Poultry, Pigskin, and Good Ol’ Sibling Rivalry… Yes, Please!

Ah, Thanksgiving. A day for family and food. Toss in a competitive board game or a pick-up game of backyard football and you have all the makings of a great American holiday.

Oh, if it were only that simple. After catching up and reflecting on the year passed, the games begin… and out come the horns. Backyard football was never a favorite option among my family, my sisters in particular. We used to play Sequence, a strategic board-and-card game. Combating a relentless turkey hangover, we’d sit, and we’d battle. Dignity, pride and bragging rights on the line. Intense. Well, it was for us! But not compared to the Thanksgiving Day competition that one particular family has planned this year. Their backyard Turkey Bowl will include over 70,000 screaming fans, grown men chasing each other like hungry neanderthals, and a spot in the history books.

The subjects of this Turkey-Day extravaganza: John and Jim Harbaugh, the first brothers to be NFL head coaches. Sons of long-time college football coach, Jack Harbaugh, these two have continued the football bloodline. While John and Jim were growing up, the Harbaugh family moved 12 times as Jack took new coaching jobs. As you can imagine, the brothers grew very close. Of course with that statistic, they didn’t have much of a choice BUT to be friends! After high school both Harbaugh boys played college ball, John as a defensive back at Miami University (Ohio), and Jim as a quarterback at the University of Michigan. Jim continued playing in the NFL where his career spanned from 1987-2001.

With football resumes like that, the competition has probably been simmering between these two turkeys since their births (just one year and three months apart)! I should point out, I use the term “turkey” here with no disrespect :). I am certain, however, that both men have made each other better at both playing and coaching football throughout the years. John was very supportive of Jim’s decision to take the San Fran job. “He loves competing at the highest level, and the NFL’s the highest level of football. […] he’s built for the job and I think he’s the right guy for the job,” the eldest Harbaugh said of his brother earlier this year.

The other brothers who can closest relate to the Harbaughs’ situation today are Rex and Rob Ryan. Rex, the head coach of the New York Jets, and twin Rob, a defensive coordinator now with the Dallas Cowboys, tend to handle their sibling rivalry a little less gracefully. Basically, they (especially Rex) use press conferences to bicker with each other like two elementary-age girls who have unfortunately been given microphones. Their nit-picking knows no boundaries. Rex has even gone far enough to dress up as Rob for a press conference before the Jets took on Rob’s then-team, the Browns. Maybe that’s why Rob felt it acceptable to openly address Rex’s foot fetish with the media? Hard telling.

Fortunately, the Harbaughs have steered clear of the Ryan brothers’ path of mutual humiliation thus far. Of course, they haven’t played each other just yet. When asked of a face-off with Jim shortly after he was hired in January, John said, “It’ll be fun (to face each other). It’s not going to be new for us. We’ve been doing it for quite a long time. We shared the same bedroom for 18 years, so we’ve been wrestling around for quite a long time. It’ll be fun to get back at it in this way, whenever that comes up.”

Well, it’s finally come up. Jim’s squad made the three-time zone leap to Baltimore yesterday, which makes for a quick game-day turn around in this short week. Jim has this to say on the long trek to the east coast,”I definitely think it was very considerate of the NFL to reunite the brothers on Thanksgiving. I think that’s going to be very difficult for our team. There’s no question that we drew the short end of the straw on this one.”

Sibling translation: “NOT FAIR!” 😉

“Harbowl” aside, I’m loving this matchup. The Ravens are perched atop the AFC North with a 7-3 record, while the rookie, Harbaugh, has led his 49ers to a 9-1 tally. That’s impressive, as is. It’s even more impressive considering that they haven’t had a winning season in 8 years!

My guess is that this will be close and low-scoring. Both squads boast impressive defensive units, with the Ravens holding a slight edge. Turnovers will prove costly and I wouldn’t be surprised if this comes down to special teams play.

My pick? I’m going to go with Jim & the Niners!! While John has the coaching experience in the NFL, Jim has 15 years as a player, which definitely helps. Jim is a little more animated, and I love his energy and intensity. I think the 49ers will play with the same urgency shown by their coach. San Francisco gets the victory and evens up the head-to-head record with Baltimore at 2-2!

Another interesting tidbit to this story line is that Jim and John’s parents, Jack and Jackie, will mark their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday. How’s that for two major milestones in two days?! Not too shabby, Harbaugh Family!

