Coaching on the Right Side of History: A Tribute to the Harbaugh Brothers

Photo credits: Mitch Stringer for USA TODAY Sports

John (pictured right) and Jim Harbaugh (pictured left) are some “real brothas,” in my eyes. I’m not saying that merely because they are blood brothers.

These two brave white men risked their careers when they made the decision to choose a younger, second-stream black man to quarterback their teams over a more experienced white one. Before the Harbaughs made their collective decisions at different points in history, they were already football coaching legends. That is what makes their controversial choices so significant.

They knew the risks behind their moves if things did not go the right way. They put much on the line for the professional football organizations they coached for. But they stuck with their decisions. One of their chosen brothers, Colin Kaepernick (Jim’s former starting quarterback), went on to revolutionize how marketing is done in the world of sports on a global, not national level.

Lamar Jackson, John’s chosen black quarterback, is currently revolutionizing the way the NFL game is played today. NFL broadcasting experts (such as Jason Whitlock at Fox Sports) laughed at John Harbaugh’s decision to allow Jackson to lead his “wishbone” offense. Whitlock called the Harbaugh/Jackson idea more suitable for college football coaching, not professional.

Today, Harbaugh and Jackson’s Baltimore Ravens have a 13-2 record going into the final week of football for the 2019-20 regular season. Their team has also earned the number one seed for the first time in franchise history, according to numerous U.S sports news sources.

In closing, these Harbaugh “brothas” did not decide to do what was popular or typical of privileged white men in their head coaching positions. They rose to the challenge to make their decisions in the lofty but racially divided world of the NFL. These divisions exist among the executive business sectors, team sectors, and the fanbase-level sectors of today’s NFL.

The actions that John and Jim Harbaugh took were independently made without the input of anyone but their fellow brothers in their team’s respective locker rooms. They did not bend to the will of a predominantly white NFL fanbase by doing what the typical wealthy white male owner may have wanted in the best interest of a dollar.

For their courageous choices, the Harbaughs have the right to scream their family postgame victory chant for eternity: “Who’s got it better than us?!” To answer them, I say, “Nobody!” From myself to the Harbaugh Brothers, I say thank you. You two “brothas” made some tough decisions at tough times in your careers.

Even though many challenges remain, the sports world is becoming a better place for all black athletes because of the brave instincts that are inside you two men. Keep the harmonious spirit alive.