Kevin Cowherd: Like it or not, focus Thursday will be on Harbaughs

November 24, 2011|Kevin Cowherd

Have we heard enough about the Harbaugh brothers this week? I don't know. I feel as though there are still some things we need to know.

Sure, we heard about both guys growing up, their competitive natures, their Little League careers. (Crazy Jim plunked a 10-year-old girl with a fastball because she was crowding the plate!)

We heard about their childhood fights. (John: "I can remember my mom screaming, wailing and crying: 'You're brothers! You're not supposed to act like this!'") We heard about their high school and college careers and how each ended up as an NFL coach.

But what about the toddler years? And don't we have any good baby stories about these two? Shouldn't someone in the media be on this?

On the other hand, both brothers say they'll be focused only on football Thursday night when John Harbaugh's Ravens take on Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium in the feature game of an NFL Thanksgiving tripleheader.

OK, one last Harbaugh note before we move on. And this one's about John and Jim's parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh.

How classy are these two? Jack, an old, respected coach himself, said he and his wife don't want to be a distraction to the Ravens or the 49ers on Thursday night. They know that if they watched the game at the Bank, the TV cameras would be on them constantly, looking for their reactions.

So they plan to show up at the stadium before the game to pose for pictures with their two famous sons. Then they'll quietly leave and watch the game someplace else. Someplace where they can watch in peace. And display their emotions without the whole world watching.

Is that beautiful or what?

Can you imagine the parents of, say, the Kardashians doing that? ("No, please, no TV cameras on us. This is Kim's and Kourtney's and Khloe's big day. And we wouldn't want to spoil it by … oh, fine, where do you want us to stand?")

OK, now on to the game.

Aside from the historical significance of two brothers coaching against each other for the first time in NFL history, it's hard to know what to make of this game.

I say that because the short work week has been ridiculously grueling for both teams. So we don't know how they'll bounce back from their Sunday games.

John Harbaugh and his coaching staff celebrated the Ravens' 31-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals for about, oh, seven seconds. Then they spent the whole night eating bad fast food (is that redundant?) and watching film of the 49ers and coming up with the game plan.

Meanwhile, the Ravens' players showed up for work the next day feeling as though they'd collectively been hit by a train.

"It's definitely tougher to get ready on the physical side than it is mentally," quarterback Joe Flacco said Tuesday. "The biggest challenge is taking a beating from 250-pound guys on every play, for our defense, for our offense, and getting out of bed and getting ready to play on Thursday."

And the Niners, of course, had it even worse. Because after beating the Arizona Cardinals, 23-7, they had to do everything the Ravens did, plus jump on a plane for the six-hour flight to Baltimore.

Which did not exactly thrill Jim Harbaugh, who is wound tighter than a two-dollar watch on a good day.

"There's no doubt that we got the short end of the straw on this one, but we'll see if we can make history," he said. "It's the first time an NFL team has traveled three time zones to play a Thursday night after a Sunday night game since the league went to a 16-game schedule."

But like it or not, both teams get ready to go at each other tonight. And like it or not, for three hours, much of the focus will be on the headset-wearing Harbaugh brothers squinting at each other across the field.

"Regardless of the result, I can't wait to see the [post-game] handshake," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said with a smile.

I'm with Suggs.

But let me say this. If the 49ers win and Jim gets all geeked up the way he was for that post-game handshake with Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz, if he gives John that see-ya-loser handshake and a hard smack on the back, John might get hot.

Really hot.

Then things could get interesting.

I can almost hear Jackie Harbaugh now: "You're brothers! You're not supposed to act like this!"

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd at 7:20 a.m. Tuesdays on 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Davis Show."

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