, let’s talk about this.’  He showed great leadership.  Instead of worrying that it would make him seem weak, he turned it into a strength.”

Harbaugh realizes the value of encouraging players to speak their mind.

“I wasn’t threatened by it,” Harbaugh said.  “That’s the main thing.  And, you know, they had some good points, and I had some good points.  Other guys stood up and said some great things.  To me, it embodied everything that you should have on a team.

“The point was that, we have what I call ‘Open Mic,’ and we can all say anything that we need to say and have to say. You know then that you’re responsible — when you say it, everybody’s gonna hear it, so you’d better make it your best stuff.

“That brings out the best.  Otherwise, it’s ‘Why are they sneaking around talking behind corners?’  You know what I mean?  If you’ve got something, you put it right out here in front of me.  I’m man enough to handle it.  If you’re right, then you’re right!  It’s OK to be right.  But more important it’s OK to be wrong.  And it’s OK for me to be wrong, too.”

By being willing to admit that he’s wrong and make changes, Harbaugh could be poised to take his team right to the Super Bowl.

In fact, the only thing Harbaugh may have done wrong in this episode is to let it be known what happened.  Now, other coaches facing similar challenges may opt not to be hardheaded, which could help their own teams play better, possibly when playing the Ravens.

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61 Responses to “John Harbaugh nearly faced a mutiny in October”
  1. tundey says: Nov 28, 2012 1:05 PM

    Nice to see a coach even admitting such an incidence took play much less one that’ll take a challenge to his authority as an opportunity to change.

  2. ducej11 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:08 PM

    Or more and more players are going to start calling out their coaches in front of everyone to get out of doing something they don’t want to do.

  3. 91devinhester23 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:09 PM

    i guess this whole family has the coaching gene or something

  4. butchhickory says: Nov 28, 2012 1:10 PM

    Thi is one of the reasons he makes a good coach. Not like most bosses that don’t care or listen to whar you have to say.

  5. ratbirdking says: Nov 28, 2012 1:11 PM

    good riddance. get rid of his bible ranting and cam’s dump off offense. let the eagles have these trolls.

    of all the anemic ravens seasons ive watched, this one has to be the hardest of all to stomach.

  6. stevebozeman says: Nov 28, 2012 1:12 PM

    Why is this public? Because Harbaugh has a giant ego just like his brother.

  7. Nate says: Nov 28, 2012 1:13 PM

    “Now, other coaches facing similar challenges may opt not to be hardheaded…”

    Can you see Tom Coughlin saying, “let’s sit down and talk this out?”

    Me neither.

  8. glac1 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:14 PM

    heaven forbid the spoiled brats would want to wear pads. That sums up the attitude of players today and confirms how the union has destroyed the game…

  9. putyournameonit says: Nov 28, 2012 1:14 PM

    No respect from his players…..regular season champs, but not the post season.

  10. bobonitz says: Nov 28, 2012 1:15 PM

    Hah, my eagles beat the ravens…

  11. doresb21 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:15 PM

    Not sure of exactly what Jack Harbuagh did raising these kids, but pretty amazing. Best coaches in the nfl

  12. spammerscrammer says: Nov 28, 2012 1:15 PM

    Good for Harbaugh. I disagree with Mike F. that other coaches should try to emulate him. I think most coaches would not have the people skills or the professional credibility to handle the situation the way Harbaugh did.

  13. dmretrogames says: Nov 28, 2012 1:17 PM

    Yes, they haven’t lost since then against Brandon Weeden, Byron Leftwich, Carson Palmer, and Philip Rivers, the last of which came on a miraculous 28-yard play on 4th and 29.

    This is the worst 9-2 team I’ve ever seen. No Super Bowl again this year, Former Browns.

  14. ampatsisahypocrite says: Nov 28, 2012 1:17 PM

    I think Ben Roethlisberger not playing and a fluke 4th and 29 conversion had a little more to do with the Ravens not losing since then, than some touchy-feely talky session.