Advertisements

The Kickoff

Behind every fantastic guy is usually an equally (or even more) fantastic woman. On Saturdays and Sundays however, the attention of that great man is typically focused on what’s right in front of him: the television. Football season is in full swing, and ladies, I’m willing to bet more than a few of you are looking forward to its end. You miss your men, right? Your weekends?  Maybe you’re even supportive enough to sit through the good, bad, & ugly of it all with your sweetheart… without really having a clue what you’re watching (that’s love right there!). Or maybe you’re like me, and every bit as excited (and even more so at times) for some gridiron action as your guy is! Whether you fall into these categories, or anywhere in between, this blog is for you. (Men, you are welcome to follow along too.) 🙂

When given reign over the remote, most of the men in your life (your dad, your brother, your S.O., or guy friend) probably turn directly to ESPN. Ahhhh, yes… the manliest of all man channels. This, ladies, is simply their very own soap channel.
It’s got it all: the gossip (Urban Meyer to OSU?!); the drama (Jim Harbaugh/Jim Schwartz fight?!… or rather, “confrontation”); and the divas (see NBA Lockout). The sports world is like The Real Housewives of New Jersey with a splash of testosterone added to billions of dollars, then multiplied by 15,408 (that’s an approximate number of coaches and players in college football and the NFL). Sound interesting yet?

Let me cut to the chase. Girls, you and the sports-crazed men in your life have a lot more in common than you think. It IS possible to share autumn weekends together… and enjoy it! Consider this. Your favorite entertainment shows like EXTRA and Entertainment Tonight draw a distinct parallel to the holy grail of ESPN, SportsCenter. You know exactly what I’m talking about. The “dunnuh-dun…dunnuh-dun” is just as recognizable as The Young and the Restless‘ theme. Entertainment shows give us a daily rundown of what’s going on in Hollywood. Sports fans get the latest news and gossip from SC and other ESPN programs.

But wait, there’s more. Ever watch The View? Have you ever wished you had a mute button for a host or two on the show? Well ladies, the men have their version too… and in the case of Around the Horn… they’ve beat us to the mute button. Pardon the Interruption (PTI) could also be thrown into the same category as The View or The Talk except for the fact that they’ve limited the bickering to just two hosts. Genius, right? How about the Best & Worst-Dressed lists on Fashion Police? Male version: SportsCenter‘s Top Ten and Not-So-Top-Ten Plays.

Lastly, we come to one of my guilty pleasures: The Bachelor/Bachelorette. During the rose ceremony the contestants all stand at attention wearing their very best. Wide-eyed and nervous, they wait intently for their name to be called. It’s hard not to commiserate with these poor people at a time when they are so vulnerable. I’ve seen the same look on the faces of football players waiting for their names to be called during the NFL Draft. Don’t believe me? Check out the look on Brady Quinn’s face as he anticipated his selection (then felt the rejection) in 2007. Originally projected to be a top-five pick, Quinn was chosen 22nd overall by the Cleveland Browns. As you can see in the clip below, most expected the Miami Dolphins to pick up Quinn with the 9th selection… including the director, as he chooses to focus on the quarterback during the announcement.  
Ouch. How can you not feel for the guy?! When it comes to the Draft however, the athletes are vying for a baseball cap and a football jersey instead of a rose. Oh, and a big check.

Bottom line is that we become wrapped up in “our shows” because we get wrapped up in the characters and the story line. We begin to feel like we know these people and end up rooting for or against most of them. We can name housewives, Grey’s Anatomy doctors, guidettes, their relationship statuses and more in a heartbeat. The sports nut in your life can dish names, numbers, stats, and game-day status just as quickly.

Maybe you would like to know more about football or sports to share a common bond with someone. You may be interested in simply knowing more for yourself. MAYBE you just want to see the look on some guy’s face when you chime into the next sports convo with a legit opinion or bit of information HE didn’t even know! The moment you start caring about (or even disliking) a particular team or player will be the moment you cross over. It can happen. It happened to my husband when I made him watch The Bachelorette with me. (Sorry, babe!) 😀

Your first assignment…. pick your team if you don’t have one already. Have no clue where to start? Pick the team with the best colors. It doesn’t matter. Google them and catch up. The season has already started, so just like YOUR shows, your team already has a story line established and history beyond just this year. This season has been extremely unpredictable! The underdogs (ahem, LIONS) are winning. The usual top-contenders (COLTS! cough, cough) are losing…. NEITHER of these are normal!

As far as college football goes, I’ll give you all a head start: Notre Dame is the best. EVER.

(MY assignment is to work on an unbiased standpoint for this forum) 😉

Have fun!!! 😀