Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Thursday after the second day of organized team activities that he’s “very concerned” and “disappointed in some of the silliness that’s gone on,” in response to some of his players being arrested and other off-field issues this offseason.
“We think everything that you do off the field has an impact [on] what you do on the field, and vice versa,” Harbaugh said. “Discipline’s not like a light-switch. You can’t just walk out of the building and all of a sudden turn it off, then walk back in and turn it on.”
“Discipline is a way of life,” he said. “Football discipline, life discipline, it’s all the same thing. It’s pretty hard to be successful in any walk of life without great self-discipline. When it starts showing up in other areas of your life, to me, that’s a major red flag for where you’re going as a football player.”
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Harbaugh said this offseason more than most, he’s had to address off-the-field issues with players. He said there have “been a lot more phone calls…to find out what the heck some guys were thinking at times.”
His lengthy comments at the post-workout news conference came on the heels of an eventful Memorial Day weekend. Fourth-round draft pick Lorenzo Taliaferro was arrested for destruction of property and public drunkenness Saturday morning in Williamsburg, Va. Police said Taliaferro punched out the window of a taxi.
Earlier this offseason, running back Ray Rice was charged with felony aggravated assault following an incident with his then-fiance, now-wife Janay Palmer at an Atlantic City casino, wide receiver Deonte Thompson was charged with felony possession of marijuana in Florida, and offensive lineman Jah Reid was charged with misdemeanor battery in Florida.
Rice is taking part in a pretrial diverson program, and Thompson’s case was dismissed. Reid’s trial is pending.
Harbaugh said alcohol and marijuana are a common thread between many off-field issues he sees in the NFL.
“One of those two things are going to be involved, and that goes back to just what we’re talking about,” Harbaugh said. “You don’t do the right thing just because you call a cab, OK? I’d rather have you do that than get into a car and get behind the wheel, but how about we start off with the idea that we’re not going to go out and drink? Why don’t we start off with that?
"Because the other side of the coin is we are supposed to be world-class athletes. That is not what I would call effective training method right there, to go out and drink too much. We expect those guys to chase a high standard and we’re going to do everything we can to hold them accountable.”
Such accountability is part of the added maturity players need to learn, Harbaugh said. He said the coaching staff admonished the players to realize that they have to grow up faster than those they might socialize with, and reminded them that their actions and the consequences for them will be available on the Internet for years to come.
Before he was specifically asked about Rice, who last week made his first public comments since his arrest, Harbaugh brought up the running back’s apology. Harbaugh said he’s been in contact with Rice since the incident, and “is very disappointed in what he did, but no more so than Ray.”
Harbaugh said he read Rice’s comments and “appreciated what he said, respected that he stood up and said what he said."
“When he used the term ‘failed miserably,’ that hit home with me,” Harbaugh said. “But like all those guys, it’s what you do going forward that everybody is going to take a look at.”
As far as discipline goes, Harbaugh said Taliaferro ran sprints with him on Tuesday, but the possibility of off-field incidents costing a player a spot on the team is not unprecedented.
“There have been a number of things over the years that maybe haven’t been public that guys have been moved on from this team for,” Harbaugh said. “Your spot is never guaranteed on any football team or in any job, and I think you have to know how you carry yourself and handle yourself is going to be reflected in how successful you are and how many opportunities you get to do your job.
“Nobody is perfect, guys will make mistakes, but at some point in time, your mistakes begin to impact us in a negative way,” Harbaugh continued. “And when the negativity overbalances your ability to help our football team, you’re not going to be here anymore. Or if we can’t trust your character anymore, then you can’t be part of what we’re doing anymore.”