A pair of retired educators from Iowa City haven’t decided who they’ll be rooting for in Sunday’s Super Bowl — but they’re certainly be paying close attention. The two Catholic nuns were on the staff at what was known as the Iowa City Catholic Grade School when Super Bowl coaches Jim and John Harbaugh attended the school in the early 1970s.
Sister Agnes Giblin, who taught both brothers, says she remembers them having very different personalities as kids. “John was very quiet. I didn’t even think John was interested in football. Jim was very intense, very competitive and very outgoing,” Giblin said.
Sister Jean Marie Brady was the principal when the Harbaughs attended the school. She believes Jim hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years, while John has come out of his shell. “Jim was too good to play with his classmates because he was so competitive, so he always wanted to play with the older kids and they let him. That kind of carried on,” Brady said.
“Jim hasn’t changed any from when he was a young kid. To see John as vocal as he is…that’s a difference I see in him.” Both women have kept in touch with the Harbaugh family over the years. Giblin has spoken to Jim several times this season and noted, despite his busy schedule, he’s very very persistent about returning her calls.
“I’ll bet I had four or five voice mails from him and I had a text from him,” Giblin said. “I told him I was technologically challenged, so I couldn’t text him back. But, for him to pursue it, I think says something.” Giblin, who is a Chicago Bears fan, spoke to Jim Harbaugh after his 49ers pounded the Bears just before Thanksgiving.
She says she mentioned the possibility of the 49ers going to the Super Bowl in that phone call and says she told him it would be the one time she would be rooting for the 49ers and not the Bears. Harbaugh told her lightening would have to strike for that to happen.
As far as who they’ll be rooting for on Sunday, both women are conflicted. Brady says she just wants to see a close game.
Giblin says that she can’t imagine cheering for one brother over the other. She says she knows Jim a little bit better than John, but she will have to remain neutral.
Giblin and Brady hosted Jim Harbaugh for a visit to Iowa City when he was playing for the Bears 20 years ago. The Harbaughs lived in Iowa City when their father, Jack, was an assistant coach at Iowa.
By Jesse Gavin, KCNZ, Cedar Falls