Schwartz vs. Harbaugh: Battle of the Jims

While I’m on an official Hiatus (it’s official, so it gets capitalized), I’ve noticed that many of you loyal viewers are still visiting my blog. To thank you and encourage you to continue reading, I’ve decided to commission a series of posts from my sister. If you read my first Tony Scheffler Watch post, you’ll know that my sister is half writer / half UW adjunct instructor. While that last sentence made her sound like a superhuman (debatable), she really is an excellent writer and I hope you’ll read some of her many shameless plugs for her other writing endeavors. Now, in trying to decide what the topic of this series of posts should be, I stumbled upon a freep article and the following quote:

Are we going to have to add this matchup to the Lions’ weekly scouting report? Which coach would win in a postgame fight?

Challenge accepted. And now I will hand over the keys to my sister.

My name is Elissa, and I am Nate’s older sister. I do not know anything about football. I find it overwhelming. I’m a writer and a University of Washington adjunct teacher, and several of my former students have gone on to play in the NFL. Sometimes, I watch football on Sundays. I eat chips and guacamole and ribs until I pass out, then I wake up and say, “There’s Mason!” then pass out again. My brother, while on hiatus, has asked me to cover a very important event: apparently two coaches got mad at each other and it’s a big deal. He sent me a link to a video and I would now like to give you my take on it.I have not yet woken up early enough to catch a Lions game this year, so I had to Google image search “Jim Schwartz” and “Jim Harbaugh” to make sure I recognized the dudes I need to watch out for. I also have to watch this clip without sound because I am watching it at work. I did quickly figure out who Jim Harbaugh was, because he (1) has a Rams logo on his jacket and (2) the cameraman makes it pretty easy for me by focusing on him. So a bunch of football goes on and then Harbaugh wets his pants over it starting around 0:23, even untucking his shirt in the frenzy (reason for that unclear–he actually appears to reach for his shirt and untuck it, perhaps to show us he’s letting loose). He’s all arm-raising, getting a little grabby, and then he goes in for the Schwartz handshake at 0:31. But this isn’t the gentlemen’s handshake of fencers after a bout–this is the handshake of a department store worker who is trying to disassemble a mannequin, limb by limb, before stuffing it into a box to put up a new display. Then a slap on Schwartz’s back like the guy’s got a piece of steak stuck in his windpipe.

But Schwartz looks at the guy like he doesn’t appreciate the uninvited Heimlich. Remember, I’m at work right now, I don’t have the sound on, and I know we can’t hear what the guy said anyway, but Harbaugh has his mouth open like he’s a freshman pledge ready for his keg-stand, and Schwartz is looking like the elder frat brother who needs the guy to stop saying, once and for all, That’s what she said. No, Harbaugh’s offense must be much worse, because Schwartz yells back at him. Maybe the guy quoted the movie Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. Something unforgivable like that.

And then the whole scene devolves into chaos. A bunch of guys from both teams, plus some randoms, crowd around and run to the edge of the field, in that way like they’re pretending to try to break it up but really they’re totally into it and want to get in on the action. Come on–aggression is their job. They totally want to fight. They just beat the unstoppable Detroit Lions. Someone brings the first down marker to the edge of the crowd at 1:29, presumably to mark that that an altercation has nearly taken place, in case nobody noticed, which everybody did. Then the clip ends.

So I just put on my headphones and did a quick listen to the whole thing. Thank goodness I have announcers to tell me what to think–though, actually, this reminds me of why Dad used to listen to baseball and football games on mute when we were growing up. I just learned some things: (1) Schwartz doesn’t like boyish exuberance; (2) what I saw is not correct; what really happened was, “Schwartz says something to him briefly, and then this ensues,” Schwartz being the agent here–my bad, bro; (3) when football players prepare to fistfight, they apparently wear helmets. I buy (1), although what the announcer calls “boyish exuberance,” I would call “being a tool.” I do not buy (2) because Harbaugh obviously said something inappropriate–did you see Schwartz’s face? He looked at Harbaugh like the guy had just insulted his mother. And (3)…Well, those are some precious craniums. Better bolstered than busted.

My final word on the fight? Boys will be boys. Coaches too. Nothing to see here. As a Pac-10 teacher, I meet football players when they’re figuring out who they’re going to be when they grow up, and they make me proudest when I see them grow out of their boyish exuberance and become true athletes.

Elissa blogs at


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