On Wednesday afternoon, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, Jim and John's parents, conducted a press conference to discuss all things Harbaugh. They conducted a conference call last week, and this wrapped up Super Bowl media obligations for the family before Sunday's game.
I highly recommend checking this out because Jack Harbaugh is a master story-teller. Additionally, it seems pretty clear where Jim a gets a lot of his mannerisms and personality. They strike me as very much alike, and it even comes down to appearance based on this picture tweeted out last night:
If you've got a few minutes, give this transcript a read. I did not get a chance to attend the press conference, but at times I can picture Jackie laughing at Jack's stories, but knowing he's told them a million times, and just sort of shaking her head in bemusement.
Jack: "Before we open up for questions, I'd like to tell a quick story. Back in 1957, Jackie and I were freshmen at Bowling Green State University. One of the great college coaches, his name was Doyt Perry. He's a Hall of Famer, he was our college coach there. Our second year there, he held a class. It was Football 101. There were 35 guys in the class, all purporting to be coaches. That's what they wanted to do, high school coaches and possibly college coaches. On the first day of the class, Doyt stood up and he said ‘How many of you here want to be coaches?' and of course 35 hands went up. And he said ‘To start the class, I'm going to tell you the three things that are going to be necessary for you to be a coach. Number three, you have to have a love and passion for the game of football. Number two, you needed to outwork the people that you were coaching against.' He said, ‘The reason I say that, I've been around you for about a year and there's not many of you here that are going to outsmart anybody so you had better be prepared to outwork them.' And he said ‘Number one on the list, if you want to be a coach someday, marry wisely.' I guarantee the only advice that I know I listened and followed from the great coach Doyt Perry was the marry wisely part. Jackie Harbaugh is the foundation of this Harbaugh family. She is the rock of our family. She's the one that moved us 17 times in a 43 year coaching career. She sold houses at every stop and she bought houses at every stop. She took them in to school and out of school. She went to school when things didn't go well. This is my hero right here, Jackie Harbaugh. You're going to ask us how we feel on this historic day? Jackie, who has it better than us? Nobody!"
(on when the last time they watched a Super Bowl together was)
Jack: "I would say every sporting event, every big sporting event was a big occasion at our house. I can remember back when we were watching the Boston Bruins play in a hockey game way back where Bobby Orr had that great shot where he flew across the net and knocked it in. John, to this day, still holds us responsible because he was on a refreshment run. He was about halfway up the steps when Orr knocked that puck into the goal and he has never forgiven us for not seeing that. They had no replays in those days, so I don't know if he ever did see the shot."
Jackie: "No, not really because I don't think back in the 70s, it wasn't as big of as an event as it is today. We kind of took every day as it came. So, no Super Bowl parties."
(on where Jim and John got their colorful animated demeanors from)
Jack: "I think anyone that knows the family and knows Jackie and myself, and I think John and Jim would be the first to describe the emotion, passion and love comes from Jackie."
Jackie: "I think we both feel strongly about certain things in life. We're so excited for John and Jim to be in this situation but we're also really excited for the players and their families. This is a huge event for them and I just am thrilled that some of them, this is their first time in this situation, so I can imagine how all those mothers and fathers feel about their sons being in this situation.
(on if there was ever a time where they talked to their sons about toning it down)
Jack: "The one thing that we watch and take great pride in is that both of them are themselves. We were around Bo Schembechler for a long time and there were a lot of coaches that tried to emulate him. The first time you weren't yourself, you were exposed and somewhat of a fraud. So, always be who you are and not follow anyone else."
(on whether all of the ‘J' names are on purpose)
Jackie: "No, we aren't very creative. John for Jack, because his given name is John. So John is after Jack. Jim is actually after my doctor. Dr. Frasier in Perrysburg, Ohio. They came in and said ‘What are you going to name this baby?' and I said that I liked the name Jim. Joanie Marie is after my mother's middle name and Jack's mother's first name."
(on when Jim and John understood that Jack was a football coach)
Jack: "Again, I have to point to Jackie. In coaching, a lot of times I left before the sun came up and came home after the sun went down. Jackie has a great philosophy and that is that she wanted her children to know what their father did. She wanted them to understand who he was and what he did. I can remember when they could just barely walk, John and Jim, that she'd bring them out to the practice field. We'd be practicing and they'd be around jumping on the dummies and then they learned they could throw the ball around. Then they learned they could get into the locker room and meet the players and those kinds of things. We would invite our players at Iowa and Michigan when they were growing up to come to the house on Thursday. That was the day we had off. Jackie would cook a great meal for them and then pretty soon they were wrestling on the floor. Jackie always involved our children in the job that we were involved with."
