Andrea Kremer’s excellent profile of Ravens coach John Harbaugh and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh on the latest episode of HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel discloses that the brothers-turned-NFL-coaches are getting a little extra help in their jobs.
Their father, Jack, still reviews film and gives them advice.
Unlike most fathers of NFL coaches, Jack Harbaugh is uniquely positioned to help his sons: He worked as a college football coach for 43 years. And so Jack Harbaugh responds with “pages and pages of handwritten analysis” of the tapes, after waiting anxiously with the door to his house open for the UPS truck every Monday at 10:00 a.m.
It’s the least Jack Harbaugh can do, given that he credits his sons for saving college football at Western Kentucky. With the program crumbling, Jim worked as an unpaid assistant while still playing in the NFL, helping attract a higher level of recruits to the school. Jim relied on John, who was working at the University of Cincinnati, for information regarding players that Jim should target.
Eventually, Western Kentucky went from the brink of extinction to Division I-AA national champion.
Jack Harbaugh got choked up on camera while talking about the moment that John’s Ravens upset the top-seeded Titans during the 2008 playoffs. “The first emotion is, is how excited you feel,” Jack Harbaugh says in a review copy of the show that was forwarded to PFT by HBO. “And then all at once it just hit me. I mean, just boom, it just hit me. What a tremendous job this young man did. And how he was able to hold that team together. And then I was ready to go up and smile and I turned around and looked right into his eyes. And he looked at me, and he had this big smile on his face. And all at once I just thought to myself, God how proud I am. And I lost it.
“To see something you did for 43 years, and to see them do it better. . . .”
The funniest moment during the interview came when John explained that Jim once beaned a female player while pitching in youth baseball. “Jim fires a fastball,” John said. “He was a little bit bigger than everybody else. [He] fires a fastball and hits her right in the middle of the back.”
John Harbaugh is openly laughing as he continues. “Everybody starts booing. The fans, the parents start booing. ‘Get him off the mound. He’s a big bully, what’s the matter with that kid?’”
Says Jim in his own defense: “She was crowding the plate.”
The show debuts Tuesday, July 19 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.