In terms of divulging information, the Ravens’ Under Armour Performance Center or “castle” could just as easily be called “Under the Radar”.
The Ravens’ success can be attributed to many factors, but one thing the franchise does differently than others centers on the amount of information they voluntarily make public.
As anyone in the local media will tell you, head coach John Harbaugh typically will not give up any information other than that which he is mandated to divulge by the league. Sometimes, Harbaugh’s silence on injuries, personnel decisions or basic formations can be frustrating. Still, it’s understandable that he refuses to allow his own words to put him at a competitive disadvantage.
Like all teams the Ravens look for an edge wherever they can find one. A clue, morsel of information — anything including TV reports to get one up on their opponents.
It may appear to be ridiculous at times, but at training camp we often joke about snipers being up in the trees that surround the practice fields to “take care of” media members who do anything wrong. Don’t even think about barely taking your cell phone out of your pocket to check the time – you may lose a limb. You could be sharing secret information!
Clearly I’m joking, but to Harbaugh and the Ravens, this is a serious matter, and rightfully so.
For the aforementioned reasons I was certain that HBO’s Hard Knocks would never return to Baltimore – that was, until the NFL announced a new ruling at their Fall Meetings earlier this week.
NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport broke the news that if no team volunteers for Hard Knocks, the NFL may step in and force a team to participate. Fortunately for Harbaugh, given the stipulations that are in place, he and the Ravens are exempt for the next two seasons. However, if the team hits a rough patch, the annoyance of the film crew could make it more challenging to rebound and get to the playoffs once again.
The league may force a team to appear on the show with the following exceptions:
- Teams with a first-year head coach
- Teams that have made the playoffs in at least one of the last two seasons (Harbaugh’s saving grace)
- Teams that have participated in the previous 10 seasons (Ravens participated in 2001)
Given Harbaugh’s track record, it’s unlikely that he’ll be put into the position to have his private training camp turned into a television show. But the fact that he doesn’t have total control on this matter certainly makes this an extra incentive to win.
Once again, the league is more concerned about money than the people whose livelihoods may be affected by their decision.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a great example of this as they’re routinely a successful and certainly popular team, but have hit a slump as of late. With head coach Mike Tomlin’s team already failing to to miss the playoffs last year and starting 0-4 this season, it’s unlikely they’ll be playing beyond Week 17, making them a clear frontrunner for Hard Knocks.
How is this fair to Tomlin? His job could be on the line and he may have to utilize training camp to build the foundation for his 2014 team. In a year that may be the most crucial in his career, turning his training camp into a TV production can’t be helpful. The good news for Ravens fans is, if that is the case, the Steelers could be bottom dwellers in the AFC North once again.
That’s just one possible scenario but that aside, it’s shocking that the owners voted in favor of this. It would be equally shocking if Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti voted with the majority knowing that his head coach prefers to remain far removed from the spotlight.
Hard Knocks is an entertaining program, but forcing unwilling teams to participate is just wrong.
But hey, so is forcing teams to give up a home game to play in London.
What do you think?
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