Pants and a Cactus: The Real Reason Why Jim Harbaugh and the San Francisco 49ers Broke Up

This definitely happened. Hypothetically, anyway.

The reaction to Jim Harbaugh leaving the San Francisco 49ers for the University of Michigan has been pretty predictable, as it’s simply not normal to let a coach like this go – someone who made an immediate impact and had so much success over such a compact period of time (44-19 over four seasons INCLUDING this 8-8 season and a trip to the NFC Championship Game or Super Bowl every year, except this season obviously) – which Bill Barnwell from Grantland explored recently.

Therefore, it stands to reason that those differences were significant, leading one party to look at the other with such profound disbelief and disdain after hearing an outrageous philosophical belief, that their collective success was instantly rendered irrelevant.

Here is what really happened. Probably.

Harbaugh was walking to lunch with a dejected Colin Kaepernick when they passed a table that 49ers CEO Jed York and some of his cronies were sitting at. As Harbaugh gave the men an abrasive and overly arrogant nod, York locked eyes with him and loudly started talking about his vast collection of pants and their respective materials, texture against the legs (shaved and unshaved), and passionately lectured on the art of spending egregious amounts of crisp “dolla dolla” bills to pay for luxury brands like Tom Ford and Armani.

A visibly shaken Harbaugh then looked at Kaepernick, who was nodding enthusiastically and taking notes while giggling to himself like a small child who inhaled too much laughing gas at the dentist’s office.

Harbaugh then threw his hands up in the air, dropkicked a chair through a window, took a potted cactus, and lobbed it at York. Although some offensive linemen were eating nearby, their attempts to intervene were in vain, as both Harbaugh and York had no trouble penetrating the line and getting in each others’ faces.

Fortunately, there was an unusual amount of security in the area, as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was in attendance to just fuck around and not do his job. He was eating at the far end of the cafeteria as he watched the Ray Rice elevator video on his Blackberry with a dumbstruck look on his face. At one point, he leaned over to one of his anonymous security goons and drawled, “This shit is like the fucking Zapruder film or some shit. Shit! I can’t tell what the fuck is going on; can we get some tech guys in here to get this from a different angle or something?”

A bewildered staff member leaned forward and stammered, “Sir, I don’t think that kind of technology exists. Sir.”

Goodell kneaded his hands together thoughtfully and said, “Well, I don’t know, can we get Ray and his fiancé to reenact this? I just can’t seem to tell what’s going on…”

Before the staff member could finally throw his official NFL identification badge (purchased from the official NFL store, of course) on the table and quit, the Harbaugh and York altercation caught everybody’s attention. Goodell looked up, and his normally ruddy face turned paler than an albino’s ass.

The security team immediately gathered around him and they all awkwardly shuffled as one to the fight. When they reached it, Goodell peeked over his men’s broad shoulders and shouted, “Hey!”

When Harbaugh, York, Kaepernick, and the offensive linemen turned to direct their attention at Goodell, he quickly ducked behind his men before a sharp elbow plunged into his kidney. He yelped in pain and pushed through his security detail. He took a look at York, who had half a cactus stuck in his forehead. He then looked at Harbaugh, who was standing there with his arms crossed and a petulant lip jutting out of his, somehow, still smug face.

A few seconds of silence followed, as Goodell tried to think of something intelligent to say. Eventually he cleared his throat a few times as some muffled coughs sprung up here and there. He said, “We can do better. I can do better. We have to do better. We will do better.”

For the next fifteen minutes, Goodell did nothing but mix various pronouns and the word “better” together in increasingly creative ways. Throughout the whole process, York stood there in an attentive daze as he slowly bled out, while Harbaugh kept checking his watch, wishing he could just leave or, better yet, tell everybody to go eat their livers.

When Goodell ran out of English words and transitioned into making sounds he thought he heard on TV once, Harbaugh thew his hands up in the air again and proceeded to verbally abuse Goodell. He paced back and forth, channeling the best of Pacino and all the other great orators, using his hands as effective, yet unpredictably deadly, visual aids.

As his sharp words sliced and diced into Goodell’s soul, Goodell went to his happy place. It was 1986 and he was engaging in some lewd sexual conduct with his girlfriend. During a particularly arousing moment, she looked right into his eyes and said, “Ooh, you’re such a naughty principal, Mr. Rooney!”

That was the most pleasurable moment of his life: when his girlfriend compared him to the principal from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The pleasure was only intensified when he remembered that Rooney was favorably compared to Clint Eastwood by the school secretary.

Goodell snapped back to reality in that instant and gave Harbaugh a withering glare. Then he growled, “Cleveland.”

The situation immediately diffused; nobody wanted to get sent to Cleveland. Goodell made York and Harbaugh apologize to each other. York said, “I’m sorry I talked about pants when I know you’re inherently drawn to cheap khakis.”

Harbaugh nodded and sighed deeply. He sarcastically said, “And I’m sorry I blew my fuse. I shouldn’t have thrown the cactus at your head… I guess.”

York glared and yelled, “Roger, he doesn’t mean it!”

Goodell shook his head and walked away. He was disappointed he actually had to do his job today.

So that was really the catalyst that started to rip the relationship’s fabric apart. It’s definitely York’s fault, which is the popular opinion right now, and for good reason. Again: those philosophical differences better have been significant to let a guy like Harbaugh go. Just ridiculous.

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