Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he changed Friday’s schedule, from a full practice to a walkthrough, so the players would be prepared for Saturday’s scrimmage.
Harbaugh felt the players were emotionally depleted from Thursday’s social justice meetings and physically exhausted from the series of padded practices.
“You make every decision about what’s best for the team and it was clearly best for the team to go into an in-season schedule,” Harbaugh said Friday.
An email from Ravens PR on Friday said the team’s morning practice was off for a “team unifying session surrounding social justice reform.” But a source said that the Ravens really met for film review and position meetings, depicting it as a progress from training camp to a regular-season mode.
Harbaugh showed the Ravens’ complete statement on social justice originated from a 2 1/2-hour meeting on Thursday afternoon.
“By the end of the day, I was surprised how emotionally spent I was and how everybody was,” Harbaugh said. “We had some really interesting deep, thoughtful, challenging things were said back and forth but in love.”
Harbaugh added, “I’m proud of the organization and the opportunity to really be at the forefront of change. We do the best we can. We know we’re not going to change the whole world overnight. But we can change our world, our family, our cul-de-sac to try to create that type of an atmosphere in our individual worlds. That’s what our guys are trying to do.”
The decision to practice Thursday came after a series of discussions Harbaugh had with major parts toward the beginning of the day. There was discussion about taking part in social justice meetings on Friday, however Harbaugh didn’t have any desire to pause and decided to cancel Thursday’s afternoon meetings for those conversations.
“In all absolute frankness, I really wish everybody could be part of a football team or like a football team in their lifetime,” Harbaugh said. “Because being part of a football team is a unique thing. A football team comes from a lot of different places and races and spaces and religions, from many different perspectives. They have to come together and stand together, even given their differences.”
Harbaugh said there was no conversation on whether the players will dissent by not playing games.
“I do believe we’ll play, guys want to play. But I don’t know for sure. I’d be surprised,” he said. “It’s not something we talked about. I can tell you this: that guys want to make a statement that lets people know in a symbolic way how we’re feeling and we stand together. Sometimes, the greatest form of unity is the fact that we respect one another’s opinions.”