With all of the Jim Harbaugh reports/rumors floating around, we thought it would be fun to flashback to 1997 when Harbaugh broke his hand punching former Buffalo Bills quarterback, Jim Kelly.
As the story goes, Kelly, who was an analyst at the time, was doing one of Harbaugh’s games and he called him a “baby.”
Well, Harbaugh caught wind of Kelly’s comment, and with Kelly scheduled to work Harbaugh’s game the very next week, something was bound to happen.
From CBS Sports:
“Jim Kelly made some comments about me on a TV show in Buffalo. He basically said I was a baby, that I fake injuries,” Harbaugh told Mitch Albom in 1997. “He said if he were still playing, he’d tell Buffalo players to hit me in the mouth and I’d get rattled.”
As fate would have it, Kelly was scheduled to announce Harbaugh’s game the first Sunday after he made the “baby” comment. At the time, Harbaugh was playing for the Colts.
The day before the game, Harbaugh decided to “crash an NBC production meeting” and that’s when things escalated.
“Well, [Kelly] was doing a game in San Diego, and I wanted to ask him where he was coming from with those comments,” Harbaugh explained. “We went into a room and started talking about it. He said, ‘I call it the way I see it.’ One thing led to another. I hit him. I threw a couple of punches. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.”
After the punch, Harbaugh knew right away that something didn’t feel right.
“I broke the bone while hitting him,” Harbaugh said in 1997.
Harbaugh would miss the Colts’ next three games after the injury and because the team placed him on the Non-Football Injury list, he missed out on three paychecks, which were estimated to be $140,000 each.
The moral of the story: Never question Harbaugh’s toughness.
“I regret throwing the punch, but I felt I had to do something since my toughness was being questioned,” Harbaugh said. “I regret that I have a crack in one of my bones in my hand.”