NEW ORLEANS — Preparing to coach the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC championship game Sunday night, John Harbaugh watched on the stadium's big video screen as Jim Harbaugh's San Francisco 49ers wrapped up their victory in the NFC championship game.
John looked into a nearby TV camera, smiled broadly and said: "Hey, Jim, congratulations. You did it. You're a great coach. Love you."
Less than four hours later, the Ravens won, too. Some siblings try to beat each other in backyard games. These guys will do it in the biggest game of all. Yes, get ready for the Brother Bowl.
It'll be Harbaugh vs. Harbaugh when Big Bro John's Ravens play Little Bro Jim's 49ers in the Super Bowl at New Orleans in two weeks.
As much chatter as there will be about the players involved — from Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and his impending retirement to 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick's sudden emergence — the Harbaugh family angle will make this coaching matchup the most scrutinized in the nearly half-century of Super Sundays.
The Harbaughs' sister, Joani Crean, wrote in a text to The Associated Press: "Overwhelmed with pride for John, Jim and their families! They deserve all that has come their way! Team Harbaugh!"
Who's a parent to cheer for?
During the 2011 regular season, the Harbaughs became the only brothers to coach against each other in any NFL game (the Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6 on Thanksgiving Day that year).
Now they'll be squaring off with a championship at stake in a Super Bowl filled with firsts — and one truly significant last.
It will be the first one between coaching brothers, of course. First one for Joe Flacco, the oft-doubted Ravens quarterback with the superb touch on deep balls and a QB-record six postseason road wins. First one for Kaepernick, the second-year player with the tattooed arms, the sprinter's speed, and a shoulder that zips throws like the high school baseball pitcher he used to be.