  15. steelpenbucs87 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:17 PM

    I’m obviously not a big fan of the Ravens, and occasionally Harbaugh’s brashness has rubbed me the wrong way, but I will acknowledge that the guy seems to run a tight ship in Baltimore. He seems to be solid with the x’s and o’s and also has a good head on his shoulders when it comes to being a leader of men.

    The ultimate test of this however will come in the next few years when the loss of strong veteran leadership (Lewis, Reed, Birk, etc.) puts more emphasis on his leadership.

  16. totallyuselessme says: Nov 28, 2012 1:22 PM

    The Harbaughs can coach, man.

    That’s all there is to it.

  17. vontazemebro says: Nov 28, 2012 1:23 PM

    Hard hitting piece Mike. Keep up the good work.

  18. jjpt4540 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:25 PM

    Yes all fear the mighty Raven that could barely get by a Steeler’s team with a backup QB and a terrible defensive team in the Chargers.

  19. heydiddlediddlerayriceupthemiddle says: Nov 28, 2012 1:29 PM

    John Harbaugh is a stand up man. I’m glad he’s the coach of my team.

    You can tell he genuinely cares for his player and looks at his position as a leader of young men and well as a job.

  20. FinFan68 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:34 PM

    He is inviting issues down the road. Whenever players don’t like something they now feel enabled to not do it and make a scene. I applaud Harbaugh’s willingness to listen but the players acting that way should not be tolerated. That was likely going to be the first padded practice since the preseason. Why revolt? The team leaders could have come to him privately rather than challenge his authority/methods in front of the entire team. If the opportunity didn’t present itself initially then they should have addressed their concerns after the fact. They way this was handled happened to work out so far but the potential for disaster looms. Let’s see what happens after they lose again.

  21. lovefootball4life says: Nov 28, 2012 1:40 PM

    @steelpenbucs87 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:17 PM

    Nice to hear a Steeler fan with a meaningful comment. Steeler and Raven franchises owe most of their success to the head coach – who sets the team culture and direction.

    If someone doesn’t think the coach is important I challenge them to identify a perennial contender with a bad HC.

  22. jeffa43 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:46 PM

    Thank God for…

    Romo & Garrett unable to read timeouts or the clock.

    The almighty Cassel fumbling on the 1

    Ben getting hurt..

    4th 29….

    Ya, impressive run by Balt. One n done in post season.

  23. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 28, 2012 1:53 PM

    Did they hold hands and sing Kumbaya afterwords?

    I pray they get 2nd seed so they can beat the Pats in B’more and then come to Houston to take their medicine.

  24. Cereal says: Nov 28, 2012 1:55 PM

    The real Johnny football !!

  25. realfann says: Nov 28, 2012 1:55 PM

    “By being willing to admit that he’s wrong and make changes, Harbaugh could be poised to take his team right to the Super Bowl”

    So that’s all it takes eh? and here I was thinking it was about playing the best football. Silly me.

  26. ghostofgilchrist says: Nov 28, 2012 1:59 PM

    Sounds like he learned from Tom Coughlin’s epiphany 4 years ago.

  27. cacaw420 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:01 PM

    jeffa43 says: Nov 28, 2012 1:46 PM
    Thank God for…
    Romo & Garrett unable to read timeouts or the clock.
    The almighty Cassel fumbling on the 1
    Ben getting hurt..
    4th 29….
    Ya, impressive run by Balt. One n done in post season.
    ——————————————————
    wait, how many of the 31 other nfl teams have a record as good as the ravens? oh that’s right, TWO. lucky bounces alone don’t put you higher in the standings than 29 other teams.

  28. scoopandslam says: Nov 28, 2012 2:02 PM

    @Nate Um, Coughlin was kind of the forerunner for this sort of thing.

