Sports News Without Access, Favor, Or Discretion

Coach/angry person Jim Harbaugh is still talking about an incident in yesterday's Niners-Packers game where Clay Matthews took some slaps at the head of Joe Staley during a scrum. "Come with some knuckles," Harbaugh said. He would know.

"If you're going to go to the face, come with some knuckles, not an open slap," Harbaugh said. "That young man works very hard on being a tough guy. He'll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap."


Before Matthews takes punching advice from Jim Harbaugh, he might want to read up on a 1997 incident where Harbaugh, then the Colts QB, took a swing at quarterback-turned-broadcaster Jim Kelly and ended up breaking a bone in his own hand, putting him out—without pay—for a month.

During NBC's pregame show on Oct. 20, analyst Jim Kelly questioned Harbaugh's propensity for injury, calling him a "baby" who "overdramatized" his injuries.

Harbaugh heard about it, and what do you know—Kelly and NBC were in San Diego for Indianapolis's next game. The Saturday before the game, Kelly was at the Colts' hotel for a production meeting. Harbaugh reportedly poked his head into the room and told Kelly he wanted to talk. The two went into another room and exchanged punches, in a scuffle that lasted about 30 seconds, according to the Daily News.

Kelly was fine. Harbaugh broke a bone, and was placed on the non-football injury list, meaning he'd have to forfeit his salary ($147,000 a week) until he was healthy. He returned on Nov. 23.


"I consider this something personal between Jim Kelly and I," Harbaugh told the AP, wearing a protective wrap on his hand. "We settled things."

Did he regret anything?

"I regret that I have a crack in one of my bones in my hand."

Harbaugh would later tell ESPN News that "I felt I had to do something since my toughness was being questioned."


Curiously, a few days later, Kelly would deny the entire incident, saying no punches were thrown and he had no idea how Harbaugh got hurt. That didn't fly, since Harbaugh had already copped to it and witnesses had confirmed the punches.

So, keep slapping, Clay Matthews. Even if the other guy's not wearing a helmet, it's for your own safety.

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