Ravens’ John Harbaugh has ‘cherished’ relationship with Bill Belichick

Andy Hart
October 30, 2019 - 3:29 pm

FOXBOROUGH -- Bill Belichick and John Harbaugh have been heated rivals on the field, including in the postseason, since the latter took over as the Ravens head coach in 2008.

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But off the field the pair has a more friendly relationship that dates back three decades to when Belichick was the head coach of the Browns and Harbaugh was a special teams coordinator at the University of Cincinnati.

As the coaches set to do battle once again this Sunday night in Baltimore, Harbaugh recalled the early days of the relationship, when Belichick visited the Cincinnati campus to scout players in the early 1990s.

“I was just blown away, at that time, about how gracious he was and how thorough he was and all that kind of stuff,” Harbaugh said Wednesday in his conference call with the New England media. “I kind of started really paying attention to him, and what he does and how he does it, back then – then as a special teams coach, and then even as a secondary coach. Through Scott O’Brien, who is one of my mentors, Coach Belichick gave me the time of day a few times and I was able to ask him a few questions and, as you said, sit and chat with him here and there at the combine and different things like that.

“Man, I guess I was just amazed with how humble he was and how willing he was to spend some time with just a young coach. And then even as a head coach, even though we were playing in big games against one another, he was nothing but gracious to me personally. Competitive, obviously, as can be, but just gracious and the type of relationship that I definitely cherished and have great respect for him.”

Harbaugh continues to keep tabs on Belichick’s work and do his best to learn from his elder rival to this day.

“If you’re a head coach, or you’re any kind of a coach in this league, and you’re not watching what Bill Belichick is doing with his football team every single week, even throughout the offseason, then I think you’re making a big mistake,” Harbaugh said.

For his part Belichick described the relationship as a friendship, one that included him recommending Harbaugh for the Baltimore job to franchise owner Steve Biscotti when the team was in line for a new coach more than a decade ago.

“You meet a lot of coaches in this business and you go out and scout and you go out and go to the combine and workouts and so forth. You're going to meet a lot of people and developed a relationship and friendship with John and, ultimately, it's carried us to where it's carried us to,” Belichick said.

Where it’s carried them is another meeting on the field, this one as two of the top teams in the AFC.

The Ravens are 3-6 against Belichick’s Patriots under Harbaugh. While they’ve lost three straight, including the 2014 AFC divisional playoff contest, two of those three losses came by 7 points or less.

Harbaugh isn’t content with his team simply being competitive with the Patriots in recent years.

“I’m not really that happy with where we’re at. Obviously, those have been disappointing losses when they’ve happened, and we felt like we could have done better in those situations. So, just try to do our best against a very formidable team, and obviously that’s a big challenge,” Harbaugh concluded.

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