Six degrees of Jim Harbaugh

INDIANAPOLIS – Lucas Oil Stadium is Peyton’s Place.

If not for the play and production of Peyton Manning, the iconic quarterback of the hometown Colts, it’s likely the state-of-the-art facility that is hosting the NFL Scouting Combine this week and hosted the Super Bowl earlier this month would not have been built.

But Manning’s exit from “his place” was the talk of Super Bowl week and continues to be a hot topic, as the Colts are expected to use the first pick overall in April’s NFL Draft to select Stanford QB Andrew Luck.

Manning? Luck? Hmm. Someone has a connection to both. It’s Jim Harbaugh, coach of the NFC West champion 49ers. The Colts’ QB before they made Manning the first pick overall in the 1998 NFL Draft? That would be Jim Harbaugh. Luck’s coach for his first two seasons at Stanford? That also would be Harbaugh.

Neither distinction escaped Harbaugh when he met with reporters Thursday. Or, perhaps a better way to put it is that Harbaugh was reminded of each distinction by reporters.

Harbaugh on being replaced by Manning: “If you’re going to be replaced by somebody that’s a pretty good one to be replaced by, isn’t it? I take some pride in that.”

Asked how remarkable Manning’s career has been, Harbaugh said, “I think that is the exact right word: Remarkable. That your career will be something that people will talk about – and remark about – in the history of the game. You’re talking about a quarterback that his career will be talked about for 50, 100 years to come. He’s been that kind of player in the National Football League. Very remarkable. Good word.”

Harbaugh on why Luck is the obvious first pick overall: “You ever play Spades? The trump game? He’s holding a lot of aces in a lot of suits.”

Asked to elaborate on Luck, Harbaugh added, “He’s got all the qualities, really. Mentally. Physically. He’s as prepared as anybody that you’re going to find. He’s really good. How about that one? He’s got a lot of talent.”

Asked again about Luck, Harbaugh said, “He’s one of the finest football players I’ve ever been around. That good enough? And an even better person. One of the top five guys I’ve ever been around. He’s just a joy to coach. Am I going to like playing against him? Not looking forward to that.”

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