Wink Martindale was part of the Baltimore Ravens’ coaching staff for 10 seasons, running the team’s defense for the last four before moving on to become New York Giants defensive coordinator.
With the Giants and Ravens playing Sunday at MetLife Stadium, Martindale understands there is a lot of curiosity about his feelings entering Sunday’s game.
“It’s different,” Martindale said on Thursday. “Just for this reason. I have a lot of friends on the other side. A lot of people that meant a lot to me in my life. Whenever someone asked me about the Ravens I always think about Clarence Brooks [former Ravens defensive line coach], a dear friend. And he’s the one, and I’ve used it ever since, who said this game always has been and always will be about the players. And that’s true. So in that essence, it’s game six.”
Martindale did acknowledge the special feelings he has for many in the Ravens’ organization.
“I have deep love for a lot of people over there. Steve Bisciotti [Ravens owner] took care of my family for 10 years. Obviously John [Harbaugh] and I have coached together and I’ve coached with his dad and I’ve known know the family forever. Ozzie Newsome [former Baltimore GM] was another mentor for me for 10 years over there, we helped build something which they’re on their 15th year of doing right now,” Martindale said. “The exciting part about coming here? It’s year one. We’ve just gotta keep staying with the process and where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.”
Martindale, 59, has been coaching in the NFL since 2004. He admitted that coming to the Giants has “re-energized” him.
Martindale did not want to go into detail on the reasons for parting ways with the Ravens, which have never been fully detailed.
“I think that it’s just one of those things. I always believe that wherever you’re at is where you’re supposed to be. John and I had conversations way back before they made the announcement about where we wanted to be and what we want to do,” Martindale said. “It has re-energized me to go someplace new and try to build it again. Like I said, we’re family. It was nothing negative. That was nothing. It was just time. And when I say it’s just time, it was just time for both of us.”
Martindale is trying to keep his focus on the Giants.
“In coaching, we’re gypsies anyway. Now I happened to be there for 10 years, which is a long time. I was also in Oakland, and I was also in Denver. For coaches, that’s just the way our profession is. Is there a little competitive spirit in you when you go play a team you used to work for? Sure, there is. I’m not going to deny that. Everybody knows that,” Martindale said. “But as far as circling the game and everything else, this is just the next game. We’ve had success approaching it that way. We empty the tank on Sunday and we fill it up the rest of the week. I just think that’s how you have to approach it.”
Martindale has faced Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson in practice, but knows being a defensive coordinator on the opposite sideline is a different matter.
“I love the guy,” Martindale said. “I think it’s another great challenge. We went from you know, Aaron Rodgers, league MVP, but now Lamar Jackson, league MVP back in ‘19. So I was with him when he did that. He is an unbelievable player. For anybody that wants to say anything, that he’s not, okay. He’s unbelievable. And he’s playing at an MVP caliber right now like he was back in ‘19.”
Several Giants players have also spent time with Baltimore. Jihad Ward, Tony Jefferson, Justin Ellis, Ben Bredeson, Tyrod Taylor and Tyre Phillips have all played for the Ravens.
“We all want to be beat our old squad, but at the same time it’s the next week,” said Ellis, a veteran defensive lineman. “It is Baltimore Week, but I’m focused on my craft and trying to get better each week.”