It’s pretty common for a head coach to be salty after a loss, especially after a frustrating loss…or two in a row. Even with that said, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh does have a bit of a tendency toward being something of a sore loser. He certainly doesn’t care for losing, or for entertaining questions after a loss, and frankly, looks for excuses when they do lose.
Then when you have your starting quarterback throw a quote out there insinuating that the team didn’t have the same level of effort that the opponents had, you’re probably going to get irked by that, and boy did Harbaugh get irked when reporters asked him about Lamar Jackson saying that the felt the Tennessee Titans “wanted it more” in their overtime defeat of the AFC North third-place Ravens.
“I think if you’d ask Lamar, he’d kind of just shrug his shoulders and say, ‘hey, after the game, we just try to find something to say’. It’s not trying to be indicative of anything. He’s out there competing his heart out”, he told reporters on Monday. “And then, guys are supposed to go into press conferences and parse their words like Bill Clinton. That’s not what these guys do. These guys are athletes. They’re trying to compete and play, and then, everything they say gets minced. So, I don’t take it too seriously. That’s kind of meaningless”.
The thing is, he’s not wrong. Not to stereotype, but athletes are not public speakers. There are plenty of athletes who are well-spoken, make no mistake about it, but nobody practices their wordsmithery before they step out on the field.
And then to be put on the spot after a loss to answer questions about ‘what went wrong’ when you don’t even have the answers yet yourself, of course athletes routinely resort to cliches, and ‘they wanted it more’ it right at the top of the heap.
It helps when you have some ridiculous plays from the likes of wide receiver A.J. Brown and running back Derrick Henry, who are two of the truly freak athletes in the league, scoring the final two touchdowns of the game with immense effort. You can look at those plays and say ‘they wanted it more’ if that’s all you see. That’s not what Harbaugh saw in hindsight.
“I don’t think it had anything to do about effort. I watched the tape, and the effort was outstanding”, he said. “Our guys were playing very, very hard. All you’ve got to do is watch the tape or watch the game – you can see that”.
“They were able to finish drives – we weren’t”, he added. “They were able to get stops at the end and we weren’t. That’s the bottom line of the whole thing. So, a throwaway line like, ‘They wanted it more’ – a cliché like that – I don’t agree with that”.
I don’t agree with it, either. But it does amuse me that he had to answer the question. And the Bill Clinton line was pretty good.