Michigan Football Coach Jim Harbaugh Gives Pope Francis Jordan Sneakers and Helmet

Jim Harbaugh Pope Francis
University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh presents Pope Francis with a Michigan helmet and sneakers while visiting the Vatican.
Osservatore Romano/REX Shutterstock

During a team trip to Rome this week, University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh couldn’t help but bring along gifts for a very important person.

The team went to the Vatican on Wednesday, where they attended the pope’s weekly general-audience service. Harbaugh had a moment there when he was able to present Pope Francis with a pair of Michigan Jordan Brand sneakers and a Michigan football helmet. Harbaugh shared photos on his Twitter of Pope Francis smiling as he hands him the sneakers and helmet. The helmet featured a special yellow sticker with the number 266, signifying that Francis is the 266th pope.

It’s not exactly clear what style of shoes the pope received, but according to Detroit Free Press columnist Jeff Seidel, Harbaugh gave him a pair similar to ones that were gifted to an archbishop. According to The Associated Press, players Salim Makki and Grant Newsome were specially chosen to meet the pope, after Harbaugh asked players to write an essay explaining why they’d like to meet him.

In addition to meeting Pope Francis, the team has visited the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum and other sites around Rome, and even participated in a cooking class. On Thursday, they held a team practice at a rugby field in Rome, bringing tons of their own equipment, according to tweets from Seidel. The team also met refugees from Syria who are living in Italy.