FOXBOROUGH, Massachusetts (Reuters) - John and Jim Harbaugh will turn a family reunion into a war of attrition in New Orleans early next month when they become the first coaching brothers to oppose each other in a Super Bowl.
Last year, the siblings came within a game each of reaching the Super Bowl but lost in their respective conference championships. On Sunday, their victories set up something of a ‘Harbaugh Bowl’ for the NFL title.
“I don’t know if we had a dream this big,” John Harbaugh told reporters after his Baltimore Ravens had spanked the New England Patriots 28-13 at Gillette Stadium.
A few hours earlier, Jim had fulfilled his side of the bargain when the San Francisco 49ers rallied for a 28-24 road victory over the Atlanta Falcons.
“We had a few dreams, we had a few fights. We had a few arguments, like all brothers. We will try and stay out of that business. We’ll let the two teams duke it out as much as possible,” John added.
Separated by just 15 months, the brothers followed in the footsteps of their father Jack, who had a 41-year career as a coach, ranging from the high-school level to the head role in college football.
The brothers, who shared a bedroom growing up until they left home for college, have remained very close, speaking weekly by telephone.
“I couldn’t be more proud of Jim,” the 50-year-old John said. “Watching that team play, they do reflect his personality.
“They have physical players, they run the ball, they throw the ball. They’ve got a quarterback making plays all over the place. They got a roughhouse defense. There’s a reason why they are in the Super Bowl. I love the way they play.”
John said the similarities between the coaches might be reflected in the teams when they meet on February 3.
“I’d like to think our two teams are very similar. I’d like to think when you look at the two teams you’re looking at mirror images of two football teams,” he said. “It’s going to be a great football game.”
With his grey Ravens sweatshirt soaked in champagne, John said he could only imagine the joy his parents felt back in Wisconsin.
“I hope he’s on his fourth or fifth beer right now,” the Baltimore coach said of his father. “I hope he and Ma got a big hug going.”
Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by John O'Brien