I don’t know what the odds are for one of your sons becoming a head coach of one of the 33 NFL football teams, but there odds of having two sons as NFL head coaches has to be pretty much against you. And the odds of those two sons coaching opposing teams in the Super Bowl has to be on par with dropping a football from an airplane from a few thousand feet and a dog catching it with his teeth.
So it wasn’t historic enough that brothers Jim and John Harbaugh both became NFL coaches, or that they even faced each other when the Baltimore Ravens (John) and the San Francisco 49ers (Jim) played each other in 2011. But this past Sunday they faced off again with the stakes a little higher for Super Bowl 47.
The parents said they were neutral on who they wanted to win, but I’m sure they were proud of both of their sons. In case you don’t follow football the Ravens defeated the 49ers in a game that wasn’t decided until the final two minutes when the 49ers couldn’t score on the Ravens five yard line.
I wanted to do a post on this before the game but was traveling and had limited time and access to Internet. While I was packing to move last month—and doing some house cleaning—I came across a photo I was part of a photographic team with Yary Photography that took the photo below of the 1986 University of Michigan football team that played in the Rose Bowl when none other than Jim Harbaugh was the starting quarterback. I’ll file this one in the “It’s a small world after all” file. (Jim wore #4 at Michigan and is in the top right area of the photo.) I didn’t even realize I had that photo. It was just rolled up in a tube in my basement and had suffered a little water damage.
Anyway, like screenwriters, I don’t believe people are born NFL coaches. I imagine both Jim and John had many influences in their lives that helped put them on the path to being head coaches in the NFL, but I’m sure their parents played a key part. In fact, in a much reported story that goes back to when Jim and John, their sister Joan were little kids and lived in Iowa with their parents, their father would shout, “Who’s got it better than us?” In unison they’d shout, “Nobody!”
“At the time they lived in a tiny two bedroom-house in Iowa City, where Jack was an assistant coach at University of Iowa. Sometimes they had a car. If not, they were walking — what a terrific opportunity to work on basketball dribbling skills! Jack convinced the boys how great it was that they could bunk together in a tiny bedroom and talk philosophy and share each other’s dreams.”
Do you really think that when Jim and John shared each others dreams that they ever dreamed they would be coaching against each other in a Super Bowl? Sometimes, somehow there are times when you can’t dream big enough.
Don’t be surprised if next year Jim leads the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory making both brothers Super Bowl winning coaches in a feat that will probably not be reached in your lifetime.
P.S. In case you wondered where my blog was yesterday, I don’t usually posts on weekends and holidays—and the day after the Super Bowl is one of the most called in sick days of the year so I think “Super Bowl Hangover” is like a holiday. Where people stay home to clean their houses the day after the Super Bowl, of course.