SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The parents of John and Jim Harbaugh could not be prouder that both of their boys have reached the pinnacle of sport as football coaches.
They will make history in Super Bowl XLVII as the first brothers to coach against each other for football’s biggest prize. And their parents, Jackie and Jack Harbaugh, know that means the family will know both success and failure.
“We are neutral in the Super Bowl,” Jackie said, speaking with her husband Thursday to reporters on a conference call.
“At the end of the game, it’s still about family.”
KCBS’ Margie Shafer Reports:
For their father Jack, the game is in some ways the culmination of his own lengthy career as a football coach, which included stints as head coach for Western Michigan University and Western Kentucky University.
The family moved 17 times in the course of his career, and both Jackie and the children were regular attendees at practice, family members said in a conference call Thursday.
Listen To Full Conference Call With Harbaugh Parents, Sister
Younger sister Joani Crean recalled splicing training films for her father on the weekends.
“Luckily, as parents, they involved their kids in their professional life,” Crean said. “That’s how we saw Dad in the afternoon; we went to his coaching practices. That’s just how we passed time.”
The family has worked together on several occasions as adults, as the brothers moved up the ranks in their fields. But despite their immersion in the sport from an early age, Jack Harbaugh said he never pushed his sons to pursue a playing or coaching career. He took great pride in their choice, however.
“They loved sports, they had a real passion for sports, they enjoyed being around the game,” Jack said. “I think the greatest joy in my life is that after seeing all of the ups and downs in my life and profession, that that is something that they would want to do.”
Jim Harbaugh played college football at the University of Michigan and was an NFL quarterback from 1987 to 2000. He was head coach at Stanford University from 2007 to 2011 before becoming the 49ers head coach in 2011.
John, meanwhile, spent about 13 years as a college coach before being hired by the Philadelphia Eagles in 1998. He moved up to defensive-backs coach with the Eagles before signing on as head coach with the Ravens in 2008.
Jack Harbaugh recalled his two sons playing against each other on Thanksgiving a year ago. He peaked into the Baltimore Ravens locker room to see players jumping up and down around a smiling John.
Then he poked his head into a somber 49ers locker room to find Jim sitting alone in his office, and knew that’s where he was needed.
“That thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, we know that we’re going to experience that next week,” Jack said.
The parents talked about the difficulties of brother being pitted against brother, gently deflecting questions about which son might be the favored one until they realized the John from Baltimore who asked it also had the last name Harbaugh.
One term the parents do not favor for the Big Game is “Harbowl.”
“For me it’s the Lombardi Trophy, because I go back to the beginning of when this great classic originated,” Jack said.
“I prefer it to be called the Super Bowl,” Jackie said, adding she’s asked if the NFL it could arrange a tie on Feb 3.
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