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Fifty Shades of Rage

The many homicidal faces of San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh


“The sad reality is that the reason most serial killers are successful is because they blend into society.  They look and act much like everyone else except when they are satisfying their predatory appetite.” – Mark E. Safarik, M.D.

Packer fans: Remember the first, oh, seven to ten minutes of the game on Sunday? That was fun, wasn’t it? The three or so hours afterwards were gloomy and full of despair, but the opening act was delightful. It had less to do with the players than it did with the referees; there were two colossally stupid early penalties that each went in the Packers’ favor.

The first was during a punt return. The Packers forced a three-and-out on the Niners’ first possession (capped by a Clay Matthews sack) and Randall Cobb went back to receive the kick. While the ball was in the air, #37 of the Packers (Sam Shields) blocked #27 of the Niners (C.J. Spillman) in the back, which is a common penalty on punt returns.

A flag was promptly thrown, but for some reason, either due to confusion about the numbers of the players involved or because the referees on the field had never seen a football game before, the lead official got on the microphone and called an “Illegal block in the back” on the kicking team. This was ironic because the kicking team has no interest in blocking on punts, only tackling, which anyone, anywhere who knows anything about football should know. The officials marked off the yardage in the Packers’ favor and we got back to business.

Three plays later, the referees screwed up again. This time,  Aldon Smith of the Niners ran down Aaron Rodgers for a sack and a ten yard loss at the Green Bay 30. As he tripped Rodgers, the quarterback’s foot clipped Smith’s face mask, loosening his helmet in the process. As Smith stood up, he tried to adjust his helmet and it fell off, so he picked it up and began trotting back to his own huddle. No showboating, no big celebration, just business.

Smith’s helmet coming off was purely an accident.

Only one of the referees didn’t see it that way and flagged Smith for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, another 15 yards marked off for the Packers. Ripping off your own helmet in celebration is against the rules, an automatic personal foul penalty. This was, obviously, far from that. If you’re keeping track, that’s two egregious penalties resulting in a 25 yard swing in field position within the first three minutes and ten seconds of the game.

Turns out, it didn’t help the Packers much, as they didn’t do anything on that drive (nor did they in the entire first half) and the terrific advantages afforded them by replacement official bumbling went to waste. The Packers may not have gotten anything out of the crap-show that unfolded early on at Lambeau Field, but we viewers sure as hell did.

FOX’s television cameras spent a good deal of time during the morass transfixed on 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who looked as though he was going to bury every man in a black-and-white striped shirt underneath the midfield ‘G’ once the game was over. We were granted passage into the man’s soul and saw him as he is: a dark, seething, maniacal creature with little or no regard for human (well, at least officials’) well-being.

Before the game, I had two images of Harbaugh: one was the prickish, passive-aggressive handshake he gave to Jim Schwartz after his Niners beat the Lions last season, which prompted an even prickier-ish, actually-aggressive response from the Detroit head coach. The other was this: he’s one heck of a football coach. San Francisco plays a physical, aggressive and intelligent brand of football, and became the second team in a row (dating back to last year’s loss against the Giants) to walk into Green Bay and push the Packers around on their home field.

That said, he makes the kinds of faces towards officials only serial killers make towards their victims. (See Morgan, Dexter and Bateman, Patrick of “American Psycho.”) Don’t believe me? Take the following quiz. Try to guess what emotions Harbaugh is displaying in each one. When you’re done, do something happy. Go to YouTube and find uplifting videos. Hug your kid. Call your mother.

Let’s begin. I now present, “The A–hole Coach Rorschach Test.”


1.In the following photograph, Jim Harbaugh is:

A) Happy, because the 49ers have just won the game.

B) Joyful, because an official on the field was trapped beneath B.J. Raji.

C) Exuberant, because it was completely obvious from the opening kick that the 49ers were tougher, smarter, and prepared to totally outclass a team that went 15-1 last season.

D) Spiteful, because the above photograph is one of him laughing hysterically as he verbally assaults the official, some poor s.o.b. who was working as a deli clerk in Sioux Falls, SD two weeks ago and is now making calls on national television.

Answer: D. Rage level: 3.5


2. In the following photograph, Jim Harbaugh is:

A) Disappointed, because the officials rejected his request to be able to play some quarterback in the game.

