I'm going to do something that you don't see very often here in Baltimore.
I'm going to criticize John Harbaugh.
Harbaugh, or "Harbs," as he likes to be called, is of course the coach of our Ravens football team. He has had this job since 2008, so he is not just getting to the prom late. He knows the rules inside and out.
Which makes it puzzling why, earlier this month, he had this year's rookies out on the practice field in full pads and helmets during an OTA. This OTA is a term you see sportscasters toss off blithely, with this attitude of "if you don't know what it means, you don't count." It means Organized Team Activity, a high-falutin' name for what we used to call "football practice." The rules are quite clear. No practice with pads and helmets can be conducted until training camp begins in July, which you will never confuse with May around here.
This was a rookie minicamp, a chance to get the new players acclimated to the league and to the team, and what a shame that these new guys now have as their first impression of the Baltimore Ravens that they have a coach who either does not know the rules (very doubtful) or chooses willingly to ignore them at great risk. Because...someone told the National Football League, and now the team will not be allowed to hold some OTAs that had been scheduled for this week.
The team and Coach Harbaugh were also fined, and not just for a few dollars either...the team got hit for $343,057, while Harbaugh will be shelling out $137,223 as a reminder to follow the rules hereafter.
OK, he tried something, for whatever reason, and he got caught. What I find somewhat odd is that people around the team are breaking their neck to say what a great man and leader Harbs is for taking the blame..."owning" the mistake, as they say.
What a leader! they say. He's not blaming anyone else! they proudly proclaim!
Hello. You're not SUPPOSED to blame the guy who carries the sack of footballs out onto the field! A leader is supposed to lead and that includes leadership with ethics and following the rules.
Every football team in the world makes a big deal about "(name of team) Football" being an organized, disciplined group of men, players and coaches, all fighting for the greater glory of their town or college or high school or whatever.
Sorry, Harbs, but this is the second time you have tried to get away with violating this rule, so it's time you faced up. Admitting that you made a mistake doesn't make you a hero.
Not making the mistake of trying to pull a fast one makes you a hero.
And please, before you reach for your keyboard, do not mention Tom Brady and what other people did. "I'm not the only one, ya know" has been tried and found wanting as a defense in every single court in the world.
John Harbaugh, it's time to get squared away.