The Ravens visit to schools in beleaguered West Baltimore certainly made an impact on the students, but it made an impact on the Ravens, too. Coach John Harbaugh told WBAL Radio that the team's trip to one of the areas of the city hardest hit by rioting this week was "one of the best days of my life."
A total of 55 Ravens players and 30 coaches and other staff members hit the streets of Baltimore on Thursday near Mondawmin Mall, where much of the unrest began on Monday. Harbaugh and several players visited Douglass High School, and some other players visited Henson Elementary School and the Excel Academy.
In addition, the players helped deliver food donated by Giant and the Maryland Food Bank for upwards of 500 families, according to the team.
Ray Lewis gave an impassioned speech at Douglass that was carried live on CNN.
But away from the national TV cameras, offensive lineman John Urschel "gave a phenomenal talk to the high school guys about grades and graduating and academics," Harbaugh said.
Urschel, of course, is the Ravens' resident math whiz, with the perfect 4.0 college GPA and advanced math degree.
Harbaugh also said that Justin Forsett and Kiero Small were among the Ravens who visited the Excel Academy on Saratoga Street. Harbaugh said the students particularly identified with Small, who grew up in Baltimore, attended Cardinal Gibbons and according to his Twitter feed, was on Baltimore streets on Monday "grabbing these kids been pepper sprayed and everything in between."
When they weren't unloading boxes of food or speaking to students, the Ravens were walking the streets and meeting, as Harbaugh said, "just unbelievably good people, coming out of their houses, coming out of their cars, lining the streets, hugging, (taking) pictures."
"It was," he said later, "just one of the greatest days you could ever be a part of."