NEW ORLEANS -- In case you didn't know -- and why would you, since it's only been mentioned about 50,000 times per day through Super Bowl week -- two brothers are coaching against each other this Sunday in Super Bowl XLVII. No, really. And after a week of dealing with the media and coaching their teams up for the greatest game of their lives as individuals, John and Jim Harbaugh sat down Friday morning to talk about their family, and the momentous event -- made even more so by the competition against each other.
"I just want to start by saying what an honor it is for both of us," John said to begin the proceedings.
"I concur," Jim added.
And with that amazing beginning, we were off. Both coaches were asked if they would work for the other should that opportunity ever arise.
"I would, definitely," Jim said. "And I'd work for him, as well."
"No question about it, and we've had that conversation in the past," John said. "It never really worked out, timing-wise, through we almost did at Stanford. You always want to get great coaches, and there's nobody better than Jim Harbaugh. I mean that seriously -- there's no better coach in the National Football League than this guy sitting here right next to me."
"Except for Jack Harbaugh," Jim said, pointing to his father, who was sitting in the front row of the press conference. "I got to work for my dad at Western Kentucky, and he worked for us as a running backs coach at San Diego. My dad coaches for us for two weeks at Stanford as well."
As far as the brothers working together, though? "I definitely know we could do it," Jim said.
The question then was asked -- as great as the result of this game will be for one coach, has either brother thought about the fact that the other will be on the downside of a huge loss on Sunday night?
"You do think about it," Jim said. "In any game, that's something you think about. But Jim has pointed this out before -- it's not really about how we're going to feel. Every coach, every player, everybody in the organization. If we win, it's jubilation, and if you lose, it's just bitter disappointment. This game is going to be 60 minutes of great football, because you have two fundamentally sound football teams playing, and the total focus in on this moment."
Both brothers were asked about their most common and disparate philosophies.
"Philosophical commonalities? I'd be hard-pressed to spell philosophical right now," Jim quipped.
"I know we couldn't spell commonalities," John added. "I would hope you would see it in the ways our teams play. That's the biggest determinant. Watch the way the players conduct themselves, the things they say, and the way they practice."
Neither brother had any comment about the possibility of there being the first bear hug among winning and losing head coaches in Super Bowl history. Perhaps Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini could have addressed that one, were they in the room.
A lot of the questions were silly, but when the subject of Jay Harbaugh came up, you got more of a sense of just how much this family is defined by football. Jay is Jim's son, and he now works as a coaching intern for John's team in Baltimore.
“I’m really thankful and proud that Jay is doing what he loves to do, and John being there and hiring him," Jim said. "I hear he’s doing a phenomenal job. This week I haven’t been talking to him or calling him or anything — I sent him a few texts just to tell him how I feel, but I don’t want people thinking I’m talking to him about the game. I’ve heard he’s done a great job and that means the world.”
“I’m appreciative that Jim allowed Jay to come out. Maybe that will be our edge, maybe it’ll be Jay. He’s really good. He’s a hard-working guy and he’s excited about the game and competing.”
From their father, Jack, who taught the two sons so much of what they know about the game, to their mother, Jackie, who both brothers insist is the most competitive person in the family, to sister Joanie Crean, who also understands what this means to the whole group, to son Jay, who somehow balances interests in both teams. The Harbaugh Bowl story may be overcooked at times, but that doesn't mean it's not real and relevant and special.
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