(on whether Jack sees his own coaching style in his sons)
Jack: "I really believe they're both who they are. I don't think you have to watch very long or be a psychologist just to watch and see who they are. The beauty of it, they allow themselves to be who they are. I think Jackie and I are most proud of that."
(on whether John picked on Jim)
Jackie: "I think that brothers both do this and so do sisters. So everyone out there that has a brother or sister, you all have had your little ins and outs with one another. So that's not unusual."
(on if either son has called to ask what the other has said about leading up to the Super Bowl)
Jack: "Bo Schembechler had two great sayings. One was, ‘if you're going to play in the North Atlantic, you have to practice in the North Atlantic.' The other was ‘loose lips sink ships.' They both have subscribed to that philosophy, so no one talks to anyone. Jim is very quiet and guarded and John is very quiet and guarded. That's exactly the way we want it."
Jackie: "And so are we."
(on how much Jim and John consult with Jack regarding football questions)
Jack: "The story that's been told is on draft day in 2011 after the first day of drafts was over, Jim called on his way home and he asked what I thought about the draft. We didn't have much to talk about as it relates to the draft, but he had not expressed to me who they were thinking about drafting at the quarterback position so I said ‘Jim, tomorrow in the second round, surely you're going to draft a quarterback, but which one is it going to be?' and it was dead silent. He said ‘are you talking to anybody?' and I said ‘I swear I'm not talking to anyone.' He said ‘we're drafting Colin Kaepernick. Do I not only think that he's the best quarterback in the draft, I think he's the best football player in the draft and we're going with Colin Kaepernick.' And I thought to myself, ‘wise decision.'"
(on where this Super Bowl ranks amongst all Harbaugh moments)
Jackie: "I would honestly have to say that the birth of our own children and then the birth of our grandchildren are the most important to me and this is like frosting on the cake for our whole family, our extended family which includes a lot of relatives. I might take this time, if I may, to thank all those friends and families and all those ex-football players that have called us to congratulate John and Jim. They're so excited for this because they feel they're part of this, too. It's fun hearing from them and sharing this moment with them."
Jack: "All those millions of people that are parents out there, this is just a fantastic, fantastic experience and really no one has it better than us. But when you're in the process of going through parenting, the day that they made the junior high school football team, they said we made our high school team. You have that feeling of being thrilled for your children. They go to high school and they make the high school team. Then they are lucky enough to get a college scholarship. Then every one of those stops along the tremendous journey. The thrill that you feel, I know this is on a big stage, but in parenting, those don't rank any differently."
(on if they have any apprehension about after the game)
Jack: "For me, I jump in there-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. That's where our thoughts will be. We had a little bit of a dry run on this last year with Thanksgiving. We watched the game and I know this has been reported before, but we watched the game in an office in the Ravens stadium. They were so kind to give us that privacy. During the three hours and 15 minutes, this lady was comatose. There was no expression. Her face was totally lifeless. Her eyes were glazed over watching the game. Then the game was over and you just dropped your head and we went down an elevator and opened the door to the Ravens locker room-I mean, the excitement of victory. We've all experienced that excitement of victory-guys jumping up and down, the smile on John's face. They were just ecstatic and that thrill of victory, there is nothing like it. Victory, the thrill of victory. Then you realize that you're not needed here. They had so much going on for them. 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. That thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. 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 short."
(on if they are worried that their feelings for the son that loses will diminish the thrill for the son that wins)
Jackie: "No, 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 and their teams because those teams are going to prepare well for this game. All of the players are going to prepare well. It's going to be a cleanly played game. It's going to be a fairly officiated game. That's, to me, what we're looking forward to in watching this game."
Jack: "We'll have plenty of time after, to tell them how thrilled and excited we are for them."
(on what Jack remembers about giving John his first job as a GA in 1982)
Jack: "It was one of the joys of my life. John lived at home with us. He wasn't making any money I don't think. He was getting a scholarship to get his master's degree, which he did from Western Michigan University. I don't think he had a car. It was just John and myself. Every morning, we'd wake up and jump in the car and had a half hour drive to work. We had a chance to talk football and talk about strategy and talk about all the things that a father and son would talk about. We worked all day and sometimes things went well; sometimes they didn't. After work, around 10 o'clock, 10:30 at night, we'd jump in the car and drive home. For like two years! Finally, I think we were able to give him enough money where he got a car of some kind and eventually moved out on us. Those years that we were with John were really a joy for us."
(on what kind of coaching John did for him)
Jack: "Let me tell you a story about how he got into coaching. Political science, a good student, a three-plus plus student. He was right around a 3.5 student at a great academic school. Political science and possibly going into law school and all those different kinds of things. Jackie was so excited about it. She loves political science and loves politics. He came home one day and we're sitting around the table and we're having dinner. Jackie says, ‘John, what law school will it be?' John said, ‘Mom, I think I want to try coaching.' Which Jackie, I'm embellishing this story a trifle, to which Jackie went facedown into the mashed potatoes. She said, ‘What? Coaching? You've got to reconsider this!' He decided to get into coaching and to come to Western (Kentucky). Our thought was one year he was on the offensive side of the ball. The next year, he was on the defensive side of the ball, so he could experience both sides of the ball. Then he was off to the University of Pittsburgh, where he worked with Mike Godfried at Pittsburgh as a graduate assistant."
(on what Jackie thought about John becoming a coach)
Jackie: "Yes, may I tell the truth? There were no mashed potatoes and that's what we thought John probably was going to do, but then when he came home and talked about it and I saw that look in his eyes, my feeling was you have to do what you want to do. If you want to try this and see where it takes you, that would be great."
(on if he thinks John will pull any tricks on Jim)
Jack: "One more thing about this Thanksgiving game in Baltimore between San Francisco and Baltimore. Looking at that game in retrospect and watching it playback a couple of times, I thought that was one of the finest played football games that I had ever been a part of. I'm not just talking about the way it was played strategy-wise and the intensity of the offense and defense and special teams. I'm talking about the players. The players-that's what it's all about. Those guys, on that particular night, they played this game the way it's supposed to be played: blocking and tackling and running and chasing. A great, great display of football. I believe that's what we're going to see on Sunday night."
(on the family vacation at Gettysburg a few years ago and if they talked about the brother vs. brother scenario back then)
Jack: "We did a little bit because we knew the game, the Thanksgiving game was scheduled. We knew that was on the schedule, so we talked about it a little bit, but it was such on plowed ground. We had never experienced it and wouldn't know how we would feel. I'm sure John and Jim wouldn't realize how they would feel. So we really didn't have any kind of a blueprint for what it was going to be like. Now, we've seen a little bit and so we have a little bit more of an understanding about how to handle it emotionally."
(on what plans do they have for a potential rematch next year in New York City)
Jackie: "One game at a time."
Jack: "If I had a dollar for every time I've heard her say that, I want you to know that I would be rich."
(on the differences in personality between John and Jim)
Jack: "I refuse to go to that ground, to that particular place. I've heard John and Jim both explain this and I think it's a philosophy that we have in our family, anytime you compare, you have a tendency to demean with any kind of question like that. So we try to stay as far away from those kinds of comparison as we can."
Jackie: "Really, they're more similar than they are different. The media and people out there, they may have judgments about their personalities because of how the media might focus on them during a game and catch them in a moment of jubilation or sadness. That's where the outside people get this feeling about the differences in them. They are more similar because they are both very caring individuals. They are both very good fathers. They love their children very much. That really makes us proud, to see them with their own children. They are very caring because they have done a lot of community work in every city that they've ever been in. A lot of work that really is unrecognized and that's the way they want it. For us, that's what we're proud of. They are very caring individuals."
Jack: "Just a quick follow up on that is for the game last week, the Ravens and the Patriots game, the picture on my mind right of that game is pregame, when the ‘Star-Spangled Banner' was being played. John was there and his daughter Alison, she does some work with him on the sideline there. She runs some photographs, I guess to the coaches. Alison was on the field and he had his arm draped around her shoulders and they were cheek-to-cheek. He had his hand over his heart as the national anthem was being played. For me, that's moment of that game that I'm just going to remember forever. Family and country, how beautiful that message was. For Jim, it was a little bit different. About an hour and a half after the game, Jim calls on the telephone and he's going, ‘Dad, tell me what's going on. I'm getting on the airplane. I have no idea what's happening.' I said, ‘Well, they just fumbled. The Patriots just fumbled!' Two plays later, ‘Touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin! We have a two-score game here.' He says, ‘Dad, do you realize where this thing is headed?' I said, ‘I think I do.' He said, ‘Oh, by the way, I wanted to tell you Jack,' we all know Jack, baby Jack, the four-month old. I think we've talked about him over the last couple days, big-headed Jack. He said, ‘Jack, you won't believe this, but he cut his first tooth on the field in Atlanta.' He said, ‘We noticed after the game he opened his mouth and there was first tooth.' Now, can you imagine, not talking about he and John going to the Super Bowl, but talking about Jack cutting his first tooth. Family, family, family."
