A pre-Harbaugh Super Bowl family affair

February 1, 2013

Between the snacks, the office pools and the Super Bowl ads, there is a game to be played on Sunday. One of the biggest storylines this week has been about one family.
 
San Francisco head coach (and former Bear quarterback) Jim Harbaugh and his 49ers will face his older brother, John Harbaugh and his Baltimore Ravens.
 
This is a first time in NFL history brothers are in these roles and the dilemma for their parents Jack and Jackie Harbaugh is whether to choose sides.

There was a Chicago story that had a similar complexity when the Bears lost to the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl six years ago. 

The Colts had a young wide receiver Aaron Moorehead and his father, Emery an Evanston native was a member of the 1985 Super Bowl Champion Bears. Aaron grew up in the Chicago-area, played ball at Deerfield High School and went to the University of Illinois. He was a Bear fan and can still remember as a kindergartener the experience of Super Bowl XX, "You remember it being a very big deal,” said Aaron.

According to his dad, his son was very popular with his young classmates. It was touching to learn that Aaron’s class had made a paper mache bowl and the students filled it with “good luck” notes for the Bears tight end-- Emery still has it.

For Aaron, his childhood was filled with the legendary players from that Bear team that taught him life lessons, "My goals are never unreachable and no moment was too big for me—these guys were it.” He maintains friendships with some of the player’s children.

The Bears-- a team that was a huge factor in this family would play a different role for the younger Moorehead-- as an opponent. As an undrafted wide receiver from Illinois, he was signed by Indianapolis in 2003. His dad said Aaron cemented his roster spot by having a good pre-season game---against the Bears.

The real glory would come in Miami when the Colts and Bears meet for the Super Bowl XLV. Here was a kid that grew up as a Bear fan, his dad was a Bear and all of his friends loved the Bears. “It was a conflict for me-none of my friends rooted for me,” says Aaron, “The one chance I get to go to the Super Bowl it is against the team rooted for my entire life.” Both Mooreheads enjoyed the week before the Super Bowl, Aaron said his father advised him to refrain from partying before the game, but enjoy the experience. They had dinner on Friday and Aaron sort of felt his Dad was sitting on the fence and told him he had to choose a team. Emery did, but it had to be difficult, “Playing the Bears splits your feelings; you always pull for your family.”  The outcome was great for Aaron; he had five catches for 41 yards in the 29-17 win for Indianapolis. While his former team lost the game, Emery thought they would have more opportunities for the Bears to return to the title game—of course it has not happened.

After the Super Bowl, the elder Moorehead said it was “very emotion and very draining.” He added it is very hard to watch and not be able to help his son.

Schedules make it difficult for Emery to spend time with his son during the Super Bowl, Aaron landed a new job as the wide receiver coach for Virginia Tech and has to recruit players. Nice that he has Super Bowl credentials talking to players.

Emery and Aaron know Sunday will have a difficult time for the Harbaugh family cheering during this game (you can bet the TV cameras will be focused on them). The Mooreheads are familiar with this close-knit family; Aaron was one of Jim’s assistants at Stanford. Emery  was Jim's former teammate, “I can only imagine the stress for the family, you can’t pick a side, you love them equally.” At least for the Mooreheads it was family and a team, not choosing between family members. They did make history of their own, they were the first father and son duo to become Super Bowl winners. Unfortunately, for the Harbaugh family, there will be one winner and one loser.

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