John Harbaugh to face mentor Andy Reid for AFC championship

OWINGS MILLS —  Ravens coach John Harbaugh remembers one of the most important lessons he learned as an assistant coach working for Andy Reid in Philadelphia.

Reid had a 3-by-5 index card behind his desk on his bulletin board that said: “Don’t judge.”

Harbaugh eventually asked Reid about the message.

“It was a Biblical principle,” Harbaugh said. “Take people where they’re at. Assume the best. Try to communicate with everybody on equal terms. I’ve never forgotten that.” 

It was one of many lessons he learned working with Reid for eight years.

Now, Harbaugh is preparing to take on his mentor when the Ravens host the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game on Sunday at 3 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium. Harbaugh acknowledged the matchup is more special because of his relationship with the Chiefs’ coach.

“[I have the] utmost respect for Andy [and the] utmost appreciation for what he’s accomplished as a coach,” Harbaugh said. “I just learned so much as a coach and as a person. Then, competing against him now [for] all these years has been really challenging. Andy’s a great coach. He has a great staff.”

Harbaugh was hired by the Eagles as special teams coordinator in 1998 by then-coach Ray Rhodes, who was fired after going 3-13 that season. Reid, who was the Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach under Mike Holmgren, was hired to replace Green and he retained Harbaugh.

“Ray Rhodes brought me into the National Football League. I can’t be more grateful,” Harbaugh said. “Ray Rhodes was great to be around for a year or two. I’m always appreciative of what I learned from Ray. Then, Andy came in, [and] I was hoping to stay, and he gave me an opportunity to do it. I was young and just figuring things out. That was good of him, and [I] hope he’s glad he did looking back on it.”

Harbaugh worked with Reid as an assistant for eight seasons as the special teams coach and then defensive backs coach. He was hired as head coach of the Ravens in 2008 and won a Super Bowl in 2012.

Reid left Philadelphia in 2012 and was hired as the Chiefs head coach the following year. Reid has won two Super Bowls in Kansas City. Reid will have to beat Harbaugh and the Ravens to have a chance at a third.

The Chiefs have won three of the past four games against the Ravens, whose lone win came in Week 2 of the 2021 season.

Harbaugh’s team has been the best in the NFL this season, and he’s confident going into Sunday’s game against the defending Super Bowl champions.

“I like our guys. I like our guys’ chances,” Harbaugh said.

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