Just about everybody knows today's Super Bowl XLVII features coaching brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, but not everyone is aware this game includes son versus father.
23 year old Jay is a coaching intern for Baltimore. He works for his uncle, John, head coach of the Ravens, while his dad coaches SF49ers.
Since there's been other brother vs. brother competitions in history, (more about that later) these Super Bowl teams John Harbaugh in Baltimore and Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco have both arrived at this point with no resemblance.
Baltimore, which relied on its Fort McHenry-like defense since the Cleveland Browns changed cities, nicknames and colors in 1996, ranked just 17th in the NFL in yards given up. San Francisco, the first team to collect five Lombardi Trophies because of its slick offense behind Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and others got here with a dominant defense, ranked third.
Both quarterbacks arrived from colleges out of the mainstream pipeline to the NFL but are as different as the San Francisco Bay and the Chesapeake Bay. Joe Flacco is a pure pocket quarterback with a big arm and a reputation he would never win the big one. (Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley said in 2011 that Flacco appearing in a Super Bowl was never going to happen. Colin Kaepernick also has a good arm but very little experience and feet that have not failed him while running something called the "pistol read option."
Each one is making a first Super Bowl appearance. It took Flacco five years as a starting quarterback to get here, Kaepernick with a short time as a starter. Both have been white hot in the postseason. Flacco delivered Baltimore's version of the Immaculate Reception when he heaved a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones with 30 seconds left to send their playoff game in Denver into overtime. He has eight touchdowns, no interceptions and a 114.7 passer rating in three games.
Today, Jim and John Harbaugh will become the first siblings to square off from opposite sidelines when their teams take the field for Super Bowl. That two brothers should both reach the Super Bowl as head coaches is remarkable, and a feat worthy of celebration. But for as long as there have been brothers, brothers have been competing, fighting, betraying, and even killing each other. Since I admit knowing little about football, I will now share two sidebars. The following are memorable brother vs brother rivalries.
Cain vs. Abel
The Book of Genesis says Cain, who was the first son of Adam and Eve, killed his brother Abel, the second son. Cain was likely motivated by jealousy. He murdered his brother after Abel's offering was looked upon favorably by God, while Cain's was not. I hate it when that happens.
Cyrus the Younger vs. Artaxerxes II
When Plutarch wrote about the childhood of the sons of Darius II of Persia, Artaxerxes and Cyrus the Younger, he said that "Cyrus, from his earliest youth, showed something of a headstrong and vehement character; Artaxerxes, on the other side, was gentler in everything, and of a nature more yielding and soft in its action." Artaxerxes ascended the throne to become King of Persia in 404 BC, and Cyrus began plotting his brother's assassination soon after. Three years later, Cyrus was killed in battle during a failed attempt to oust his brother.
Pērōz vs. Hormīzd III
In 457, Pērōz became involved in a bitter two year battle with his brother Hormizd III who was emperor of the Sassanid Dynasty, which was pre-Islamic Persia. Ultimately, Pērōz killed Hormīzd and took the throne.
Mahmud of Ghazni vs. Ismail
In 998, Mahmud of Ghazni, founder of the Ghaznavid Empire, a vast swath that included present-day Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and northern India, became the first man in history to assume the title of “Sultan.” But that power wasn't given to him; Mahmud had to take it from this brother. His father, the great ruler Sabuktegin, passed over Mahmud and granted dominion to his brother, Ismail. Upon hearing about the appointment, Mahmud challenged his brother’s power, overcoming Ismail’s supporters, taking control of Ghazni, and condemning his brother to house arrest for the rest of his life. What the ---- ?
Finally, I asked my brother Dr. George Soto, who he was rooting for. He quickly answered “ 49ers of course ”. That's because his son and my godson, Yoyi Soto, lives and works in in San Francisco.
Then I reached out to the best mom in the whole wide world, or at least the best one I personally know. My daughter's married name is Natasha Soto Yusta and she is the mother of my four grand-kids. I asked her who she thought the parents of the two coaches were rooting for. She responded “one roots for one team and one for the other”.
For those of you who are interested in learning more about this annual event, you may watch it live and online: