By Michael Grey
Jim Harbaugh is a smart man, a fantastic football coach, a driven competitor and a man I think football fans here in Seattle are lucky to have in the NFL.
Jim Harbaugh fanned the flames of the Seahawks-49ers rivalry with comments about Seattle's recent string of suspensions related to performance-enhancing drugs. (AP)
No part of me believes that it was at all accidental that Harbaugh included a line like this when asked about the recent run of PED-related suspensions up here in Seattle: "You don't know what it is. Even when people say what it is, you don't know that that's what it is. I've heard this thrown out or that, but that's usually the agents or the players themselves saying it's, for example, Adderall. But the NFL doesn't release what it actually is, so you have no idea."
Is he stating a fact? Yes. Is he right? Yes. Is that where the meaning of a line like that ends? Absolutely not.
It's unfortunate, in this case, that the carelessness of a few Seahawks players gave Harbaugh this particular piece of ammunition, but he would have found something else, something incendiary, in its place if he had needed to. From his days running up the score at Stanford to Handshakegate in Detroit to jibberish quotes about "jive turkeys" to his classic sideline tantrums, Jim Harbaugh has proven to have an incredible knack for getting under the skin of his opponents, and for that Seahawks fans should be thankful.
The 49ers-Seahawks rivalry is quickly becoming the marquee matchup in the NFL, and while it may not have needed extra hot sauce, Harbaugh saw fit to supply some anyway. None of this is to say that I don't respect that man, because I do, but his demeanor makes it oh-so-easy to find that little extra fire for the games in which the Hawks and Niners square off. For their part, and to their credit, the Seahawks' brass and players will downplay the significance of Harbaugh's words, but I don't believe for a second that they won't resonate at 12 Seahawk Way.
I'm confident in the weeks and months to come that San Francisco's head man will fire additional shots over the bow here in The Emerald City, and I'll be smiling each and every time. There's no hero without a villain and no rivalry with genuine vitriol that goes beyond the logo on the helmet. As long as Harbaugh is coaching the 49ers, Seahawks fans will have that vitriol by the freighter load.
And for that I can only say, "Thanks, Jim".