Home Diocese Catholic Values Drive Head Coach of Ravens on and off the field

Catholic Values Drive Head Coach of Ravens on and off the field


BALTIMORE (CNS) – The accomplishment of winning the Super Bowl in February 2013 as the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens gave John Harbaugh a crowning achievement in football, but he relied on his Catholic faith to guide him and his players through a series of potentially spirit-crushing events during the past year. The worst was a nighttime phone call about a catastrophic off-season accident that caused severe head trauma to one of his promising young players, 23-year-old Tray Walker. The March 17 call caused Harbaugh a sleepless night but he reached out to his team the next morning before Walker died by writing an open letter that urged them to develop a spiritual life, to live with purpose and to consider the risks when making decisions. Harbaugh shared with his players that he viewed them as sons and wanted to offer guidance about how to live and to look after their loved ones. His deeply-held religious beliefs had intensified during the past year as he prayed for the words to speak to his team during the 2015 football season when major injuries to key players led to a number of close losses as the perennial playoff-contending team had a 5-11 record. Johnny Shelton, the Ravens’ nondenominational team chaplain, witnessed Harbaugh “grow spiritually” during the season and said that his players responded to their coach’s messages as he sought to prepare them each week. In a society where political correctness causes leaders to shy away from acknowledging God’s role in their lives, Harbaugh humbled himself in giving passionate, Scripture-based locker room talks to keep his team focused on putting aside setbacks, and seizing new opportunities, Shelton added.