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Harbaugh parents will stay neutral at Super Bowl


Harbaugh parents will stay neutral at Super Bowl

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Jackie Harbaugh will wear a neutral-colored outfit, still to be determined. Her daughter, Joani Crean, little sister to coaching brothers John and Jim Harbaugh, plans to sport all black at the Super Bowl to show no allegiances whatsoever.

``I am wearing whatever fits that day,'' Crean quipped.

The entire Harbaugh family - a close-knit, hyper-competitive crew that also includes Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean - realizes it has already won big. They got their Super Bowl victory on Sunday, when each coach did his part to ensure a family reunion in New Orleans next week, with John's Baltimore Ravens facing off against Jim's San Francisco 49ers in the first Super Bowl with sibling coaches on opposite sidelines.

One Harbaugh will haul home the Lombardi Trophy from the Big Easy.

And, no, the family members haven't decided where to sit for the Feb. 3 NFL title game at the Superdome - or at least they aren't revealing it if they have.

``We are neutral in the Super Bowl, and we are just excited that they have brought their teams to the pinnacle of sports,'' Jackie Harbaugh said Thursday. ``The Super Bowl is the ultimate accomplishment for them and for their teams and for all of the extended football family and all of the teams who have participated in this great game. We are excited for that type of thing.''

Her sons, all of 15 months apart, have tried to downplay this matchup from the moment it developed - each wanting to keep the focus on the players, on the field.

The Harbaughs have been inundated with well wishes and media requests since the moment John's Ravens beat New England on Sunday night a few hours after the 49ers won at Atlanta. This matchup provides the storyline of storylines, one that will compete with Ravens star Ray Lewis' last hurrah before retirement and the emergence of second-year San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick (in a savvy move, he had pizza delivered to the overcrowded press trailer Thursday).

Fortunately for the Harbaugh folks, they've been through this once before - albeit on a slightly smaller stage: prime time on Thanksgiving night 2011. John's Ravens won 16-6 at home.

``We experienced that last year at Thanksgiving,'' Jack Harbaugh said, ``the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.''

Jack visited each locker room after that game and observed the ``smile on John's face,'' then headed over to see how Jim was handling it.

``It was quiet and somber, and finally I saw Jim, all by himself, no one around him,'' Jack said. ``He still had his coaching thing on, and his hands on his head, and we realized that that is where we were needed. . And we know we are going to experience that next week.''

For Jackie Harbaugh, who has held things together for decades and is known to offer up a sports cliche or two herself, the real celebration began last weekend.

``I felt that was a joyful moment for them, for our whole family, our extended family and for my father, who is 97 years old,'' she said. ``Great feeling of joy. I am going to be neutral in the game, and I know one is going to win and one is going to lose, but I would really like to end in a tie. Can the NFL do that?''

If only it could finish that way.

And don't count on Jack doing any in-game analysis, or to start guessing which team might have the edge in any given phase.

``I'm only neutral on that,'' he said. ``I don't look for body language. I am not really a coach anymore. I am a spectator and a parent. When I had the chance to watch over the weekend, all of those parents of those players that were competing and the thrill of watching their youngsters compete at that level, all of the coaches involved, their careers, how they all started out in high school and college, and now they are in the NFL and competing for this ultimate prize. I think more as a parent now than I do as a coach, and I don't really get involved in those other things.''

Unless one of his kids tries to pull a fast one, that is.

John Harbaugh produced a little prank of his own during his parents' NFL-organized conference call Thursday morning.

``John in Baltimore,'' the moderator said, announcing the next person up for a turn to ask a question.

``Is it true that both of you like Jim better than John?'' John chirped, before getting figured out fast by his sister.

Jackie had begun speaking with, ``We do not.''

``Hey, John, how are you?'' Joani replied.

``Is that John?'' Jackie asked.

After a quick greeting, he was off to practice.

``Love you both, love you Joani,'' John said.

Back to game-planning. And 3,000 miles away on a rainy day in the Bay Area, Jim, too, was busy gearing up.

And, for everybody getting a kick out of those catchy ``Harbowl'' and ``Superbaugh'' nicknames for the game, the parents ask that it be kept simple and authentic.

