by Shelby Blevins
Sibling rivalries in sports aren’t new to any of us. There are plenty of examples of genetically similar athletes either battling it out on their respective playing fields or working together in order to form unstoppable duos. We’ve seen those greasy Gasol brothers sweating buckets in L.A. and Memphis (thank goodness there’s still no such thing as smell-o-vision), we’ve heard Venus and Serena grunting all the way from Wimbledon, and who could forget America’s golden boys, Eli and Peyton Manning. I think we can say that these athletes’ parents sure know how to make ‘em.
But as the Super Bowl approaches and we prepare for history’s first brother vs. brother coaching extravaganza, you have to wonder what kind of things are being said between the two coaches. In my own lifetime I’ve seen brothers nearly fight to the death over a game of Madden. So what’s going through the heads of John and Jim Harbaugh as they prepare for the biggest real life game of Madden of their careers?
This game will not only be the first Super Bowl victory for either coach, but it will also be the deciding factor in which brother will get a larger chunk of praise in the 2013 Harbaugh Christmas Newsletter, the brother who gets the last slice of cake saved for him and let’s be real: the brother who gets more attention and love from their parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh. In simpler terms, for those of you who know what its like to have a sibling, this game will determine who gets to be Mario and who gets to be Luigi on Super Mario Bros until the end of time. This is the Favorite Child Bowl for the Harbaughs. It’s a big deal.
But whether or not the winner will have the privilege of giving a victory swirly to the loser, we may never know. What we do know is that two dominant forces in football are about to go head to head in the most important game of the season.
In one corner, we have John Harbaugh and the Ravens. John is not only the older brother, but also, after the Jim Harbaugh/Jim Schwartz handshake fiasco of 2011 and Jim’s meltdown at the NFC Championship game, we know he’s the more level-headed Harbaugh. With Ray Lewis’ ongoing postseason retirement party and Joe Flacco’s sudden surge of ruthlessness, the momentum that Baltimore is riding will be hard to stop. Their win in Foxborough two weeks ago over the favored 12-4 Patriots proved their worth, especially in the arctic tundra-like conditions moving through Massachusetts that evening. What can we predict with a John Harbaugh victory? A Jim Harbaugh temper tantrum, for starters.
In the opposite corner, we have Jim and the Niners. With a running quarterback who not only moves like he has a cheetah taped to his back but also throws zippers so tight they could keep Jared Lorenzen’s pants up, the Niners offense has been nearly unstoppable. Coming back from a 17-point deficit against a team that spent nearly half the season undefeated is no simple task. On January 20th, the Niners completely froze Matty Ice in his tracks, which will be something to watch for with Joe Flacco tomorrow on the holy Super Bowl Sunday. What can be guaranteed from a Jim Harbaugh win? Maybe a dare for John to streak through the streets of San Fransisco.
Though the spirit of the Super Bowl is much more than a coaching rivalry, and we should do our best to keep the talent of the athletes performing that night in the spotlight, we still have the opportunity to witness one of the most heated sibling rivalries of all time (well, maybe besides Scar and Mufasa). We may never know what their texts to each other say, or the roasts they deliver to each other over the phone, but it’s fun to guess. No brotherly duel is complete without a little slice and dice before the big show. Personally, I like to think the first exchange went a little like this.
Jim: “Mom says you’re adopted.. Guess you can’t depend on Dad’s genes for that win Sunday”
John: “Let me win or I’ll tell everyone you wet the bed until you were 14”
Jim: “Remember when I snagged your prom date? Gonna snag that Lombardi trophy from you too.”
John: “Mom and Dad are putting all your inheritance money on me to win, punk.”
Whichever brother you’re rooting for tomorrow night, just remember that no matter who wins, it’ll still be a Harbaugh victory, which is more than you can say about you and your sibling’s sack race win at the family reunion.