New Orleans, LA (Sports Network) - Winning the Super Bowl is about far more
That's why persevering on the NFL's biggest stage means so much to one's
legacy, be it a coach, quarterback or franchise.
There are big games at every level in this game. Ask a high school kid
shooting for a state championship or a CFL star going for the Grey Cup if they
The Super Bowl, however, is on a different plane. In fact for some, football
seems like the least of their concerns in the week leading up to the big one.
Here in New Orleans, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh probably never imagined he
would be answering questions about Ray Lewis' fondness for deer antler spray
or his quarterback's inappropriate use of the word retarded.
His brother Jim, meanwhile, didn't fare all that much better after the 49ers'
Chris Culliver firmly inserted foot in mouth with some homophobic comments on
comedian Artie Lange's radio show.
Super Bowl week is full of pitfalls like that with thousands of media
descending on the host city to ask questions that more often than not have
nothing to do with the upcoming game.
It's a game of gotcha and far too many "got got" this week.
The lucid of us know Joe Flacco wasn't insulting developmentally disabled
people when he said the NFL was retarded for scheduling Super Bowl XLVIII in
North Jersey. He was simply giving his opinion as a New Jersey native and one
that a lot of us share by the way.
That said Flacco said it inartfully and since we live in a politically correct
climate devoid of nuance, he was forced to apologize for something that wasn't
all that serious.
Culliver's miscue was far dicier but anyone who has ever listened to Lange on
the Howard Stern Show knows what his act is about. It's a laid back,
testosterone-fueled atmosphere, looking for laughs even if they are at the
expense of others. Culliver got caught up in that.
Yahoo! Sports actually came out with its annual tracking list for the daily
search habits of its audience on Friday to find out exactly what is fueling
the interest in Sunday's big game.
If you guessed Beyonce, chicken wings and all the "scandals" give yourself a
It you were leaning toward the pistol offense, San Francisco's linebackers or
the Ravens' fondness for throwing it deep, put on the dunce cap.
In a non-tabloid world perhaps the big story on Friday would have been Lewis
finishing the last full-scale practice session of his career as the Ravens
concluded workouts at the New Orleans Saints' facility.
Lewis, of course, is retiring after Sundays Super Bowl with 17 often
brilliant seasons under his belt.
Pro Football Writers Association pool reporter Peter King described Lewis'
mood as serious for much of his final real practice, although there were few
reminders this was it for the face of the Baltimore franchise.
The Ravens, who play music at most of their practice sessions, did use the
first two songs played Friday as a tribute to the controversial Lewis:
"Spiritual," a gospel number by Donald Lawrence and Company, and "Hot in
Herre" by Nelly, the song the Ravens played when Lewis was introduced at home
games back in the Charm City.
Lewis wore the No. 1 on his jersey, a Friday game-week tradition in Baltimore
dating back to 2001 with running back Ray Rice taking No. 52 as another
homage to Lewis.
When the 65-minute session ended, Lewis walked off the Saints' practice field
talking with left tackle and fellow University of Miami alum Bryant McKinnie
with no fanfare, just business.
"I didn't even think of it," said John Harbaugh before boarding the bus for
the 15-minute trip back to Baltimore's team hotel in downtown New Orleans.
"That's not where Rays head is either, I'm sure. He's thinking about the
game. We all are."
Finally it was back to football, at least for some.
The Sports Network