Harbaugh v. Harbaugh

A short reflection on civil conflict
Share |

You drawl the name or you don’t say it at all. It is not Har-bow. It is: Har-baw. Or even: Har-bawl, which is more or less how Mike Ditka used to scream it when cursing at young Jim Harbaugh, no. 4, Captain Comeback, who punched Jim Kelly in his loser mouth, and who could lead a group of men to the edges of our galaxy this weekend simply by removing the Sharpie from the lanyard around his neck. Read Neptune against the Milky Way, Kaep, and just run through the hole, brother.

I first saw Jim Harbaugh in a grocery store in Evansville, Indiana, where I was raised, arm half-cocked, staring into the middle-distance of some 1991 defense, on a black-and-blue football card. H-A-R-B-A-U-G-H. The guy played for the Bears. I asked my father, lugging Busch Lite and laundry detergent, if this man was really a Harbaugh like us, a member of the same tribe, with our beakish noses and propensity for crying. He nodded a solemn affirmative and explained that there were those—like this football star’s own coach, the beaver Ditka—who did not know the mettle that lay helixed in our DNA.

While I was in grade school, Jim Harbaugh ruled the RCA dome with his fourth-quarter comebacks, acting a little distracted and put-upon. In other words: likeable so long as you shared the guy’s last name. He praised Jesus Christ first and foremost in his post-game interviews, and went home to answer mail. By the time I wrote to Jim, I knew that his father Jack was the legendary coach of Western Kentucky’s football team, and assumed they were just the beginning. I imagined a great number of athletic Harbaughs spread across the United States, stippling the countryside like packs of Sycamores and anti-abortion billboards. I had a responsibility to uphold, obviously. I planned to follow in their cleat-steps. My dad was a theater director, co-opted by sinister forces after playing full back in high school, but I digress. The contents of our correspondence is lost to memory, save for a disappointing line that Jim answered in return: “Dear Barry, I don’t think we’re second cousins…”

So “distant cousins” was my answer whenever someone asked if we were related. The frequency of that question increased tenfold during high school, when my twin brother Russell Harbaugh (who would lead Wabash College to an undefeated 2005 season, and earn DIII All-American honors) started tossing spirals of his own. That I have kept back Russell’s existence mirrors my ignorance of Jim’s brother John toiling on the sidelines of the University of Cincinnati, coaching special teams, while his younger bro brought the Horseshoe within a Hail Mary of the Super Bowl.

When I learned, years later, that another Harbaugh had worked in the shadows of the film room for decades, my life seemed suddenly part of a larger cosmic pattern—the push and pull of fraternal competition. I imagined that Jim and John had waged the same wars as Russell and I had fought at home. That their mother, like ours, had shrieked “TAKE IT OUTSIDE.” Did John once knock Jim off his bike and break his collarbone? Did Jim reciprocate by throwing a TV remote control that hit John square in the temple, even with his shoulder still in a sling? Did John thereafter require 13 stitches and one hell of an apology?

I doubt seriously that Jim’s petty squabbles with Pete Carroll or Jim Schwartz ever approached the magnitude of his rivalry with his big brother. Carroll’s USC dominance was twice diminished by Jim’s good Luck and meticulous game-planning, resulting in the single biggest upset in college football history, a 2009 victory crowned by a gratuitous two-point try and the besotted Carroll wondering after the clock had emptied, “What’s your deal?” Schwartz, for his part, was displeased when Jim, having joined his brother’s ranks in the NFL, followed a Niners win over his Lions with a slap of the hand instead of a shake. What’s the deal? Perhaps a family of football coaches keeps their own score, and the podium enemies are mere foils for the intra-Harbaugh race to perfection: The young offensive genius against the old defensive bulwark, seasoned by a career put together without aid of a fan-base and little children’s missives. Please God, deliver me unto that Super Bowl. Harbaugh v. Harbaugh.

Not all of us are destined to be football coaches. Two Thanksgivings past my brother and I gathered to watch the Ravens, coached by the severe John, who had by that point been coaching professionally for the whole of my 28 years, battle the Niners, led by the ecstatic Jim. We watched as a filmmaker and book editor, respectively: coaches of a distant sort, competing over the simple satisfaction of a job done well and good, like a Harbaugh should and does. Jim was asked this week to sum up his differences with his brother. He said nothing more than “I’m half the coach he is.” Of course he would. If anyone asks, I will say that Russell is twice the artist that I am, and that his Sundance-anointed short is the single greatest American movie of our generation, before trying privately to do him one better. There is always my John to his Jim.

Come Monday, when the banks are closed, and the country remembers the best and worst of our human proclivities, we Harbaughs will bow our heads, we will close our eyes and feel the cold breath of our ancestors on our necks. H-A-R-B-A-U-G-H: the Pennsylvania Harbaughs and the California Harbaughs and the Harbaughs in Kansas and Wyoming, Florida and Washington and Indiana, and in the Maryland river valley that bears our name. Should our clan fall short of the apex of American sports and wretched excess that is the Super Bowl, conjuring up last year’s Onion headline “Pathetic Harbaugh Family Unable to Get Even One Son to Coach In Super Bowl,” we will be left to salve ourselves on a day off from work. But if all goes well, we will read on that morning the first glorious lines of Super Bowl coverage detailing the seemingly inevitable clash of the brothers Harbaugh. The whole world will know finally of our inimitable family spirit. Let me put this to rest at once—I’m looking at you Mike Ditka, you Jim Schwartz, and you Pete Carroll; at you Mike Smith, of the quotidian Smiths, and you Bill Belichick, who came from nothing and nowhere: Our best rivalries are amongst ourselves.


