Super Bowl Bittersweet for Harbaugh Parents

Understanding that they weren't really needed there, Mom and Dad walked across the hall to the 49ers' locker room. "It was quiet and somber," Jack recalled. "And finally I saw Jim, all by himself, no one around him, his hands on his head. We realized that is where we were needed."

Jack and Jackie Harbaugh know they'll experience the same thing this week -- that walk across the hall to the losing locker room, where one of their sons will likely be distraught. "I know one is going to win and one is going to lose, but I would really like it to end in a tie," Jackie said with a laugh. "Can the NFL do that?"

About midway through the Harbaughs' conference call with reporters, which also included their daughter, Joani Crean (who is married to Indiana University men's basketball coach Tom Crean), a man called in and asked, "Is it true that both of you like Jim better than John?"

There was a slight, almost awkward pause, before Joani said, "Hey, John, how are you?"

She was the only one to immediately recognize her brother's voice.

"Is that John?" Jackie said.

"Is that John Harbaugh?" said Jack, laughing. "Mom was ready to come right through this phone. I am so happy Joani recognized your voice. John, she grabbed my arm and she was reaching for the phone!"

John, who is older than Jim by 15 months, told his family they were doing great on the call, then said he was being summoned for practice. "It was good to hear your voices," he said. "OK. I will talk to you later. Love you both. Love you, Joani."

For millions of Americans, Sunday's big game promises to be the same kind of spectacle it always is -- an excuse to gather with friends, eat nachos and see what everybody is saying about it all on social media. For the Harbaugh family, though, it's a little more complicated than that. It's an exciting time, yes; Mom and Dad love talking about their kids. But they also know that Sunday will be heart-wrenching, no matter the outcome.

So you'll excuse them if they're not all that concerned with what to call this sibling showdown. The Bro Bowl? The HarBowl? The Harbaugh Bowl?

"I prefer it to be called the Super Bowl," Jackie quipped.

Spoken like a true mom.

Visit espnW.com for more coverage of the Super Bowl.

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