John Harbaugh isn't usually exchanging pleasantries with Steelers on the football field.
But the rules bend a little at the Pro Bowl, and Harbaugh spent some time between drills during Wednesday's practice chatting with Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey. They joked back and forth, and the Steelers lineman admitted after practice that he's a fan of Baltimore's coach.
"He's a hell of coach, a Super Bowl coach. We're going to respect him. It's pretty [freaking] awesome," Pouncey said. "We have two or three games where we don't like each other, but there's mutual respect. It's an honor to be out here. He's awesome. I like him."
Pouncey's praise for Harbaugh was echoed by several of his Pro Bowl teammates who are coached by Harbaugh and his assistants. The Ravens and Dallas Cowboys coaching staffs were selected by the NFL to coach the game, and Harbaugh is leading the squad drafted by Hall of Fame receiver Cris Carter.
The roster includes stars like Andrew Luck, Jamal Charles, Antonio Brown, A.J. Green, J.J. Watt, Mario Williams, Aqib Talib and Justin Houston.
Much of Harbaugh's time on the practice field was spent mingling with players, swapping stories and laughs.
"I like his style," Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt said. "He seems like a great guy. You can see why players want to play for him."
The atmosphere during Pro Bowl week is much more laid back compared to the regular season, and that casual environment allows the players and coaches plenty of time to get to know each other.
"I'm having a couple of flashbacks back to college," said Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who played for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. "There's a lot of Jack Harbaugh in both of them. You've heard some of the stories. Great coach, obviously. Great family. And it's fun to be on his team."
Harbaugh has talked before about how he enjoys the down time at the Pro Bowl where he gets to interact with players across the league. He first coached at the Pro Bowl as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles coaching staff, and he actually struck up a relationship with wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. that paid dividends years later.
He's building a new set of relationships this year, and he's impressed some of the best players in the league with how he runs the show.
"We're having a lot of fun," Harbaugh said. "You get to know families. You get to know their kids, their wives. The whole thing really is all about the brotherhood that the National Football League should be all about."