Let's reminisce about Harbaugh youth
Gregg Easterbrook [ARCHIVE]
ESPN Playbook
January 22, 2013
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One brother was a star quarterback at the University of Michigan, then went on to start at quarterback in the NFL and make the Pro Bowl. The other brother quietly toiled as a defensive back at a mid-major, Miami University, then never taped his ankles for the NFL.

One brother spent his late teen years at Palo Alto High, across the street from Stanford and one of the coolest high schools ever. The other went to a fine high school, but not in California. One entered coaching and had a golden touch, producing quick Orange Bowl and NFL playoff victories. The other toiled with midlevel assistant jobs before finally getting a head-coaching post in 2008, and though doing well, immediately was hammered by the sports press about ending every season with a loss.

The first coach in each instance is the little brother, Jim Harbaugh; the second in each instance his big brother John. You may have heard something about them meeting in that Super Bowl thing you might have heard about.

Forget players, tactics and strategy. What the world really wants to know is -- did they argue in their PJs over games of electric vibrating football? Blame each other for windows broken with baseballs? Was one grounded more than the other? Did one ever try to steal the other's girl?

The Harbaugh brothers were born only 15 months apart. Kids close in birth order may be either best of friends or at each other's throats. Which was it with the Harbaugh boys?

In initial comments about the upcoming Super Bowl, both brothers -- Harbaugh/East and Harbaugh/West to TMQ -- have downplayed their family relationship and said there's nothing worth talking about. This will only serve to convince the press there is!

Get out the old photo albums, Harbaugh clan. It's XII days 'til kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII, scheduled for VI:XXIII Eastern on February III. America needs to fill that time with discussion of something other than the debt ceiling. The Harbaugh boys as feuding kids -- the nation needs the real story.

In other football news, right about now wouldn't you like to be the person who handles Joe Flacco's endorsement deals? Flacco beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady back-to-back on their home fields. Brady is a future Hall of Famer, Flacco has more to prove. But consider: Baltimore has played four straight games against the Patriots at New England, where Brady holds the cards. In those contests, Flacco combined for 10 touchdown passes and two interceptions. Brady combined for four touchdown passes and five interceptions.

Here's an early Super Bowl indicator. The Packers and Giants, the past two Super Bowl champions, were a combined 19-13 during the regular season, followed by a combined 8-0 in the postseason. The Packers had two 1-3 losing streaks leading up to their Super Bowl; the Giants had a four-game losing streak late in the season leading up to their Super Bowl victory. Maybe that makes the Ravens, who had a 1-4 losing streak late this season, the favorite.

In other news, annually at Super Bowl time, TMQ offers a "Challenge." This year's is the first visual "Challenge." Create a visual -- pictures, animation, video -- on any Tuesday Morning Quarterback running theme.

"Stop Me Before I Blitz Again." ... "Cold Coach = Victory" ... "Cheerleader professionalism appeases the football gods." ... "Coaches punt on fourth-and-1 to avoid being criticized." ... " 'Tis Better to Have Rushed and Lost Than Never to Have Rushed at All." There are plenty of TMQ stalwarts to choose from.

Illustrate any TMQ theme, then submit your entry to TMQ_ESPN@yahoo.com. If you produce a video, upload it to YouTube and send the URL. Humor and creativity should be your goal.

Several entries will be highlighted in the TMQ that follows the Super Bowl, always the top-readership TMQ of the year. I'll point out your work and praise you by name to one of the largest audiences on the Web, and also send you a TMQ memento.

Here's the fine print. No profanity. You can't use NFL video clips because of ESPN contracts with the NFL, which are massive enough to be ballast on a submarine. On a practical basis, the ESPN legal department cannot review every submission to determine whether it trespasses a contract clause. So don't use any pirated NFL image. Also do not use copyrighted music, which YouTube often takes down. Make your own music! Deadline is Feb. 2.

Now the disclaimer that annually appears: "The Tuesday Morning Quarterback Challenge is a challenge, not a contest. We promise nothing, the rules are kept secret even from the judges, and the final decision will be completely arbitrary. "

Stats of the Title Round No. 1: Both home teams were shut out in the second half.

Stats of the Title Round No. 2: In its two playoff games, Atlanta went ahead by a combined 37-0, then was outscored by a combined 17-56.

Stats of the Title Round No. 3: The Patriots, third-highest-scoring team ever, averaged 35 points per game until their final game, when they scored 13 points.

Stats of the Title Round No. 4: The Patriots of 2007, highest-scoring team ever, averaged 36 points per game until their final game, when they scored 14 points.

Stats of the Title Round No. 5: The first-, second-, third-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and seventh-highest-scoring teams in NFL history did not win the Super Bowl.

Stats of the Title Round No. 6: Quarterback Matt Ryan and head coach Mike Smith of Atlanta are 56-27 in the regular season, 1-4 in the postseason.

Stats of the Title Round No. 7: Atlanta second-half possession results in the NFC title game, at home: interception, fumble, punt, turnover on downs, game ends.

Stats of the Title Round No. 8: New England second-half possession results in the AFC title game, at home: punt, punt, fumble, turnover on downs, interception, interception.

Stats of the Title Round No. 9: Entering the title round, Tom Brady had more playoff victories (17) than the other starting quarterbacks had combined playoff starts (Joe Flacco, 11; Matt Ryan, 4; Colin Kaepernick, 1). Reader stat submitted by Brian Borger of Los Angeles.

Stats of the Title Round No. 10: Baltimore and San Francisco, which meet in the season's final contest, are a combined 6-0 in the Super Bowl.

Sweet Play of the Title Round: Leading 14-13 on the first play of the fourth quarter, Baltimore faced first-and-goal on the Flying Elvii 3. The quarters had just changed -- the Ravens had gone from playing with the wind, to against the wind. New England stacked the line expecting a power rush. Flacco play-faked and threw into the 28 mph gusts to Anquan Boldin, who came from the slot and wrestled the ball away from two defenders. Suddenly Baltimore leads 21-13 in the fourth quarter and a reversal of the Ravens' title-game fortunes seems likely. Sweet.

Sour Play of the...
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