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Posted on Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

Former teammate of Harbaugh brothers recalls Ann Arbor Junior Football days

By Pete Cunningham


Jim Harbaugh (13) looks to make a block as teammate David Thayer runs the ball during an Ann Arbor Junior Football league game in 1974.

Photo courtesy of David Thayer

Long before brothers John and Jim Harbaugh were Super Bowl-bound head coaches, they were members of the Ann Arbor Packers of the Ann Arbor Junior Football League. According to a former teammate, even back then they knew their stuff.

“I was focused on, ‘Where do I put these pads?’ It was clear they were focused on the position they wanted to play and how they were going to do it. They knew their stuff," former Ann Arbor resident David Thayer told the Kalamazoo Gazette. "They were very intense and very competitive right from the start. If we ran around the entire practice field, they were vying to be in the front of the line. It was pretty incredible right from the start.”

Thayer, who resides in Kalamazoo, grew up in Ann Arbor in the 1970's and played with them both for the Packers. Thayer recalls being put at quarterback after tryouts in 1974, much to the chagrin of his backup, Jim, who was at the time the team's running back as well. The two eventually switched positions, and all was right with the world.

"It became clear from Jim and his non-verbal signals, which he hides them as well now as he did then, that he was not thrilled about not playing quarterback. Jim was there to play quarterback. I was there to just play,” Thayer said. "I went to coach and said, ‘Listen coach, I just want to play. I really don’t care what position...They moved me to left halfback and Jim to quarterback and John to receiver and we kind of went from there."

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.



Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:45 a.m.


Terry Star21

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 1:48 a.m.

Hello good friend.....

Macabre Sunset

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:38 p.m.

I played against him and I've played on the same team as well (not in football). The thought of sabotaging his team for personal gain would have never occurred to him. He simply believed he could do anything. He was so far beyond the best athlete on the field in whatever sport he played that he could pretty much do it, too. That could be annoying, but he certainly backed up what he said. He was a ruthless opponent. But if his coach asked him to protect his quarterback, he'd find a way to make sure nobody touched the quarterback. I don't think your comment is fair.

Pete Cunningham

Thu, Jan 24, 2013 : 12:03 a.m.

I was joking, a play on Jim's well-documented competitive nature. I agree that it would be unfair to suggest that Jim Harbaugh, or any other 10-year old in the world, would blow a blindside block in order to win the starting spot at his preferred position on a Pee-Wee football team.

Pete Cunningham

Wed, Jan 23, 2013 : 10:10 p.m.

Love the thought of a young Jim stewing about not being able to play QB. I can just see a blindside block being "accidentally" missed halfway through the season had this not been rectified.