Harbaugh's Comments Draw Ire of Patriots Nation, But Worthy of It?

Steve Balestrieri
May 01, 2012 at 05:17pm ET

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By now everyone has heard about John Harbaugh’s comments about both the Saints bounty program and Bill Belichick and Spygate.

Harbaugh, doing an interview with Baltimore’s 98 Rock radio station was asked about the Saints and gave his opinion on both that and the Patriots. One thing about Harbaugh is, he’s never been one to shy away from speaking his mind. About the Saints and Patriots he said:

"In the end, everything is brought before the light of day, when it's all said and done," Harbaugh said. "What happens, even the thing in New England, no matter whether those things had any impact on whether they won their championships or not, they got asterisks now. It's been stained."

He was asked if he’d ever consider bending or breaking the rules to his advantage to his team’s advantage and his answer was very direct and adamant.

"To me, it's never worth it," Harbaugh said. "You have to figure out ways to use the rules to your advantage, you have to figure out ways to make the most of everything. We have new work rules here as far as what we can do and what we can't do with our players, and we're going to make the most of it. What we're finding is, 'Man, maybe we can do some things even better than we did before, because these rules make us focus more on some things that we didn't focus on before. You just have to make them work for you. That's what success is in the world. You have to find a way to do things better than somebody else. But if you're cheating, in the end, you're going to get discredited. It's not worth it."

A couple of things worth noting is that Bill Belichick actually recommended Harbaugh for the Ravens job a few years ago and that Harbaugh respects him greatly, calling him “the greatest coach in our league right now, and that's proven. That's why you get so excited to play against him as a coach" prior to the AFC Championship Game this season.

The other is that it is well known how Bill Belichick holds a grudge against someone who crosses him and it’s well known that he likes and respects Harbaugh as well. So, could he see this as a friend crossing the line and breaking the Belichickian code of “Omerta”? We’ll certainly find out in Sept. when the Patriots face the Ravens again. I would think that the Patriots and Belichick will be even more fired up than normal for the game against the Ravens.

Patriots fans are certainly all fired up over Harbaugh’s interview this morning, Twitter is all agog with fans, taking shots at Harbaugh, Cundiff and Ray Lewis, dredging up stuff from 2000 giving the party line of “sour grapes” etc. But Patriots fans were the first to skewer the Saints for their sins and now want everyone else to drop the Belichick bashing. While it is comparing apples to oranges, it most certainly was against the rules. Did they gain from it, no one knows really and if so it may have been dubious gains at best, but they did do it, so why the outrage?

The bottom line is this, Harbaugh was asked his opinion and he gave it. Is what he said, that way out of line and outrageous? He was asked a specific question and answered it with his feelings on the subject. Is answering a question truthfully all that bad? His comments are seen as over the top, but were they?

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