How Ali helped mold the Harbaugh family

Submitted by Sopwith on June 4th, 2016 at 5:34 PM has a video from Muhammad Ali's visit to the Ravens camp a few years back, and it includes a passionate speech from Jack Harbaugh relating the famous "What's My Name?" story of Ali's fight with Ernie Terrell. Never heard the elder Harbaugh speak before, but after listening to only this clip, almost everything about Jim makes sense. I'm not sure Jim or John could have fallen far from the tree.…

An excerpt:


[Ali] said to the world this: "What's my name?" It became a battle cry in my family. We would talk to John and Jim and Joanie. RESPECT. That's what we're looking for in this world. So when I tell you this, I humbly say, this man [pointing to Ali], this man right here, is my hero. This man has molded not only myself and my family, but all the teams that I've coached. Every team I've coached has heard the Muhammad Ali story. I love this man.


From a different video of the Harbaugh family roundtable (including a cameo by Tom Crean, for you fans), here's Jim re: the What's My Name legend:


The cool thing is, this is the kind of story we've been hearing since we were kids. We didn't get Little Red Riding Hood or The Little Engine That Could stories.

Yep. That explains a lot.





June 5th, 2016 at 1:01 PM ^

This speech is awesome for motivation. The fight didn't quite go down the way it was described though. 


Ali didn't really start to punish Terrell until the last few rounds although his jab work had caused Terrell's eyes to swell shut over the course of the fight. Terrell was still throwing (and landing) heavy shots all the way through the fight though he was clearly losing.

Ali was asking him "What's my name" but it wasn't throughout the course of the fight. At no point do I recall Ali hoisting Terrell up so he couldn't fall so that he could continue beating him. That just didn't happen. He did almost finish him in the 7th but he didn't carry him. Ali even admitted he couldn't finish him.

At the end of the day though, Ali carved the dude up and added him to a long list of victims who tried to impede on his greatness.


June 5th, 2016 at 1:16 PM ^

The hoisting up so you can continue pummeling a disrespectful but beaten opponent part is both hilarious, fictional, and 100% Pure Colombian Harbaugh. It makes certain people want to ask "what's your deal?" when they're on the receiving end of the beatdown. I'm allowing it :)

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June 4th, 2016 at 7:29 PM ^

For those wondering where some of the comments went, let me just say this - regardless of your opinion of Muhammad Ali's opposition to the Vietnam War, the man just died and we really don't need threads with sidebar discussions started by people whose purpose is to shit on the man's grave and debase him or his contributions to this culture in a most cowardly manner - that is, in the wake of his passing. 

Don't do that, not on this blog. It will only end badly. 

Gucci Mane

June 4th, 2016 at 9:30 PM ^

Did not previously comment on the thread, but to call the commenters cowardly seems harsh. It's not like they waited for him to die to feel safe saying it. The attention he is getting at death naturally will bring past feelings to the forefront. In addition, some of the comments I read here are just silly....someone expects me to believe a man would marry a black woman just to hide his racist beliefs ? Come on. I truly love this blog but the censorship style it deploys is frustrating. If it's ok to praise Ali's politics and stances he took, than it should be ok to critize it as well.

Mabel Pines

June 5th, 2016 at 9:54 AM ^

No politics is no politics.  In fairness, I doubt a mod has looked at this recently to see the rants and generalizations on entire groups of people who vote a certain way.  They have lives and I don't think it's fair to expect them to see everything.  Whole thread maybe should go away.  


June 5th, 2016 at 10:07 AM ^

We'll see. They have late some rabid hatred on the RIP thread for a while. That also means both sides. The vitriol that followed a "draft dodger" comment (which is historically accurate, even if they don't like the timing) is nothing short of disgusting but it would seem they left it there on purpose to prove a point. Unless you're down with the sheep mentality you're going to get hammered.

We'll see how long this comment stays up.

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June 5th, 2016 at 10:37 AM ^

My suggestion is that if you're looking for a vehicle to bleat about your historic oppression on this blog, start a diary or forum topic. If you have a comment about the Harbaughs' use of Ali's story as a motivational tactic, it would be good to hear. 



June 4th, 2016 at 9:46 PM ^

As a person that didn't have a strong fatherly influence regarding character, heart, passion and doing what is right because that is what you are supposed to do, I draw incredible inspiration from not only the words of Jim, but the whole Harbaugh family.

They do it the right way... Damn the consequences. For me, there is nothing more pure in this world than action from the heart.

From my simple perspective, the Harbaugh's provide daily inspiration ... Do it the right way and people will follow. It doesn't matter if you're coaching a football team or managing people in corporate America.

I'm so thankful that the Harbaugh's have returned home. I would follow that man to the gates of hell.

Der Alte

June 5th, 2016 at 11:23 AM ^

This might be apocryphal, but I heard it from a reliable source who said he witnessed the event.

Some years ago, the Detroit papers reported Muhammad Ali would be in town for some legal proceeding at the Federal Building. A young man came to the courthouse with a picture of Ali hoping to score an autograph. He actually did confront Ali in the hallway outside a courtroom and asked Ali to sign his photo.

Ali took the picture and said to the youing man, "What's your name?"

"James," the young man answered.

Ali took out a pen and scribbled on the photo, and returned it. "Here you go," he said, and walked away.

The young man looked at the photo, which now read, "To James, the only man who can whup my ass. Muhammad Ali."


June 5th, 2016 at 11:25 PM ^

Doesn't surprise me any that Ali mold the Harbaugh's and others. That is one of the reasons Ali is a legend is the greatest as well.