Any football fan who’s watched Jim and John Harbaugh on the sidelines — Jim’s flailing arms and stomping feet, the mini-dramas of emotion washing over John’s face — can imagine what these two National Football League coaches were like as kids, and feel sorry for their parents. As it happens, their dad, Jack, was a college coach and is beaming with pride these days at the thought of his boys, now 49 and 50, squaring off in the Super Bowl.
Of course, the game might strike some different emotions for brothers across the nation, many of them watching at home and fighting over who gets the last chicken wing. Of all the relationships that are said to motivate powerfully driven men — supportive wives, hard-charging dads — fraternal rivalry gets relatively little ink. But tell that to John Harbaugh, who watched his one-year-younger brother play quarterback for Michigan in the Rose Bowl and go on to a 14-year NFL career, while John began mapping out plays for other athletes. Think John might consider it poetic justice to be the first Harbaugh to win a Super Bowl? If so, lots of guys, from 8 to 80, will be able to relate. So will their brothers.