Share |

Comments

You people have actually provided the best blogs that are easy to understand for the folks.
Chris Walker - Denver SEO consultant

A debt of gratitude is in order for the blog entry mate! Keep them coming... poker online free

Nordic 460 Elliptical is a very affordable, compact, rear-wheel drive cross trainer with a full 12 program and also the opportunity to create their own programs.   Sporttema.dk

I see the greatest contents on your blog and I extremely love reading them.bookkeeper blacktown

This kind of blogs is too attractive that catch the attention of anyone through their great features.
write essay

I needed to thank you for this awesome read!! I unquestionably getting a charge out of each and every piece of it I have you bookmarked to look at new stuff you post. miltronic

This post has really made sense as compared to others. Special thanks for this.
Chris Walker - best SEO company

A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing this data. I truly like your blog entry all that much. You have truly shared a useful and intriguing blog entry with individuals.. mikrowelle tests

I'm gladsome to mature so more serviceable and informative assemblage on your website. car cover

Good composed article. It will be strong to any individual who uses it, including me. Continue doing what you are doing – can'r hold up to peruse more posts. clairvoyant

I Love your articles guys keep it up. tips for caring for your fountains

It’s my first time to visit this site & I’m really surprised to see such impressive stuff out there.
Email Tools Review

I truly awed after read this on account of some quality work and useful contemplations . I just wanna express profound gratitude for the author and want you to enjoy all that life has to offer for coming!. blogs

The blog with the best stuff is provoking the people to give the good remarks.
http://easybabytote.com

These articles and blogs are genuinely sufficiency for me for a day. Seo services | web2.0 creation

A debt of gratitude is in order For sharing this Superb article.I utilize this Article to demonstrate my task in college.it is helpful For me Great Work. visit

Pleasant to peruse your article! I am anticipating sharing your enterprises and encounters. write essays

Pleasant to peruse your article! I am anticipating sharing your enterprises and encounters. write essays

It’s amazing to visit again n again coming to your blogs the superb effort is here.
car insurance in colorado versus utah

Thanks a lot for publishing the new good stuff for us. I’ll really get the great advantage from your good stuff.
pros and cons of fixed term life insurance

This article is an engaging abundance of instructive information that is fascinating and elegantly composed. I recognize your diligent work on this and thank you for this data. You have what it takes to get consideration. girlsdoporn

This article is an engaging abundance of instructive information that is fascinating and elegantly composed. I recognize your diligent work on this and thank you for this data. You have what it takes to get consideration. girlsdoporn

Good composed article. It will be strong to any individual who uses it, including me. Continue doing what you are doing – can'r hold up to peruse more posts. gaming højtalere

Every one of the substance you said in post is too great and can be extremely helpful. I will remember it, much obliged for sharing the data continue upgrading, looking forward for more posts.Thanks how to make quick money

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information.
12 week mastery bonus

The thing that you offer is worth our case and force. Stabmixer

I was getting bore since morning but as soon as I got this link & reached at this blog, I turned into fresh and also joyful too.
wellbeing

Ahaa, it’s nice conversation on the subject of this post at this place, I actually have read all that, therefore at this time me additionally commenting at this place.
cash advance loan lenders

The people not reading your blogs are missing out a lot of quality contents.from ataturk airport to taksim

This blog site has really a huge collection of articles with impressive information.
Mark Curry Macfarlane

These articles and blogs are genuinely sufficiency for me for a day. Desktop PC Test

Many thanks! For sharing such type of blogs. That’s a great help of me. Hope you must keep on updating the latest posts…
landscaping front of house

Good composed article. It will be strong to any individual who uses it, including me. Continue doing what you are doing – can'r hold up to peruse more posts. girlsdoporn

Skipper Comeback, who punched Jim Histrion in his luckless exponent, and who could timing a unit of men to the edges of our marrubium this weekend just by removing the Histrion from the pipe around his pet. Fact Neptune against the Milky Way, Kaep, and just run finished the jam, religious. viulutunnit

Hello friends, nice post and nice urging commented at this place, I am after all enjoying by these.
facelift

I wonder why other professionals don’t notice your website much m glad I found this. eternal tattoo supply

Hi I was searching for the blogs for many times, now I have reached at the right place.
fire restoration port st lucie

Skipper Comeback, who punched Jim Kelly in his unfortunate interpreter, and who could lead a radical of men to the edges of our herb this weekend just by removing the Actor from the line around his pet. Record Neptune against the Milky Way, Kaep, and retributive run through the jam, monk. Amadou

the single greatest American movie of our generation, before trying privately to do him one better. There is always my John to his Jim.
minecraft online free
psn redeem codes

Great post yet I was thinking about whether you could compose a litte more on this subject? I'd be extremely grateful on the off chance that you could expound a smidgen further. Welcome it! Fahrrad Navi

I think I have never seen such blogs ever before that has complete things with all details which I want. So kindly update this ever for us.
maxcold backpack cooler

Your articles are more than wow! And also the best way to make understand the things mentioned in it.
Curry Macfarlane Group

Your articles don’t beat around the bushes exact t to the point. Seo services ! Web marketing

Somebody Sometimes with visits your online journal routinely and prescribed it as far as I can tell to peruse also. The method for composing is brilliant furthermore the substance is first rate. A debt of gratitude is in order for that knowledge you give the perusers! columbus seo company service

I’m trampled by your contents carry on the wonderful work.
internet loans direct by lender

I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic way is amusing, continue the good work!
afordable whole life life insurance

I am really appreciating very much by seeing your interesting posts.
Sequoia India

Totally unique stuff is here really amazing!!!
liability insurance car

The whole process involved in buying steroids has its own dos and don’ts.anabolic steroids online

This is one amongst the informative blogs that you shared with us.
forskolin reviews