Dearly beloved, we are gathered today to pay our final tributes of respect to the 49ers career of Jim Harbaugh.
Do not let your heart be troubled; it was long since we knew of Harbaugh's thorny relationship with CEO Jed York and GM Trent Baalke. But if there was one thing that might have salvaged Harbaugh's career, it would be for the 49ers to make the postseason and yet another run at the Super Bowl.
But it was not meant to be, as Pete Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks reminded us on Sunday of the mortality of Harbaugh, and when Carroll eliminated the 49ers from the playoffs, he also caused us today to mourn the loss of Harbaugh.
O cruel irony! That Harbaugh first rose to prominence when his ragtag bunch of Stanford Cardinal defeated a heavily-favored Pete Carroll USC team - that Harbaugh then scored more points in a single game than any other coach in history at the USC Coliseum - that Harbaugh defeated Carroll in five of his first six outings - o, cruel fate! Just as Harbaugh rose into this world by the defeats of Carroll, it was a defeat by Carroll that would take him out of this world.
Today, let us not remember Harbaugh as the beleaguered man who fell at the hands of York, Baalke and Carroll, but let us instead remember him for who he was: a man of the people. Let us not remember him for victories or defeats on the field of gridiron, but let us instead remember Harbaugh for the man who he truly was.
So, let's stop the eulogizing and instead turn our focus to a celebration of all that Harbaugh was. And who was he, you might ask?
A Man of Strong Moral Conviction
Harbaugh knows what is right. Harbaugh knows what is wrong. And he makes sure that you know what is right and wrong as well.
Just take a look at this fine display of conviction as Harbaugh lets the referees, the media, the players, the fans, and anybody else observing know what's wrong with the world (or, more precisely, what's wrong with this call):
What passion! What conviction!
With the way that Harbaugh hoots and hollers and throws things around, I ask you: is this more of man or more of Donkey Kong?
A Man of the Theater
Jim Harbaugh is high society. When it comes to the galas and the arts, you should never be surprised to see Harbaugh's face pop up in places that you might not expect him to be in.
Flipping through the channels of network television, an astute observer may have noticed the beaming face of Jim Harbaugh sitting in a courtroom audience:
This, of course, is none other than on the set of Judge Judy. And while most people watching Judge Judy see nothing more than trailer trash and people screaming at one another, Harbaugh picks up on the subtle tones of the morality play lying just beneath the surface: "When you lie in Judge Judy's courtroom, it's over…I learned that from her. It’s very powerful…If somebody lies to you, how can you trust anything they say after that?"
Ah, sophistication, thy name is Harbaugh.
A Man of Fashion
Jim Harbaugh is a man of high moral fiber. That much is clear. But what's high moral fiber if it isn't matched with high-quality clothing fibers?
And when it comes to finding the sharpest, fashion-forward statements, Jim Harbaugh doesn't conform to convention. It would be far too easy to select a well-cut blazer, slim fitting, with a dress shirt that accentuates Harbaugh's quarterback physique, highlighting his shoulders and his frame. It would just be too easy to throw on a pair of designer jeans that gives a hint of edginess, but also shows that he can be casual and laid back as well.
No, no, no. That is far too conformist, and that simply is not who Harbaugh is.
Forget about everything that haute couture and high fashion think they know.
You'll find Harbaugh's preferred style of clothing to come with the sort of edginess that very few fashionistas would have the courage to put on in front of others. And from where exactly does Harbaugh get this non-traditional fashion flair?
Why, from none other than the bargain bin at Walmart.
@chaztopher Jim I'm Indy at Wal-Mart shopping for what else of course? Khakis! pic.twitter.com/ivj91wLFXF— Austin (@Houstin_Jay) January 15, 2014
And not only does he rock a fashion statement that few in the industry are brave enough to wear, but he also pulls it off within a budget!
Who's in for $8 pleated khakis? You know Harbaugh is!
A Great Loss...
Although Harbaugh is best known for his conviction, his love of arts, and fashion-forward predilections, there is one thing that few people know about Harbaugh: he also happens to be a great football coach.
Those of us Cardinal faithful remember the year before Harbaugh arrived, when Stanford was the laughingstock of the Pac-12 and could only scrape out one win the entire season long - and that one game that we won? Well, we weren't even supposed to win that one either.
It was by Harbaugh's hand that Stanford came to national prominence. Harbaugh paved the way for Stanford to rise from rubbish to Rose Bowls. And with the groundwork laid by Harbaugh, Stanford would become one of only five national powerhouses ever to appear in four consecutive BCS bowls.
But small Stanford Stadium could not contain Harbaugh, so he went on to coach a beleaguered professional football team known as the 49ers, a once-great franchise who hadn't been to the playoffs at all in nearly a decade - and hadn't been in an NFC championship game in nearly two. Then Harbaugh arrived, and led the 49ers to a Super Bowl appearance and three consecutive NFC championships; Harbaugh is the only coach ever to achieve this honor in his first three years coaching.
Now it's very possible that we in the Bay Area will be bidding Harbaugh an adieu. Today we stand in remembrance of a great man's 49ers career, and we ask collectively:
"What's your deal?"