Preparing to coach the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game Sunday night, John Harbaugh watched on the stadium’s big video screen as Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their victory in the NFC championship game.
John, 50, looked into a nearby TV camera, smiled broadly and said to his brother, who’s 15 months younger: “Hey, Jim, congratulations. You did it. You’re a great coach. Love you.”
Less than four hours later, the Ravens won, too. Yes, get ready for the Brother Bowl.
It’ll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John’s Ravens play Little Bro Jim’s 49ers in the Super Bowl at New Orleans in two weeks.
As much chatter as there will be about the players involved – from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his impending retirement to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s sudden emergence – the Harbaugh family angle will make this coaching matchup the most scrutinized in the nearly half-century of Super Sundays.
During the 2011 regular season, the Harbaughs became the only brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game (the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving Day that year).
Now they’ll be squaring off with a championship at stake in a Super Bowl filled with firsts – and one truly significant last.
It will be the first one between coaching brothers, of course. And it will be the last game for 17-year veteran Lewis, Baltimore’s emotional leader and this postseason’s top tackler with 44 so far.
The NFC West champion 49ers (13-4-1) open as 4.5-point favorites, seeking a record-tying sixth Super Bowl title but first since 1995. The franchise of Hall of Fame quarterbacks Joe Montana and Steve Young is 5-0 in Super Bowls.
The AFC South champion Ravens (13-6) are headed to their second Super Bowl; Lewis was the MVP when Baltimore beat the Giants in 2001.