``Jack Harbaugh here, I prefer it to be called the Lombardi Trophy winner,'' he said.

Added his wife, ``I prefer it to be called the Super Bowl.''

San Francisco safety Donte Whitner is prepared for all the back and forth of the Harbaugh family affair for another week.

``Oh, man, I know that they're very proud, I know that either way they're going to feel for the one that loses and they're going to be happy for the other,'' Whitner said. ``But at the end of the day, they're all family, and you bring a Super Bowl ring back to the family.''


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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: DeCosta looking at 2019 NFL Draft as opportunity to address remaining needs

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: DeCosta looking at 2019 NFL Draft as opportunity to address remaining needs

Here's the latest Baltimore Ravens news as general managers and head coaches gather in Phoenix, Az for the NFL Annual League Meeting. 

Player Notes: 

- General manager Eric DeCosta likes the way the Ravens' secondary is looking with Jimmy Smith, and said it would be "foolish" to turn a strength on the team into a weakness by potentially parting ways with the cornerback.

“It’s a very fluid process," DeCosta said via the Ravens' website. "We’re in good shape right now salary-cap wise. Jimmy’s a good player. We’ve got a really, really good secondary and it’s a passing league. I think that’s important.”

Smith carries a $15.85 million salary cap hit in 2019.

- The Ravens are looking at the 2019 NFL Draft as an opportunity to address their needs at wide receiver and pass rusher, according to comments made by DeCosta Monday. Free agency brought the departures of Michael Crabtree, John Brown, C.J. Mosley, Terrell Suggs and Za'Darius Smith leaving huge holes to fill in both areas. 

- The door hasn't been shut on re-signing free agent defensive end Brent Urban. In 2018, Urban appeared in all 16 regular season games for the Ravens posting 27 combined tackles and two passes defensed. 

- QB Robert Griffin III is being sued by his former agent Ben Dogra for unpaid marketing and endorsement fees, according to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports. Dogra claims RGIII owes him over $650,000 as part of an agreement for 15% share of marketing and endorsement deals negotiated while he was Griffin's agent. The QB fired Dogra back in 2018. 

- One of the many potential rule changes being discussed this week at the Annual League Meeting is expanding replays during a game. The potential rule change has come front and center after the NFC Championship game between the New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, and it's something head coach John Harbaugh is in favor of. 

“If we can put somebody up there in the box that’s got a better angle that can help officiate the game from up there, let’s do that," Harbaugh said back in January. "Because at the end of the game, it’s about the credibility of the sport.”

Click here to see a few of the potential changes being discussed. 

Looking Ahead: 

March 24-27: Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Az.

April 15: Voluntary OTA's may begin

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets


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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Get to know Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Get to know Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram

We are here to help you get your workweek started with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player Notes: 

Running back Mark Ingram is bringing two Pro Bowls, 1,321 rushing yards and 50 rushing touchdowns to the Ravens, but there's a lot about him you may not know. Did you know that his father, Mark Ingram Sr., was drafted at No. 28 overall just like his son? Probably not. Here's five things to know about Ingram via the Ravens' website. 

Safety Earl Thomas isn't just talented on the field, but off the field as well. Thomas can play piano, drums, saxophone and the organ. During his freshman year of high school, Thomas would change out of his football uniform at halftime into his band uniform to perform and then back again. Here's five things to know about Thomas via the Ravens' website

Former Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is retiring from the game. The 30-year-old made the announcement at his wife's baby shower over the weekend. Selected 19th overall by the Eagles in the 2009 NFL Draft, Maclin played for the Eagles, Chiefs and the Ravens.

Outside linebacker Tim Williams is ready to be a defensive leader for the Ravens in 2019. With the departures of Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith in free agency, Williams is ready to be "that man" for the NFL's No.1 defense. 

Williams has yet to play a full season for the Ravens after being drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2018, the linebacker saw action in only sevens games due to hamstring and ankle injuries. 

In AFC news, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the league Sunday via Instagram. The 29-year-old finishes his career with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards, 79 touchdowns and three Super Bowl championship. 

Looking Ahead: 

March 24-27: Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Az.

April 15: Voluntary OTA's may begin

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets