Culture

The Har-Bowl Is Upon Us

The “Har-bowl” is upon us. Never in Super Bowl history have two brothers squared off Super Sunday. The brothers Harbaugh will be on opposite sides of the New Orleans Superdome turf this Sunday in what shapes up as a terrific matchup in Super Bowl XLVII (6:30 p.m. on CBS).

Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers won the National Football Conference championship by taking out the Atlanta Falcons, 28-24. John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens rule the American Football Conference following their 28-13 win over the New England Patriots and former Michigan quarterback Tom Brady. Both the 49ers and Ravens impressed football fans everywhere by winning their conference titles on the road.

This Sunday’s Super Bowl is a showcase for Michigan (despite Brady’s absence from the game).  Jim was a three-year starter at U-M and led his squad to a 10-1-1 record and a win over Nebraska in the 1986 Fiesta Bowl. Michigan was ranked No. 2 in the final polls following that win. Jim went on to play 15 seasons in the NFL (seven seasons with the Bears, four with the Colts, one with the Ravens and two with the Chargers). Jim was cut by the Lions near the end of training camp in 2001.

Jim and brother John both attended Ann Arbor Pioneer High School. John went on to become an assistant coach with Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo from 1984-86). Their father, Jack Harbaugh, was a long-time head coach at WMU.

John Harbaugh was hired as head coach of the Ravens in 2008 after 10 seasons as the Eagles’ special-teams coordinator. Baltimore has made the playoffs all five seasons with John as head coach.

Huff Sports sportswriter Howard Fendrich says: “The 50-year-old John is 15 months older than Jim and generally the less demonstrative of the pair, although John certainly did not lack intensity while making his case with officials a couple of times Sunday (January 20).

“The ever-excitable Jim – who was treated for an irregular heartbeat in November – was up to his usual sideline antics in Atlanta.

“He spun around and sent his headset flying when the original call stood after he threw his red challenge flag on a catch by the Falcons. He hopped and yelled at his defense to get off the field after their key fourth-down stop with less than 1 -1/2 minutes left. He made an emphatic-as-can-be timeout signal with 13 seconds remaining.

As for the expected hype by Super Sunday’s television announcers, Fendrich says “expect CBS to fill plenty of time during its Super Bowl broadcast with shots of Jim, that trademark red pen dangling in front of his chest, and John, who usually wears a black Ravens hat. Yes, that is sure to be a focal point, until they meet for a postgame handshake.”

Other Super Bowl ties to Michigan include 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley who played at Rockford High School, near Grand Rapids, and Central Michigan University, before being drafted in the first round in 2007 by San Francisco. Center Jonathan Goodwin also played at U-M and is now in his 10th NFL season, first with the 49ers, and won the Super Bowl with New Orleans during the 2009 season.

On the Ravens side, Michigan connections include Andy Moeller, an offensive line coach, who played for and was an assistant coach at U-M.

Eichorn Super Bowl prediction: Baltimore 24 San Francisco 20. 


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About the author

George Eichorn

GEORGE EICHORN is the long-time executive director of the Detroit Sports Broadcasters Association and sports editor and columnist for a Detroit weekly newspaper. For more than three decades, he has covered the Olympics, Super Bowls, World Series, NBA Championships, and Stanley Cup finals. His articles have been published in the Detroit News, Basketball Times, Basketball Digest, Red Wings Magazine, Baseball Bulletin, Sports Fans Journal, Soccer World, and Bowler’s Digest. During the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York, he proudly covered the historic “Miracle on Ice” hockey game when the United States shocked the Soviet Union. Through the years, he has won numerous broadcasting and writing awards, and most recently received the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame’s Special Recognition Award. In 2003, he authored a book about the rich history of Michigan sports broadcasting, Detroit Sports Broadcasters: On the Air, for which the late Detroit Tigers broadcast legend, Ernie Harwell, wrote the forward. He is the married father of two daughters and a graduate of Wayne State University.

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