Back during the second season of this site’s existence when we operated as Ravens24x7.com I received a call from a friend who had a friend working in the NFL’s offices in New York.
The NFL employee shared the 2004 Ravens schedule with our mutual friend who then shared it with me. The information was golden because it had not yet been released to the public.
I posted the schedule on 24×7. It was dead on – flawless. Web traffic soared and in some ways it helped put us on the map of the World Wide Web.
Fast forward to the same time the following year – I got the call again.
Without blinking an eye I took the information and posted the schedule. I didn’t even know it was mathematically possible but every single week of that span of 17 games – including the bye, was dead wrong.
“Schedule-Gate” infuriated the Ravens because the bad information I put out there triggered a flood of calls to their switchboard, many of which were from irate suite holders who were promised an advance schedule for their corporate planning purposes.
After receiving some initial reprimanding from the Ravens I was told, “If you think you have a story give us a call. If you’re wrong, we’ll tell you that you are wrong. If you’re right we’ll either say nothing or we’ll confirm your discovery.”
It was then that I decided that 24×7 would not aspire to be a news breaking entity. The potential juice wasn’t worth the squeeze and that is particularly true in this, the age of social media when breaking news has but a few fleeting seconds of value.
I bring this all up because yesterday something similar happened.
Information was shared with me from a source that I believed to be reliable – information about the hiring of new Ravens offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. I ran with the information and pieced it together with some other discoveries and experiences, the end result of which was this column Humbling Harbaugh.
Today I received a message from a member of the Ravens front office.
“Your blog is crazy.”
My heart sank and flashbacks to “Schedule-Gate” raced through my mind.
Suddenly all of the harsh criticisms and biting insults I received on Facebook, in the comments section of the blog and even our own message board were given more credibility.
Suddenly I was guilty of shaping rumors, speculation and conjecture into a confidently written column that now sounds like nothing more than the work of an “over-exuberant fan” as MarkS so eloquently explained on our message board.
Suddenly I was wrong!
Naturally I wanted to find out what really happened. And here is what I’ve learned from this second source – one that is as certain as death, taxes and the I-told-you-so’s that will follow this self-flogging…
Ozzie Newsome was never involved in the coaching discussions (regarding Kubiak)*. Steve Bisciotti wanted to hire Kyle Shanahan. Seeking feedback on Shanahan, John Harbaugh called Rick Dennison with whom he had a previous relationship. During that conversation Dennison shared that Gary Kubiak wanted the Ravens OC job and only that job.
The Ravens, according to the source, were under the impression that Kubiak would not coach in 2014. Dennison quickly dispelled that notion and soon thereafter Harbaugh called Kubiak.
The decision to hire Kubiak was completely John Harbaugh’s.
The rest is history.
Now it is possible that Jim Hostler was Harbaugh’s guy prior to that due diligence call on Shanahan. Hostler’s departure from the organization on Wednesday to accept the position of Senior Offensive Assistant with the Buffalo Bills may suggest as much, but that’s just a connect-the-dots kind of guess.
Many have read into John Harbaugh’s body language during the presser announcing the hiring of Kubiak and Dennison and concluded that it suggested he wasn’t on board with the moves. I thought so too.
On the heels of this new information Harbaugh’s remorseful and somber demeanor at the presser probably stems from the morbid anticipation of having to say goodbye to other coaches. Those changes affect families and they alter lives. That has to weigh on the fiercely loyal conscience of John Harbaugh. This too is speculative but it seems to fit.
So there you have it.
Perhaps you believe me, perhaps you don’t. On the heels of my shoddy handling yesterday of information gathered from a flawed source, I wouldn’t blame you. But this information isn’t flawed. But clearly that’s up to you to accept as the truth.
At the very least what I hope you accept is my apology. Much like “Schedule-Gate”, this is a lesson learned and I owe it to you and those who work with me to be better. I’m sorry.
I would also like to apologize to the Ravens. You taught me a lesson all those years ago. Today you’ve contributed yet another lesson.
And to John Harbaugh who over the past couple of days made some very difficult decisions, I apologize for dismissing your instrumental role in bringing Gary Kubiak to Baltimore.
This week you’ve practiced what you’ve always preached to your players – TEAM!
You put the greater good in front of your attachment to coaches to whom you’ve said goodbye.
As Joe Flacco might say, “That’s powerful stuff man!”
Now if you will kindly excuse me my order of humble pie has just arrived.
* Added at 10:25 AM to clarify the point