The ever-changing environment of the NFL is no place for complacency.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh had a message on Sunday for his first- and second-year players prior to the team departing for the offseason – actually, it was more of a challenge.
In a league where NFL has been known to stand for “Not For Long,” Harbaugh advised them that, while there may not be any football left to play on Sundays until next season, it’s important that they continue to work hard during the offseason in order to come back stronger.
“I brought them down close in the first three rows there and talked to them about the unique challenges that they face and opportunities that they have going forward,” said Harbaugh about the message he spread. “We talked about how many players come and go in the National Football League every single year.”
With very little down time for players and coaches in the league, the process of improving themselves in order to stay ahead in the game, is truly never ending.
Harbaugh held nothing back to his players in explaining why that process is ongoing each and every day in the NFL. There’s always someone looking to take your job, particularly when it comes to those with little time in the league – as was the case for the group of rookies and second-year players Harbaugh addressed.
“There are 400-500 new players coming into the league that have a chance to make it every year,” Said Harbaugh to the wide eyed bunch. “The average lifespan of an NFL player is three-and-a-half years. Those are the guys that make teams, let alone the number of guys that play a lot longer than that. It goes to three-and-a-half as a … I don’t know if it’s a mean or a median, but it’s an average.
“So, just as soon as you are in this league, sometimes you’re out of it. And you have to realize that you have to improve dramatically to maintain and to build a career in this league. They have an opportunity to do that, but they have to understand that they have to be a better football player when they come back in mid-April than they are leaving here this week. And that’s their challenge right now, and they’re going to have to meet that challenge or things aren’t going to work out well for them.”
Along with the challenge to the youngsters that the Ravens front man issued, there was also a team-wide message to not repeat last year’s off-field issues that became front page news both locally and nationally.
In essence, keep yourself out of the police blotters and protect the image of the Baltimore Ravens.
While the NFL has mandated guidelines for teams to address throughout the season, Harbaugh mentioned on Tuesday that the team took it upon themselves to go one step further with their message at season’s end.
“We’ve had NFL-mandated and team-sponsored counseling-type sessions throughout the course of the season,” he said. “That’s been something that’s been attacked with enthusiasm along those lines, especially with the young guys.
“As we left the building, I think it was enough to do to remind the guys that how we handle ourselves is always important. Our name is the only name we have. At the same time, there’s a different conduct code in place for all of us – coaches, players, front office personnel. Everybody is going to be under a different type of scrutiny from here on out. And that’s a good thing. Understand that it’s real, it’s serious, and they need to be aware of that.”
With all the heat that was on the Ravens’ shoulders last offseason, it’s expected that the team will not tolerate such occurrences again.
Here’s to a quiet offseason, in certain respects.
Follow me on Twitter @sportguyRSR