Another view of Ravens' 'mutiny'

Another view of Ravens' 'mutiny'
January 29, 2013, 11:00 pm
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When the Ravens staged a “mutiny” in the middle of the season and coach John Harbaugh gave in and called off a pads-on, live-hitting practice, some viewed it as a sign of weakness by Harbaugh. One commentator, former player Heath Evans, an NFL Network analyst, went even further.

“I think there’s a dysfunction on this team,” Evans said. “ … I don’t think they have a chance to play championship football when there’s not enough respect for the head coach.”

Now that the Ravens are in the Super Bowl, commentators can look at that moment as perhaps they should have all along: Harbaugh is secure enough in his authority to let his players speak their minds.

The incident came up again in an excellent piece on Ed Reed by ESPN.com’s Kevin Van Valkenburg. Ravens linebacker and special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo said:

"We have something that's really different in the Raven organization. We actually get to influence what we're going to do. And Coach Harbaugh is open to that. If you look at how businesses are run, a business will take a survey to find out what their customers need and what their employees need. Then they'll make the best product however way they can. Coach Harbaugh does that here, and I've never seen that done anyplace else in the NFL."

But there’s a fascinating postscript, as recounted in the story. After getting their way and getting out of having to practice in pads, the Ravens had a lousy practice. And then Reed let his teammates have it.

"Now this guy feels like he can't trust us," Reed said, referring to Harbaugh.

"It was an awesome thing," Ayanbadejo said. "I think that's ultimately what pushed us over the edge from being good to being a potentially great team. It was interesting to sit there and see the dialogue, to see how each man, Coach Harbaugh and Ed, handled things. It was a beautiful dynamic.”

After the “mutiny,” the Ravens won four in a row.

Of course, then they lost four of five, but that’s another story.