The short postgame embrace between the Harbaugh brothers, in which Jim briefly touched John’s face, “was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, ever been associated with in my life,” John said.
“Jim is a great competitor,” John Harbaugh added. “I just love him, obviously. I think anybody out there who has a brother can understand. I just believe in him and I have so much respect for him. I admire him. I look up to him in so many ways and I am hurting for him in that sense.”
John Harbaugh said he simply told Jim, younger by 15 months, that he loved him, and that Jim congratulated him.
One thing was clear: The Harbaugh family threw a Super party. Their parents, Jack and Jackie, had delighted the media with their gracious, outgoing manner leading up to a game that had more than its share of excitement.
“It was a heck of a football game,” Jim Harbaugh said, adding that he told his brother he was proud of him.
Jim Harbaugh indicated he was still upset about a couple of decisions by officials — particularly the Niners’ last offensive play, a fourth-down incompletion intended for Michael Crabtree — but asserted, “We want to handle this thing with class and grace.”
After the game, Jack and Jackie stood nearby as John took the interview podium as the winning coach. Neither parent smiled much, clearly dealing with mixed feelings, although they looked proud.
“I knew it was going to be a hard-fought game and very, very competitive,” Jack Harbaugh said. “I’m so proud of John. We talked about where he started at Western Michigan University as a graduate assistant, and then to stand on this stage with the ultimate prize, I’m just so proud of him — and so proud of Jim. ... I knew he was coming back. He was going to fight back and he did and made it a great football game, maybe one of the great games in Super Bowl history.”