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The popular line after an athlete wins a championship is:
"I’m going to Disney World!"
Turns out, they actually do go to Disney World.
Mardi Gras officially begins on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 16, but it unofficially begins Tuesday night, with the Saints victory parade.
The entire Saints team and organization will be on a series of floats donated from various Mardi Gras krewes across the city ...
More than 250 Saints players, coaches and staff members will be throwing beads from a dozen of the area's premiere Mardi Gras floats. "I think that this is the first time that you'll ever see all these floats together at one time, and very well could be the last time you ever see all these floats together," said Barry Kern, president of Blaine Kern Studios, which is overseeing the event.
If you're not near a TV (ESPNews is broadcasting it), and not in New Orleans, you can still enjoy the fun thanks to NOLA.com, who is showing the parade live from Mother's restaurant. And don't worry, the stream is (or at least should be) SFW: with a group of 250,000 expected, and it being a party in New Orleans, the police have already announced they will be issuing summons with the threat of jail time to anyone who "makes a trade" involving beads. Ahem.
The New Orleans “Black and Gold Super Bowl Parade,” set for 5 p.m. local time today, will look a little something like this:
More than 250 Saints players, coaches and staff members will be throwing beads from a dozen of the area’s premiere Mardi Gras floats.
"I think that this is the first time that you’ll ever see all these floats together at one time, and very well could be the last time you ever see all these floats together," said Barry Kern, president of Blaine Kern Studios, which is overseeing the event.
Included will be the signature floats of Endymion, Bacchus, Rex, Zulu, Alla, Caesar, Tucks, Muses, Orpheus and Babylon, he said.
Hey man: Zulu AND Orpheus IN THE SAME PARADE. Unprecedented. And if that wasn’t enough (and it wasn’t), the parade route will also feature dozens of local marching bands and the Ying Yang Twins. Seriously. They’ll be performing this:
We’re certain Indy would’ve had a similar celebration had they won.
The New Orleans Saints are Super Bowl champions after 42 years of virtually nothing, but their upset victory wasn't the only historical factoid from yesterday's game. SB Nation's In Historic provided a list of records that occurred during Super Bowl XLIV, and here is a sampling of those records:
We noted earlier that Nielsen Co. was expecting huge TV numbers for Super Bowl XLIV between the Saints and Colts.
The numbers are in and they’re big.
The Super Bowl was watched by more than 106 million people, surpassing the 1983 finale of “M-A-S-H” to become the most-watched program in television history.
The Nielsen Co. estimated Monday that 106.5 million people watched the New Orleans Saints upset the Indianapolis Colts.
Approximately 105.97 million watched the M*A*S*H* finale in 1983, a time when there were fewer television sets.
Way back in 2004, the San Diego Chargers drafted Eli Manning with the No. 1 overall selection knowing full well that Manning had publicly declared he wouldn’t play for the Chargers.
So, the Chargers traded his rights to New York Giants in exchange for the fourth overall pick, which turned into Philip Rivers.
Rivers was the clear quarterback of the future, but the Chargers also had a Drew Brees on the team and he was beginning to develop into a franchise-esque quarterback with Pro Bowl seasons in Rivers’ first two seasons on the bench.
You all know the story from there. The Chargers chose Rivers and sent Brees packing.
So, that’s two quarterbacks that the Chargers had in their grasps that they let slide away. How did those two quarterbacks do?
Eli Manning: 2008 Super Bowl MVP
Drew Brees: 2010 Super Bowl MVP
Despite losing to the Saints in the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the Colts are the early favorites to take home the Lombardi Trophy in Dallas, Texas next year.
As of now, the Colts have 13/2 odds of pulling home the 2011 Super Bowl.
The Chargers are next in line at 8/1 followed by the Patriots and Saints, who are both at 10/1.
SBNation’s Chris Mottram is in line for a big payday as his Redskins are at 50/1.
The lowly Bills, Browns, Lions, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams and Bucs round out the list at 100/1.
Being from Kansas City, I’ve come to appreciate Jason Whitlock’s brash yet appropriate approach to sports journalism. He will always get a rise out of you but he makes "Gee, you’re right" points that always have at least a smudge of truth in them.
This morning is no different as Whitlock’s article in the Kansas City Star points to Peyton Manning, not the New Orleans Saints, as the story of Super Bowl XLIV.
We love Peyton Manning. We want him to be the Michael Jordan of football, the Tiger Woods of football, the Wayne Gretzky of football.
