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Late For Work 6/30: Harbaugh Is Best Ego Manager (Best Hair Too)

Plus Housh wishes things had ended better. Only 4 of these 13 FAs are predicted to stay.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Thursday, June 30th, 2011 at 9:23 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Harbs Is Best Ego Manager (And Has Best Hair)

John Harbaugh has led the Ravens to three consecutive playoff appearances (a franchise first) in his first three years as head coach.

What’s his secret to success?

Perhaps Harbaugh’s ability to manage egos in the locker room has something to do with it. Well, that, and a great head of hair.

As part of ESPN’s Best of the NFL Week, Jeffri Chadiha says Harbaugh is the best “ego manager” in the NFL today.

“There isn’t a coach in the NFL who has to deal with more outsized personalities than Harbaugh has on his roster in Baltimore,” wrote Chadiha. “Upon arriving in 2007, he first had to earn the respect of Pro Bowl linebacker Ray Lewis, a man who runs that locker room and could easily have used that influence to undermine a lesser coach. Then Harbaugh had to deal with some other Pro Bowl-caliber players known for their fair share of bravado, linebackers Bart Scott (now with the New York Jets) and Terrell Suggs.

“You can’t be a soft coach and handle that group, nor can you be a heavy-handed taskmaster. You’ve got to find the right balance to connect with the Ravens. In Harbaugh’s case, he’s made that task look much easier than it actually is.”

Finding the right balance has been crucial, but maybe Harbaugh does have one other advantage … his hair.

Does having a great hairdo help Harbs win games? Or has winning helped him keep his hair? Deep questions, I know.

Either way, James Walker gives Harbaugh the “best hair” award among all NFL coaches.

 ”Considering the stress and long hours, coaching is a profession where you can quickly lose your hair,” wrote Walker. “But Harbaugh has found a way to avoid that. Harbaugh, 48, still has an impressive full head of hair that most coaches would be envious of. He’s coached playoff teams in each of his three seasons, which probably helps keep the stress level down.”

Housh Wishes Things Had Ended Better

Ravens free-agent wide receiver T. J. Houshmandzadeh said he wishes “things had ended better” in Baltimore as his dropped pass in the Ravens’ playoff loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers still haunts him.

As far as his future is concerned, the key word here is “end.”

Houshmandzadeh is resigned to the fact that he won’t be returning to Baltimore.

“I wish I could come back, but I know the dynamic and how it works,” Houshmandzadeh told Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times.

That dynamic will continue with Anquan Boldin and Derrick Mason as the Ravens’ top two receivers. The team also added rookies Torrey Smith and Tandon Doss in an effort to get younger receivers who can develop with quarterback Joe Flacco.

It just sucks that I was only able to play one year there,” Houshmandzadeh said. “Top to bottom, it’s great there. Steve Bisciotti is unreal as an owner. It’s almost like he’s too cool to be an owner. Ozzie Newsome is really cool. I really thought highly of John Harbaugh. I just wish I could have made some more plays.”

Unlike fellow free-agent receiver Donte’ Stallworth, who envisions himself playing in Detroit next season, Houshmandzadeh isn’t sure where he’ll end up.

His hope, however, is to have a substantial role on a Super Bowl-caliber team.

Signing a one-year contract with the Ravens, who did offer a shot at a championship ring, Housh’s role wasn’t as big as he wanted. He caught just 30 passes for 398 yards and three touchdowns.

“I need to go to the right team and get the right opportunity,” he said. “Here’s the thing: You can be a good-looking man and you like a woman, but it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like you. I want to go to a team that wants me to play for them.”

Only 4 Of These 13 FAs Predicted To Stay

You may be welcoming in several new Ravens next year.

That is, if John Eisenberg’s free-agent predictions come true.

The CSNBaltimore.com writer evaluated 13 Ravens players who could be UFAs when league business opens – depending on free-agency rules of the forthcoming collective bargaining agreement – and gives his “best guess” as to whether they will return to Baltimore.

Of those 13, Eisenberg only sees four returning.

Here’s a list of the free agents Eisenberg envisions will be staying and leaving, along with a one-liner for reasoning:

Staying

  • LB Prescott Burgess: “The special teams ace will come cheap.”
  • CB Chris Carr: “[The Ravens] know they can plug in Carr anywhere, even at nickel. That versatility is important.”
  • OL Chris Chester: “The Ravens would like to put him at center and keep him there, giving them solid insurance as Matt Birk winds down.”
  • OG/OT Marshal Yanda: “The versatile Yanda plays well wherever the Ravens put him. He is the top priority among the team’s UFAs.”

Leaving

  • QB Marc Bulger: “He will sign where he has a chance to get back on the field. With a cap in place, the Ravens won’t want to spend $3.8 million on their backup quarterback.”
  • OT Jared Gaither:  ”This has become a bad fit for both sides.”
  • LS Kevin Houser: “The job is [Morgan] Cox’s if healthy.”
  • WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh: “He was too high maintenance for what he produced.”
  • S Dawan Landry:  ”Since the Ravens already have suitable replacements in house in Tom Zbikowski and Haruki Nakamura, they will let Landry walk.”
  • FB Le’Ron McClain: “The Ravens would love to keep him, but he is going to have his share of suitors as a new UFA, which will drive up his price.”
  • WR Donte Stallworth: “The team has drafted its Plan B speedster, Torrey Smith.”
  • CB Fabian Washington: “Time to move on.”
  • CB Josh Wilson: “The Ravens probably feel they can get similar performance for less money, especially for a player who might be squeezed out of the starting lineup.”

Quick Hits

  • Who is the greatest linebacker of the new millennium, the Y2K era? Jason La Canfora and Elliot Harrison make their case for Ray Lewis and DeMarcus Ware, respectively. Am I insanely biased here? Ware is a great football player and pass rusher, but he doesn’t come close to beating Lewis as the greatest backer of the millennium. So far, fans seem to agree. Of 11,507 votes, 64 percent say Lewis is the greatest. [NFL.com]
  • Houshmandzadeh has been working out with rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith in California. Here’s the vet’s take on the Ravens’ No. 1-overall 2011 draft choice: “He’s a big kid. He’s works hard. Yeah, I like him. He works hard. I talk to him a lot. He asks me about the Ravens and I told him he couldn’t have got on his knees and prayed to wind up on a better team. He is very lucky to be drafted by the Ravens. It gets no better.” [Carroll County Times]
  • Pete Prisco says that Lewis is a Hall of Fame lock while Ed Reed is on the bubble. [CBSSports.com]
  • The lockout continues. And so does the creativity of topics media are covering. Mike Florio discusses the “worst moments” in the Ravens’ short 15-year history. [PFT.com]

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