  29. ravenator says: Nov 28, 2012 2:02 PM

    I can admit, I was quesitoning the front office with their decision to let Rex walk but they clearly knew what they had in Harbs. He knows how to lead men and has proven to be a winning coach. Couldn’t be happier! Go Ravens. Another AFCN sweep on the horizon, as I predicted. Hate on haters.

  30. Cereal says: Nov 28, 2012 2:03 PM

    Lots of hate & jealousy for the Ravens & their consistency out there. They hold the longest active consecutive playoff streak with 4 appearances, that first year coming with a rookie QB. This all in the AFC North….seriously, way to be objective people.

  31. whysomanylosers says: Nov 28, 2012 2:04 PM

    WWBWD…

    Wonder What Belicheat Would Do

  32. randolph32 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:05 PM

    Can’t imagine Lovie Smith pulling this one, he’d give you that Texas drawl and tell you how much you need it….

  33. 6ringsandarapist says: Nov 28, 2012 2:16 PM

    boo hoo my team isn’t 9-2 so i have to bash teams that are….my team sucks but i just can’t face reality…woe is me

  34. raylewisandhisteeth says: Nov 28, 2012 2:18 PM

    Seriously, how in the hell is this team 9-2?!

  35. jikkle49 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:20 PM

    The best coaches are the ones that are firmly in charge but not so firm they don’t listen and respond to what their players have to say or feel.

    Tom Coughlin didn’t win till he loosened up a bit and so called player coaches never usually sustain long term success if they achieve it in the first place.

  36. jkb0162 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:23 PM

    Aren’t the Ravens fans happy Jason Garret didn’t take that job when he had the chance?

  37. ziplock10 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:26 PM

    Better that than a bunch of unidentified players or coaches commenting on how bad Cam Cameron’s play calling is?

    I’m a skins fan and I know what kind of talent they have. How they do not give Ray Rice the ball is every possible way after he would not be denied on 4 and 29???

    Ball so hard! Can’t deny!

  38. hdmoyer says: Nov 28, 2012 2:32 PM

    Good luck trying that with “The Hoodie”

  39. jamaltimore says: Nov 28, 2012 2:35 PM

    8to80texansblog says:
    Nov 28, 2012 1:53 PM
    Did they hold hands and sing Kumbaya afterwords?

    I pray they get 2nd seed so they can beat the Pats in B’more and then come to Houston to take their medicine.

    ————-

    Be careful what you wish for your 1-7 vs The Ravens all time and they definitely aren’t afraid of a rematch in houston!

  40. rockthered1286 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:36 PM

    jeffa43 says:
    Nov 28, 2012 1:46 PM
    Thank God for…
    Romo & Garrett unable to read timeouts or the clock. BAL DEFENSE HELD THEM OUT OF RANGE.
    The almighty Cassel fumbling on the 1 FORCED BY BAL DEFENSE.
    Ben getting hurt.. BEN DIDN’T GIVE UP A ST TD, OR CAUSE WALLACE TO FUMBLE, OR THE O LINE TO SUCK IT UP. NO WAY TO JUSTIFY HE WINS IT ALONE.
    4th 29…. LEGIT, GREAT PLAY BY RICE. TOOK WHAT THEY GAVE US AND TOOK HOME A WIN.
    Ya, impressive run by Balt. One n done in post season. WHILE THE STEELERS SIT AT HOME WITH THEIR FANS WHINING ABOUT THE RAVENS AND HOW THEY ARE STILL BETTER THAN US DESPITE AN INFERIOR RECORD AND MISSING THE PLAYOFFS A YEAR REMOVED FROM BEING TEBOWED.
    _____________________________
    There, I fixed it for you. You’re welcome.

  41. flipper14 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:41 PM

    The biggest problem with the Ravens is at left guard and right tackle. Many question their consistency, especially on the road, but those two spots really limit them offensively. Harbaugh does a good job with some large personalities who could cause a lot of problems for a head coach.

  42. flipper14 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:45 PM

    Yes all fear the mighty Raven that could barely get by a Steeler’s team with a backup QB and a terrible defensive team in the Chargers.