Manning is Phil Mickelson, a wonderful talent who lacks the killer instinct of a great champion.
Whitlock also goes on to make perhaps the best comparison for the Colts: They are the baseball version of the Atlanta Braves, who went to the playoffs in 14 consecutive years yet walked away with just one title.
The Colts have won over 12 games a season for the majority of this decade including 10 playoff appearances in the last 11 years.
And just one Lombardi Trophy to show for it.
Nielson Co, the folks who tell you how many eyeballs watch a certain TV show, are predicting the Saints victory over the Colts to be the most watched Super Bowl in history.
From the AP:
The Nielsen Co. says the Super Bowl got its highest overnight ratings in 23 years.
It means, when final figures are released later Monday, there’s a strong likelihood the game will be the most-watched Super Bowl ever.
The overnight ratings are a quick look at the country’s 55 largest media markets, which garnered a 46.4, compared to a 42.1 last year.
I wonder how many of those people were watching to see Peyton Manning lose.
Here are a few photos from the Saints 31-17 Super Bowl victory over the Colts last night.
I’ve got a lot more photos posted over at Arrowhead Pride and there will be more coming throughout the week.
Saints coach Sean Payton told reporters this morning that he literally slept with the Lombardi Trophy last night when he crawled into bed around 4:00 AM.
Payton's words this morning come from the Boston Herald:
"This thing laid in my bed next to me," he said. "I rolled over a couple times, and I probably drooled on it, man. Nothing like being an NFL coach and being part of this with great players like Drew Brees. I don’t take that lightly. I’m honored."
Brees also emphasized the word "repeat" when talking about the Super Bowl next year.
Payton even talked about the 2011 Super Bowl location in Dallas.
"Somewhere around midnight last night, we talked about Dallas, Texas. One of the greatest stadiums now that our league knows. There’s probably never enough in regards to challenge."
Those of us in attendance at Super Bowl XLIV were treated to a pre-game performance by the FAMU marching band.
If you were thinking to yourself, ‘Gee, Joel, that sure looks like the FAMU marching band is holding up a huge banner of Michael Jackson’s face,’ then you’re wrong.
Because the FAMU marching band is holding up TWO huge banners of MJ’s face.
One of life’s unexplained mysteries, my friends.
Saints RB Reggie Bush was elated with the Super Bowl victory over the Colts last night. Still in his pads, Bush was speaking to reporters (and, uh, me) about the victory.
He had already sent his message to New Orleans but got another one in later in the interview process:
"We love you guys, we love the city of New Orleans, we’re going to go back home and celebrate. We’ll bring the Lombardi Trophy and party like we’re supposed to."
"I think it makes it more special [than USC] in the fashion that we did it and the city we did it for, a city that was destroyed in the hurricane. They needed something to be proud of."
The big storyline for this year’s Super Bowl, besides all the Peyton Manning stuff, was defensive end Dwight Freeney’s ankle. Was he going to play? How effective would he be? How big would the swelling be? Would it ever be as bad as this?
In the end, Freeney played, but he clearly wasn’t himself. He showed flashes when he sacked Drew Brees on a key third down play in the first half that held New Orleans to a field goal, but otherwise, he was invisible. As it turns out, according to ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill, Freeney’s ankle got worse during the extra-long halftime break.
Blame it on The Who — or long Super Bowl halftimes, in general. Freeney showed shades of his Pro-Bowl self early in the second quarter, when he bull-rushed Saints quarterback Drew Brees, snagged the shoulder of his jersey, and dropped the eventual game MVP with one arm. The Saints, who knew immediately that Freeney wasn’t a decoy, had already started double-teaming the defensive end by the second possession of the game.
But then came halftime, all 30 minutes of it, and Freeney’s ankle began to stiffen.
“I don’t know if you saw me on the sidelines,” Freeney said of warmup attempts early in the second half. “I kept on running back and forth to get it going again. I re-taped, and tried to figure out ways to keep it warm. The problem is, once it gets stiff, it’s tough to bring it back.”
I thought The Who’s halftime show was only painful for viewers. I didn’t realize it was also painful for the players.
Though Colts QB Peyton Manning has a pedestrian .500 playoff winning percentage, he is rarely outdone in the film room. Manning, along with anyone that has ever worked with or against him, has described himself as a film nut. He constantly watches film and knows not just what defense you’re in, but what you’ll audible to when you see the offensive formation.
