Jim and John Harbaugh (Photo: USA Today)
SANTA CLARA, Calif. Not many coaches would view going to the Super Bowl, or having a brother reach the Super Bowl, as a mixed blessing.
Then again, no coach has ever made it to the Super Bowl only to find his brother across the field, plotting to beat him, so perhaps San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh's take on his situation is understandable.
"I think it's a blessing and a curse. A blessing because that is my brother's team," Harbaugh said Monday. "The curse part would be that the talk of two brothers playing in the Super Bowl and what that takes away from the players that are in the game. I just feel like the fighters are first."
The Harbaugh family - including the patriarch, former college football coach Jack Harbaugh, and his wife, Jackie - endured any number of news media questions before the 49ers and John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens faced each other on Thanksgiving Day 2011, a 16-6 victory by Baltimore at home.
It was an NFL first, two brothers coaching against each other, but no more than a regular-season win - and perhaps sibling bragging rights - was at stake. Now the Lombardi Trophy is on the line.
"That was a four-day deal. Every story has been told. We're not that interesting," said John , who, at 50, is 15 months older than Jim. "I mean, we get it, it's really cool, and it's exciting and all of that, but it's really about the team, and it's about the players."
He went as far as quoting former president Teddy Roosevelt in referring to the players as those "whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood."
That's not likely to diminish the media's fascination with the story, not with almost two weeks of Super Bowl hype in store.
The brothers are close and talk on the phone frequently. As of Monday, they had only exchanged texts.
"I'd imagine it won't be much more," Jim said. "Pretty busy getting ready."
By Jorge Ortiz