Current Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh hasn’t been associated with the Chicago Bears organization since the ’90s, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t miss being in Chicago.
While in town this week for Big Ten football Media Day, Harbaugh reminisced fondly about his time as quarterback of the Bears from 1987-93, particularly in regards to living in the Windy City.
“I was 22, 23, 24, 5, 6, 7, 8 attacking the world,” he said. “That was the best days of my life. Other things I enjoyed, going to Wrigley Field on a summer day and sitting in the bleachers catching balls or home runs. So many things I really enjoyed. I loved Chicago and loved being 25 years-old.”
The former San Francisco 49ers head coach will return to one of his favorite haunts tonight to throw out the first pitch at Wrigley Field for Game 3 of the Crosstown Classic Series between the Cubs and White Sox.
Jim Harbaugh will throw out the first pitch at Cubs-White Sox game Wednesday in Chicago https://t.co/j1LFkGzHYW
— HouseofSports1 (@HouseofSports1) July 27, 2016
Chicago isn’t the only town in which Harbaugh has showcased his love of baseball, however. Just last year, he tossed out the first pitch at a Tigers game at Comerica Park, a moment that has even earned its own steely glared Topps baseball card.
Harbaugh’s Bears career wasn’t nearly as memorable as that, unfortunately. Selected 26th overall in the 1987 NFL draft by the Bears, he played in 89 games (65 starts) and completed 1,203 of his 1,759 passes (58.1%) for 11,567 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 56 interceptions. Following the 1993 season, he left the Bears to sign with the Indianapolis Colts and also had stints with the Baltimore Ravens and San Diego Chargers during his 14-year career.
Despite a few nice seasons and some late game heroics, especially during his time with the Colts, Harbaugh never quite lived up to his first-round billing. He has certainly made a name for himself as a head coach, though. After forging success in the college ranks with University of San Diego and Stanford, he took over the 49ers in 2012, coming within 5 yards of winning Super Bowl XLVI, before coming back to University of Michigan, where he starred in college, to resurrect a once-proud program.
While his NFL career, particularly with the Bears, wasn’t incredibly impactful, Harbaugh’s influence on football as a coach—due to a fiery, smash-mouth philosophy and a quirky personality, not to mention his popularization of khakis—continues to be felt and will likely persist for many years, both in the NFL and in college.
And through it all, Harbaugh has never forgotten the place that gave him the first opportunity to follow his dreams to play in the NFL.