Players Want To Win For John … Bad

John Harbaugh told his players that on Thursday night the Ravens are his family.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

During their Monday morning meeting, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh told his players a little about his childhood competition with brother Jim.

But it’s not the Harbaugh Bowl that’s being advertised, he told them.

“It’s the Raven family versus the San Francisco family,” linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo said, detailing Harbaugh’s speech.

“Off the field, they’re brothers. But come Thursday night, Jim and John aren’t family. John and the Ravens are family and Jim and his Niners are family and it’s two families going to battle.”

That mentality has Ravens players wanting to win one for their family, for their head coach.

“We really want to win it bad for him,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

“Harbaugh is a great guy,” linebacker Jameel McClain added. “He goes to bat for us all the time, so it’s only right that we got to bat for him. That’s just what we are, that’s what we do as a team. We all go to bat for each other.”

Ayanbadejo particularly relates to what his head coach is feeling.

He had a brother in the NFL too, former fullback Obafemi. They faced off twice (2004 and 2006) with each brother winning once so they couldn’t hang too much over each other’s head.

If they could, they would have.

“It’s a rivalry that dates back to your birth, when you’re a little kid fighting for M&Ms,” Ayanbadejo said. “We’re taking notice. We see how much fire and passion [John] has about it. We’re up to the challenge and we’re excited to play.”

Ayanbadejo feels Thursday’s clash will be even more emotional than the one he had with his brother.

With players there can be personal victories within the game. Ayanabadejo could lose but still have some big plays on defense and come out looking alright. His personal play would be enough to salvage some bragging rights.

“The stakes are higher as a coach,” Ayanbadejo said. “There’s only one winner and one loser. This goes on their record. So somebody is going to be completely distraught at the end of this one.”

While the players will carry a little something extra for their head coach, they also expressed the need to filter out all the superfluous storylines – something Harbaugh probably encourages.

In speaking to the media, both brothers have stressed that the game will be played between those wearing helmets, not headsets.

“I have a feeling that we want to win it because we want to win it,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “Obviously there’s a little extra for him. But for a team, it’s an important win for us right now.”

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