The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals will do battle in Week 1 of the NFL season on Sunday. Much like every division battle in the AFC North since John Harbaugh took over as the Ravens’ head coach back in 2008, it’s been a bitter rivalry.
This doesn’t mean that Harbaugh himself fails to have admiration for those his squad suits up against.
In talking to the media in the lead-up to Sunday’s game, Harbaugh went out of his way to lob praise in the direction of Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green.
“I think I was the first coach to go on record to saying he (Green) was the best in the league and that was maybe five years ago, six years ago and I stand by that,” Harbaugh said, via the Bengals’ official website. “I think he’s a great player and he’s proven it.”
There’s definitely something to the idea that Harbaugh is a tad subjective on the topic. His Ravens go up against Green twice per season. That can’t be said for the likes of Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants pass catcher Odell Beckham Jr.
Even then, Green has continually proven himself to be among the most-dominating receivers in the game. He averaged over 1,200 receiving yards in each of his first five seasons before missing six games to injury in 2016. He also doesn’t have a future Hall of Famer in Eli Manning or reigning NFL MVP in the form of Matt Ryan tossing him the rock.
It’s an interesting stand for Harbaugh to take. It’s also a debate that will continue to rage around the NFL’s water cooler as these three receivers continue to dominate on the field this season.