And yet, after the same regurgitated anecdote about Jim and John Harbaugh once putting a line of yellow “Do Not Cross” tape in the middle of the room they shared as combative adolescents is told 100 times too many, Jim’s 49ers and John’s Ravens facing off in the Super Bowl on Sunday must be considered among the greatest sibling feats in sports history.
Consider there are roughly 16,000 high schools in the United States that field football teams, about 625 four-year universities that compete in the sport and 32 NFL teams.
So, of the approximately 16,660 head coaches at the game’s three highest levels, two teams coached by brothers managed to advance to the biggest game on the planet.
“When you really think about it, it’s fairly incredible, almost beyond imaginable,” said Dave Feldman, yes, that Dave Feldman, a high school classmate of Jim Harbaugh who can’t get enough of the story.
You remember Feldman. Fire-red hair, booming baritone voice, “Feldy” was Fox 5’s sports anchor for more than a decade in Washington, one of the few competitors the late, great George Michael ever liked and respected. But when Comcast SportsNet Bay Area offered Feldman a good gig to return to his Northern California roots last summer — one that included hosting the 49ers’ postgame show — he went home knowing that the captain and star of the Palo Alto High School basketball team he played on was still a pretty big deal. Feldman had stayed in touch with both Jim and his older brother John as they rose the respective ranks of their coaching and broadcasting ladders.
When both Harbaughs advanced from the conference championship games last week, Feldy’s relationship had even larger cachet: Suddenly, he was Dave Feldman, Harbaugh Historian.
He’s already been interviewed by national publications and has done a truckload of radio interviews, waxing nostalgic about the time he buried a turnaround jumper in Jim’s eye during a one-on-one game in the Harbaughs’ back yard — “The only time I ever beat him and he’s still sore about it,” he said.
After Harbaugh family members, Feldy is the closest thing in New Orleans to Cooper Manning, fairly anonymous brother of Eli and Peyton.
“People are talking to me and I didn’t accomplish anything — I just happened to be in Palo Alto when Jim Harbaugh got there,” Feldman said. “My only claim to fame is I grew up with the guy.”
Jim is a live wire, a hand grenade in a headset. He takes competitive zeal to another level and can often be terse and unhelpful to media members who have deigned to ask him questions he doesn’t feel like answering.
John comes across as more down to earth, self-effacing, able to relate to anyone irrespective of their job or title. When John was told last week after the Ravens knocked off the Patriots that Feldman may be the only reporter in America who actually likes his brother, he scoffed. “There’s got to be a few more than just Feldy,” he said, smiling.