Who took a leak in John Harbaugh’s Wheaties today?
It surely wasn’t me.
In fact, I wasn’t out at Owings Mills today for the snark-filled media give-and-take which actually resulted mostly in the coach offering either a “that’s a silly question” or a terse “no comment” throughout his 4-minute appearance at the podium.
You need to head to the WNST audio vault right now and click on “John Harbaugh meets with the media, October 15” to hear it for yourself.
Clearly, something or someone has aggravated the coach.
I will offer one small morsel of defense for Harbaugh and all NFL coaches, then I’ll slap the Ravens coach on the wrist for today’s act.
90% of the questions that are asked of NFL coaches aren’t really worth answering.
When a player performs well in a game, the absolute dumbest thing someone can ask is, “You sure got a great performance out of XXXX today, didn’t you?” (“Of course we did you dope, how the hell do you think we won the game?”)
And when a player stinks up the joint or makes a mistake that hurts the team, no coach worth his salt is EVER going to throw his player under the bus to the media. “That final interception thrown by XXXX was the dagger, huh?” (“Yeah, it was, but I’m not going to say that because if I do, it might lead the quarterback to turn on me.”)
The questions that are asked most of the time are lame. They just are.
Sometimes you ask a question just to let the coach know that you’re actually watching the game. In that case, he might think the question is silly, but he also might realize you’re actually paying attention.
Sometimes you ask a question because you want to know what the coach was thinking, like a few weeks back when I wanted to know why the Ravens eschewed an early-game 53-yard field goal attempt in Cincinnati and elected to punt instead. Harbaugh, of course, wasn’t going to answer that question because he sees that as a “tactical question”…one that could be used against him later in the season if, let’s say, Mike Tomlin hears John’s response and somehow incorporates that in December when the Steelers come to town.
But it was a fair question to ask, since 53-yard field goals aren’t next-to-impossible in the NFL.
I like John Harbaugh as a coach. I’m the guy, you’ll remember, who wrote a piece last January after the Ravens won in New England that urged Steve Bisciotti to extend John’s contract right then and there. And I haven’t changed from that thought. This is year #3 of his 4-year deal and I think Harbaugh should get another 2 years right now.
That said, John is slipping like the Padres in September when it comes to handling the Baltimore media.
He’s getting agitated on an almost weekly basis, which doesn’t bode well for a guy who has a 4-1 team on his hands.
Just think if the Ravens were gasping for air at 1-4. Hell, there might be a fistfight out at Owings Mills.
I know the questions suck.
Some of the people asking them don’t really know what they’re asking, they just want to be heard.
Some of the questions ARE reasonable, though, and deserve John’s response.
“How did Haloti Ngata hurt his knee?” That’s a fair question.
“Is he definitely going to play on Sunday?” That’s a fair question.
John Harbaugh doesn’t have to answer either of them. It’s absolutely within his right to NOT answer them.
But that viperish “no comment” doesn’t sound right coming from a guy who is generally friendly and easy-going.
It sounded rude, almost. And to sound as if you’re taking exception to the question in the first place? Well, if Haloti Ngata walks around with a knee brace on and doesn’t go full-bore in practice, what’s the most obvious question you’d ask the coach after practice?
Hint: It’s not “Who do you like in the American League Championship Series?”
I’ll admit that there’s probably too much access to the coach and players in the NFL these days. Maybe that’s the problem. Perhaps we see to much of the coach and the players.
Or, maybe they don’t understand the media’s job as well as we think they do.
Look, I don’t really want to put on that equipment and run around for 2 hours today and get my bell rung 5 times and sit in the ice tub for 30 minutes after practice.
And I doubt the coaches and players would want to do what we have to do, which is figure out a way to ask questions of them without getting snapped at or ridiculed with something like “that’s a silly question…”
Most of the time…at least 70% of the time…we already know the answer before the question is even asked.
It’s a rather mundane exercise, asking something that you can sort of pre-predict the answer to ahead of time.
But it’s what we do.
We ask questions.
John Harbaugh has to answer them.
It’s just the way it is.
John’s entitled to a bad day here and there — and maybe today was one of those.
But snarky, short, abrasive commentary from the coach doesn’t do him any good. Especially when the team is 4-1.
Lighten up, Harbs.
You’re making it worse than it needs to be.