However, Manning was outdone in the film room on the biggest stage in all of American sports.
Facing a crucial, 3rd and 5, Manning dropped back to pass and tried to hit Reggie Wayne but Saints CB Tracy Porter jumped the route and took it to the house sealing New Orleans first ever Super Bowl win.
So, how did it happen?
We asked Manning after the game and while he declined to say specifically what happened, instead crediting Porter on a great play, he did say it’s a play they’ve run frequently.
"We knew that on third and short they stack," Porter said, "and they like the outside release for the slant. It was great film study by me, a great jump and a great play."
Porter beat Manning at his own game.
After the game, Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams appeared on Sirius NFL Radio and broke down the play a little deeper.
In a nutshell, Williams put pressure up the middle so Manning couldn’t step up in the pocket ideally forcing him to get rid of the ball quickly.
Williams saw the Colts line up and had a hunch as to what playcall they had. He tried to get Porter’s attention but to no avail.
Luckily for the Saints, Williams had taught Porter well and he took a chance, jumping the route and, well, the rest is history.
I was standing just a few feet from Reggie Bush when he walked to the podium following the Saints 31-17 victory over the Colts. He sat down, breathed a sigh of relief and smiled.
"Now, New Orleans can exhale a little bit."
"They needed something to be proud of. 30, 40 years plus of terrible seasons in New Orleans, now they can be proud of the Saints."
Bush was asked what was on a lot of people’s mind after the game. Will the parties in New Orleans be bigger than Mardi Gras?
"I’m sure it will. It’s going to be the craziest Mardi Gras, as it should be. It’s well deserved and the City of New Orleans deserves it. No one can take this away from us."
Wow. I can’t imagine how a city like that will party, especially considering they had a parade scheduled for Tuesday, win or lose.
Here is the play the sealed the 31-17 win for the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
Introducing your 2010 Super Bowl XLIV MVP, New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees…
Brees was obviously ecstatic over the victory and brought up a theme that every player has mentioned this week: The Saints were playing for all of New Orleans.
We played for so much more than ourselves, we played for our city. We played for the Who Dat nation who was with us the entire step of the way.
It’s sunk in but I don’t really know if it’s sunk in yet. Just the road we traveled to get to this game and how much we had invested and how much adversity we faced along the way. How many people believed in us and gave us the strength to go out there and do what we do out there.
What a cool experience to see all these grown men happy as little kids on Christmas.
Peyton Manning appears to be in a huff in the picture above but he’s not.
(Actually, it’s just poor photography on my part)
He was total class all the way and even took to apologizing for the Colts loss to the Saints in Super Bowl XLIV.
I know how excited our team and our fans and the city of Indianapolis were three years ago so I understand how happy Saints fans, and the City of New Orleans are.
On behalf of the Colts, I’m sorry to our fans that we weren’t able to get it done today.
Manning also addressed the play that ultimately broke the camel’s back: The Porter interception.
He made a great play, made a great play. That’s all I can say about it. Porter made a heck of a play. It’s a play we run a lot and he just made a great play.
More from the Colts and a lot more from the Saints, who are celebrating as we speak.
A brief congratulations from us here at SB Nation to all Saints fans, especially those guys over at our team blog, Canal Street Chronicles. They are, as you might expect, a bit excited.
Congratulations to the 2009 New Orleans Saints and their fans! Super Bowl champions!
We...are...New Orleans. As I sit here and watch the Saints celebrate on the field, I realize there is nothing anyone can say to truly describe this moment.
Thank you, New Orleans Saints. For everything. The last forty-three years have made this moment that much sweeter. We love you!
Enjoy the party, Saints fans.
The guys over at our Colts blog, Stampede Blue, are still working through some reactions after losing Super Bowl XLIV, but they are quick to get one thing clear: this loss is not Peyton Manning's fault.
Manning did all he could, throwing for over 333 yards and a score. However, in the end, the Saints offense simply could not be stopped in the second half. Because the Saints offense was so dominant in the second half, this forced Manning to take chances in the fourth quarter, down 24-17 with a little over 5:00 left. And with chances come turnovers. Thus, the pick six, which was really a great play by Indiana University alum Terry Porter, who has had one helluva playoff run. Porter jumped Wayne's route, and the gamble paid off. As shake n bake so accurately put it, most of the Saints gambles paid off.
Additionally, BigBlueShoe over there takes the time to congratulate the Saints on their win, saying simply that "the Saints were better."
