John and Jim Harbaugh, both head coaches, will face each other for the first time this Thanksgiving Thursday when the Baltimore Ravens host the San Francisco 49ers.
While the sibling rivalry wouldn't be the first time two brothers faced each other in an NFL game, it will be the first time both were head coaches of their respective teams.
The match was created by chance. At the end of the 2010 NFL season, the schedule makers assigned interconference matchups for out-of-division games, which means two conferences would meet every four years. The NFC West , home to San Francisco, drew the AFC North, home to Baltimore. John Harbaugh has coached the Ravens since 2008, but Jim Harbaugh was hired by the 49ers in January 2011. He didn't know until after accepting the job he would face his brother this weekend.
Other sibling rivalries exist in the league, but not at a head coach versus head coach level. Peyton and Eli Manning are starting quarterbacks for the Indianapolis Colts and the New York Giants, respectively. Rex Ryan, head coach of the New York Jets, has a twin brother, Rob, who is the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys.
The "Harbaugh Bowl" will affect the Thanksgiving dinner conversation amongst family members. Their parents, Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, anticipate that it will be an emotional time watching the game. The only time they've ever faced each other in sports was during American Legion baseball in their high school years.
We know it's going to be emotional, we're just not sure what emotions we're going to experience,'' Jack said. "It's such uncharted waters. We've experienced it in this business being married for 50 years and coaching 43 years myself.
Besides the sibling rivalry, the match up will also feature two teams leading their respective divisions. The 49ers, 9-1, have won eight games in a row and have the second best record in the NFL. The Ravens are 7-3. They share the same record as the Pittsburgh Steelers but lead the division because they have defeated them twice this year. A Ravens win could boost their chances to clinch home field advantage should they make the playoffs.