Football Coach Jim Harbaugh & Poker Legend Phil Hellmuth Highlight Their Friendship
By Bob Garcia
A recent article on ESPN has highlighted the importance of the friendship between poker legend Phil Hellmuth and University of Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh when it comes to Harbaugh’s job. Keen listeners of Harbaugh’s press conferences and team talks both at Michigan and at his previous job coaching the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL will often hear poker references in there, that can only be influenced by his friendship with Hellmuth.
The first such reference came up back in 2011 during Harbaugh’s first season with the 49ers. During a press conference Harbaugh said that the team “may be ahead in the chip count, but [the 49ers] don’t have a seat at the final table.”
Since then his talk has been peppered with poker references here and there throughout the years. It all comes from when the two met while Harbaugh was coaching at Stanford before moving into the NFL. From that meeting at a Stanford basketball game, the two became close as Harbaugh, a keen poker player himself, got advice on his game from Hellmuth. Little by little that poker advise turned into anecdotes about how to perform on the football field.
It’s worth noting that Jim Harbaugh is one of football’s most successful coaches, both at college and NFL level. He’s the highest-paid college football coach in the country, earning $9 million a year proving that poker advice is good life advice for any occasion.