February 03, 2013
A Super Brotherly Battle Dominates The NFL
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know; am I my brother's keeper?" -- Genesis 4: 8-9
NEW ORLEANS -- So, as far as the Harbaughs go, who will be Cain and who will be Abel?
Calling Jim and John Harbaugh the Cain and Abel of the NFL is perhaps a bit sensational. It might even be a bit extreme. Of course, the loser of Super Bowl XLVII will not be "slain", at least in terms of loss of life. The two brothers profess a great deal of love for each other, as portrayed in the 2011 Thanksgiving night battle which Baltimore (John) defeated San Francisco (Jim), 16-6 at M&T Bank Stadium in a field goal battle.
Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, their parents, looked on with pride and pleasure. It was a stark contrast to the gaunt looks of stress and angst from Archie and Olivia Manning at Giants Stadium when Peyton first played against Eli on Monday night of Week 1 in 2006 (Peyton won, 26-21 but Eli had a better passer rating and one more touchdown pass). It was a feel good moment, and not just for the Harbaugh family.
But this is the Super Bowl. One son will get a Vince, the other will feel more pain than the Patriots and Falcons felt two weeks ago. There will be only one family member who will feel good. How will the other brother feel? Most important, how will Mom and Dad feel?
Rosalie DiMaggio would attend Red Sox-Yankees games often, watch Joe play Dommie and blissfully express her neutrality. Archie Griffin won two Heisman Trophies, still the only player who did so, but his dad would merely lop Archie in the pack with the rest of his huge and talented family (brother Ray was also on the Ohio State football team when Archie was). It was always interesting when Tiki Barber squared off against twin brother Ronde. How did the Miller family reconcile the immense basketball talents of not one but two members, Reggie and Cheryl? Or what about when Gaylord Perry pitched against Jim? Or Phil Niekro against Joe? Bob Forsch against Ken?
Sometimes families get to stick together. Gordie Howe and his two sons played together, first for the Houston Aeros and then the Hartford Whalers. Peter, Anton and Marion Stastny played together in Quebec for the Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche) for several years. Cal Ripken Jr. played for his dad and with his brother Billy with the Orioles. Ken Griffey Junior and Senior were Seattle Mariners together. For a brief time, the Alou brothers Felipe, Jesus and Matty were in the same outfield for the San Francisco Giants. Dizzy Dean once told teammate/brother Daffy, "Why didn't you tell me you were gonna throw a no-hitter? I'd've thrown one, too!"
And then there's Joe Andruzzi. He played football while his other three brothers worked for FDNY and showed bravery on September 11 that most of us will never know. Talk about families getting to stick together.
But this is the Super Bowl. Someone will have to do something real stupid on Bourbon Street to overshadow this. All the jazz music, jambalaya and gumbeaux won't touch this brotherly battle. It would take probably another Hurricane Katrina, God forbid, to knock the Harbaughs off of Page One.
Jeff and Stan Van Gundy were both NBA head coaches. Their coaching careers overlapped by three years. Jeff would later become a national broadcaster. It was interesting when, at times, Stan would coach for Orlando while Jeff would call the game on ABC or ESPN with Mike Breen. What do you do if you're Jeff? Give Jeff credit for not sugar coating the game remarks, but nothing ever came out of those games which might have torqued off Stan.
In 2004, David Shula's Cincinnati Bengals squared off against Don Shula's Miami Dolphins. Son David beat Dad Don, 16-13 at Cincinnati. Don had the far better career, with 347 coaching wins, most in NFL history. David, on the other hand, lost 50 games faster than any head coach in league history. But this was a unique matchup within a family.
Buddy Ryan has twin sons who are or were among the more prominent coaches in the NFL. Rex Ryan continues, for the moment, to be the head coach of the Jets. He would often battle against his brother Rob, who since leaving the Patriots in 2003 has become the defensive coordinator for Oakland, Cleveland and Dallas. Rob was let go by the Cowboys after this past season, while it's not clear if Rex will keep his job under new Jet GM John Idzik Jr.
Much is made of the Howe family in the NHL, but the Sutters have them beat by a mile. Eight family members, six brothers and two cousins, played and/or coached in the NHL. One of them, Brian, coached the Bruins for three years. Four brothers played in one game, two against two. The reigning Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings are coached by Darryl. Twins Rich and Ron are the first twins to play in the NHL (thanks, Wikipedia).
But this is the Super Bowl. Not some non-descript, regular season meeting no one remembers or some family trivia that no one else can touch.
On Sunday, Jim and John will take the field in New Orleans, in the first Super Bowl played in this city since Hurricane Katrina, and the first since the Patriots won the first of their three Vinces. Unlike their regular season meeting, this one is for the championship of the NFL. One of them will have to lose, which may temper victory for the winner, as well as the feelings of the parents and family members.
It is a brother battle unlike any other in sports history. In the nation's most high profile sporting event, pro sport's biggest stage, Jim's 49ers and John's Ravens will partake in Super Bowl XLVII. Jim will try and prevent the occasion from becoming the Ray Lewis farewell party, and John will try and prevent San Francisco from taking a prohibitive lead in most Super Bowls won by a franchise (the 49ers stand at 5-0 in Super Bowls all-time).
The 49ers themselves have family attached to this game. Jed York owns the team, formerly owned by his dad, John, and formerly by John's brother-in-law, Edward DeBartolo. DeBartolo was the owner for the previous five Vinces in team history.
Sorry, Eddie, but this Jim and John thing beats the heck out of you, Denise, John and Jed.
You the Patriot fan can hate this all you wish. But we suggest this course of action to get you through Sunday.
Bob Kraft wanted his team to be like DeBartolo's. Tom Brady will root for the 49ers, not only because it was his boyhood rooting interest, but because he and Jim at one point quarterbacked the University of Michigan Wolverines. You can either go along with Brady or watch Lewis get his second and final ring. You can deal with Colin Kaepernick being the next hot quarterback in the NFL instead of Bernard Pollard and Terrell Suggs getting a ring. You can deal with Randy Moss making you think he was the real reason why the 49ers won instead of Joe Flacco being touted as the newest best quarterback in the NFL after years of all evidence to the contrary.
Watch the game. Watch Jim versus John. Enjoy the brotherly battle. And if you feel you have to take sides, go for Jim.
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