The last time the brothers squared off on the same field was Thanksgiving of 2011 where John led his Baltimore Ravens to a victory over Jim’s San Francisco 49ers, while at the same time putting an end to his eight-game winning streak.
The Harbaughs will face off on the same field again on Feb. 3 for Super Bowl XLVII. This time, they’ll make history as the only set of brothers coaching opposing teams in a championship game, not just in football, but in any major sports in the U.S.
Perhaps more necessary than skills and professional training will be the faith both brothers, who were born 15 months apart, learned from their parents, Jack and Jackie, in this game.
Fr. Edward Inyanwachi, pastor of St. Raymond Catholic Church in Menlo Park, Calif. described Jim and his wife Sarah as “active parishioners” and said the parish will “be rooting for him to win in this big game.”
“We are proud of the work he has done with the 49ers,” Fr. Inyanwachi told CNA Feb. 1, “but even more proud of his faith in Christ as what keeps him grounded in life.”
Jim, a father of six, spoke with CNA last summer about his work with Santisimo Sacramento, a Catholic sponsorship program to aid impoverished families in Peru.
During a trip to visit some of the charity’s recipients, he said, “I’ve always been struck by the attendance and the joy they have for Mass,” adding that the pews are filled with faithful at daily evening Masses.
“You can only describe that as the fruit of the Holy Spirit,” Jim said.
In an interview with Catholic Review, the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s newspaper, John shared that he prays during games, not to win, but “for God to stay close to me.”
The Ravens coach and father of one said he strives to look out for his team as a shepherd would his flock to keep them, “moving in the right direction to get them to the pasture we want them to graze in.”
John, who is a parishioner at The Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland, Md., also revived the long-dormant practice of organizing the Ravens’ Mass on game day.
“He’s very prayerful during Mass and very attentive to what I have to share in the homily,” Father Christopher Whatley, the team’s chaplain told the Catholic Review. “He’s there to gain some spiritual nourishment.”
Whatever the outcome of Sunday’s game, “...at the end of the day, it is still about family and feelings for one another,” Jackie Harbaugh said, ESPNW reported.
Brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, coaches of the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, respectively, have seen their fair share of sibling rivalry – but this weekend's Super Bowl should prove to be a contest like no other.
Sports, Catholic faith, Super Bowl