Jim Harbaugh broke hand punching Jim Kelly during his playing days
A lot of course has been made over how New York Jets quarterback is on the shelf for 6-10 weeks after having his jaw broken courtesy of a punch by a IK Enemkpali. While a quarterback being injured in an off-the-field brouhaha is a relatively rare phenomena, there is a history of it occurring, albeit under drastically different circumstances.
CBS Sports’ John Breech took a trip to 1997 in the wayback machine to regale readers with the sordidly amusing tale about how Jim Harbaugh, then the starting quarterback of a terrible Indianapolis Colts team, broke his hand punching Jim Kelly during a fight.
Kelly, then one year removed from his superstar playing days with the Bills, called Harbaugh a “baby” during a Buffalo pregame show. Harbaugh apparently caught wind of it, which gave rise to a potential issue given Kelly was slated to broadcast the Colts’ next game.
Harbaugh, who was a fiery a player as he is a coach, decided to take matters into his own hands — or fists — and decided to “crash an NBC production meeting” in which Kelly was present.
Things got out of hand and Harbaugh and Kelly engaged in fisticuffs, a brouhaha that resulted in the then-Colts quarterback breaking his hand after punching the former Bills great.
“Well, [Kelly] was doing a game in San Diego, and I wanted to ask him where he was coming from with those comments,” Harbaugh said. “We went into a room and started talking about it. He said, ‘I call it the way I see it.’ One thing led to another. I hit him. I threw a couple of punches. Sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in.”
Harbaugh admitted to regretting throwing the punch that broke his hand, but argued he had no choice, as he felt he had to do something since his toughness was being questioned.
Harbaugh ended up missing the Colts’ next three games due to the brawl-related injury. He was cut by the team at the end of a nightmarish 3-13 campaign and the rest, as they say, is history.