Seven years ago, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti received a telephone call from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick.
Belichick was calling to offer his recommendation of John Harbaugh for the Ravens' head-coaching vacancy. It made an impression on Bisciotti, who eventually hired the Philadelphia Eagles' special teams and defensive backs coach for the job.
Now, Belichick and Harbaugh will face each other in the playoffs for the fourth time Saturday at Gillette Stadium when the Patriots and Ravens square off in the divisional round.
And the words delivered by Belichick still resonate with Harbaugh, who's 2-1 in the playoffs against the Patriots.
"It meant everything," Harbaugh said. "As far as probably getting the job, it didn't hurt. You have to ask Steve and [general manager] Ozzie [Newsome] if it made the difference or not. But the fact that he was willing to do that at the time, I was stunned when I heard the story much later.
"I would describe the relationship as very good, great admiration for coach. I've never worked with him, specifically, but for whatever reason he has been always willing to kind of take me under his wing in a way and give me time and insight and things like that."
Harbaugh's connections with the Patriots also include their special-teams coach Scott O'Brien, whom he knows from his time at the University of Pittsburgh. O'Brien later recommended Harbaugh to the Eagles when he got the special-teams job.
"I happened to learn from Scott at the University of Pittsburgh, and he's been one of my biggest coaching mentors from the beginning," Harbaugh said. "He's always fond of saying, 'Boy, I taught you everything you know, but not everything I know.' That's a little disconcerting. So, he'll have some schemes for us and some plans for us. You never know what you're going to get from them."