Hats off to the Saints. If a "good guy" team beat us, it was them. It's a wonderful story that they won. Dave of Canal Street Chronicles is next to me, and he's damn near crying. I know for many of you this does not comfort you, but I must admit that it is a little overwhelming to see the fans here reacting to the Saints winning. This stadium was so loud for them, it might as well have been a home game for them.
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Who Dat? Those are the Super Bowl champions - the New Orleans Saints - for the first time in the history of a franchise and city that has witnessed tough times.
Drew Brees connected with Jeremy Shockey for the go-ahead two-yard touchdown pass with 5:42 left in the fourth quarter, lifting the Saints to a 31-17 win over the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
Tracy Porter then sealed the fate of the Colts, picking off four-time MVP Peyton Manning and returning the ball 74 yards for a touchdown with 3:12 left, thwarting Indianapolis' chance for a second title in four years.
A team that went through several years of seeing fans hold paper bags over their heads due to losing seasons, the Saints finally rewarded the Crescent City with a championship. It was more than a healing process, it was the feel-good story building over a period of several years since the devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
"New Orleans is back and this shows the whole world. It's back!," Saints owner Tom Benson exclaimed, holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy above his head.
The Saints rallied from a 10-0 deficit behind a sparkling performance from Brees, who tied a Super Bowl record with 32 completions, going 32-of-39 for 288 yards and a pair of scores. The Saints outscored the Colts, 15-0, in the last quarter.
"We just believed in ourselves. We knew that we had an entire city, maybe an entire country behind us," Brees said. "I'm trying to imagine what this moment would be like for a long time. It's even better than expected."
Manning finished 31-of-45 for 333 yards with a TD and the costly interception. Dallas Clark had seven receptions for 86 yards, while Joseph Addai accounted for a big portion of the Colts' offense. He had 13 rushes for 77 yards and a TD and caught seven passes for 58 yards, but Indianapolis couldn't gain a second title in four years after topping Chicago following the 2006 season, in this same stadium.
"We just didn't play well in certain times and certain phases," Manning said. "The Saints definitely deserve the win."
Instead, Brees, the MVP of the game, became a hero to the city of New Orleans and its fans who suffered through an incredible amount of pain, losing 10-plus games from 1996-1999. He tied Tom Brady's mark for completions in a Super Bowl game.
"It was all meant to be. It was all destiny," Brees said.
Indianapolis' Matt Stover was barely wide left on a 51-yard field goal try with 10:39 left in regulation as the Colts failed to build on a 17-16 lead.
Brees then guided the Saints with precision passing, completing all seven of his passes during a nine-play, 59-yard march. He had 10 straight completions through that drive, finishing it with a quick two-yard strike to Shockey, who got in front of defensive back Jacob Lacey to make the scoring grab.
Brees' two-point conversion pass to the right side for Lance Moore was initially ruled incomplete, but reversed after a challenge from the Saints. Moore reached for the ball and made a diving grab, while stretching the ball backward, across the plane of the goal line - all while his helmet was planted in the grass. Lacey then knocked the ball away with his legs as the Saints wide receiver was on the ground.
Manning moved the Colts to the New Orleans 31, but on 3rd-and-5 Porter jumped in front of wide receiver Reggie Wayne and darted the other way, passing the Colts QB on the way for the fourth-longest interception return in Super Bowl history.
Indianapolis moved from its own 14 to the New Orleans three in the final minute, but on fourth down Manning's pass feel incomplete in the end zone with 44 seconds left.
And just like that, a turnover has played a critical role in Super Bowl XLIV.
With the Colts moving the ball looking for a game-tying touchdown, Peyton Manning was intercepted by Tracy Porter, who then took it 74 yards the other way for the score, making it 31-17 in favor of New Orleans with just 3:12 remaining the game.
It was the first turnover of the game.
The Colts are good, and Peyton Manning is amazing, but 14 points is a lot of points to overcome in just a couple minutes.
The Saints retook the lead with less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XLIV with a two-year touchdown pass to Jeremy Shockey. New Orleans took over on their own 41-yard line after the Colts missed a field goal and promptly marched down the field in nine plays.
The Saints converted the two-point conversion on a Drew Brees pass to Lance Moore, who juggled the ball while windmilling his way over the goal line to make it 24-17. The play was originally ruled an incomplete pass, but it was overturned after New Orleans challenged.
Brees is now 32-for-39 with 288 yards and two touchdowns.
