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John Harbaugh is “very concerned” by the team’s off-field issues


The Ravens didn’t win the Super Bowl this year. But they’ve easily won the equivalent of the Lombardi Trophy for stuff that would make Vince Lombardi irate.

The Ravens have become the reigning bad boys of the NFL, with multiple incidents including allegations that running back Ray Rice knocked out his fianceé (now his wife) in a New Jersey casino. And coach John Harbaugh isn’t happy about it.

Via Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun, Harbaugh said Thursday that he’s “very concerned” and “disappointed in some of the silliness that’s gone on” with his players.

Most recently, rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was arrested for destruction of property and public intoxication, and a trio of players (receiver Jacoby Jones, cornerback Jimmy Smith, and running back Bernard Pierce) were thrown out of a bar for being too drunk.

As Harbaugh sees it, the problems flow from a lack of self-discipline.

“We think everything that you do off the field has an impact [on] what you do on the field, and vice versa,” Harbaugh said. “Discipline’s not like a light-switch. You can’t just walk out of the building and all of a sudden turn it off, then walk back in and turn it on. . . . Discipline is a way of life. Football discipline, life discipline, it’s all the same thing. It’s pretty hard to be successful in any walk of life without great self-discipline. When it starts showing up in other areas of your life, to me, that’s a major red flag for where you’re going as a football player.”

Harbaugh seemed to be particularly miffed by problems arising from excessive alcohol consumption.

“One of those two things are going to be involved, and that goes back to just what we’re talking about,” Harbaugh said. “You don’t do the right thing just because you call a cab, OK? I’d rather have you do that than get into a car and get behind the wheel, but how about we start off with the idea that we’re not going to go out and drink? Why don’t we start off with that? . . . Because the other side of the coin is we are supposed to be world-class athletes. That is not what I would call effective training method right there, to go out and drink too much. We expect those guys to chase a high standard and we’re going to do everything we can to hold them accountable.”

Some would argue that the decision to not hold Rice accountable for committing a frightening act of violence against the woman who became his wife -- indeed, the Ravens have seemed to go out of their way to vouch for Rice -- makes it harder to demand that other players refrain from committing far less serious offenses. On one hand, Rice’s front-loaded contract, which paid out $25 million from July 2012 through the end of the 2013 season, makes it impractical for the Ravens to cut him loose with three years left at $10 million total. On the other hand, Rice hit a woman so hard that it knocked her out.

If the Ravens aren’t going to hold him accountable for that behavior, how can they maintain credibility when imposing discipline on players for garden-variety offenses?