Baltimore Ravens

'Humanly impossible’: Ravens coach John Harbaugh has problems with NFL’s reopening plan

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Thursday that some of the new NFL protocols imposed on teams as their facilities slowly reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic are “humanly impossible.”

In an interview on WJZ-FM’s “Inside Access with Jason La Canfora & Ken Weinman,” Harbaugh said the Ravens would abide by the league’s new guidelines, which mandate social distancing in team facilities, limit strength and conditioning workouts to small groups and discourage in-person meetings. But he said that, “to be quite honest with you, it’s impossible.”


“We’re going to do everything we can do: We’re going to space, we’re going to have masks,” Harbaugh said. “But this is a communication sport. So [if] we want to get out there and actually have any idea about what we’re doing on the field, we’ve got to be able to communicate with each other in person. We have to practice and I’m pretty sure the huddle’s not going to be 6 feet” apart.

With Baltimore County starting to reopen, Harbaugh and other Ravens coaches returned to the team’s Owings Mills facility this week. Players who are not rehabilitating injuries remain barred across the league, and Harbaugh joked Thursday that he hasn’t even met the team’s rookies, who are participating in a virtual offseason program along with teammates.


With as many as 90 players expected to report to the Under Armour Performance Center and other team facilities in late July, there’s still no clarity on perhaps the league’s biggest issue: when and how often players and coaches will be tested for COVID-19 when training camp opens. But Harbaugh was frustrated that the NFL and NFL Players Association had yet to address how teams would handle smaller matters, such as socially distanced showering and weight training.

“These are things the league and the [NFL]PA needs to get a handle on and needs to get agreed with — some common sense, so we can operate in a 13-hour day in training camp that they’re giving us and get our work done,” he said. “That’s the one thing. You can tell by my voice, I’m a little frustrated with what I’m hearing there. And I think they need to get that pinned down a little better.

“Now maybe we’ll know more in two months and they’ll be able to be a little more realistic and practical in what they’re asking. I expect that to be the case. I think good people, smart people, are involved in this. But the way I’m reading these memos right now, you throw your hands up and you go, ‘Well, what the heck? There’s no way we can be right.’ ”

Harbaugh said his main concern is maintaining a level playing field across the league.

“As a coach, you don’t want to hear that you’re limiting your operations as far as preparing your team and then you hear that 10 other teams aren’t paying attention to the rules and then there’s no consequence for that,” Harbaugh said. “And then they have an advantage on you. That’s what I don’t want to see. So I just think it needs to be fair and it needs to be reasonable. And I do believe that they’ll find a way to do that.”