Matt Stover is no Garrett Hartley, that’s for sure.
Stover just missed a key 50 yard field goal that would have extended the Colts lead to four.
What’s interesting is that Adam Vinatieri, the Colts other inactive kicker, is usually the long-range guy. What's also interesting is that right after he kicked it, Stover put his hands up thinking the kick was good.
Peyton Manning and the Colts started at their own 11 yard line and drove 54 yards to the Saints 33 yard line.
In a Bill Belichick-esque move, the Colts went for it on fourth and two.
They converted on a slant pass to Reggie Wayne.
However, Stover’s miss gives the Saints the ball back, in the fourth quarter, down 17-16.
Super Bowl XLIV is shaping up to be one to remember.
I couldn’t tell you what I was doing at age 23 but I can tell you I wasn’t setting Super Bowl records (unless they track number of beers drank during one game). Unlike me, Saints kicker Garrett Hartley is setting Super Bowl records.
With that last field goal, Hartley became the first kicker in Super Bowl history to make three or more field goals over 40 yards in one Super Bowl.
23 years old, ladies and gentleman.
Hartley hit a 46 and a 44 yarder in the second quarter and just brought the Saints within one on that last boot.
17-16 Colts at this point.
In just over five minutes, the Indianapolis Colts put a halt to the New Orleans Saints momentum.
Peyton Manning and the Colts started at their own 24 yard line and drove 76 yards to take a 17-13 lead over the Saints.
The drive was almost all Dallas Clark and Joseph Addai.
Clark caught three passes of 7, 27 and 11 yards. Addai had plays of 5, 11, 4 and 4 yards. The final play was a four yard touchdown run.
The Colts started the game in dominating fashion putting up two scoring drives, including an NFL record 96 yard drive, to go up 10-0. At that point, it looked like the Saints had no shot.
Then the second quarter came….
Just how cold were the Colts?
They ran six offensive plays for a total of 15 yards. That’s six rushing yards and nine passing yards.
Nine passing yards in one quarter for Peyton Manning.
And Super Bowl XLIV just a lot more interesting.
After scoring 10 points on their first two possessions, the Colts went blank, although the Saints only mustered two field goals.
To start the second half, Saints coach Sean Payton called an onside kick, and after one of the longest scrums I’ve seen in a while, emerged from the pile with the ball.
Colts’ Hank Baskett had a shot at it but couldn’t rip it away.
The best Tweet I saw on the onside kick:
Seriously Colts? You got fooled again? Did you not learn anything from the halftime show?
What the Saints did following the onside kick was perhaps even more impressive.
The six plays netted 12, 9, 5, 9, 7 and 16 yards for the touchdown. Pierre Thomas scored on the final play of the drive.
Saints 13 Colts 10…Suddenly we have a ballgame.
The Who just got done performing here at halftime of Super Bowl XLIV.
I’m not a big music guy but the performance was okay. There were lots of flashing lights and colorful things to distract me from, you know, the performance.
Perhaps the most impressive part of it all was the assembly of the stage in less than ten minutes.
Anyway, Colts up 10-6 over the Saints at halftime.
The New Orleans Saints drove 71 yards on 12 plays, including two third down conversions, to set themselves up for a key fourth and one on the Indianapolis Colts one yard line.
Channeling Bill Belichick, Sean Payton opted to go for it and tie the game.
Brees took the snap, handed off to Pierre Thomas to the right end. Thomas drove Gary Brackett backwards and appeared to be on his way to the end zone before Clint Session came in and barreled him to the ground short of the end zone.
No dice for the Saints.
The Colts took over from their own two and the Saints quickly pushed them into a three and out.
Brees and the Saints got the ball back before quickly moving scoring position to kick a field goal.
Halftime score is Colts 10 Saints 6.
The game isn’t even half over and I can already guarantee a Saints victory.
Well, at least when it comes to fans.
Early on in the week, Saints fans outnumbered Colts fans in terms of ticket sales two-to-one.
The actual game?
It’s probably more than that. Or the Saints are more recognizable.
From the costumes, to the open containers to the face paint, Saints fans are bigger and much, much louder. It’s gotten to the point where I almost dread it when Drew Brees drops back to pass.
Colts fans sure do like that Peyton though. Just ask the 12 year old boy who had his shirt off and a Peyton Manning face drawn on his chest.
Drive-in movie theater forehead and all.
Update: Colston just caught a 27 yard pass from Brees to bring the Saints within the five yard line. Ouch My ears hurt.
