Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and his brother, San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh, are pictured in a combination photo in late January. Jack Harbaugh and his wife, Jackie, are bracing for the the battle between the siblings in the Feb. 3 Super Bowl CNS photo/Jeff Haynes, Reuters

Harbaugh parents brace for family Super Bowl battle

By  George P. Matysek Jr., Catholic News Service
  • February 1, 2013

Coaching siblings meet for NFL supremacy

BALTIMORE - When the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving night in 2011 — and John Harbaugh beat younger brother, Jim, in the first NFL matchup of coaching brothers — Jack Harbaugh peeked into the Ravens’ locker room after the game.

Jack Harbaugh, John and Jim’s father, was impressed by how ecstatic everyone was. There was nothing but celebration and smiling faces.

“I thought to myself, we really aren’t needed here,” Jack recalled, speaking to local and national media during a Jan. 24 conference call. He walked across the hallway at the Baltimore football stadium. The mood in the San Francisco locker room was quiet and sombre, he said.

“I found Jim all by himself,” said Jack, a former college football coach. “No one was around him. That’s where we were needed.”

For Jack and his wife, Jackie, the upcoming rematch between their coaching sons at the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in New Orleans is likely to be another excruciating study in contrasts. Someone will win and someone will lose.

“It was the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory (a year ago),” Jack said. “I’m not looking forward to that.”
Jackie Harbaugh, John and Jim’s mother, remembered how John ran to find his brother after the Thanksgiving game — hugging him and giving him words of encouragement.

“It was just the epitome of how everyone in our family feels about each other,” she said. “We always try to raise one another up.”

Jack and Jackie, who raised their family in the Catholic faith and sent their children to Catholic schools, both said they will remain neutral at the Super Bowl. Younger sister Joani Crean also won’t take sides.
Despite several questions inviting him to compare his sons, Jack refused to go there.

“To make a comparison demeans,” he said. “They both have a love and passion for their families. They have a love and passion for their work. They enjoy being around the team. They enjoy being around their coaches. They really enjoy the fan base. They enjoy connecting with the people that have made this game so great.”
Jack credited his wife for the way his sons turned out in life.

“The rock of our family is Jackie,” he said. “She did all the heavy lifting. In our career, a 43-year coaching career, we moved 17 times and she was the one that sold the house, bought the house, enrolled the kids in school, took the kids out of school. She was the one.”

While some in the media have dubbed this year’s big game the “Harbowl” and the “Super-Baugh,” Jack prefers to think of it as the “Lombardi Game,” while his wife refers to it simply as the “Super Bowl.”

“We are excited that they’ve brought their teams to the pinnacle of sports,” Jackie said.

“The Super Bowl is the ultimate accomplishment. It’s the ultimate for them and for their teams and for all of the extended football family and all of the teams who have participated in this great game.”


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