By Ernie Palladino
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The two weeks of silliness leading into Super Bowl began with slightly more than a ripple Tuesday with stories about the Brothers Harbaugh.
It will grow over the coming days to the point where next week’s tidal wave of information, where no tiny detail about any player is too small for a column or major feature story, will have us all just begging to get to Sunday and the actual playing of Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
Some fans will be lucky enough to get down there for the weekend, freed from the onslaught of words and at liberty to enjoy the truly magical wonders of the French Quarter, the Garden District, or the outlying bayou country. But for the unfortunate ones, the torrent of words is a fate that awaits.
We will hear further about John and Jim Harbaugh, rightfully so, since Super Bowls are all about firsts. And this is, after all, the first time brothers will have faced each other in the big game from across the head coaching lines. As interesting as that may be, let’s face it, nobody pays to see coaches coach.
They do pay for the players, though. You’ll learn all about them, though it will be interesting to see if the eminent Ray Lewis uses his final, grand platform to elucidate upon his involvement in a 2000 murder where he flipped on his cohorts in exchange for an obstruction of justice plea deal. The Ravens’ linebacker was not forthcoming when he played a major role in that season’s Super Bowl against the Giants. But wouldn’t it be nice if he made it all clear now, if only to put a final illustration on the life alterations that now lead TV networks to gush poetically over the departing warrior.
We’ll read about Colin Kaepernick’s tattoos, Frank Gore’s bullishness, Randy Moss’ football rebirth, Joe Flacco’s evolution to competent passer, and Ray Rice’s high school days in the New York suburb of New Rochelle.
All are legitimate storylines. All will distract from the fact that 49ers-Ravens is actually an interesting game.
Niners-Patriots would have been better, of course. We all love dynasties, and the Pats are as close as we’ve come to that in the 21st century. But the Ravens have plenty to offer. Not that betting lines offer rock-solid evidence of teams’ abilities, but the original 5-point spread favoring the Niners has already fallen to 4, and could drop to 3 ½ by this time next week.
That’s a big swing that means a lot of money is starting to come in on the Ravens. Maybe all those big hits that defense laid on Patriots receivers like Wes Welker and Brandon Lloyd, not to mention running back Stevan Ridley, have something to do with that.
The Ravens made Tom Brady’s life fairly miserable, too, despite getting zero sacks. Getting their hands up to deflect various passes and their discipline in defending the screen was plenty to beat the Pats at home.
They probably won’t sack Kaepernick too many times, either. He’s a runner, far different in character than Brady, and that alone should make this an interesting matchup. Add a couple of tough, hard-nosed backs like Gore and Rice, throw in the Niners’ defense with Patrick Willis, the defensive linemen Smiths — Justin and Aldon — and the game features strength all over the field.
It’s something to keep in the back of one’s mind while scrolling through the seemingly endless inches of boyhood triumphs and tragedies, collegiate conquests, and professional tribulations while trying to ascertain what the heck the Knicks did the night before.
Just remember, a reward lies at the end of this two-week bombardment.
A good game.
And that’s not just Super Bowl hype.
Which storylines could you care less about? Be heard in the comments!