Summer 2024

John Harbaugh enters 16th season as Ravens head coach: 'Success is alignment with God'

Only two current NFL head coaches — Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin — have held their job longer than John Harbaugh. About to begin his 16th season with the Baltimore Ravens, the organization has been a model of consistency under Harbaugh’s leadership.

Since Harbaugh arrived in 2008, the Ravens have finished under .500 just twice and have made the playoffs 10 times. They reached the conference championship game three times between 2008 and 2012, winning Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013.

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With star quarterback Lamar Jackson recovered from his PCL injury and signed to a new long-term contract, the Ravens are in excellent position to build on last season’s 10-7 record. The 2022 season marked the ninth time in Harbaugh’s 15 years with the team that Baltimore won double-digit games.

“I’m excited this year because I love our guys more than anything,” Harbaugh said during a recent appearance on the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “I know we’re gonna have a good team. We’re gonna have a chance to compete for a championship, but I just like the guys. … I just see a bunch of guys that have aspirations to accomplish things. They are good-hearted guys. They want to do right.”

Baltimore opened the preseason with a 20-19 win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Saturday, which was the franchise’s 24th consecutive preseason victory, the longest streak in NFL history.

Harbaugh and his younger brother, University of Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh, grew up in a coaching family that also introduced them to God at an early age. They were raised Catholic and John gave his life to Christ while attending Miami (OH) University.

Throughout his coaching career, Harbaugh has been involved in Bible studies and bonded with other coaches over their shared faith. Seeing the ways God has been at work in his life helps remind Harbaugh to keep surrendering everything to the Lord.

“Really, it comes down to trust, I do believe,” he said on the podcast. “I trust providence. I trust God’s will, His plan. As much as anything, try to put it in His hands because when you look back, you can see where He’s brought you.”

As the organization navigated the uncertainty surrounding Jackson’s future this offseason, Harbaugh sensed the Lord giving him an opportunity to trust and be patient.

“I was clearly under instruction to wait,” he said on the podcast. “Basically, God was telling me, ‘This is not something you can do anything about. And if you do something about it, all you’re going to do is mess it up. This is in My hands right now.'”

While many coaches strive to replicate the success Harbaugh’s had on the field, his 242 wins are not what he thinks of when defining success. He explained on the podcast that everything else comes from his relationship with God.

As long as He’s pursuing God’s will for his life, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.

“To me, success is alignment with God,” Harbaugh said on the podcast. “Perfect success would be perfect alignment with God and God’s will. … He knows what our true desires are, what our purpose is, so trying to find that purpose through connection with God — being connected and filled with the spirit of God, the Holy Spirit — that is success.”

The Ravens face the Washington Commanders in their second preseason game Monday and open the regular season Sept. 10 against the Houston Texans. Baltimore has won 10 or more games and reached the playoffs four of the last five seasons.

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