So Colts DE Dwight Freeney is injured, right?
He sure didn’t look like it when he sacked Drew Brees on a key third down.
The Saints started on their own 11 and drove all the way down to the Colts 22 with a big assist on a personal foul by the Colts Philip Wheeler.
On a third and three, Brees dropped back to pass and, stepping up in the pocket, was caught by Freeney who took him down for a seven yard loss.
The Saints opted for the field goal and now trail by seven points, 10-3.
One quarter is in the books for the 44th Super Bowl and the Indianapolis Colts are absolutely dominating the New Orleans Saints on both sides of the ball.
Drew Brees is 3/7 for 27 yards. The lone "big play" for the Saints came on a 16 yard run by Reggie Bush, which made for their only first down of the quarter.
Peyton Manning on the other hand is cruising on 9/14 passing for 88 yards. Dallas Clark and Pierre Garcon both have over 20 yards receiving.
Garcon has the only touchdown of the game on a 19 yard pass from Manning.
All Colts all the time early in this one. Let’s hope the Saints show some fight or this will be a long, long game.
The Indianapolis Colts are moving the ball early. On their second possession of the game, Peyton Manning and the Colts drove 96 yards for a touchdown.
The key play in the drive was a 26 yard run by Joseph Addai on a third down.
Manning matriculated the ball down the field on 3/6 passing for 36 yards.
Manning capped it off with a 19 yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garcon.
And for a little history, Brad Wells of Stampede Blue tells me that ties the longest drive in Super Bowl history. The Bears went 96 against the Patriots in Super Bowl XX.
The Indianapolis Colts struck first in Super Bowl 44 as they lead the New Orleans Saints 3-0.
Matt Stover kicked a 38 yarder through the uprights.
Peyton Manning was sharp on the first drive. The Colts ran 10 plays, eight of them passes. Manning completed six for 53 yards including an 18 yard completion to Dallas Clark on the first play from scrimmage for the Colts.
Clark has 25 yards on two catches.
The Saints are getting the ball back after going three and out on their first possession.
He was just out on the field warming up and stretching with the rest of the Colts defensive line but just walked back into the locker room.
Doesn’t look to be like any sort of story but he did go back in a little early. The rest of the Colts are huddling up together.
We’ll keep you updated on his status leading up to game time.
Three of SB Nation's finest are on the scene in Miami, and all three are putting on a pregame radio show. Our Colts blogger at Stampede Blue, as well as our Saints blogger at Canal Street Chronicles and our Chiefs blogger at Arrowhead Pride, will start talking it up at 5:00 Eastern.
To listen in, click here.
Our blogger from Canal Street Chronicles, our Saints blog, is live at Sun Life Stadium about an hour and a half before the Super Bowl. He's shot a bunch of pictures from inside and around the stadium. Check them out. A preview:
Whoa, they give you a free Super Bowl XLIV-themed radio at the Super Bowl? SICK, BRO. You should stick it to the man and jam some Skynyrd instead.
SB Nation's blogger on the scene, Joel Thorman, just snapped this picture of the New Orleans Saints arriving at Sun Life Stadium. Know what this reminds me of?
Look at the motorcade, and look at the people standing near their tents. It's like a band of roving mercenaries set to take over a shantytown of terrified townsfolk. Part Tombstone, part Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels, and part season 3-era Battlestar Galactica. That might not make as much sense to you if you aren't a nerd (I am a nerd).
SB Nation has officially arrived at the Super Bowl for Super Bowl XLIV.
The above shot is from my seat.
Great view, Great weather. Great game.
Must be the Super Bowl, huh?
Our NFL blogs have been bringing you Super Bowl goodness for years, but this is a special day for SBNation.com, as it's our very first Super Bowl. To help commemorate this milestone, we've put together a massive game thread and invited our thousands of blog members to join in.
Consider this your invitation as well. Join in and start talking about the big game. I've already made the first post, which I hope will also be the dumbest. GO CHIEFS!
Football and gambling, that's what America does (eff yeah!). That's what makes the Super Bowl so...super. Sure, the rest of the NFL season is great for the gambling degenerates in all of us, but the Super Bowl is simply a cut above when it comes to indulging our need to place a friendly wager on everything.
Want to bet on how many times CBS will pan to Reggie Bush's beau, Kim Kardashian during the big game? Or who the game's MVP thanks first (don't bet against God)? Then this is your game; this is your time. And with that in mind, let's take a minute to consider some of the more idiosyncratic bets you can make this Super Bowl Sunday.
