There’s a quote from an English novelist Jane Austen that says “What strange creatures brothers are.” Strange because they are so much the same, and yet different. Take Jim and John Harbaugh for example. How could two brothers take such different roads to end up at the same place at the same time?
When Jack and Ingrid Harbaugh had their kids, just like all parents, they wished and hoped for the best for their sons. To bring them up right and to inspire them to do great things. Jack was the boy’s inspiration for the game of football. He himself was a defensive backs coach in 1979 under legendary college coach Bo Schembechler who won 13 Big Ten titles as the head coach at Michigan. Jack cut his teeth as a high school and college coach from 1969-1989 after playing both defensive back and quarterback while at Bowling-Green and the Titans of New York, or more commonly known as the New York Jets. He could have never known one son would play and coach Defensive backs, (John) while his other son, Jim would be a highly touted quarterback coming out of college. He could only watch as each of his sons created their own paths to Superbowl XLVIII.
Jim Harbaugh is best known for his time as a quarterback in the NFL for the Indianapolis Colts, where he was inducted into their ring of Honor. But his greatest achievement may still be ahead of him. Jim was drafted as a quarterback by the Chicago Bears after playing at Michigan and being the Big ten Player of the year and winning Academic All-Big Ten honors in 1986. His playing career stretched over a 15 year period. From 1994-2001 while still playing in the NFL, Jim coached at Western Kentucky under his father Jack who was the head coach. In 2002, with his playing days over, Jim began his NFL coaching career with the Oakland Raiders as a quarterback coach. He then returned to the college ranks as the head coach for the University of San Diego. After leading USD to 2 Pioneer league championships in 2005-06, Jim moved to the Division 1 Stanford Cardinals where he stayed from 2007-2011. He won the 2011 Orange Bowl and after winning was immediately sought after by the San Francisco 49ers. His immediate success of coaching the 49ers to two consecutive playoff berths has shown his amazing ability to create a winning attitude, and shows his passion and tutelage both given to him by his father Jack. Jim is at the prime of his coaching career and stands face to face with his brother John as opposing coaches for Superbowl XLVIIII.
John Harbaughs journey mimics his father’s career more than Jim. John was not a highly regarded football player, but always had a mind for the game. After playing DB for Miami of Ohio, his first job without a helmet was as the RB and OLB coach at Western Michigan from 1984-’87. His ability to communicate his message was clearly seen which led him to moving quickly from Western Michigan, to Pittsburgh as a TE coach. In 1988, Moorehead State gave him a job as Special Teams and secondary coach, which again led to another opportunity at Cincinnati. Cincy was Johns first play calling experience as he was in charge of Special teams from ‘89-’96. At every step, John was able to continue his football education, giving him more confidence to be able to take on more responsibility. In 1998 John was given the Special Teams Coordinator job with the Philadelphia Eagles after being hired by then Eagles Head Coach Ray Rhodes. Rhodes however didn’t last long in Philly, but when new head coach Andy Reid came on, he kept John on his staff in the same position. John stayed at Philly until 2008 when he reached the pinnacle of his coaching career, and became the Head coach of the Baltimore Ravens. It seemed from day one, prognosticators could have predicted John would find his way into the history books. After all On Sept 7, 2008 John made history as he was the first coach to win his first game by coaching his team and a rookie quarterback, also ,making his debut, to victory. Now he stands on the precipice of doing it again, as he and his brother Jim will be the first ever duo of brothers to coach in a Superbowl.
No matter the outcome these “strange creatures” will be part of NFL and Super Bowl history, and it looks like they will have the opportunity to create more historic moments in the years to come.