When the Baltimore Ravens face the San Francisco 49ers on Thanksgiving Night Football in what some are calling the "Har-Bowl," it will be the first time in NFL history that two brothers have faced each other as head coaches.
The Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh preceded his brother into the NFL head coaching ranks by three years and into the world fifteen months ahead of Jim, who is in his rookie season leading the San Francisco 49ers. After a stellar career coaching the Stanford Cardinal in college, Jim was wooed into the NFL by a much larger contract that his already successful older brother.
Taking the reins of a San Francisco team that finished third in the NFC West in 2010 with a 6-10 record, Jim has already surpassed last year's victory total, heading into this week's game with a 9-1 record and an insurmountable five game lead in the division with only six to play in the regular season.
While Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said in Monday's media conference call that he knew his brother had the tools to be a head coach in the NFL, he probably never imagined it would be on such a big, national stage such as this Thanksgiving Night Football game. The San Francisco media bombarded him with questions about his sibling rivalry, the competitiveness between the brothers, their love and respect for each other, as well as everything they learned from their dad.
Following their father Jack's footsteps into coaching, John made it to the pro level as a Special Teams coach under Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid before landing his current gig in Baltimore. Jim hit the big time in college football and turn Stanford into a major player in the PAC-10 (PAC-12?) and despite leaving after last year, still has strong ties to the guy who will be the first overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, Cardinal QB Andrew Luck.
Jim Harbaugh spoke with the media via a conference call later in the day and Baltimore Beatdown was able to ask him what similarities he saw from the Ravens #52 (Ray Lewis) in the 49ers own #52 (Patrick Willis).
"I see a lot of similarities. Both are great players. Like Ray, Patrick is the consummate team player, a consummate great 5-tool linebacker. Ray does it all; Patrick does it all. Both play downhill, play sideline-to-sideline, excellent tackler excellent at pass coverage. If Patrick can do it as long as Ray, he can be the 'Willie Mays' of linebackers."
However, Jim Harbaugh did not have much to say when I asked him whether he had been following his former Stanford QB and what he thought of the media-titled, "Suck for Luck" Sweepstakes.
"Don't know anything about. Don't have any comment about it. Kind of a ridiculous thing to talk about.....Don't misquote me, I'm not saying anything negative about Andrew Luck. I just think that's a ridiculous phrase."
John and Jim's parents will probably not watch the game at Baltimore's M&T Bank Stadium, as their rooting interests are so even that they will not be able to enjoy it like a fan and having both sons on opposite sides of the field would definitely affect the way the game is watched from their unique vantage point. From everyone else's, it should be a great game.