NEW ORLEANS -- Two weeks ago, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh knew one of their sons would be the losing coach in Super Bowl XLVII.
As this week in the Big Easy drew to a close, they understoood they would feel exquisite pain for either John or Jim -- perhaps more than the joy they would feel for the winner. That's how families operate; more of the support always goes to the one who needs it most.
Thirty minutes after the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers in a 34-31 thriller at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the Harbaugh parents stood side by side, about 25 feet from the winning coach's interview podium. They smiled tight, bittersweet smiles as John Harbaugh spoke to the assembled media.
"In my 43 years as a coach, that was the most difficult game ever," the father said, hands folded at his waist, rocking gently back and forth.
The mother just closed her eyes and shook her head.