Late For Work 10/18: Handshake Is Juicy, But What Really Matters Is…

No discipline for the coaches’ tiff criticized; nice Mason-Harbs moment caught on tape.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 at 9:38 am | Categories: Late For Work, Sarah Ellison

Handshake Is Juicy, But What Really Matters Is …

I’ll admit it.

I was anxiously awaiting John Harbaugh’s comments on his brother Jim’s post-game handshake and ensuing tiff with Jim Schwartz. The hullabaloo surrounding the 49ers and Lions head coaches is juicy and John gave some classic quotes to add to the mix.

“I think I know who was right,” John said yesterday, eliciting laughs for journalists. “But whoever was right or wrong, I know whose side I’m on.”

Even the comment that John gave Sunday night before he saw the incident became Peter King’s quote of the week: “Somebody went after Jim? Lemme put it this way: I’ve been in fights with Jim before myself. I won a few early. Then it got slanted the other way after a while.”

But now that the spicy episode has been analyzed from every possible angle, it’s time to focus on what really matters: the 49ers have the potential to put a serious damper on Thanksgiving in Baltimore.

Jim’s 5-1 start in San Francisco has shocked everyone. Well, everyone except probably John. After all, like the Ravens head coach said, the brothers have been in a few fights before, and John hasn’t always been on the winning end.

“Harbaugh’s handshake – at least for now – is overshadowing everything else,” wrote’s Ann Killion. “The whole Bay Area is kind of pumped up about Harbaugh. After turning a forgotten Stanford program into a power, the man has taken a laughingstock franchise and turned it into the second-best team in the NFC … The 49ers are the story of the league so far this season.”

“There’s a synergy between the overly pumped-up Harbaugh and his pumped-up team,” she added. “The team has taken on Harbaugh’s persona, and has displayed a relentless style (stenciled on the wall inside the 49ers training room is a definition: ‘Relentless: ceaseless and intense, never lacking.’).”

Sound familiar? If not, just shift your eyes from this article over to the far right side of to see what word is plastered down the page.

The 49ers are serious contenders for a first-round NFC bye after finishing 6-10 in 2010. And Jim has driven the revival with quarterback Alex Smith, the first overall pick of the 2005 draft, who many had already deemed a disappointment.

Jim’s unit has notched three come-from-behind wins in the Eastern Time Zone, the latest against the previously undefeated Detroit Lions. The defense kept receiver Calvin Johnson out of the end zone for the first time this season and sacked quarterback Matthew Stafford five times.

“This season’s success might be happening ahead of schedule, but it is not happening by accident,” wrote ESPN’s Ashley Fox. “To a man, the players point to Harbaugh as the reason. He is their facilitator, their emotional motivator.”

King has been a big believer in the Ravens. Even after the loss in Tennessee, the Sports Illustrated scribe urged fans not to panic. “This is a very good team,” he wrote.

Since Week 3, King has kept the Ravens as the No. 2 team in his power rankings. That is until the 49ers took control of the spot Monday morning and knocked Baltimore down to No. 3.

Sure, it’s just a meaningless ranking, but the Ravens don’t want the 49ers to do any damage to the only list that really matters – the NFL standings – come November. If the Steelers and Ravens keep up their winning ways, Pittsburgh will be right behind Baltimore waiting for the purple and black to falter.

The only reason the league scheduled the Thanksgiving showdown, says King, is because it is a made-for-TV, feel-good story. But with both brothers only losing one contest so far this season, they have upped the ante.

“Be honest, at the time the game was announced, and you got over thinking about whether or not you liked having to attend a home game on Thanksgiving rather than eating your mother-in-law’s stuffing, you immediately thought the Ravens would be served a juicy win,” wrote’s Stan Charles last week.

“What once looked like a cakewalk for the Ravens, a Week 11 Thanksgiving match-up against the bums of 2010, is still not on the radar of either coach Harbaugh. But, as the NFL season unfolds in rapid fire, the holidays will be here before you know it.”

Decision Not To Discipline Coaches For Tiff Criticized

Last Friday, Ray Rice announced that he would appeal a $7,500 fine for a stiff arm in the St. Louis Rams game. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was fined for a hit on Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez. Center Matt Birk was fined for not wearing a microphone.

Days after those penalties made headlines, the league announced neither Jim Harbaugh nor Schwartz would be fined for their scuffle. A few analysts are left scratching their heads.

No fine/discipline for Harbaugh/Schwartz,” tweeted King. “That’s the kind of example you want to show your fans in the big game of the day, NFL. Nice work. … Players in the NFL fined for improper sock length. Coaches don’t get fined for post-game bumping, chasing each other, being separated.”

Added’s Mike Florio, “It’s a surprising move by a league that likes to fine for all sorts of things, from uniform violations to celebrations to not wearing microphones to flipping the bird.”

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello explained the decision in a statement released to NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora on Monday.

“Fortunately, there was no fighting and thus no basis for a fine,” Aiello said. “However, both coaches told (NFL vice president of football operations) Ray Anderson today that their postgame conduct was wrong and will not happen again. We believe their response is the correct one and that their postgame conduct going forward will be more appropriate.”

Both coaches received written warnings, which are considered a strike against them in case any other infractions arise in the future.

Harbaugh To Mason: Always A Raven

Taking a look back at the Ravens’ 29-14 victory over the Houston Texans on my DVR, I noticed that CBS cameras caught a couple of warm embraces between former Ravens receiver Derrick Mason and Ravens coaches.

As Mason and Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano shared laughs, John Harbaugh stood by waiting for his turn to greet Mason.

The two eventually hugged and microphones were able to pick up Harbaugh saying in Mason’s ear, “Always a Raven. Always a Raven.”

Those were kind words from Harbaugh after Mason endured a tough week. Mason was the center of controversy in New York after reportedly complaining about the Jets offense and then was shipped to Houston for a conditional seventh-round draft pick.

In the locker room after the game, Mason told reporters he felt the exchanges with his former teammates and coaches were “heartfelt.” His feelings toward the Ravens contrasted sentiments toward the Jets, who he wouldn’t refer to by name.

“I have no ill-will towards the other team [the Jets] – that only hurts me,” Mason said. “They can say what they want, I know I was truthful, and I walked out of there with my head held high.

“I played for two other teams – I played in Tennessee and Baltimore, that’s all I care about. Those organizations respected me as a player and as a person.”

Quick Hits

  • Prior to his weekly news conference at the Ravens’ training facility in Owings Mills, Harbaugh and several other team executives attended the funeral mass of Patricia Breslin Modell, the late wife of former Ravens and Browns owner Art Modell who died Wednesday at the age of 80. [The Baltimore Sun]
  • untouchablejay4: @RealSkipBayliss its beef 2morrow….! Not street beef tho, only rap beef. ;-) [Twitter]
  • RavensInsider: John Harbaugh on not having a home Monday night game: ‘Aren’t we in enough controversy in the family right now?‘ [Twitter]
  • King’s defensive player of the week was linebacker Ray Lewis. “He is 36. I am convinced he will play this way at 46. The man refuses to admit there is a clock on his career, and maybe there isn’t. With 12 tackles and one sack in the 29-14 win over Houston, he became the first player to have 40 sacks and 30 interceptions in the 92-year history of the NFL.” []

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