Love John Harbaugh or not, his stint in Baltimore has been uneventful off the field. No more arrests, prison sentences, or court dates.
The Chad Johnson Saga, however, should be a reminder of how unsettling distractions can be. The Dolphins cut the 6-time Pro Bowler this week, after police arrested Johnson for allegedly head-butting his wife (now soon-to-be ex-wife since she subsequently filed for divorce).
The next day, Dolphins’ linebacker and team captain Karlos Dansby spoke on a Miami radio station about Johnson. Dansby explained that by cutting the outspoken wide receiver the Dolphins were only creating a bigger distraction. Instead, Dansby wanted the Dolphins to work with Johnson to resolve the situation.
Dansby might be right, but the fact remains that Johnson’s abrupt departure is an unnecessary headache. Miami is transitioning into the Joe Philbin Era with rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill waiting in the wings.
While the Ravens don’t have a new coach or rookie quarterback, they must constantly shuffle the depth chart due to injuries and player performance. Meanwhile, rookies, free agents, and other new acquisitions must learn the system.
In the past, the legal problems of, most notably, Jamal Lewis, Ray Lewis, and Terrell Suggs turned attention away from the action on the field. Combined with a dominating defense, the Ravens were cast as one of the NFL’s bad boys.
Brian Billick first embraced this reputation for the Ravens in 2000, preaching the “us-against-the world” mentality to the team. That season, Billick and the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
Shortly after that victory, Sports Illustrated’s Leigh Montville wrote: “I always have thought the store-bought, one-time-only Florida Marlins, the World Series winners of 1997, were our most despicable champions on record, but the Ravens just might have slid to the front.”
Billick continued to use that moniker with the Ravens for several years; however, he was fired after the 2007 season, as the team’s play deteriorated. John Harbaugh replaced Billick and stressed greater discipline.
The team has responded. Each offseason has been quiet, and the Ravens have made the playoffs in four consecutive seasons.
Fewer distractions and more wins. That’s the new moniker.