    ————————————————

    The Chargers are 10th in the NFL in yards allowed per game, and that’s after the Ravens put up 450 on them. That’s a fairly good defensive football team.

  43. riggo08 says: Nov 28, 2012 2:53 PM

    The AFC North has two of the best coaches in the NFL: John Harbaugh and Mike Tomlin. No coincidence that their teams are at the top of the division year in and year out.

  44. southpaw2k says: Nov 28, 2012 2:59 PM

    dmretrogames says:
    Nov 28, 2012 1:17 PM
    Yes, they haven’t lost since then against Brandon Weeden, Byron Leftwich, Carson Palmer, and Philip Rivers, the last of which came on a miraculous 28-yard play on 4th and 29.

    This is the worst 9-2 team I’ve ever seen. No Super Bowl again this year, Former Browns.

    —————————————————-

    You must be unfamiliar with Bill Parcells and/or his famous quote, “You are what your record says you are.”

    There is no such thing as a “bad” 9-2 team. It’s a contradiction in terms. Have you ever seen a “great” team that was 3-8? Isn’t that just as absurd? And if the Ravens are so bad, then what does that say about the teams who they beat, including New England and Pittsburgh?

    You can’t tell me that the other three teams in the AFC North wouldn’t want to trade places with the Ravens right now if given the option.

    The Ravens are a really good team, and they’re getting better every week. They stand to make another deep playoff run in January, especially if Ray Lewis comes back as he is expected. I simply do not understand why they are seen as overrated or overachievers.

  45. fafaflunky says: Nov 28, 2012 3:07 PM

    @cacaw420

    wait, how many of the 31 other nfl teams have a record as good as the ravens? oh that’s right, TWO. lucky bounces alone don’t put you higher in the standings than 29 other teams.

    i gues you havent seen any giants games in the last 3 years..

  46. kingraven75 says: Nov 28, 2012 3:11 PM

    Of course he listened.
    Everyone knows what happens when Ray Ray gets angry!

  47. Henry says: Nov 28, 2012 3:18 PM

    This is why the Ravens haven’t won a Superbowl in a while. You can’t have people openly challenging the head coach’s decisions.

  48. boyshole25 says: Nov 28, 2012 3:41 PM

    Oh wahhhh practice in pads? heaven for bid get a grip you prima Donnas

  49. John Brunett says: Nov 28, 2012 3:47 PM

    The niners should stage a mutiny against starting Kaep. Love the guy, but Smith took this team to the brink of the Super Bowl last year.

    As a Niner Lifer, I feel empathetic pain and sympathy for Smith. I thank him for his dedication, and only hoped his team would reciprocate his commitment.

  50. joeyb3878 says: Nov 28, 2012 3:51 PM

    He was the Eagles special teams coach under Andy Reid and is another example of a coach that has been hired during Andy’s tenure that is a better coach than Andy

  51. Nofoolnodrool says: Nov 28, 2012 4:18 PM

    Good stuff by the coach to become more than just the usual my way or the highway. Remains to be seen the long term affects of this action on his part. He can’t create doubt in the player’s minds they they can fight every time he becomes tough with them. As a steeler fan I respect what he has done for the Ravens, but until he wins more than a tee shirt I will continue to rate Tomlin better.

  52. dayumyou says: Nov 28, 2012 4:39 PM

    hmmm…..if my memory serves me correctly….the ravens did make the playoffs last year and ended up watching the SB just like the rest of us did in the AFC North: from their couch

  53. realfootballfan says: Nov 28, 2012 4:49 PM

    Maybe that’s why he’s been to the playoffs 4 out of 4 (soon to be 5 out of 5) years. Ozzie knocked it out of the park hiring the brother most of us didn’t know Jim had.

