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Harbaugh parents could become Super Bowl TV stars

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Harbaugh parents could become Super Bowl TV stars

NEW YORK (AP) Jack and Jackie Harbaugh would do well to practice their impassive faces in front of a mirror before the Super Bowl.

The parents of Baltimore Ravens coach John and the San Francisco 49ers' Jim Harbaugh will be watched closely during Sunday's Super Bowl - if anybody finds them - for any visual evidence that mommy and daddy really do love one boy or the other best.

It promises to be a fascinating sidebar to CBS' coverage of the game because, as Lynn and Rick Raisman can attest, parent cams are valuable in sports coverage. NBC's clip of the Raismans watching daughter Aly perform on the uneven bars during last summer's Olympics in London went viral, with stage parents everywhere relating to their murmurs and facial contortions.

``I had no idea it was going to be so great,'' said David Michaels, senior producer at NBC Sports, who often produces and directs coverage of gymnastics and figure skating, events where parental involvement can be particularly intense.

Michaels makes it a point to know where parents are sitting during competitions, tracking them through spotters or sometimes sports governing bodies that know where parent seats have been assigned. Or where they are not sitting: Sometimes a dad who retreats to a concession stand because he can't bear to watch an offspring compete is a good story, too.

Michaels said he tries not to overdo it, sticking with parents who he knows are interesting and very involved in their children's competitive undertakings.

``It has certainly gotten more ubiquitous,'' he said. ``Sometimes it's fantastic and sometimes it's just too gratuitous.''

Jack, a former college and high school football coach, and his wife will be attending the Super Bowl. On a conference call last week, the parents said they did not know where they would be sitting. Even if they did, they'd be unlikely to inform a horde of reporters about their seat locations.

The senior Harbaugh was a college head coach at Western Michigan and Western Kentucky and an assistant at several places, including Michigan, Pittsburgh and Stanford. His son-in-law, Tom Crean, is the Indiana University men's basketball coach. It doesn't seem like a family that would want to watch a game casually while piling their plates with nachos.

The couple had a practice run to see what it would be like to watch their sons coach against each other on Thanksgiving 2011, when older brother John's Ravens beat the 49ers 16-6.

During that game, the couple watched in an office. Jack said his wife's face looked ``nearly comatose'' throughout the contest.

``She just stared at the screen,'' he said. ``Not a word was spoken. And at the end of the game, it was just over.''

They'll experience the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat - all at once. A 75-yard touchdown pass that would be reason to stand up and cheer for one son is another son's horrible defensive lapse.

``I am going to be neutral in the game,'' Jackie Harbaugh said. ``I know one is going to win and one is going to lose, but I would really like to end in a tie. Can the NFL do that?''

CBS Sports President Sean McManus said there will be a pregame feature about the familial battle. It would be hard to argue otherwise; no matter how much the brothers want to downplay it, it's a unique situation. But McManus said CBS would try not to let it dominate its coverage of the game.

Given the need for the coaches' parents to stay neutral, longtime TV critic David Bianculli said he wondered how much of a story it will be visually for CBS. If they really maintain impassive faces, how much will viewers want to see them on the screen?

``I would advise them to pay attention to the field, more than anything else,'' said Bianculli, who teaches about television for Rowan University.

A stone face is a story, too, Michaels said. The only question is how much a producer should go back to the shot.

He said he can't imagine CBS not knowing where the couple is. If they're out in public, the network will likely keep a close eye on their reactions.

``As a producer or a director in this kind of a situation, it's incumbent upon you to know where every element of the story is because you never know how it's going to evolve,'' Michaels said.

Finding the right approach ultimately shouldn't be much of a problem for CBS, he said.

``It's a little bit of a distraction at times,'' he said. ``But they'll figure out the best way to deal with it. The pictures won't lie.''

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AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in San Francisco contributed to this report.