(on if this is going to be the longest three and a half hours for both of them)
Jackie: "I think that the NFL changed that rule. I think if it ends in a tie, then it will be a tie."
Jack: "There are no emotions during the game. Last year at Thanksgiving, it was emotionless. There wasn't any cheering. There wasn't any emotion. It was just watching the game. Archie Manning, before the game last year at Thanksgiving time on Tuesday, he called and I can't tell you how thrilled we were to receive the call. He just called out of the clear blue and he said, ‘My wife and I are just sitting here talking and we're talking about how this going to be for you on Thursday. For us, it's a little bit different. When Peyton is on offense, we root for the offense. When Eli is on offense, we root for the offense. He said, I can't imagine how it's going to be for you and Jackie when the head coaches are in charge of the game on both sides.' He said, ‘I'm going to give you a piece of advice.' He said, ‘Listen to me, a piece of advice.' I'm thinking this is really going to be something profound, right? The advice was this, ‘This will be over on Friday. I promise you it will be over on Friday,' and sure enough it was great advice and that's exactly how it happened."
(on if the anticipation of the game to be over is most difficult)
Jack: "I think so. I never really thought about it, but I think so. You wait for the end. You're waiting for the end."
Jackie: "Really, I guess, we can't tell how we're going to feel because we're not in that situation yet. It's like a football game. You really can't predict who is going to win because in a football game, the situations change and they go back and forth. It's not perfect. Even the video game of football isn't perfect."
Jack: "The one thing that both John and Jim have told us, this is over the past week. We haven't talked anything about football. We haven't talked strategy, but both of them have shared this with us. ‘Mom and Dad, please promise us that you will enjoy this. Enjoy this experience. That's all we're asking. Please, please enjoy this experience.' We're trying. I promise you we'll try."
Jackie: "I was going to say, they're telling their teams the same things. Enjoy this moment. Really, truly enjoy it. They're going to prepare but they're going to take it all in, as they should."
(on Jack's relationship with Muhammad Ali)
Jack: "That's a fantastic thing. I go back to the ‘70s, and my dad was a big fight fan, and in those days we had a fight on Monday night, we had a fight on Wednesday night, we had a fight on Friday night, the Gillette fights and the Pabst Blue Ribbon fights. (St.) Nicholas Arena, I think it was, in New York and my dad and I would sit at nine o'clock at night and watch fights, so boxing was something that we kind of grew up with. Muhammad Ali was such a hero for me, and a lot of things in the ‘70s I really didn't understand, and then it kind of all came together. Muhammad Ali used boxing as a platform for love, especially with children, and especially with downtrodden people who were at a little bit of a disadvantage and he became my hero. It started about 10 to 12 years ago with our teams talking about Muhammad Ali and Ernie Terrell and that fight. I had a chance to express it with John's team and Jim's team and Tom Crean's team, anybody who had a team I was there to talk about Muhammad Ali. This year for the Bengal came, Muhammad Ali is coming to Baltimore. John had put this whole thing together that I would once again tell the Baltimore Ravens this Muhammad Ali story, but they were going to drive Muhammad Ali out (to the team), and as I was telling the story he would be there for the story. And you can just imagine the thrill of being in his presence, and the story of how we grew up with Muhammad Ali in boxing. Then, about two weeks later I go to San Francisco, and practice is over and Jim says, ‘Dad, let's take a ride. Let's go home and have some dinner with the family and then I will come back to work and you can stay with the family.' And I said, ‘OK, great.' So we are in a truck, we're driving down, I recognize where we're going, we're going every which way, and all at once we make a turn and I say, ‘Jim, where are we going?' and he says, ‘Well, it's a little shortcut.' So we went a little bit and all at once we come up to this house and we pull on into the driveway and he says, ‘There's somebody here we have to stop and see.' So we go to the front door, and we knock on the door, and they say come on in. And we walk and we follow into the study, and there sits Willie Mays. Willie Mays - my baseball hero, (and) the greatest baseball player to ever play, in my judgment. We sat there and watched the third game of the Giants and the Reds in the presence of Willie Mays. I'm a great Cleveland Indians fan. 1954 - Number 53, Vic Wertz, (with) Larry Doby on second base, he hits a shot to deep center field in Polo Grounds. Back goes Mays. He catches the ball over his shoulder. He spins around and fires the ball back to the infield, holding Larry Doby to third base. And I said to Willie, ‘Willie, I had that figured out. From the time the ball hit the bat, you knew you were going to catch that ball, and what you were thinking about was how you could get that ball back to the infield so Larry Doby couldn't score from second.' I think it was 2-2. And Willie looked at me and said, ‘Exactly. I had it from the time the ball hit the bat.' I hope I'm not giving any secrets away."
