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Harbaugh family becomes focus of HBO¿s Real Sports

HBO was kind enough to ship an advance screening of Tuesday night's episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which is scheduled to air at 10 p.m.

One segment of the broadcast centers on the Harbaugh family, which is referred to as "The First Family of Coaching." Patriarch Jack coached college football for 45 years, and sons John and Jim are the first pair of brothers to become head coaches in the NFL – John with the Ravens and Jim with the San Francisco 49ers.

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Correspondent Andrea Kremer joined the family on vacation, which included a visit to Gettysburg, Pa., for a re-enactment of the Civil War. A few nuggets from the show include:*Football was an oft-discussed topic between the brothers, but since the 2011 schedule was unveiled in April and pitted the Ravens against the 49ers on Thanksgiving night, the lines of communication have been a little distorted. "Leading up to this, John has talked freely and openly about football with me," Jim Harbaugh said. "Now, it's more talking in code." When Kremer interjected and asked if Harbaugh was being serious, he replied, "I'm being serious. I can see that there are limitations to what he's telling me. I thought love had no boundaries, but now I see that they do." John Harbaugh responds, "I think it's a little overstated. I think it's more the other way. He's been holding back on me."

*As a nine-year-old pitcher in a coed Little League, Jim Harbaugh once beaned a female batter. "Jim fires a fastball and hits her right in the middle of the back," John Harbaugh recalled. "… Everybody starts booing. The parents starting booing [and yelling,] 'Get him off the mound! He's a big bully! What's the matter with that kid?'" Jim Harbaugh's reply? "She was crowding the plate," he said, and his brother agreed.

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*As Jim Harbaugh carved out a 15-year career as a quarterback in the NFL, John Harbaugh toiled and climbed up the coaching ladder. John Harbaugh conceded that his brother's playing career served as motivation. "I just felt like I had to catch up," he said. "I mean, I felt like I had to do something."

*Jack Harbaugh credited his sons with saving the football program at Western Kentucky. With the program on the chopping block, Jim Harbaugh joined his father's coaching staff in 1993 as a full-time yet unpaid assistant coach and recruiter, and he got leads on players to recruit from his brother, who was at the time an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator at Cincinnati. "They were both into this collaboratively," Jack Harbaugh said. "John, he did all the research, and then he'd turn it over to Jim. And Jim would do the legwork." The program survived any potential cuts and captured the Division I-AA national championship in 2002.

*Both John and Jim Harbaugh take advantage of their father's football acumen, sending game film to him. In turn, Jack Harbaugh returns the favor by sending what Kremer described as "pages and pages of handwritten analysis." "I am standing with the door open in the middle of the winter waiting for that UPS truck to make the turn and stop at the front door," Jack Harbaugh said. "He comes in, and then down the basement we go to put them in. Just for that feeling again of being involved with football." So what will happen in the days leading up to the Ravens-49ers showdown on Thanksgiving? "You got to be very, very careful," Jack Harbaugh acknowledged. "But I do pledge this on national television: loose lips sink ships. Pull my fingernails out, take me to the ground, [but] no secret will be divulged from [wife] Jackie and myself." Said Jim Harbaugh: "We both understand that we're not giving up any competitive advantage. He's my best friend. Next to my wife, my dad and my brother are my best friends. But on November 25, 2011, he will be a guy that I'm trying to beat. I'm not going to be friends with him. It will be combative, it will be competitive, and that's just the way we want it."

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