Harbaugh Draws on Inspiration from “The Greatest”


Many were unsure about the hiring of John Harbaugh back in February. But as the Ravens are now just one win away from the franchise’s second Super Bowl appearance he seems to have made believers out of this rabid fanbase that he’s the man to lead this team of “mighty men”.

With all the talk this week about injuries and and usual boring garbage I was more interested in the latest mantra that has helped symbolize this season.

“What’s Our Name?”

Followed by a loud chorus of Ravens. Then repeat twice more.

It’s so simple and sometimes that’s all you really need. It’s to the point and it’s really grown on me. I’m sure I’ll find a t-shirt or two bearing those words along the roadside stands littered around town. But you figure there has to be a story behind it, so here it is.

I’m watching video of the John Harbaugh show this week and the guest with the coach was his father Jack Harbaugh. Jack is the senior member of the family coaching tree and has quite an impressive resume of his own. So it didn’t surprise me to hear that John had borrowed the chant from his dad.

In 2002, Jack’s Western Kentucky team was seeded 15th in the NCAA I-AA tournament and would have to run through all three top seeds in order to win the championship. So, he did what most coaches do, he played the “respect” card. They were seeded so low because the committee didn’t respect them. But, Coach Jack told his players that respect was earned, so he told them the story of Muhammad Ali.

There is a lot to tell about the “Louisville Lip” but this story deals with his title fight against Ernie Terrell in 1967. Ali had just changed his name from the former Cassius Clay and Terrell had made the mistake of referring to his opponent as Clay in his pre-fight interviews. This incensed Ali and he proclaimed that he would make Terrell say his name in the center of the ring.

Ali decimated Terrell in that fight and after each jab he asked the wobbly Terrell. “What’s my Name?” The fight lasted the full 15 rounds but only because Ali wanted to dish out more punishment and to prove his point.

So, respect is earned and that was the message that John Harbaugh gave to his team in his first real address to them back in August. They were coming off a rough 5-11 season but still had plenty of talent. Harbaugh said that they just needed to get their name back and make the league take notice that they had returned to the playoff mix.

This year’s Ravens have shown a boxer’s tenacity this season, sometimes getting floored but always ready to answer the bell. That’s the type of mentality they will need to get past their hated rival this Sunday.

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