How many Masters promos will CBS run with Tiger Woods?: Over 0.5 (-1,000,000), Under 0.5 (+250,000)
Will Cheetos run an ad with a psychedelic portrait of Peyton Manning?: Yes (-160), No (+140)
Our contingent of SB Nation bloggers are en route to Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium.
Expect an outpouring of content from those three places. Pictures, commentary, analysis…the whole deal.
There will be an SBNation.com open thread posted around 5:00 (EST) with thousands of football fans in one spot.
See ya then!
Our Colts blogger from Stampede Blue (who, by the way, will be live at the stadium shortly) noticed a post from Mike Florio, who in turn noticed that ESPN has already decided that the Saints have won the Super Bowl. Here's the passage in question from ESPN.com, which appears to have been taken down:
"After completing the best season inhistory, has finally won his first Super Bowl," the item reads. "Brees' lone Super Bowl victory puts him on an eclectic list of starting quarterbacks with one title to their names."
ESPN's expanded editorial budget has apparently allowed them to hire John Titor as an analyst. What, you don't know who John Titor is? Read his Wikipedia article; I'll wait.
Back in January of 2009, FOX’s Jay Glazer reported that Saints head coach Sean Payton personally gave up $250,000 of his own salary to land Gregg Williams as the team’s defensive coordinator.
It was a bold move, and a necessary one, considering Williams was a hot commodity at the time.
Turns out, the Saints reimbursed Payton the quarter-million in week nine of this season, ESPN’s Ed Werder reports.
In the end, that was a great move on the part of Payton. The Saints were No. 1 in point differential and ranked third in turnover differential.
If you're not familiar with Knobbe.org, it's the self-described "largest Tecmo Super Bowl community" on the Internet. Among other things, they essentially re-program the classic 1991 Nintendo game so that it includes new rosters. In other words, yes -- you get to see players like Peyton Manning and Reggie Bush in 8-bit glory. Best of all, they let you download everything you need to play it on your computer, for free.
Anyway. They've simulated Super Bowl XLIV between the Saints and Colts, recorded it, and slapped it on YouTube. Check out the short version. If Tecmo Super Bowl is right, folks, then we will be treated to our first overtime Super Bowl ever:
You can watch the full version here. Remarkably, the Saints win, 34-31, which is the exact score I'm predicting. If this score is right, I'm throwing Madden 10 in the garbage and playing Tecmo Super Bowl for the rest of my days.
The New York Jets and New York Giants are constructing a mega-stadium that only Jerry World can compete with. The Dallas stadium is set to host a Super Bowl next season and figures to be one of the grandest of them yet.
The prevailing thought among a lot of folks was that New York, while the largest media market in the country, likely couldn’t host a January/February Super Bowl because of the weather conditions.
The NFL typically hosts Super Bowls in warm-weather cities and New York typically doesn’t fit that description in that time of year. However, on Friday Commissioner Roger Goodell said that a New York Super Bowl may not be that far out.
"I think there are real benefits to the league considering this as an option. I think the idea of playing in the elements is central to the way the game of football is played. I think being able to do that and celebrate the game of football in the No. 1 market could have tremendous benefits to the league going forward."
In addition to Johnson and Tisch, New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft said he would be interested, according to Gary Myers of the NY Daily News.
"I hope it’s there, I hope it snows and I hope the Patriots are in the game. I think there is some real support for it. I know I personally will lobby anyone I can."
Maybe that’s because Kraft knows a cold-weather game in New York means a cold-weather game in New England won’t be far behind.
If there’s any city that will break the cold-weather barrier for a Super Bowl, it’s going to be New York. The NFL loves a spectacle and loves being the biggest show in town. The way to do that? A New York Super Bowl.
The Indianapolis Colts, led by Peyton Manning, and the New Orleans Saints, led by Drew Brees, are waking up this morning for the biggest game of the year. 16 regular season games and two playoff games to have a shot at this trophy:
The game is a little over 10 hours away. I’ll be live in the press box during the game so check back for the open thread a little closer to gametime.
The NFL announced at a press conference this evening the 2010 Hall of Fame enshrinees:
Little and Lebeau were senior canddiates.
Notable misses are Shannon Sharpe, Tim Brown and Cris Carter.
Snoop Dogg is in South Florida but it’s not for Super Bowl XLIV. I’ll give you one guess. He’s here for…
"I’ve never had a bad time in Miami."
