The Ravens and New England Patriots have met eight times since 2009, including four times in the playoffs. Bill Belichick might prefer not to see the Ravens that often in the postseason, but one thing the Patriots coach does enjoy is talking lacrosse when he hops onto a conference call with Baltimore reporters.
"It's a great sport," he said Wednesday morning. "Obviously, it's such a great part of Baltimore and Maryland tradition. Crabs and lacrosse, that's part of the big culture there. The new people that move into the area, they pick up on it pretty quickly and enjoy it and embrace it and see the way that the game is spread throughout this country and internationally really.
"But it's now become much more of a national sport especially with Denver winning and the world championships a couple years ago out in Colorado. I was fortunate enough to grow up in that area and have been able to enjoy so much of lacrosse and all that goes with it. What a great spring sport tradition it is in that area."
Belichick's roots to lacrosse run deep. He played lacrosse at Annapolis High School and Wesleyan University. His daughter, Amanda, played attack at Wesleyan and is in her second year as the coach of the women's lacrosse team at Holy Cross.
His son, Stephen, was a defenseman and long-stick midfielder at Rutgers and is the Patriots safeties coach. Another son, Brian, played midfield at Trinity College and is a scouting assistant for the Patriots. Also, former Johns Hopkins long-stick midfielder Mike Pellegrino is a coaching assistant on the Patriots staff.
"So it's been a big part of our family and a big part of my life," Belichick said. "I know at the end of the football season, we're coming up to the start of the lacrosse season."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh has been following the sport because his teenage daughter, Alison, plays lacrosse. Belichick, who with Harbaugh attended a lacrosse game between Johns Hopkins and Maryland on April 14, 2012, joked that it was nice to have Harbaugh on the lacrosse bandwagon.
"Yeah, I think John has seen the light," he quipped.
Belichick has a strong relationship with Blue Jays coach Dave Pietramala, who was invited by Belichick to attend the Patriots' win over the Ravens in the AFC championship game in January 2012. Asked how many Johns Hopkins games he plans on attending in 2017, Belichick replied, "If you're talking regular season, probably a couple and then hopefully a couple more in the postseason. I'd love to get to five."
With championship weekend for the next two NCAA men's lacrosse tournaments to be held at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., Belichick should get plenty of opportunities to catch some lacrosse via a front-row seat. He ended his conference call by acknowledging that talking with Baltimore reporters is his favorite.
"It's the only one we talk about lacrosse on," he said. "We're going to see you guys up here this year for the championships. We've been coming down to Baltimore and Philadelphia for the last few years. We're going to get you up here in Foxborough. So it'll be a fun weekend, Memorial Day for the next couple of years."
Harbaugh later confirmed that he is "a lacrosse guy" who is torn between the two most decorated programs in the state.
"I take a lot of heat here because I really like the guys over at Hopkins, Coach Pietramala, but I really like the guys at Maryland, too. They've got a great crew," Harbaugh said Wednesday afternoon. "But that's tough to walk that line in this area. I'm the head coach in Baltimore. I'm a fan of Maryland big time, and I'm also a fan of Hopkins. How is that possible, right? Well, the Maryland folks don't understand it, and neither do the Hopkins people."
Harbaugh also said he thinks women's lacrosse is an overlooked sport.
"Girls lacrosse is a great sport," he said. "It's a great skills sport. The sticks are a little bit tougher, and it's more of a skill game, I think, in some ways. I'm going to be on the bandwagon for that right now. So I watch a lot of girls lacrosse."
Harbaugh said he would be in favor of joining Belichick to watch the men's lacrosse Final Four in Foxborough.
"I would be all for that," he said. "Maybe we'll get dinner and a boat ride. It's in May, right? I want that boat ride."