I know, "skipper" is a baseball term. But c'mon, that's a pretty nifty headline, huh?
The Harbaugh brothers tried to make yesterday's game as little about them as possible, but they were fighting a losing battle.
It was John vs. Jim. Older brother vs. Younger brother. The Harbaugh Bowl. The Harbowl (personally my least-favorite "clever" term used to hype the Thanksgiving night game.)
That's why even though the Ravens earned a big victory over the previously one-win 49ers last night, a large percentage of the postgame discussion didn't relate to the actual game. Those in the Ravens' locker room knew how big this game was to their head coach, and they helped earn John Harbaugh the family bragging rights over his younger brother.
"We definitely wanted to pull this one out for him," wide receiver Torrey Smith said in a joyous locker room after the game. "It was a big game for us in general, but the fact that he is getting to go against his brother on Thanksgiving, it was a special day, and we are thankful to come out on top."
It's become a Ravens custom that when a player or coach gets a win over his former team or an opponent of extra significance, that guy gets a Gatorade shower on the sideline as the clock is set to expire. The Ravens might catch some heat from fans or opponents for going a little over the top with their celebrations of mere regular season wins, but they don't seem to care. They just want to celebrate with each other.
Last night, after beating his brother Jim, it was the Ravens' head coach that got doused by the Gatorade.
"We were going to win the game for him," linebacker Terrell Suggs said, "and then we were going to drown him."
Prior to kickoff, the Harbaugh two brothers met up at midfield, and after snapping some pictures with their parents Jack and Jackie and John's daughter Allison, they got a few minutes off to the side to talk by themselves.
After the game, and immediately following John getting drenched with flavored sports drink, the Harbaugh brothers again met at midfield with cameras circling around them. They shared a big hug, delivered a few "I love yous", and jogged back toward their respective locker rooms to again be with their teams.
As much as neither coach wanted the game to be just about the siblings, John acknowledged that particular postgame moment and the embrace he shared with his younger brother were special.
"Just running across the field, I felt really humble," John Harbaugh said. "Really humble, just thankful. It's Thanksgiving, and we told our guys there is so much to be thankful for. God has given us a lot to be thankful for, but the main thing he gives us is each other. He gives us our relationships. Running across the field to my brother - he's my best friend, along with Mom and Dad and my wife. If you put yourself in his shoes, you don't put yourself in many other coaches' shoes, but you can put yourself in your brother's shoes - I'm really proud of him.
"To have a chance to be a part of something like this, I'm thankful to the Ravens, thankful to Steve Bisciotti. This is what this stuff is all about, and it's pretty exciting to be a part of it."
In the end, Harbaugh said later, it was the type of game that the brothers' dad Jack - a longtime coach himself - has to be proud of. Both teams played hard, the play from both defenses and special teams was spectacular and there were very few mistakes from either side. In the end, the Ravens won this game; neither team lost it.
"For those two guys, they're probably glad it's over, they can breathe a sigh of relief, and now we can move on," center Matt Birk said. "Tonight just solidified that they're two great coaches with two pretty good football teams."