OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Each day, the same member of the Baltimore Ravens athletic training staff ensures tight end Mark Andrews has a bag available filled with supplies to manage his Type 1 diabetes.
Inside linebacker Josh Bynes has a go-to employee to call when he needs an update on his schedule or has a question about equipment. Offensive tackle James Hurst sets up three weekly sessions with a coaching analyst who helps him with stretching and recovery.
Pro Bowl players, inventive coaches and disciplined talent evaluators are at the root of the Ravens’ success, and they all raked in praise after the team clinched its second straight AFC North title last week.
But like any big organization, the outward faces of this operation aren’t alone.
From groundskeepers to trainers to facility managers, the Ravens have more than 100 employees who don’t suit up on game days or have any say over the roster. So in the wake of the AFC North championship and with the holidays approaching, I thought it’d be a good time to ask players about the unsung members of the franchise.
I posed this question to 11 Ravens players over the past two days: Can you name one employee, not a player or a coach, that keeps everything running smoothly at the team headquarters and deserves attention for his or her behind-the-scenes role?
Four different players picked football information manager Megan McLaughlin, who has been with the team for 17 seasons. She handles updates for the players’ iPads and manages a wide variety of daily tasks for players and coaches.
Several players mentioned the volunteer firemen who work at Under Armour Performance Center during the week cleaning and organizing the locker room before and after practice. And every player who spoke to PennLive said dozens of unheralded employees deserve a slice of credit for the team’s success.
Here are the players surveyed (there was no formula to it; I just talked to players available while media was allowed in the locker room), along with their picks and explanations:
Inside linebacker Josh Bynes’ pick: Megan McLaughlin
“Megan, she does it all, man. You need anything, you need to talk to anybody about anything, she’s always my go-to to call. And I always apologize to her, because I’m like, ‘Meg, I don’t know who else to call.’ She’s just like a pivotal part of this organization, and she needs more recognition.”
Defensive tackle Michael Pierce’s pick: Megan McLaughlin
“She does everything. Emails, any little thing that anybody needs, if you forget your tickets, she’s on top of everything. I don’t know how she does it. … She has her hands on everything. Everybody knows: Around here, if you need something, call Megan.”
Tight end Mark Andrews’s pick: Assistant certified athletic trainer Collin Francis
“For me, he helps a lot with my diabetes. He helped me with all my stuff. I mean, all those guys in the training room are awesome. [Collin] made me a diabetes bag that has all my stuff and everything like that. Those are my guys, man.”
Wide receiver Willie Snead’s pick: Senior director of team travel Joan Fennekohl
“Joan’s the one who does all the tickets; she takes the tickets to hotels. I’ve called her last minute to set up hotels and every time, she’s like, ‘I got it.’”
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Safety Chuck Clark’s pick: The firemen
“They’re the hardest working people in the building. They’re cleaning up after grown men and all that. They volunteer their time up here. You talk to some of them and they’ll tell you about the calls and missions they go on and stuff like that. But here, it’s just picking up, laundry, helping us put on our shoulder pads. All that stuff.”
Right guard Marshal Yanda’s pick: Megan McLaughlin and vice president of public relations Chad Steele
“Megan. 100 percent. She does a ton for us. … Megan is like more football-oriented stuff — like schedule stuff and iPad stuff. She takes care of some stuff on Sundays. And she is on it, too. She’s always been like that. If you text her, she fires right back. She’s on it.”
“Chad’s experience with handling the media and knowing what to say, that’s just always been very helpful.”
Tight end Nick Boyle’s pick: “Little Mike in the training room”
“I have a good relationship with all the equipment people and all the trainers. I can’t mention just one, because then they’re all going to get salty. … How about this, say, ‘Mikey in the training room.’ He’s always there whenever I need him and for whatever I want. He’s always there helping me get ready for practice. Little Mike in the training room.” (Note: Boyle, with a smile, declined to specify this, but the Ravens employ an assistant athletic trainer/physical therapist named Mike Thomas.)
Long snapper Morgan Cox’s pick: Facilities assistant Marlon McLean
“He’s tirelessly working, doing the janitor job. But then, I don’t know if people know this, he’s the D.J. at practice as well. So he runs speaker city out there during practice when you hear the crowd noise or whatever at practice. … Marlon makes sure we got toilet paper stock and all that stuff, and he’s in here so many hours of the day.”
Fullback Patrick Ricard’s pick:Megan McLaughlin
“She’s just like — she does everything here. She just has a great attitude. Every time I text her and ask her any questions, she’s always very responsive, and she does a lot. A lot of the stuff she does kind of goes unnoticed. She’s kind of like the cog in the whole machine. She keeps everything going.”
Offensive tackle James Hurst’s pick: Coaching analyst Sam Rosengarten
“He’s really good at helping guys in his free time with stretching, activation-type stuff. Getting the muscles groups ready to go. He’s always there when you need him. I work with him like three times a week. He’s helped me a lot behind the scenes.”