The phrase "once in a lifetime experience" has been thrown around a lot this week when discussing Michigan football's trip to Italy.
That phrase, while applicable to the players, can also apply to the coaching staff, too.
Jim Harbaugh has openly expressed his desire to meet Pope Francis during the Vatican leg of the Rome trip. Those desires were able to come true on Wednesday as he was able to meet the Pope before his weekly address to the Vatican crowd. While his wife Sarah said it was hard to put into words how it felt meeting him, Harbaugh tried to sum up his thoughts about the meeting.
"The experience was emotional, it was beautiful," Harbaugh said. "The Holy Father's face is beautiful, his smile and the way he talks is peaceful. It's calm. It felt like this is what it would be like to meet Jesus Christ, that's what it felt like to me. Very emotional."
The meeting was more than a simple handshake or embrace, Harbaugh also came bearing gifts in the form of a U-M helmet and Jordan shoes. The Pope likely will have no use for these gifts during the rest of his tenure, which Harbaugh is well aware of. It was more than a simple act of giving a gift. In that moment, Harbaugh says, he saw the weight of the world on the Pope's shoulders by looking into his eyes.
"He looked at the helmet and he took the pair of Jordan sneakers," Harbaugh said. "It was a box and he took it and smiled and nodded his head. He then gave it to somebody next to him. I'm not sure the Holy Father knows much about futbol Americano. He doesn't need to. There's a lot of distress, too, when you look at his eyes. There's pain there, there's so much injustice in the world, so much poverty, and war. You can tell that he feels that. That, especially, made it feel to myself and to Sarah that this is what it would feel like to meet Jesus, the very closest thing."
Video by Sam Webb