You know how postgame coaches’ handshakes are supposed to work: The field generals, surrounded by a retinue of local police trying hard not to smile for the TV cameras, meet at midfield and handshake, share a dude-embrace, and offer up some local steakhouse recommendations or whatever. These guys understand what each other is going through more than anyone else on earth.
So when something goes awry with the usual routine, we notice. Like at the conclusion of Sunday’s Ravens-Steelers game, when losing Baltimore coach John Harbaugh wasn’t content with the nice-game quickshake of Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin. As you can see in the video above, Harbaugh hauls Tomlin back to make sure Tomlin knows that Harbaugh wants to congratulate him. I’m not going to be ignored, Mike!
Yeah, so, that was weird. While it’s tempting to attach mystical, metaphorical significance to a single moment, let’s not do that. Let’s just wonder why it is that Harbaugh felt it necessary to wrangle Tomlin and force him to accept Harbaugh’s congratulations, and then look at the departing Tomlin several times in apparent frustration/disgust/hurt feelings. The Ravens and the Steelers are both teams who have no trouble stirring up rivalry and bad blood, and this looks to be another one of those moments. Not exactly earth-shattering, of course, but enough to raise a couple eyebrows.
What’s up with the Harbaughs and handshakes? This marks at least the fourth time that John Harbaugh or his brother Jim, head coach of the 49ers, have had a little trouble pulling off the ol’ postgame grip-and-grin:
— Last year, Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz chased down Jim Harbaugh after Harbaugh gloated a bit in the wake of the 49ers’ win over Detroit.
— Also last season, John Harbaugh and then-Chiefs head coach Todd Haley had a testy exchange over the Ravens’ use of timeouts in a preseason game.
— And back in 2009, when Jim Harbaugh coached Stanford and now-Seattle coach Pete Carroll headed up USC, the coaches got into a battle of what’s-your-deals after Stanford manhandled the Trojans 55-21.
Although this is an absurdly small sample size, this is the Internet, so we’ll just leap right to judgment: The Harbaughs should be banned from performing postgame handshakes until they can handle themselves appropriately. Perhaps they can have proxy handshakers to demonstrate proper form. That seems like a logical solution, yes?
-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-
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