Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

John Harbaugh tees off on NFL’s injury-reporting rules

John Harbaugh

Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh yells to his players during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012, in Houston. The Texans won 43-13. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)


Between Jim and John Harbaugh, the brother viewed as most likely to come a little (or a lot) unglued at a press conference was Jim. Competitive to the point of obsessive, Jim’s blood easily runs hot -- and it take a long while to cool off.

So it was a surprise, to say the least, to hear Ravens coach John Harbaugh get worked up in response to questions regarding the $20,000 fine imposed last week on the Ravens for failing to disclose the shoulder injury with which safety Ed Reed had been practicing and playing. The folks at 105.7 the Fan in Baltimore have forwarded the audio to us, and it’s strong to quite strong.

“The way the thing is written, it says if a player has practiced fully or played fully and he has an injury and he’s a significant player and it affects his play it should be on there,” Harbaugh said. ‘Well, I think player safety’s important for all the players. I’m gonna say that every injury is significant, if that’s how they want to word it. So I’m not gonna go with the league saying that one player is more significant than another player. That’s absurd to me. So they can get mad if they want for saying that, but they need to write that a little more clearly in our opinion. We’ll just put every guy that has a hangnail, and we’ll go from there.”

Harbaugh wasn’t done. He cut off a reporter mid-question and continued with his observations, which have plenty of merit.

“Here’s the other thing about that,” Harbaugh said, pointing out that he was ignoring for the second time the body language of team P.R. guru Kevin Byrne. “Aren’t there HIPAA rights here? I mean, if I’m a player and I’ve been playing and I’ve been out there playing and I don’t want that on the injury report, and I’m told I have to put that on the injury report, we’ve got some players that resent that. So, yeah, I’ve got a problem with that, in all honesty.”

Of course, the problem arose only because Reed saw fit to talk publicly about an injury that hadn’t been disclosed by the Ravens. So the message for the Ravens and every other team is that it’s important to get your ducks in a row regarding which guys do and which guys don’t want to be on the injury report -- if you’re going to try to conceal injuries.

“If a guy goes out there and doesn’t miss a practice, doesn’t miss a game, and doesn’t wanna be on the injury report and we have to put him on the injury report, I want the league’s answer on that,” Harbaugh said. “I’m looking forward to hearing that. So I’ll probably get fined for that now.”

He didn’t stop there. After pointing out that an opponent’s injury report is “without value” and then being reminded that Tom Brady was routinely on the Patriots’ report with an apparently embellished shoulder injury, Harbaugh said sharply, “Thank you.”

“Bill [Belichick] figured it out way before the rest of us did,” Harbaugh added. “His injury report’s that long, its been that way for years. We tried to do it the other way and be honest -- not honest, honest is a bad word, retract that, scratch that -- we tried to be straightforward with our injury report, and we got fined for it. So we’re moving on.”

And that was the end of the press conference. “OK, thanks,” Harbaugh said. “That was worth it, wasn’t it? Thanks for coming.”

NFL? The ball is back in your court on this one.