THE boys who shared a bedroom until their college years shared the Super Bowl stage as Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh held a joint news conference in a friendly family affair yesterday.
The Harbaughs are the first brothers to coach against one another in a Super Bowl and the family theme extended to the first row of seats where their parents, long-time college coach Jack and Jackie, sat alongside 97-year-old Grandpa Joe. Unlike fiery coaching images of past Super Bowls featuring the likes of Vince Lombardi and Mike Ditka, the Harbaugh press conference pairing suggested a cordial brothers comedy act as the siblings handled questions with a natural sense of timing.
John, wearing a dark suit and tie, and Jim, the superior athlete who played 14 years as an NFL quarterback, sported his familiar team sweater, khaki pants and 49ers baseball cap as they sat on directors chairs behind the Lombardi Trophy.
The Ravens coach smoothly handled the opening statement, and eyes turned to the often taciturn, younger brother Jim. “I concur,” deadpanned the Niners coach, drawing laughs with his dead-on delivery.
After Jim took the next question, eyes turned toward John for his view, and the Ravens coach echoed, “I concur.”
The two coaches, separated in age by just 15 months, deflected praise for their championship seasons to their players, and said they understood there would be one ecstatic brother and one downcast after tomorrow’s game.
“That’s how football works,” said John, 50. “That’s how life is, and we understand that.”
John Harbaugh stressed that within the close-knit Harbaugh family the game is always about the players and not the coaches.
Asked whether we might see more than the usual cursory handshake between coaches on the Superdome field after the clock runs out, John said: “I’ve given absolutely no consideration to the postgame handshake or bear hug or anything else.
“I haven’t thought about that for one second. Have you, Jim?” Jim: “I have not.”
The Ravens coach borrowed a line used earlier in the week by the San Francisco coach when asked about the fraternal showdown. “Jim had talked about the band of brotherhood, the brothers that will take the field,” the Ravens coach said. “The band of brothers will be the brothers on the sideline. It will be the Ravens sideline. It will be the 49ers sideline. That will be the band of brothers in this competition.”
The Harbaughs have also shared practice facilities in New Orleans, as Jim Harbaugh graciously allowed Baltimore to use the Saints’ grass field facilities that the Niners had been assigned.