Skip to main content

Epic brother battles: From the Bible to the Super Bowl

By Josh Levs, CNN
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
John Harbaugh, left, and Jim Harbaugh became the first siblings to face each other as coaches in a major sports match-up on Super Bowl Sunday in 2013. Older brother John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens won over the San Francisco 49ers. <!-- --><!-- -->
</br></br>
Here's a look at some of the most dramatic, best-known sibling rivalries -- real and fictional<!-- -->:</br>
John Harbaugh, left, and Jim Harbaugh became the first siblings to face each other as coaches in a major sports match-up on Super Bowl Sunday in 2013. Older brother John Harbaugh's Baltimore Ravens won over the San Francisco 49ers.

Here's a look at some of the most dramatic, best-known sibling rivalries -- real and fictional:
HIDE CAPTION
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
Famous sibling rivalries
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • For the first time, two sibling coaches will face-off in a major sports matchup this Sunday
  • Jim and John Harbaugh have played down the notion of any rivalry
  • Brother-versus-brother is a common theme from the Bible to network TV

Join CNN on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET for "Kickoff in New Orleans: A CNN and Bleacher Report Special" hosted by Rachel Nichols and Ernie Johnson.

(CNN) -- It's an "epic" first, ushering in "one of the most incredible sports stories" of our time. The result of a storied brotherly rivalry.

Leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, some sports columnists and football aficionados are having a field day with the "Harbowl."

John Harbaugh, coach of the Baltimore Ravens, will face off against his 15-months-younger brother Jim, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.

Top 20 sibling rivalries in sports

Some football fans are complaining that the storyline is overhyped. And the brothers themselves reject it, emphasizing their bond.

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. "Like" us on Facebook and have your say! Get the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Still, the super siblings will make history when their teams duke it out this weekend at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

People all over the world love a good story of a brotherly feud, whether fictional or real. We decided to take a look at some of the biggest ones.

The Bible

Cain and Abel. Jacob and Esau. Joseph and his brothers. Moses and Pharoah (they grew up together). Not to mention Isaac and Ishmael. If you're looking for brother vs. brother rivalry, no better jumping off point than the Old Testament.

Thor vs. Loki

Comics and cartoons are home to numerous good vs. evil battles represented by two archetypal brothers. See the Lion King's Mufasa vs. Scar. Or the story at the core of last year's record-breaking blockbuster "The Avengers," based on Marvel comics. Loki, Thor's evil adopted brother, tries to terrorize all of humanity.

J.R. vs. Bobby

Probably the biggest brother vs. brother rivalry took place on the popular 1980s TV show, \
Probably the biggest brother vs. brother rivalry took place on the popular 1980s TV show, "Dallas."

Sometimes you just loving watching the bad guy. On "Dallas," conniving J.R. Ewing was forever squaring off against his good-guy brother Bobby. The show's been resurrected with that battle at the center. But with Larry Hagman's death, J.R. vs. Bobby -- probably the biggest brother vs. brother rivalry in TV history -- will likely end as well, after the episodes Hagman already shot for the new season that began this week.

(Coincidental corporate synergy alert: The new "Dallas" is airing on TNT, which, like CNN, is a part of Time Warner.)

When brothers disband

Brotherly feuds have poisoned the waters for successful musical acts, including the Everly Brothers, which Rolling Stone calls "Rock's First Sibling Rivalry."

And more recently, similar bitterness helped bust the popular band Oasis. Liam and Noel Gallagher's feud included public spats and legal action. (See also The Kinks, the Isley Brothers and more in this spread from zencollegelife.com.)

Battle of the billionaires

Who doesn't hate feuding with their billionaire sibling over the future of a massive empire?

So we can all commiserate with Mukesh and Anil Ambani, who split up their father's Reliance Group and have fought to see whose vision for the future of Indian business will prevail.

Brotherly love trumps competition

I'll never forget watching the 1984 Olympics as a kid. Twin brothers Phil and Steve Mahre won gold and silver in the slalom at Sarjevo. After Phil finished his race, he used a walkie-talkie to give hints to his brother. I remember thinking, he wants his brother to do well more than he wants to be able to say he beat him. So, while rivalries abound, brotherly love can win out.

Sisterly feuds just as strong

We could of course double this list by looking at rivalries between sisters as well. A big one that's been in the news lately: Pauline Phillips, advice columnist behind "Dear Abby," passed away last month. Her twin sister was the equally famous advice columnist Esther "Eppie" Pauline Friedman Lederer known as "Ann Landers." They were locked in a feud for years.

Biggest sibling rivalries - join the discussion on Facebook

What other sibling rivalries stick out in your mind? Let us know in the comments below.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 4, 2013 -- Updated 1030 GMT (1830 HKT)
Baltimore Ravens fans celebrate following their team's Super Bowl win.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 0025 GMT (0825 HKT)
After Sunday's power outage, officials were vowing to fix the cause, but no one was saying just what that was.
February 4, 2013 -- Updated 1953 GMT (0353 HKT)
The jokesters of Twitter had plenty to snicker about during Sunday's Super Bowl.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1116 GMT (1916 HKT)
Yeah, yeah. We know. You just watch the Super Bowl for the commercials.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1954 GMT (0354 HKT)
A truck commercial brought back the powerful voice of the late Paul Harvey.
February 4, 2013 -- Updated 1703 GMT (0103 HKT)
Mark Freiburger and Ben Callner talk about the thrill of winning the Doritos Super Bowl ad contest.
February 4, 2013 -- Updated 1810 GMT (0210 HKT)
The best images from Super Bowl XLVII: 49ers vs. Ravens.
February 1, 2013 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Remember Michael Jackson's entrance? How about the return of the Blues Brothers? We've got them all.
February 4, 2013 -- Updated 1147 GMT (1947 HKT)
By the time the clock ran out on Beyonce's Super Bowl halftime performance, the singer had put to rest doubts that she would give it her all.
February 4, 2013 -- Updated 2003 GMT (0403 HKT)
Designer Rubin Singer reflects on working with Beyoncé on her wardrobe for her Super Bowl halftime performance.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1949 GMT (0349 HKT)
People love a good story of a brotherly feud, whether fictional or real. We decided to take a look at some of the biggest ones, including the Harbaugh brothers.
February 2, 2014 -- Updated 1451 GMT (2251 HKT)
Click through our gallery to learn a few things you didn't know about one of the biggest sporting events of the year.
February 3, 2013 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
They call Ozzie Newsome "The Wizard" for his ability to keep the Baltimore Ravens vibrant throughout his decade as the NFL's first black general manager.
February 2, 2013 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
Big day reveal or YouTube preview? Some of the big ads are already out and trending.
January 31, 2013 -- Updated 1951 GMT (0351 HKT)
Not a sports fan? Check out the annual Puppy Bowl. Prime time is playtime for the scamps who have provided alternative programming to America's biggest sporting event.
ADVERTISEMENT