I have an older brother and growing up we played against each other in every sport imaginable; wiffle ball, basketball, soccer, football, you name it and we played it. Like all brothers, while playing games, we fought, and occasionally had fun. I can still remember playing ‘Peter Brady’ football downstairs in our house. We called it ‘Peter Brady’ football after an episode of the Brady Bunch and it was played on our knees.
While playing those games there was no telling who wanted to win more, my brother or me. He was older so he couldn’t stand losing to someone younger, never mind his brother, and I wanted to beat my big brother so bad just so I could brag about it. Rarely did I ever beat him at anything, but as we got older, if I actually got lucky to beat him at something, he didn’t take it well.
One night while my parents were out and my brother and I began playing a game that was a form of baseball where one person is the catcher and the other person was the runner. We would run around the table like a baseball player rounding third and threw a golf ball to the other person guarding home plate like a catcher. The object was to slide, or crash, home safely. I wanted to win so badly that I threw the golf ball as hard as I could and the ball went off my brother’s head and he went down motionless. Of course, I touched home first and then went to see if I had killed my brother, which I thought I did. He turned out to be fine, but that’s how bad I wanted to win.
He was my big brother, I looked up to him, so it was natural that I always wanted to beat him. Even when we weren’t competing against one another playing sports, I made sure we were at the opposite ends of the spectrum in rooting for teams. Growing up, he was a New York Giants fan so I did the best thing I could to try and beat him, I became a Dallas Cowboys fan. Among other sports teams, he’s a Boston Red Sox fan and I’m a New York Yankees fan, so we never really came together to root for any of the same teams and that was all my doing.
I had to beat my brother anyway I could and it didn’t really matter how I did it or what the game was, I needed to win. It’s called competitiveness and I’ve probably got too much of it. We’re not unlike a lot of brothers and right now there’s probably a ton of people who know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m guessing there are plenty of brothers out there who can relate to what I’m saying and nodding their heads.
I bring these battles up not to embarrass myself or my brother, Matt, but to illustrate how crazy it is that later this week two brothers will have their teams play for the right to be called the best, a ‘Super Bowl Champion.’ I can’t even imagine what’s going on in John Harbaugh and Jim Harbaugh’s heads right now? I threw a golf ball as hard as I could at my brother to win an insignificant game in our house, but the stakes are infinitely higher for the Harbaugh brothers.
Throughout the entire process of these playoffs, the Harbaugh boys have handled everything well and wished they would see each other in the Super Bowl. That’s the reality now and I cannot fathom how they are dealing with this game. I know we all grow up and losing to your brother is no longer the worst thing in the world, but losing still hurts, no matter the age.
Maybe you don’t have a brother and it was a best friend you had to beat growing up, the feeling of winning is the same. So no matter what team you’re rooting for in the Super Bowl, this is a game for all brothers, not just the Harbaugh’s. It will take us back to our childhoods and we’ll all remember what it was like to beat our brothers.
Somewhere, your brother is smiling.
you can chat with or follow Ben on twitter @BenGrimaldi