01 Feb 2013
I kicked off the day with a seven-station radio tour and a visit to ESPN’s NFL Matchup show. The Worldwide Leader has its Super Bowl headquarters set up right along the Mississippi River on Decatur Street. That meant that for my interviews, I had to find a quiet spot somewhere in the French Quarter. Even at 7:45 a.m., that’s not easy.
I assume just about all of you watch NFL Matchup. If you don’t, add it to your DVR or your Sunday morning routine (6:30 a.m. ET, ESPN). Normally I wouldn’t shill for a show like this, but it’s truly great football television. The show stars Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge as analysts, but a lot of the muscle behind it comes from executive producer Greg Cosell. I sat next to Greg in the production truck this morning. (Full disclosure: Greg and I have a great professional relationship; I consider him a very good friend in the industry. You should follow his Twitter @gregcosell.) He promised they’d break down three or four important Ravens and Niners concepts that haven’t been touched on during the past two weeks. He was right. There was a particularly fascinating breakdown of what the Falcons did in the NFC Championship (and thus what the Ravens will likely do on Sunday) as it pertains to protections aimed at neutralizing the twists and stunts of Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. I came away wishing I had included it in this week’s Film Room posts. (Or wishing that I’d recognized it on film myself. So far, I haven’t seen content anywhere that suggests someone else also recognized it.)
After the show, Greg and I grabbed lunch in the Hilton lobby and saw Jack Harbaugh. We introduced ourselves and he couldn’t have been more gracious. He said that so far he and his wife Jackie are doing a good job of enjoying the moment. Obviously, Sunday is a different challenge. They’re both a bit nervous. He said they’ll be sitting in the Commissioner’s box.
In the afternoon, the media center was abuzz with more big names and faces -– Cam Newton being the headliner from the NFL world, Frank Caliendo, Jay Thomas, and Jeff Foxworthy being the headliners from the entertainment world. Even with the buzz, everyone around here is noticeably tired. There’s something exhausting about working Super Bowl week. But hopefully not too exhausting, since just about all of the major parties are tonight.
Last night, the players' families got into town. You wouldn’t believe how many beautiful people (mostly women) that added. I heard there are some 40 members and friends of the Flacco family here. Players only get 15 tickets, so scalpers would be wise to mill around the Hilton. It’s fun being out and seeing some of the larger players. It’s stunning how large human beings can get. The biggest I’ve seen is former Ravens tackle Jonathan Ogden. The biggest active player would be Mike Iupati. Regardless of what his listed size might indicate, you’ll almost certainly never see a man with calves and hands as thick and large as the All-Pro guard.
This is the last post for this week -– everything clears out on Saturday and I doubt any of you will care to read about the New Orleans city tour that I plan on taking Saturday morning. If anything interesting happens in the media section backstage at the NFL Honors Awards show Saturday night, I’ll pass it along.
3 comments, Last at 02 Feb 2013, 11:45am by young curmudgeon
Our offseason Four Downs series ends with a look at the NFC West's biggest remaining holes and their most notable UDFA signings. The Rams and 49ers have to kick-start their passing games, Arizona's offense lacks a big dimension, and the Seahawks continue to rely on Russell Wilson's magic tricks.