Shortly before he died last year, my Brother Matthew recounted an encounter he (and his girlfriend) had with current San Francisco 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh at Ann Arbor’s Touchdown Cafe’ in 1986.
In 1986, my Brother Matthew was a Senior at Saline High School and starting Tight End for the Saline Hornets. Harbaugh – was a Senior at the University of Michigan and starting at Quarterback for the Michigan Wolverines.
Matt was on a date with his girl (@ Touchdown’s, Sat night) and returned from the men’s room to find “some other guy” talking to his girl.
My brother accosted the gentleman who (turned around, and) turned out to be (none other than) James, Joseph…Harbaugh.
Allegedly a “standoffish” set of remarks (and body language) ensued and Matt (essentially) said something to the effect of: “hey, that’s my girl” which Harbaugh (again, allegedly) countered by “moseying up” for what (my brother surmised) was going to be “go-time.”
Matt recalled not “thinking” but “knowing” it was either:
A) “Fight Jim Harbaugh”
B) “Back down”
Matthew Timothy Buko was never the “back down” type of guy. For Christ sake he died swimming despite knowing full-well he’d been diagnosed with congestive heart failure just weeks prior.
So…at this point “backing down” is a “no-go” but fighting Jim Harbaugh (a guy 4-years my brother’s senior) wasn’t lookin’ so hot either.
The age of my brother’s girlfriend (whose name now escapes me and subsequently escapes this article since Matthew is no longer here to remind me/us) apparently “diffused” the situation. Harbaugh walked away.
Nevertheless — since aforementioned incident, my brother was never a “huge” fan of Harbaugh’s.
Some people might think this incident alone would prompt me to root against the 49ers in this year’s SuperBowl (if not in general). God knows; if this incident didn’t make me hate Harbaugh, surely his rebuffing of all jobs (Football) Michigan & Detroit (Wolverines/Lions) in favor of the “ol’ California sun” and his literal/figurative “ass-whupping” of current Lions head coach Jim Schwartz would leave me no choice but to root for Baltimore this year — right?
Regardless of Harbaugh’s sociopathic tendancies, his encounter with my brother and the saddistic degredation(s) he has inflicted upon his former “hometown” teams, Jim Harbaugh; and I…have something in common.
We went to the same middle-school.
More (and most) importantly we had the same Football Coach/Gym Teacher/Life Guru – Robert Lillie.
What folks must understand – is that Jim Harbaugh is to Tappan Middle School as Anikan Skywalker is/was to Jedi Knight Hood. Yes, he is evil. Yes. He has “crossed-over” to the “dark-side” like so many other formally loyal Michigan professors wooed-west by that (ever-so-pesky) professor exchange Stanford-Michigan Sabbatical Exchange program.
It is Harbaugh’s (Tappan Middle School) predigree which validates his success. Not vice-versa. Simply put: Harbaugh could whoop the Lions (and Jim Schwartz) a$$ (“No Frank Ocean”) 1,000 times and his (Football) “success” would still only magnify the genius mentorship that is Robert F. Lillie.
Harbaugh doesn’t have to live the right way to prove that Tappan teaches people how to win. Sure, he’s forgotten Rob Lillie’s life instructions to put Rob Lillie’s pure football instructions on a pedastol but this is only the beginning of the prophecy. Annikan Skywalker was (of course) so famously struck down by another Yoda (Rob Lillie) pupil. So too shall Harbaugh be struck down but int he meantime go ’9ers and may my brother Matthew’s memory and Rob Lillie’s mentorship (football & otherwise) live on, forever.