‘Dry run’ gives Harbaughs idea of what to expect

Jack and Jackie Harbaugh are spending Super Bowl week

celebrating the good fortune of having two sons at the pinnacle of

pro football.

Once the Super Bowl between John Harbaugh’s Baltimore Ravens and

Jim Harbaugh’s San Francisco 49ers has ended this Sunday night, the

parents know their first priority will be expressing sympathy to

the coach who didn’t get to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

”The one thing that I do think about is after the game. There

is going to be one winner and there is going to be one that is

going to be totally disappointed. My thoughts go to that one that

will not experience the thrill of victory,” Jack Harbaugh said.

”That’s where our thoughts will be.”

Harbaugh explained that he and Jackie had a ”dry run” on how

to handle the postgame last season when the Niners lost at

Baltimore on Thanksgiving night.

After leaving an office in the stadium where they watched the

game – in private and emotionless – the first locker room they

walked past was that of the Ravens.

”We’ve all experienced that excitement of victory-guys jumping

up and down, the smile on John’s face. They were just ecstatic. …

Then you realize that you’re not needed here,” Jack said. ”You

walk across the hall, and you went into the 49ers locker room and

you walked and you saw the players walking about – that look in

their eyes, that look of not being successful and coming up short.

We opened up a couple doors and finally saw Jim all by himself in

this room, just a table and a chair. He was still in his coaching

outfit. His head down in his hands and you looked into his eyes and

you realized that this where you’re needed as a parent.

”Every single parent can identify with that,” he continued.

”On Sunday night, we’re going to experience both of those great

emotions. Our thoughts will be with the one that comes up a little


Now comes the second act in New Orleans, which happens to be the

home of another set of parents who can relate to watching NFL games

involving two of their sons on opposing teams: the Mannings.

As it turns out, Jack Harbaugh said, Archie Manning called

before the Niners-Ravens Thursday night tilt last season to offer

some advice.

”The advice was this, `This will be over on Friday. I promise

you it will be over on Friday,”’ Harbaugh recalled. ”Sure enough

it was great advice and that’s exactly how it happened.”

The elder Harbaugh was a longtime coach himself, and a former

assistant of Bo Schembechler at Michigan, where Jim quarterback

before a playing career in the NFL, followed by a college coaching

career and then his NFL head coaching debut just last season in San


Jack credited Jackie for taking their sons to Michigan practices

when they were young so they could learn about what their father

did during long days at work. And he was thrilled that they wanted

to play and later coach football.

Now that has put them in the spotlight in the Big Easy, where

the Harbaugh parents were fittingly at ease as they sat – talk show

style – in lounge chairs in front of a large crowd of international


Jack opened the news conference by loudly asking, rhetorically,

”Who has it better than us?”

Then he and Jackie both exclaimed, ”Nobody!”

It appeared well rehearsed because it has long been a family


But when it comes to navigating the rest of Super Bowl week,

they acknowledged they were neophytes, and didn’t have much of a

plan beyond spending time with relatives and friends. They didn’t

even know where they were sitting for the game. They added that

both sons have simply urged them to make sure they enjoy the


When asked if the knowledge that one son will lose will diminish

their enjoyment of the game, Jackie Harbaugh said, ”I don’t think

so because we will see both of them after the game. We’re going to

hug both of them and tell them how proud we are of them.”