Jim Harbaugh takes blame for 2011 incident with Jim Schwartz

ByDan Murphy ESPN logo
Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Jim Harbaugh said this week that enthusiasm might have gotten the better of him in one of the more memorable postgame handshakes in recent NFL history.

Harbaugh, who is known for his enthusiasm, said during an interview on Barstool Sports' Pardon My Take podcast that he was in the wrong in 2011 when, after a San Francisco 49ers victory, he and Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz had to be separated on the field.

"I went in too hard on that, too aggressive on the handshake," he said in the interview, six years after the incident. "We've talked, and we're good. We're back to friends. ... There is a protocol in a postgame handshake. I've been there as the winner. I've been there as loser. You just, 'Nice game,' then go celebrate. Premature celebration there, in the wrong."

Schwartz, at the time, took exception to Harbaugh's celebrating on his way across the field and some of that excitement spilling into their meeting at midfield. The two coaches have long since moved on.

Harbaugh's wide-ranging interview on the podcast touched on topics such as the pope's shoe size (9 or 9, which his wife researched before delivering him a pair of Michigan-themed Jordan sneakers last month), his thoughts on organic food ("a sham") and his strategy for catching foul balls at baseball games (always bring a glove).

While the Schwartz handshake-turned-dustup became a much-discussed incident, Harbaugh said his last actual fight came when he was 39 years old at the tail end of his playing career in a Bennigan's or similar restaurant against two other men. The coach didn't want to delve into too many details but said he held his own.

"I did not win," he said. "I cannot say I won. I didn't get crushed, either. I got some blows in."