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American Football Coach John Harbaugh

55 minutes
First broadcast:
Saturday 24 May 2014

It’s the tradition for the two opposing coaches in a football game to cross the field of play and congratulate or commiserate with each other after the game has finished. They will shake hands and offer some words before heading off to their respective locker rooms.

That scene at the end of the 2013 Super Bowl was particularly poignant, as the two coaches were brothers, the first siblings to oppose each other in the end of season game ever in NFL history. Jim and John Harbaugh grew up around football, footballers and football coaches. Their dad Jack was a college coach and sport - football in particular - was the constant thing in their lives. John had won the Super Bowl.

Both John and Jim would accompany their father to work, and it was natural that the game would be the path they followed. Jim was a successful player at college and in the NFL. John was less successful as a football player, but he has become a coaches who has had huge success despite a lack of glory as a player.

In the third of this series of The Managers, Peter Bowes travels to the Ravens’ impressive country club style training centre just outside Baltimore, to meet John Harbaugh. He speaks to John about his upbringing, his brother and his parents - and how he became a coach, working through the system as a specialist position coach and then ultimately with the Ravens who took a chance on him as their head coach in 2008.

John tells Peter about his philosophy of coaching, how it was shaped by his father and the legendary University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, whose book on coaching Harbaugh handed out on his first day with the Ravens to all his staff.

Schembechler’s message was that there was nothing as important as the ‘team’ and that’s something you see as you walk around the Ravens training camp where the word is prominent in the players area on the wall.

Harbaugh explains how such a huge coaching structure works in the game, and what he feels the role of the Head Coach is, and finally he remembers the day in February 2013 that he took on, and beat his own brother in the Super Bowl in New Orleans.

John Harbaugh is a coached shaped by his formative years immersed in the game, but he has proved himself to be an innovator looking to redefine the role of the Coach in modern day Football where tablet computers and biometric tests becoming the norm.

Presenter: Peter Bowes

Production was by Richard McIlroy Jitesh Parmar and Christopher Wilson



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