Weird But True: Jim Harbaugh Has More Rushing Yards Than Bo Jackson
For some younger football fans, it can be a bit jarring to see Jim Harbaugh in a football uniform throwing the pigskin around the yard. After all, he made his name in coaching out at Stanford, coaching Andrew Luck to a first-overall pick. He then made the leap to the NFL to coach the San Francisco 49ers, where he quickly turned the team around and had an appearance in Super Bowl XLVII.
This has all happened in the past 15 years. So naturally, some younger fans only know him as a coach.
Young or old, however, most diehards know, Harbaugh played his college ball as a quarterback at the University of Michigan, where he is now the head coach.
But Harbaugh's NFL career as a player is an interesting story all its own with many interesting ties. For instance, Harbaugh's most recognizable gig as a starting quarterback was arguably with the Indianapolis Colts where he was a Pro Bowler. Harbaugh quarterbacked the team from 1994 until 1997. The team spent the first overall pick on Peyton Manning the next year, ousting Harbaugh. But when Manning left Indy for Denver and the Colts had the first overall pick again in 2012, the Colts drafted the aforementioned Andrew Luck, a player Harbaugh coached.
After his stint in Indy, Harbaugh quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens for a season. Eventually, Harbaugh's brother, John, would become the Ravens head coach. When the two met as the head coaches of the 49ers and Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, it was the first time brothers had coached opposing teams in the big game.
As weird as any of that could be, Harbaugh, a quarterback through the 1990s, had more rushing yards than the illustrious Bo Jackson, both of whom entered the league (officially) in 1987.
Now, as everyone with an ounce of interest in sports knows, Bo Jackson's professional football career was cut short due to a severe hip injury in his fourth season with the Los Angeles Raiders. While it may be shocking to many fans that Jackson never had a 1,000-yard rushing season in the NFL, it must be even more shocking that his 2,782 career rushing yards is just short of the career rushing mark by Harbaugh.
In Harbaugh's 13-year NFL career, he rushed for 2,787 yards.
Harbaugh was a scrambling quarterback, but in the era he played in, there were few quarterbacks that were putting up the numbers we see today by the likes of Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen. Steve Young was the most notable and successful scrambler of the day and even he only surpassed 500 rushing yards once. The exception was, of course, Randall Cunningham with the Philadelphia Eagles. He nearly eclipsed 1,000 yards in 1990 and eclipsed 500 yards in six straight seasons.
Harbaugh, though, never surpassed 350. He was a scrambler, sure, but he was far from electric. Nonetheless, the strange and storied football career of Jim Harbaugh has yet another interesting thread to it.