BALTIMORE (Reuters) - With two weeks of hype left before the Super Bowl, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh is already trying to play down the drama of facing his little brother for the National Football League championship.
John used to share a room with his brother Jim and, like many siblings, they would place tape down the middle of the room to claim their turf.
Their story has already been told. And told. And told.
“Every story has been told,” he told reporters Monday.
”We’re not that interesting. There’s nothing more to learn. The tape across the middle of the room story, OK, you got it? It’s OK.
“It was just like any other family, really.”
Baltimore shocked the New England Patriots 28-13 on Sunday to win the AFC and reach the Super Bowl, while the San Francisco 49ers, coached by Jim Harbaugh, edged the Atlanta Falcons 28-24 in the NFC to set up a HarBowl on February 3 in New Orleans.
The brothers have already squared off in the regular season, U.S. Thanksgiving 2011, when the Ravens defeated the 49ers 16-6 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
John Harbaugh, 50 years old and 15 months older than Jim, is hoping the spotlight of the Super Bowl would not be on the coaches.
”I really hope the focus is not so much on that,“ he said. ”We get it, it’s really cool and it’s exciting and all that. But it’s really about the team, about the players, about the guys you’re talking about.
”It’s about the players, the guys out there on the field who are actually in the arena whose face is marred with dust and sweat and blood, you know?
“Remember that one (a Theodore Roosevelt quote)? That’s what it’s about. The more we focus on those guys, I think the better it is for everybody.”
The game will mark the first time that brothers will face each other in a professional championship game as coaches.
”I guess it’s pretty neat,“ said Harbaugh. ”But is it really going to be written about? It’s not exactly like Churchill and Roosevelt or anything.
“It’s pretty cool, but that’s as far as it goes.”
Jim also hopes to keep talk of the ‘Battle of the Brothers’ to a minimum but says there is a negative side to facing the Ravens.
“I think it’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because that is my brother’s team. And also personally I played for the Ravens. Great respect for their organization. Know many of the Baltimore Ravens players and have a great respect for them and their team and I‘m happy for them,” he told reporters on Monday.
”The curse part would be that the talk of two brothers playing in the Super Bowl and what that takes away from the players that are in the game. And every moment that you’re talking about myself or John that’s less time that the players are going to be talked about.
“I just feel like the fighters are first. The ones that are playing in the game, the players, they’re the ones that have the most to do with it. And they’re the ones we should be talking about,” he said.
John has been the Ravens’ head coach since 2008 while Jim, a former quarterback who played in the NFL from 1987 through until 2001, is in his second season on the 49ers sideline.
”He’s an incredibly competitive person,“ John said of his brother. ”He will fight you for anything. Whether it was a game of cards growing up, whatever, he was going to find a way to win no matter what.
“That’s what made a great player, it’s what made him a good student in college, it’s what makes him the man he is.”
Additional reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Frank Pingue