Super Bowl XLVII: As John Harbaugh's team grows, so too does his reputation and legacy

Scott Halleran

John Harbaugh's first five years in Baltimore have resulted in five playoff appearances and now a Super Bowl bid. At Tuesday's Media Day, he looked back at his most successful years, and of course, commented on his relationship with his brother, Jim.

Hearing compliments from family members isn't always the most gratifying of praise.

So excuse John Harbaugh for not feeling too giddy about his brother, Jim, calling the Ravens coach the better of the two wildly successful Harbaugh boys headed into Super Bowl XLVII.

"He's just trying to soften me up," John Harbaugh said during Tuesday's Super Bowl Media Day. "I know how he operates, I've heard that before."

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But then again, John, 15 months his brother's senior, has proven himself a coach with a growing legacy during his time in Baltimore — whether his brother believes it or not.

Harbaugh's Ravens teams have not missed the playoffs in his five years at the helm, and his 54 regular season victories and eight playoff victories since 2008 give some experts reason to believe Harbaugh's own legend is growing.

And forget the legend, for Harbaugh, getting to the Super Bowl goes beyond a childhood dream. He admitted on Tuesday that he and his brother had thought about getting to the Super Bowl, but understandably, neither envisioned getting there as coaches. But the amazing circumstance still floors Harbaugh.

"While it's great to dream, it's more important to kind of leave open the possibilities of what God's got in store for you and just see where that takes you," Harbaugh said. "To me that's what happened here. These are kind of beyond my dreams. I don't know if I could have ever possibly dreamed that this was even remotely possible."

Dream or not, Harbaugh guided a Baltimore team that weathered more than its fair share of adversity over the course of the season, something Harbaugh insists brought his team closer as they've made their way through the AFC playoffs with victories on the road in Denver against the Broncos and in Foxboro against the Patriots.

"We're more a team than any team I've ever been around and I've been around some great teams," Harbaugh said. "These guys are as close to that as any team that you'll ever be a part of. They really love each other, they really do, and they really care about each other. That's why they win even better as the season goes on and better as games go on they find ways to win games."

The team chemistry of this Ravens team, which reminds many of the Super Bowl-winning 2000 Ravens, inspired Baltimore fans to get behind the Ravens in a way that Harbaugh gushed about on Tuesday. It appears, in Baltimore, Harbaugh's legend is already in place.

"I'm sure there's going to be a bunch of fans here, they're going to provide us with a lot of noise and support our guys. But we'll probably hear all our fans all the way back in Maryland," Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh harped on the team's willingness to put in the work necessary to make a Super Bowl this season. He credited the team's ability to stay loose in the toughest of circumstances, many of which Harbaugh said the general public and media didn't know, and the Ravens players' general accountability.

No one game represented that more to Harbaugh than the Ravens' victory over the Giants late in the season to clinch a second consecutive AFC North title.

"It was more of a progression, the Giants game. Throughout the course of those three losses we were improving as a football team," Harbaugh said. "We were improving throughout the course of the season. ... Against the Giants it kind of all came together for us from an execution standpoint."

With momentum Harbaugh described as coming together at the right moment for a veteran team, the Ravens succeeded where they failed in 2011 — turning the division title into a AFC title and a berth in the Super Bowl.

"Really proud of our players and our coaches, what our guys have been able to accomplish," Harbaugh said. "I love our team, I love our players. I love the heart they bring out there and the competitive determination they bring to the table."

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