By Peter Schwartz
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Greetings from “The Big Easy!”
As many of you may know from my coverage of Super Bowls XLV and XLVI, I’m not just a reporter, but I’m also a tourist. So while I’ll be knee-deep in covering the Baltimore Ravens this week for both WFAN and CBS Sports Radio, I’m also going to try to experience everything that New Orleans has to offer.
MORE SUPER COVERAGE: CBS Baltimore | CBS San Francisco
There’s a lot going on here this week, so enjoy the blogs and my radio reports, and I hope that I can make everyone feel like they’re here so they can enjoy the week with me.
A DIFFICULT DEPARTURE
After spending most of Sunday with my family, it was off to the airport for my flight to New Orleans. I have a wonderful, loving family that is so supportive of my career. Saying goodbye to my wife, Sheryl, and my sons, Bradley and Jared, for eight days is not exactly the easiest thing to do. My 7-year-old, Bradley, had a hard time with this as well on Sunday.
Let’s just say that we kept Kleenex in business. However, once I reminded him what I was bringing back with me next week, things calmed down a bit.
He did draw a picture for my and snuck it into my bag before I left…
Not bad! I think I’ll bring a few things back for the whole family!
TOUCHDOWN IN NEW ORLEANS
I landed in NOLA on Sunday night, and it didn’t take long to realize how much time and effort the city of New Orleans and the Host Committee put into preparing for the Super Bowl. The airport was decked out with Super Bowl banners to welcome guests to the city.
After checking into my hotel, I decided to take a walk around the French Quarter. My first stop was Bourbon Street, and you can tell that it was Mardi Gras time here this past weekend.
Mardi Gras is usually spread out over three weekends, but this year it’s only two. This past weekend was the first weekend, then comes the Super Bowl next weekend, and then they’ll have the final Mardi Gras weekend in two weeks.
My stroll down Canal Street brought me to the Marriott, the 49ers’ hotel for this week. There was a tremendous police presence in the area and I did see a few 49ers players walking around. Many of them were stopped by autograph seekers and some fans tried to find their way into the hotel. No dice!
Around town, there is signage reflecting the history of the Super Bowl. This ball commemorates Super Bowl XII here in New Orleans, a 27-10 win for the Cowboys over the Broncos.
Some signs are giant replicas of Super Bowl tickets.
I haven’t been to New Orleans since 2008, so I’ll be eager to see how the city has rebounded from the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. I was never here before Katrina, so I didn’t have any kind of reference point when I was here for the first time in 2007 when I worked in the Arena Football League.
I noticed a difference that year from when I was here for a New York Dragons game in May to when I returned in June for the ArenaBowl. The following year, I was back for the ArenaBowl again and you could tell how things had greatly improved from the year before.
Before Katrina, New Orleans was a part of the regular Super Bowl rotation. After Katrina, there was some discussion that the Saints might even leave town. But with a refurbished Superdome, a fighting spirit in the city, a Saints Super Bowl victory and the big game back in town, New Orleans is officially back on track!
Yeah, yeah, I know! There are two brothers coaching in this game. Oh, and I also heard a rumor that a future Hall of Fame linebacker is going to retire after Super Bowl XLVII. And it seems as if there’s this second-year quarterback playing for the 49ers that electrified the NFL this season.
The stories surrounding the Ravens’ and 49ers’ head coaches — John and Jim Harbaugh — Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick will be covered ad nauseum by many reporters here this week.
The difference here is that I just hope to be very different!
WHAT LIES AHEAD
The 49ers arrived on Sunday night, and the Ravens will join them here in New Orleans on Monday. San Francisco will have a session with reporters and then the Ravens will meet the media for the first time after their arrival on Monday evening. Tuesday is Media Day at the Superdome.
All players and coaches will gather on the field to address questions from the 5,000 credentialed members of the media. Of course not all of these reporters are known for their hard-hitting football inquiries, as we’ve seen in the past!
I can’t wait (sorry, Bart Scott!) to see what’s in store for us this year!
More on that is coming up tomorrow!
Super Bowl XLVII will be broadcast on CBS, with kickoff set for 6:30 p.m. on Sunday.
Are any of you heading down to NOLA for the big game? Let us know in the comments section below…