Friday, February 8, 2013

Harbaughs? HarbOz!

By all appearances, Bill Belichick is not a warm man. Perhaps it's because he wears half a hoodie. But whatever the case, it's hard to think of him as, well, friendly. Or caring. It's easy to think of him as the Tin Man, except there was never any evidence that he was ever going to put in any effort to search for a heart.

But remember the postgame handshake after Super Bowl XLVI? He gave Tom Coughlin a hug. A hug! 

After losing in the Super Bowl (again) to the Giants (again) after an amazing catch by a New York receiver (again) (who was not on the team the following season (again)) and a last second NY touchdown (again) and failing to score on the final drive (again), Belichick,who has made the dismissive postgame handshake almost an art form, gave Tom Coughlin a hug.

The normally stoic Coughlin even went so far as to say this:

“Very, very moving experience for me because I tried to put myself in his shoes and how difficult that was for him. We kind of put our arms around each other – I won’t tell you what was said, but we put our arms around each other. We had embraced so I started to come back and he kind of pulled again. And so we…it was kind of a special moment.”

Which brings us to Super Bowl XLVII. As excited as we were for the game, I think many of us were even more excited for what was going to happen at the end of the game. Two brothers, coaching against each other in the biggest game of their lives, were going to cross the field towards each other and then....what? Shake hands? Hug? Talk out their feelings? Yell at each other? Jim Harbaugh has already gotten into a fight during a postgame handshake, and that was with someone he had ZERO relationship with.

Meanwhile, his brother shared a hug with the Tin Man after the Ravens beat the Patriots in this year's AFC Championship.

So what were we going to get after Super Bowl XLVII? Finally, the moment arrives. The Ravens win, controversial finish, Baltimore fans thrilled and San Francisco fans crushed, and here come the brothers, walking towards each other. John Harbaugh pushes away a photographer as he searches for his brother. Finally they are face to face...and this happens.

John Harbaugh said, "I love you," and it appears John replied, "love you too," and then pat each other on the face and chest in an impressive reenactment of the Planes, Trains and Automobiles scene where Steve Martin and John Candy accidentally ended up cuddling (you can stop at the 1:24 mark).

Now perhaps that is the Harbaugh way - kind of a manly warm. Close enough to say "I love you" but not quite at the hugging stage. But it makes me wonder - how would we react if we lost out to a sibling for something? Would our excitement for their success supersede our own disappointment? I know I would like to believe that I would be thrilled for any of my sisters' happiness, even if it came By his own account, John Harbaugh was more upset for his brother (at least at that moment) than he was happy for himself. Jim Harbaugh just seemed his normal, surly self.

What's the point of all this?

Well, it should go without saying that Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick are not related, so I won't mention it. But Tom Coughlin and Bill Belichick are not related. So the postgame meeting between the Harbaugh brothers achieved something that I never thought possible: it made Bill Belichick look like a warm, caring person. If Bill Belichick can hug a man who beat him twice in the Super Bowl, then imagine what he is like with his own family! He might even hug them AND tell them he loves them!

Plus, it made be doubly sad that we will never see the Harbaugh clan's interaction at the next family gathering. How enjoyably awkward it would be for all of us! What would they say about the 49ers' fourth down pass play? Would they comment on whether or not holding should have been called on the Ravens in the end zone that would have resulted in the safety the Ravens wanted anyway but may have given the 49ers more time to attempt a hail mary? This is the kind of stuff that reality show producers can't even make up!

Sadly, we will never watch what would be the greatest reality show of all time. But if we learned anything from this NFL season, it's that Bill Belichick can be beaten. Not just on the field - the Giants already proved that (twice (actually three times)). But Jim Harbaugh out Belichick-ed Belichick. So if the original Tin Man can find a heart, maybe there's hope for the rest of us.

Even this guy.