The NFL might be getting ready to penalize two coaches who nearly came to blows after a contentious postgame handshake in Detroit, but NBC should be sending San Francisco’s Jim Harbaugh and the Lions’ Jim Schwartz thank-you gift-baskets. Their YouTube-worthy confrontation gave the Sunday Night Football crew something better to talk about during the Chicago Bears’ 39-10 mauling of the Minnesota Vikings. The primetime game was over at halftime, when the Bears led 26-3, turning the final 30 minutes of play into little more than a career death-watch for receding Vikings’ quarterback Donovan McNabb.
But first, about that handshake. It overshadowed an important NFC battle between two of the league’s surprise teams, with the 5-1 Niners handing the Lions their first loss of the season. Harbaugh, the first-year pro coach after four years leading Stanford, was obviously pumped after his team’s victory, and he not only gave Schwartz a mighty grip but he slapped his opponent dismissively on the back as if he was disposing of him in to the trash. Schwartz shouted back at him, and when Harbaugh hustled away without responding, the Lions coach decided to chase him down to let him know that this wasn’t the Pac-10 anymore. This is when it grew comical. Schwartz reeled Harbaugh in, and he had every opportunity to give the retreating Niners coach his two cents or to raise the stakes. Yet as soon as Harbaugh turned to face him, Schwartz hesitated — until players and team officials jumped in to break it up. Then Schwartz shifted into “Hold me back!” mode, aggressively trying — okay, half-trying — to break through and get back in Harbaugh’s face. As far as coachs’ spats go, zero being a Mangini/Belichick non-shake shake and 10 being the Chaney/Calipari blood feud, I give the Harbaugh/Schwartz brouhaha a decent 6.5 — with great potential for growth should their teams meet again in the playoffs.
NEXT: The People Magazine Bowl.