Photo: Jeff Swinger, The Cincinnati Enquirer
(USA Today) -- A prank caller made his way onto the national teleconference held by Jack and Jackie Harbaugh, parents of opposing Super Bowl coaching brothers Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens, on Thursday morning.
"Question from Baltimore: Is it true that both of you like Jim better than John?" the caller asked in a serious tone.
Jackie Harbaugh immediately began to speak: "We do not ... "
Fortunately for the parents, their daughter, Joani, younger sister to the brothers, also was on the call. She recognized John's voice.
"Is that John?'' interrupted Joani, wife of Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean.
"Is that John Harbaugh?" asked Jack Harbaugh. "Hey, John, Mom was ready to come right through this phone. I'm so happy that Joani recognized your voice."
John chimed back in.
"You've got the fighting spirit up. That's the way it should be, all right. That's all I needed to hear. I just needed to know that," he said.
Replied Jack: "Hey, John, she grabbed my arm and she was reaching for the phone."
The parents, both in their 70s, live in the Milwaukee area. Jack was a coach in high school and college for more than four decades. Deluged by calls from the news media, the parents joined their daughter on the teleconference held by the NFL in advance of Super Bowl XLVII, which will be played Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
The parents say they will be neutral on Super Bowl Sunday, just as they were during the 2011 season when John's Ravens beat Jim's 49ers in a Thanksgiving night game.
"I know one is going to win and I know one is going to lose, but I really would like it to end in a tie. Can the NFL do that?" Jackie said.
"I think we experienced that a little bit (on) Thanksgiving in the game where the two played together," he said.
"I do recall coming down to the locker room, and I peeked into the Raven locker room ... ecstatic, guys jumping up and down and the smile on John's face and the thrill of victory. ... And I thought to myself, 'This looks like it's really pretty well taken care of itself.'
"(I) walked across the hall and went into the 49er locker room ... quiet and somber and (I was) looking into some offices, and finally I saw Jim all by himself, no one around him. ... And I realized that's where we were needed. ... We know we're going to experience that next week."
Jackie said John went out to the 49ers bus to find Jim after their last matchup .
"It just was again the epitome of how everybody in the family feels about each other and always tries to raise one another up. These are difficult times in football and everything when you're playing against your own brother," she said. "But at the end of the game, it's still about family and your feelings for one another."
The game is being called the Har Bowl or the Bro Bowl. Shouldn't Mom and Dad have naming rights? What would they like it called?
"For me, it's the Lombardi Trophy game," Jack said.
Said Jackie: "I'd prefer it to be called the Super Bowl."