March 13, 2015

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Jim Harbaugh and his brother can joke about the time they coached against each other in the Super Bowl, but when John Harbaugh showed up to be the featured speaker at Michigan's spring football clinic, the two siblings were very much on the same page.

With their sport facing mounting criticism because of health risks to players, the Harbaughs said coaches need to be part of the solution.

''We have to be proactive in that way,'' Jim Harbaugh told a group of high school coaches at the Crisler Center on Michigan's campus. ''Football's come under attack before. It's survived and it's changed rules, but there's no game like it, and we all know it. It's our responsibility to be great ambassadors for the game.''

Jim Harbaugh has been a hit in Ann Arbor ever since the former Michigan quarterback returned to the school in late December to take over as coach. On Friday, he welcomed brother John, who spoke for 45 minutes about the responsibilities coaches face and the ways they can make a difference.

John Harbaugh, the coach of the Baltimore Ravens, addressed the uneasiness many fans and parents have about football these days - concerns that have even been echoed by President Barack Obama.

''Our President now - I love our President, I've met him twice - he said he would not allow his son to play football,'' John Harbaugh said. ''And that's not his fault, he's just going by what he reads. He's going by what he hears.''

The Baltimore coach pointed out that football's viability was in question over a century ago because the sport was so violent, but the game evolved and eventually thrived. Now, as more information comes to light on the effects of head injuries, football is under scrutiny even as it remains massively popular at the professional, college and high school levels.

John Harbaugh said it's important for coaches at every level to teach proper tackling technique - and he is supportive of rules cracking down on dangerous hits.

''The concussion issue, it's real. It's real. We've got to attack it. We've got to face it,'' John Harbaugh said. ''Take some things out of the game. Fine guys, sit them down like they do in college. It's all the right thing to do, and we're going to be fine.''

There were some more light-hearted moments during Harbaugh's speech, such as when John joked about the postgame handshake after his Ravens beat Jim's San Francisco 49ers in the 2013 Super Bowl.

And John even showed up Friday wearing his brother's trademark khakis - while Jim was actually dressed in more formal attire.

''I dressed like Jim. Did you notice?'' John Harbaugh said at a news conference before his address at the clinic.

Jim Harbaugh was coaching the 49ers until the end of last season, when he and the team parted ways. He then went to Michigan, a move that came as a surprise to those who thought he would remain in the pros.

''I thought he would stay in the NFL. I think probably he was hoping, and I was hoping, it would work out there,'' John Harbaugh told reporters. ''But it didn't. What I've seen from a happiness standpoint is a coach and a brother that's back to being focused on the things he wants to be focused on, which is the players and the coaches and developing the program.''

NOTES: Jim Harbaugh also spoke to reporters before his brother's speech. The Wolverines are in the middle of spring practice, and the school said this week that offensive lineman Jack Miller is skipping his final season of eligibility to focus on his studies and business opportunities. ''I have a level of respect for what he had to say - finishing his education and moving on, and some job opportunities that he has, and he wanted to pursue that,'' Harbaugh said. ''You always appreciate the honesty.'' . Harbaugh said Rick Finotti is coming on board as Michgan's director of football operations. Finotti was the coach at St. Edward H.S. in Ohio.

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)