NEW ORLEANS — Jack and Jackie Harbaugh are spending Super Bowl week celebrating the good fortune of having two sons at the pinnacle of pro football.
Once Super Bowl XLVII between John’s Baltimore Ravens and Jim’s San Francisco 49ers ends Sunday night, the parents know their first priority will be expressing sympathy to the coach who didn’t get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
“The one thing that I do think about is after the game. There is going to be one winner, and there is going to be one that is going to be totally disappointed,” Jack said. “My thoughts go to that one that will not experience the thrill of victory.”
Harbaugh explained that he and Jackie had a “dry run” on how to handle the postgame last season, when the Niners lost at Baltimore on Thanksgiving. After leaving an office in the stadium where they watched the game, the first locker room they walked past was the Ravens’.
“We’ve all experienced that excitement of victory — guys jumping up and down, the smile on John’s face. ... Then you realize that you’re not needed here,” Jack said. “You walk across the hall, and you went into the 49ers’ locker room and you saw the players walking about — that look in their eyes, that look of not being successful and coming up short.
“We opened up a couple doors and finally saw Jim all by himself in this room, just a table and a chair. He was still in his coaching outfit, his head down in his hands. And you looked into his eyes and you realized that this where you’re needed as a parent.”
When asked whether the knowledge that one son will lose will diminish their enjoyment of the game, Jackie said, “I don’t think so, because we will see both of them after the game. We’re going to hug both of them and tell them how proud we are of them.”
Jack opened Wednesday’s news conference by loudly asking, rhetorically, “Who has it better than us?” He and Jackie exclaimed, “Nobody!”