John Harbaugh was a rantin’ Raven
By Sean Jensen Sun-Times Media February 4, 2013 10:54PM
Updated: March 6, 2013 6:33AM
NEW ORLEANS — John Harbaugh — the older and calmer of the Super Bowl XLVII head coaches — didn’t garner much attention after the Baltimore Ravens’ victory Sunday evening.
The focus was on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, the game’s MVP; Ray Lewis, the latest Hall of Fame player to walk away a champion; Jacoby Jones, the New Orleans native who scored two touchdowns; and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who criticized officials in his postgame comments for calls his team didn’t get.
But as Monday morning quarterbacks sifted through the Ravens’ exciting 34-31 victory against the San Francisco 49ers, a Harbaugh’s blasting of an NFL official during the 34-minute delay shifted into the spotlight.
Only it was John and not Jim as the antagonist.
Deadspin consulted a lip-reader to figure out what John Harbaugh was saying to Mike Kensil, the NFL’s vice president of game operations, and the coach’s comments were aggressive and profane.
Harbaugh apologized Monday morning during the traditional winning head coach’s news conference.
“The whole blackout thing, I way overreacted,” John said. “It wasn’t anything to do with the blackout. The blackout had nothing to do with the game. The 49ers just outplayed us for a stretch.
“A total overreaction on my part and I feel bad about it. It was the one thing I look back on the game and I am disappointed in myself about, because I didn’t have very much poise in that moment.”
The ranting Harbaugh is Jim, the former Bears quarterback who had memorable and theatrical reactions in the NFC title game and Super Bowl.
Perhaps the stage and stakes got the best of John Harbaugh, especially if you consider his players’ perspective.
“I think Coach Harbaugh, he’s just a positive influence all the time,” outside linebacker Paul Kruger said. “He’s always uplifting. Every day he has some insight for you, keeping you on the right track.
“He will bring you back down to reality if he needs to. He’s usually always pumping me full of good information and positive feedback. He’s been the man that’s led us here, got us to this point and won us this championship. I can’t say enough about him. He’s been a huge role model for me and the team.”
Added veteran center Matt Birk, “Playing for him is better than I imagined.”
So are his results.
He has led the Ravens to the postseason in all five of his seasons as head coach, and he has developed players and wisely selected coaches.
And on Sunday, Harbaugh and his staff made some great calls and moves.
During the blackout, Lewis said Harbaugh called the players together to provide a message.
“ ‘Whatever goes on here, it doesn’t matter,’ ” Lewis recalled Harbaugh saying. “ ‘We are here to finish this race,’ ” and we finished it.”
Harbaugh was blasted on Twitter for approving a fake field goal in the second quarter that failed. But in the final minute, Harbaugh also approved a safety that chewed up eight seconds off the clock.
Offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie said Harbaugh has a mind-set his players embrace.
“He wanted to be aggressive, and we were very aggressive the first half,” McKinnie said. “That was our mind-set coming here, and being physical.
“He put that in our heads.”
After the game, John and Jim shared the obligatory handshake and hug. But John had mixed emotions in his news conference after the game.
“There is no greater competitor and no greater coach in the National Football League or in the world, as far as I am concerned, than Jim Harbaugh,” John said. “The way that team played proves it. What they have done the last two years is unprecedented.”
What John has done, though, isn’t too shabby either.