John Harbaugh

John Harbaugh is an American football coach in the NFL and the older brother of former player-turned-coach Jim Harbaugh.


John Harbaugh was born on September 23, 1962, in Perrysburg, Ohio. Although he lacked the physical abilities of his younger brother Jim, who became a star NFL quarterback, Harbaugh quietly proved his acumen in various assistant coaching roles. Named head coach of the NFL's Baltimore Ravens in 2008, he amassed an impressive winning record over his first few years in the league.


John Harbaugh was born on September 23, 1962, in Perrysburg, Ohio, the eldest of Jack and Jackie's three children. Jack moved his family often during his four decades as a football coach, and also helped foster a home environment in which Harbaugh and his younger brother, Jim, found ways to turn virtually any mundane activity into a contest.

It was Jim who developed the powerful body and fiery nature that would carry him to stardom as an NFL quarterback. Harbaugh played football as well, but he endured knee injuries as a defensive back at Pinoeer High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Miami of Ohio University, and there was clearly a limit to his athletic abilities.

After graduating from Miami with a degree in political science, Harbaugh considered attending law school. Instead, he took a job on his dad's staff as a graduate assistant at Western Michigan University.

Paying Dues

For three years, Harbaugh rode to work every day with Jack. It was the lowest rung of the coaching ladder, but Harbaugh later recalled how much he learned from discussing strategy with his dad and watching how he conducted practices and games.

Harbaugh moved on to positions at Pittsburgh, Morehead State and Cincinnati. He and his wife, Ingrid, were thrilled when he was named defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator at Indiana University in 1997, thinking he was closing in on a head coaching position within one of college football's power conferences. Instead, they were pleasantly surprised when the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles offered to make him their special teams coordinator a year later.

Harbaugh was promoted to Philadelphia's secondary coach in 2007, then was presented with the ultimate opportunity when he interviewed for the Baltimore Ravens' vacant head coaching position the next year. Although he had never been an offensive or defensive coordinator—the two positions considered to be crucial stepping stones for a head coach—Harbaugh impressed Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti with his expansive knowledge of the game and was given the job.

The Big Time

The Ravens started the 2008 season with three losses in five games, but won nine of their last 11 to make the playoffs, then won two more before a tough loss to the arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game.

Baltimore won at least nine games in each of the next four seasons, and Harbaugh became the first NFL head coach to start his career with five successive playoff appearances. Having the services of All-Pros Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and Ray Rice certainly helped, but Harbaugh made his mark by transforming the Ravens into a highly disciplined unit that set team records for fewest turnovers allowed and penalties incurred under his watch.

After enduring a rocky finish to the 2012 regular season, the Ravens rebounded to record a thrilling double-overtime win over the Denver Broncos and an emphatic defeat of the New England Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl, where a matchup against Jim, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, was on tap. Once again, Harbaugh stood to be measured against his brother, but by then there was little question that he had established himself as a success in his own right. This time, big brother earned family bragging rights, as the Ravens pulled out a close win to give Harbaugh his first Super Bowl championship.

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