We love Harbaugh (but not THAT Harbaugh)

By PHIL BARBER

We, collectively, will write about the Harbaugh brothers until your eyes develop cataracts and you beg us to stop this week. But I want to add one observation, because until today, I had never interviewed Ravens coach John Harbaugh in person.

The popular perception is that Jim is the prickly brother (especially when dealing with the media), while John is cuddlier and more affable. Watching John at the podium at Media Day this afternoon, the gap was even larger than I expected.

To be fair, I did not sit in on Jim Harbaugh’s session at the Superdome. Perhaps he was Good Jim today, and had the scribes eating out of his hand. We haven’t seen him like that much lately, though. He has been terse and combative and generally uncooperative.

John Harbaugh was the complete opposite.

Someone asked him about his faith in God, and he talked of it openly. Someone asked him about his parents, Jack and Jackie, a subject that has been trampled to dust, and he worked in a sound bite: “Who’s got it better than Jack and Jackie Harbaugh?” Someone asked him about family meals at the Harbaugh home, and he was expansive. (Even then, the brothers were fighting over a bowl.)

Here’s a good measure of John Harbaugh. After he had labored at the podium for perhaps 40 minutes, a Japanese crew pushed forward and asked Harbaugh how meaningful it was to face his brother in the Super Bowl. It’s a question he has probably addressed 40 times, in one shape or another, over the past couple of weeks.

Here’s his answer: “It’s gonna be incredible facing each other on opposing sidelines. I think anybody that has a brother would understand this. I don’t care what country you’re from, what culture you’re from. Anybody that competes against their brother probably understands exactly what we’re gonna be going through. And I would like to add, my daughter at St. Paul’s Girls School in Baltimore, Maryland, is taking Japanese. She’s been taking Japanese since her first grade year. So we are planning a trip to Tokyo, and she will be right there by our side, doing all the talking for us.”

The Japanese crew then requested that Harbaugh look at the camera and tell the hosts, who had not arrived in New Orleans yet, to get their butts over here. “The two celebrity hosts?” he asked. “What are you waiting for? Hurry up. We’ve got to talk some Japanese.”

Baltimore got the better talker. Sunday, we’ll find out who got the better football coach.

 

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