NFL Even at Super Bowl, brotherly love thrives
nJim and John Harbaugh agree that they'd be happy to work together, if the situation presented itself. They also point to their mother as the unsung hero in their story. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Working separately, John and Jim Harbaugh each guided their team to the Super Bowl. They will be on opposite sidelines Sunday, John as head coach of the Baltimore Ravens and Jim with the San Francisco 49ers.
Imagine how effective they could be if working together.
At their joint news conference Friday, someone asked the brothers if they would consider teaming up if either should be forced out of his current post.
"No question about it," John said. "We've had that conversation in the past. It just never really worked out timing-wise. I'd love to work for Jim. It would be the greatest thing in the world."
Jim, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, said, "Definitely, I would work for him."
Super Bowl tradition dictates that the coaches meet with the media separately two days before the Super Bowl. That custom was altered Friday because, after all, two brothers have never before coached against each other in the Super Bowl.
Wearing a dark suit, white shirt, striped tie and laced business shoes, John settled into a director's chair behind a Ravens helmet. Jim, wearing a 49ers hat, a sweat shirt, khaki pants and running shoes, sat in an identical chair behind a San Francisco helmet.
Calling it "an exciting moment," John ticked off the names of family members in attendance, including his parents. They posed for pictures with grandfather Joe Cipiti on the stage afterward, too.
Jack Harbaugh, their father, was a successful college coach. His sons followed in his footsteps, but on different paths. There was one time, however, when the routes nearly merged.
"We almost made it happen at Stanford at one time," John said. "It would be an honor to have him on the staff. He's a great coach. You always try to get great coaches, and there are none better than Jim Harbaugh, and I mean that seriously. There's no better coach in the National Football League than this guy right here."
To which Jim added, "Well, Jack Harbaugh."
The family coaching tree could run even deeper one day. Jim's son, Jay, works for John as a coaching intern with the Ravens.
"He's far better than we've anticipated, and I knew he would be great at what he does," John said.
The brothers obviously had a lot of fun with the situation, joking with each other and sometimes acting like a comedy team.
Someone asked them to list their commonalities and philosophical differences.
"I would be hard-pressed to spell philosophical right now," Jim said.
"I know he can't spell commonalities," John said, not missing a beat.
Although Jack Harbaugh has received much of the credit for molding the boys into coaches, the brothers revealed that their mother, Jackie, also had a great deal of influence on their growth into men.
"There is no one in the family who has more competitive fire than my mother,'' Jim said. "She competes like a maniac. She has just always believed in us, and I think that is the most important thing to me. She believed in me, John, and Joanie, and took us to games and played catch with us, shot baskets with us, and just believed in us."
"No one would fight harder for us than our mom, no matter what the situation was, or teach us how to have each other's back and be there for one another," John said. "We may have been talking football with dad in the basement, but mom was talking about other things. There were a lot of things going on in our world during the '70s, and Mom was always tuned in on those kinds of things."
Hall of Fame finalists: Art Modell, the late Cleveland owner credited with helping the NFL grow in prominence but whose decision to relocate his franchise to Baltimore 17 years ago obscures his accomplishments, is one of 15 finalists up for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Modell's case for induction -- he was also a finalist in 2002 -- could spark the liveliest debate in New Orleans on Saturday among 46 Hall of Fame committee members, who will select between four and seven new members on the eve of the Ravens meeting the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.
Modell will be considered for enshrinement along with coach Bill Parcells, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., single-season sacks leader Michael Strahan, offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, running back Jerome Bettis, wide receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed, defensive standouts Charles Haley and Kevin Greene, guard Will Shields and defensive back Aeneas Williams.
Also up for consideration, two senior nominees: defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson.
Foster denies surgery plans: Texans running back Arian Foster said he has not spoken with his doctors about "any surgery," disputing a report that he was likely to undergo a heart procedure in about a month.
The NFL Network reported Thursday that Foster was considering an ablation procedure because of a heart condition that forced him from a game late this season. Such a procedure involves use of a catheter to correct structural problems that can lead to an abnormal heartbeat, according to the Mayo Clinic's website.