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Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

Proposed NFL rule change would eliminate Ravens' intentional holding strategy

BY TYLER BYRUM, @theTylerByrum

It made everyone do a double-take, then it made perfect sense to non-Cincinnati and non-Pittsburgh fans.

Back in Week 12 when the Baltimore Ravens held off the Cincinnati Bengals 19-14, it wasn't a single touchdown that made national headlines. Rather it was a game ending safety that cut a seven-point deficit to only five. 

On the final play, numerous Ravens players held the opposing Bengals, who were setting up to receive punt, with 11 seconds left on the clock. Punter Sam Koch, just sat back, draining the clock before finally running out the back of the end zone with the clock at zero. 

SEE LINK FOR FULL RULE EXPLANATION

Thursday it was proposed to the NFL's Competition Committee to make plays like this illegal. 

While it may be considered unfair to some, making this new rule would simply add to an already expanding rule book and only be used for a select handful of plays a year, maybe. 

Eliminating cleverness of coaches that are well versed in the NFL rule book, should not be the approach of the of rule adaptations. There is no impact on player safety nor does it make the game 'more watchable' (like the extra-point rule).

Not only that, but the new proposed rule just leaves another set of loopholes for coaches to take advantage of at the end of a game. What if team trying to score on the last play commits two offensive penalties just to get another shot at the endzone?

But before making a massive overhaul to fix all of the loopholes in the NFL rule book, can we establish what a catch is first?

MORE RAVENS: Tony Jefferson used Madden to make free agency decision

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Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Ravens mock draft roundup: Mike Williams continues to pop up

Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, mock drafts across sport media sites are beginning to narrow in on players that fit specifically into blaring holes on a team's roster.

As the first wave of free agency has come through, a majority of the top names at each position has been snatched up. While the Baltimore Ravens can still sign a handful of free agents on the open market, getting backup or a young star in a key position can be a the primary goal. 

Here's a look at who some of the various analysts have the Ravens taking with their No. 16 pick in the first round. The general consensus is help in the defensive secondary and at the wide receiver position.

DE Taco Charlton, Michigan, Ben Standig, CSN-Mid Atlantic

Standing: At some point the Ravens must find an edge pass rushing replacement for Terrell Suggs. Charlton might be better stopping the run than rushing the passer right now and yet he had nine sacks in 10 regular season games.  

SEE STANDIG'S FULL 2017 MOCK DRAFT

SS Jabrill Peppers, Michigan, Rob Rang, CBS Sports

Rang: With starting safety Matt Elam a pending free agent and Eric Weddle poised to enter his 11th NFL season, the Ravens may very well be looking for help in the secondary in the 2017 draft. Peppers starred as a linebacker in 2016 but possesses the agility and speed to handle coverage.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

Brugler: The Ravens have plenty of speed at receiver, but only average size. Williams has only average speed, but his body control, catch radius and overall size are where he shines.

WR John Ross, Washington, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com

Brooks: An electric playmaker with speed to burn would be a welcome addition to an offense that wants to play long ball with Joe Flacco at quarterback.

DE Charles Harris, Missouri, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com

Jeremiah: Harris is a very productive edge rusher who is plenty athletic enough to drop in coverage if needed.

WR Mike Williams, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com

Burke: Baltimore has two receivers, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, who can scorch defenses deep. They need a physical, intermediate threat. Check.

CB Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, Peter Schragers, FOX Sports

Schragers: I seem to be a lot higher on Humphrey than other mock draft pundits. Oh well. I’ll ride with the star of the Alabama defensive backfield from last season. The son of NFL running back Bobby Humphrey, he was a stud at the well-known Hoover High and a prime recruit of Nick Saban’s. An opportunistic player who started for two seasons in Tuscaloosa, Humphrey forced three fumbles and intercepted two passes in 2016. Baltimore already has added Brandon Carr and Tony Jefferson to its defensive backfield but might not be done.

RELATED: REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT ROUNDUP