For the first time in NFL history, the Super Bowl will feature two brothers on opposing sidelines, each as the head coach of their designated team. We’ve seen this “Harbaugh Bowl” before, on Thanksgiving of last year, with John winning the battle 16-6 on his home turf in Baltimore.
Imagine that Thanksgiving Harbaugh Bowl, but this time multiply it by 10. The stakes in the previous Harbaugh bowl were average at best. A Thanksgiving Day game, the stakes were just a tad bit higher than your average NFL game. Regardless of the actual meaning of the game, the media hype was through the roof. Pictures of John and Jim and family taking place before the game, TV cameras swarming around the brothers as they shook hands pregame, the media hyping the game weeks before it came about; I can only imagine what is going to happen this time around.
The Super Bowl is a big enough deal as it is. People come from all over the country, and even the world, to witness their team take a shot at the coveted Lombardi Trophy. The NFL hierarchy is based on the number of silver footballs your team has won. The Super Bowl is often one of the most televised, if not the most televised, events of the entire year. Now, the stakes are bigger than ever.
I once read an article on John and Jim Harbaugh. To be completely honest, I can’t remember the source of the article, and for that I apologize. The article was fascinating, however. It was written back at the time when John was dominating the NFL with the Ravens and Jim was at Stanford, racking up the wins with Andrew Luck. The story, however, was more about John than Jim. It focused on the road that each of them took up to that certain point, but it focused more on John, the “forgotten” brother, than it did on Jim. John was finally gaining ground on little brother, and winning at the NFL level.
That was why the article fascinated me so much. To this day, Jim Harbaugh seems to get far more credit than his big brother. Always a higher profile, always more media exposure, always more attention than John. John has been a very successful NFL coach for 5 or so seasons and yet, the NFL sophomore, Jim always seems to get the spotlight. It’s unexplainable really. Or maybe it’s not. Jim is a loud, aggressive, hard-nosed guy who is always giving that camera a mean-mug. John is the same disciplinarian, just on a much more humble scale. John is tough, but quietly tough, not always yearning for the spotlight as is his brother Jim.
In my opinion, if I had to choose a winner based on their “deserving” qualities, I would go with John. Jim has had the NFL career and has overshadowed for much of their 50 years of brotherhood. Of course when you’re talking Harbaugh, you can’t say that John hasn’t been highly respected and is an incredible coach, but for some reason, Jim’s shadow has always been a bit big for John to overcome.
This is John’s chance. Of course, no matter who wins, the Harbaugh’s will still have nothing but love for each other, and that’s what makes it even better. The game isn’t so much a good against evil, but good against good. That’s what makes the story so much more intriguing, to me.
In addition to the Harbaugh brothers, there are so many other story-lines that make this a journalist’s dream. Of course the big one is Ray Lewis, in his final year, could he win a ring to seal an amazing NFL career? Then you have Randy Moss, ringless up to this point, with a chance of his own to seal his NFL career with a Super Bowl. You have the story of two very different quarterbacks in Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick. Flacco, the longtime starter for the Ravens, considers himself Elite and very well could be if he gets a Super Bowl win. Kaepernick, the upstart sophomore for the Niners, came into the starting role in a somewhat controversial matter, but has made his mark and clearly his case to be the starter in San Francisco for a very long time.
The story-lines are seemingly endless, but their is one that trumps them all.
This Super Bowl is a much bigger deal for the Harbaugh Family than it is for the rest of the country. Regardless of the winner, two brothers have stated their case to be the best in the business after years of hard work and determination. Jack Harbaugh, the father of the two coaching kin, must have a heart the size of a lion, knowing that his boys have succeeded so much thanks to his tutelage. Could you imagine having two sons, one of which was an NFL QB, coaching at the highest level of football? Could you imagine the pride and the joy that must go along with this game for the Harbaughs? It’s absolutely unbelievable. Of course, the pride was certainly their when they met last year at Thanksgiving, but their hearts have certainly swelled tenfold since then. The biggest football game possible, the highest level possible, and two of the best coaches possible, each of which come from the same family: yours.
Well here you have it. In two weeks, the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens will be competing in New Orleans, Louisiana to hold that coveted Lombardi Trophy. For the Harbaugh’s however, the game matters not. The game is the fun part. It’s just as it was 40 years ago. John vs. Jim in the back yard. Baseball, football, basketball, you name it, they were competing. And they get to compete again. The joy in competing against each other must be quite the incredible feeling.
No matter the outcome of the game, for the Harbaughs, the Super Bowl has already been won.