B) Worried, because he isn’t sure if he brought his “kill kit.”

C) Incensed, because the officials have just announced the Aldon Smith penalty.

D) Nervous, because a police officer has told him to spread his legs and keep his hands where he can see them, meaning Harbaugh is likely under arrest.

Answer: C. Rage level: 8.0


3. Below, the tiny specks flying out of Harbaugh’s mouth are:

A) The flesh of lead official, Dave Smith.*

B) The bones of line judge, Jim Davis.*

C) The heart of back judge, John Johnson.*

D) The spittle generated by crazy, mouth-foaming fury, which Jim is currently producing voluminously.

Answer: D. Rage level: 10.0


4. In the next picture, Jim Harbaugh is:

A) Asking one of the side judges to play “patty cake.”

B) Wildly demonstrating that it was Packers’ receiver James Jones who had committed pass interference, not the 49er defender.

C) Attempting to cop a feel from a lucky lady in the front row.

D) Displaying his “jazz hands” technique.

Answer: B. Rage level: 4.5


5. Jim Harbaugh is all the way onto the field because:

A) He is politely asking the official if he can cover “that slow-ass white boy, Jordy Nelson”, just for one play.

B) All of the other referees were avoiding him, so he had to come all the way to midfield to chew one of them out.

C) Nature’s calling and he has no idea where the bathroom is.

D) He’s a borderline psychopath.

Answer: B, although D is also an acceptable answer. Rage level: 8.5


6. What is Jim Harbaugh cleaning out of his teeth?

A) The flesh of lead official, Dave Smith.*

B) The bones of line judge, Jim Davis.*

C) The heart of back judge, John Johnson.*

D) Nothing. He is actually chewing his nails, waiting for the clock to run down to the 2-minute warning.

Answer: D. Rage level: 1.0


7. Complete the sentence: Jim looks shocked because _________.

A) Randall Cobb has just returned a punt for a touchdown.

B) A referee saw a clear ‘block in the back’ on the play.

C) A different referee came running in and overruled the first referee.

D) The Packers have somehow turned this into a close contest despite the fact that they have no business being in the game.

E) The new $12 million High-Definition replay board at Lambeau Field showed the missed call very clearly.

F) All of the above.

Answer: F. Rage level: 5.0


8. True or False: This is how a normal person smiles when they are happy:

A. True

B. False

Answer: B. Rage level: 0


How’d you do? More importantly, how do you feel? The correct response is, “Happy, because that was kind of amusing.” The incorrect response is, “Angry, and now I’m going to choke a puppy.”

This wasn’t really meant to insult Harbaugh… okay, you got me, it was… but that doesn’t mean I’m not cognizant of what happened on Sunday. He had his team ready to go on the road and take the fight right to the Packers. I’m not sure the 49er defense missed a single tackle; and since the Green Bay offense is so dependent upon YAC (receivers making something happen with the ball after they catch it) they never got into a rhythm. All it took to generate pressure, at times, were three or four pass rushers.

The 49er offense also performed well but the Packer defense makes a lot of offenses look good. Frank Gore looked 5 years younger. Randy Moss looked 10 years younger. It was only the first week, and it’s tempting to say “it’s still early”, but Sunday’s game was troubling because it appeared to be a continuation of everything we saw last season out of the Packer defense. There’s no edge, no physical element – it’s almost as if they are conditioned to playing with a big lead and take that blase attitude into every defensive series, even when they’re tied, trailing or the game is close.

The bright side: Dom Capers and Mike McCarthy act like civilized human beings in the booth and on the sideline, respectively. We’ll never have to explain to our children that “throwing tantrums doesn’t work” while a man in a green hat goes ballistic on the television in front of them. I’m jealous of the way San Francisco plays, but I don’t think I could watch Harbaugh 16-20 weeks per year. I mean, look at this guy.

I can’t leave you with that. Here’s a picture of puppies.

There. Be happy, and go about the rest of your day.

*Names were changed to protect the identities of potential victims.

BreakTheHuddle is a fan of the Twins, Timberwolves and the 13-time World Champion Green Bay Packers. Reach him at BreakTheHuddle@gmail.com, @BreakTheHuddle on Twitter or leave a comment below!


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