  54. mazblast says: Nov 28, 2012 4:57 PM

    raylewisandhisteeth says:

    Seriously, how in the hell is this team 9-2?!
    ——————————————
    This Steelers fan knows how. It’s an answer so simple even a Cowboys fan can understand it–

    They had more points than the other guys when the clock said 0:00.

    That’s all there is to it.

  55. getyourownname says: Nov 28, 2012 4:58 PM

    dayumyou says:
    Nov 28, 2012 4:39 PM
    hmmm…..if my memory serves me correctly….the ravens did make the playoffs last year and ended up watching the SB just like the rest of us did in the AFC North: from their couch
    ************************
    True.

    Of course their couch was much closer to the SB action than the rest of AFCN.

  56. fbothharbaughs says: Nov 28, 2012 5:04 PM

    Ravenator, did you buy your AFC North swag yet?

    Awfully proud of those division titles, aren’tcha? But we ALL knows what’ll happen come January, when the games really count…

  57. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 28, 2012 5:09 PM

    jamaltimore says:
    Nov 28, 2012 2:35 PM

    Be careful what you wish for your 1-7 vs The Ravens all time and they definitely aren’t afraid of a rematch in houston!
    ____________________________

    First, did you watch the first game in Houston….

    Second, past records against a team are pretty meaningless on game day…

    Third, we all know how awesome a QB Flacco is on the road….

  58. tarheel48 says: Nov 28, 2012 5:56 PM

    so you raven fans really think 9-2 is special? im sorry to tell you but regular season rankings and records dont mean anything, you can go ask new england and greenbay all about it, you guys know deep down your one and done

  59. raqaiw says: Nov 28, 2012 6:16 PM

    8to80texansblog says: Nov 28, 2012 5:09 PM

    jamaltimore says: Nov 28, 2012 2:35 PM

    Be careful what you wish for your 1-7 vs The Ravens all time and they definitely aren’t afraid of a rematch in houston! ____________________________

    First, did you watch the first game in Houston….

    Second, past records against a team are pretty meaningless on game day…

    Third, we all know how awesome a QB Flacco is on the road….
    ———————————-
    I live in Houston and have been to every game the Ravens have played in Reliant. If past records against a team are irrelevant on game day as you say,October’s loss will have no bearing on the outcome of any postseason games. You downplay Flacco’s skills on the road,but I’ve watched him carve up the Texans 3 times in the last 4 years in Reliant. Last year Webb missed a game vs. the Chargers due to injury and Rivers blew the Ravens out. This year Webb went down and Schaub did the same. Webb is crucial to what they like to do on D and it takes awhile to adjust. Note that they haven’t lost since then.

  60. eleventyeight says: Nov 28, 2012 11:38 PM

    As a Steelers fan i have to say that the Ravens have really become a great team with a lot of talent and a team finally fulfilling it’s potential.

    By rights, your Ravens should have won the AFCCG last year.

    But- you didn’t win that game. And until you do you will be stuck with a “Yeah, the Ravens were good BUT..” (see SD Chargers*).

    And trying to blame your hateful nonsense on the ramblings of self-described “Steelers fan” with childish screennames like “SixtrophysandnonefortheRavens” or whatever he comes up with that day is silly. Ravenator is clearly under-medicated. I’m sure he’ll get his sock-puppet acting-out will get old for him too, eventually.

    I, and most Steelers fans i know, were rooting for you guys last years in the post-season.

    I know it was hard to get where you are but don’t forget success comes and goes. I won’t hate you if you beat our team and i won’t get too excited if we beat you.

    One thing both sets of fans need to realize: we make each other better. One team without the other would allow mediocrity and staleness to set in, like in the AFCW.

    Hate all you want, either way, but our shared rivalry has begun to make our division better and, too an extent, the league.

  61. lucky5936 says: Nov 29, 2012 12:07 AM

    Gret job by JH for handling the situation in an open and honest way. Shame on the players for almost starting a mutiny because they were asked to practice ONE time in pads after an embarrassing loss. That in itself is the very definition of embarrassing.

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