After all the talk, all the questions, face-off time is near for brothers Harbaugh
NEW ORLEANS — Two brothers. One Vince Lombardi Trophy. May the best team — and coach — win.
That’s how Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh left it Friday morning at the conclusion of their 45-minute joint press conference at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, two days before Super Bowl XLVII in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Little brother Jim came casually dressed — 49ers cap, team-issued black crew-necked sweatshirt and khaki slacks. Big brother John, who essentially served as the emcee, came nattily attired in dark suit and tie.
Different strokes for different folks, who, incidentally, happened to have in attendance, father Jack and mother Jackie, along with 97-year-old grandpa Joe, uncle Bob, cousin Chad and who knows how many other relatives.
A real family affair, a true slice of Americana, NFL style.
“I just want to start by saying what an honor it is for both of us to be here with each other, no question about it,’’ John said. “What a very exciting moment it is, but even more than that, for our families to be here. Thanks for being here.’’
For the past two weeks, since the 49ers and Ravens won their respective conference championships to advance to New Orleans, the brothers Harbaugh have answered nearly every family-related question imaginable.
Even the parents have gotten in the act, holding a joint conference call last week from their home in Wisconsin and a second Q&A with reporters here Wednesday.
“You’re going to ask us how we feel on this historic day? Jackie, who has it better than us? Nobody,’’ Jack Harbaugh explained.
The reality of coaching brothers facing each other in the league championship for the first time in NFL history even sparked the clever billing — The Har-bowl!’’
And for the umpteenth time, John said, “it’s not about us. It’s about our teams, our organizations. The players will play the game. The brothers will be on the sideline.’’
By now, it is common knowledge that John and Jim followed in their father’s footsteps. Jack Harbaugh, 73, played professionally for one season but made his living in the college coaching ranks at various stops around the country (Iowa, Michigan, Stanford and Pittsburgh, among other places).
And while John and Jim learned volumes from their father, they learned many valuable life lessons from their mother that have helped them in their coaching careers.
“There is no one in the family who has more competitive fire than my mother,’’ Jim said. “She competes like a maniac. She has always believed in us, and I think that is the most important thing to me.’’
John elaborated, crediting their mother for sharing current events and making “us well-rounded people as we grew up.’’
“No one would fight harder for us than our mom,’’ John said. “She taught us how to have each other’s back and be there for one another, whether it was a little scrape in the neighborhood or something like that.
“She made it clear that we were to have each other’s back, no matter what. That was our mom.’’
On Sunday, expect neither brother to back down.