(on their sons following Jack into coaching)
Jack: "I go back to what I mentioned earlier. When they went out for Pop Warner football in the fifth grade, the thrill of a parent, that your youngster chose to play football, they asked to be a part of a football team, brought great, great joy to me as a father. All of those different experiences up to this are just boring. It's so thrilling to know that your children, John and Jim and Joanie, as a coach's wife, have chosen to do what you have done for 43 years of your life. This experience is so great, (it's a) big, big, big stage, but it's just another fantastic part of this great journey that Jackie and I and our family have been on."
(on if they will see their sons this week and their plans after the game)
Jackie: "Well we are not sure about that, but we have visited with both briefly. That's as much on John as Jim, as they are busy practicing now, but we have seen Jim's children here and some of the other families are coming in on Thursday. That's what we're looking forward to. After today, we're going to spend our time with our families who are coming in and all of our grandchildren. There are no dinners set or anything like that. We have no idea what we are doing (after the game). Like in life, when you plan everything out, which I learned after 10 years of marriage, if you try to plan everything out, it does not turn out that way."
Jack: "One story I want to mention is Jay Harbaugh, how many know who Jay Harbaugh is? Anybody know Jay Harbaugh? Jay Harbaugh is Jim's oldest son and he's on the coaching staff for the Ravens. He's doing the grunt work there (as the) assistant strength coach. It's kind of an interesting story. He does video and works in the weight room and he just graduated from Oregon State. There, he was a student-coach on their staff at Oregon State with Mike Reilly, and now he's with John over there. You've got father and son competing on Sunday night as well."
(on what they will wear to the game on Sunday):
Jackie: "Well we are neutral in this situation. And actually, my daughter and a friend of hers helped me. I mostly wear Life Is Good (brand) shirts around and they said, ‘Mom, you can't wear Life Is Good shirts around there.'"
Jack: "We will not have anything purple or anything red."
(on Bo Schembechler's influence on these two teams)
Jack: "I'm really glad you asked that question. There was a great article about Woody (Hayes) and Bo that I had a chance to read, and I want you to know it literally brought tears to my eyes having experience the ‘70s. I was there for six of the 10 years of the '10 Year War' with Woody and Bo, and the great joy that I get is that John, when he did his first press conference with the Baltimore Ravens, the question was asked, ‘Tell us the first thing you're going to do as the Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens.' He said ‘The number one thing will be the team. The number two thing will be the team. And the number three thing will be the team.' Then in San Francisco, in their meeting room, you look into that room and you see Joe Montana might have sat right there, Jerry Rice was over here. The great players in this meeting room in their facility, and one the back wall, about three feet high is, ‘The Team, The Team, The Team.' And then at Indiana, with the Hoosiers, you go into their practice facility and (you see) ‘The Team, The Team, The Team.' Every single time that I see that expression, there is one man that I think about, and that's Bo Schembechler. Every single day I was at the University of Michigan, his program was about the team. What is best for the team? What is going to help our team? We do it. If it's not going to help our team, we don't do it, and it's not a difficult decision. The Team, The Team, The Team - that all came from Bo and Woody. To answer your question, I see Bo's fingerprints all over the Raven football team and all over the San Francisco 49er team, and there could not be anyone that you could better emulate."
Jackie: "I might add to that, it carries over to family, too. Everybody in their family is a part of that family and so I think, unknowingly, we took that philosophy into our family and our daily lives; that we are all a part of one family and we're doing what's best to lift everyone up in our family."