While down here, he talked Silver and Black with Nancy Gay of FanHouse.com:
"Stop wasting these draft picks and start making these great draft picks and making some great trades and adding on to a franchise that deserves to be winning. There’s always hope for the Raider Nation."
However, he also talked on Thursday night and had this to say:
"I’m here for partying, what else? I love my Steelers and no one else."
Mixed signals from Snoop Dogg at Super Bowl XLIV. I’m surprised he’s not a big Saints fan. That party scene seems more up his alley.
Brad Wells of Stampede Blue has been a critic of Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in the past few years.
On Thursday, he went right to the source and sat down for a beer with King to discuss blogging, how he responds to personal insults and his view of Brett Favre. Here’s a snippet from their discussion:
PK: But, it’s also a little bit of a phony life. You know? When si.com first came in, first it was cnnsi.com in 1997, and when that came in, I mean, that was really a little bit more up my alley because I’m not Gary Smith or Rick Riley. I can’t write like that, and I’ve never been able to do that. So, I’m more of a newspaper guy. And so, you know, I just, I think this fits me a little better. I think this world fits me a little bit better because the emphasis in Monday Morning Quarterback is on what I call “quality volume.”
BBS: It almost reads like a blog.
PK: Yeah, that’s what it is.
BBS: It almost reads like a blog.
PK: Dick Ebersol calls it a blog.
It’s fascinating stuff and an unfiltered look into King’s view of the sports world and blogging.
And now you know why I’m on the ground in South Florida – delivering hard-hitting news such as this.
I spent yesterday afternoon on a Reebok yacht introducing the new ZigTech shoe. A few of the folks in attendance included Shane "Sugar" Mosley Santonio Holmes, Eli Manning, Chuck Liddell, Molly Sims (I like!) and Chad Ochocinco, among others.
I was able to get one question into Ochocinco.
Me: Chad, when’s OCNN coming to cable?
Ochocinco: It’s coming, man. Real soon. It’ll be channel 85.
I wonder if Eli ever says to Tiki, "Hey, remember that time you retired then we won the Super Bowl the next year?"
Who Dat Say Dey Gonna Cheer for Dem Saints? Las Vegas, given the massive difference in betting on the Super Bowl between the favored Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints.
A whopping 75 percent of bets with MGM Mirage are going to Colts right now, though Vegas expects far more wagering to take place between now and the game.
At this point we are cheering for the Saints,” Jay Rood, race and sports book director at MGM Mirage, told Reuters in a telephone interview.
“But the next 48 hours is our bread and butter and make or break time. What we have booked to the game right now is probably only one third of what we’ll have.”
Casinos expect to see betting on the Saints ramp up on the weekend given wagers from fans who want to support a feel-good team in its first Super Bowl and less than five years after New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina.
So if Peyton Manning throws seven interceptions …
At least the bets are up this year from last — a sign, apparently, that the economy is doing better, but not as well as in 2006, when fans put almost $95 million on Super Bowl XL.
But if you’re bored with that conventional wagering on who will “win the game,” don’t worry — the Internet’s got you covered.
A more unique proposition bet comes from online gambling site sportsbook.com, which allows bets on whether the Saints’ Reggie Bush’s total yards will be more or less than the combined measurements of his model girlfriend Kim Kardashian, which the site lists as 34-26-39.
How exactly did they get those numbers?
Guacamole, without question, is the finest of foods. It should be eaten by everyone at all times; unfortunately, many people only indulge in it during Super Bowl parties. Why am I posting this on Friday night? Because, friend, if you want to make good guacamole on Sunday, you must act immediately and decisively.
If you wait until Sunday to go to the grocery store, the remaining avocados could very well be hard as a rock. You do not want this. Go to the store tonight and choose a few avocados -- a good rule of thumb is about one or two per person. It's best if they're pretty hard, but have the slightest amount of give if you press them. By Sunday, they should be softened up enough to be suitable for guacamole.
Buy Hass avocados. Trying to make good guacamole with those huge green avocados is a fool's errand, unless you want your guacamole to taste like baby food.
Keep your avocados at room temperature. Do not refrigerate them under any circumstances.
If your Super Bowl party starts at around 5:00 (kickoff is at 6:25), you'll want to start making guacamole no earlier than 4:00. Any earlier and it will take on a brownish hue; much later and the ingredients won't have enough time to sink in.
Do not use powdered guacamole mix. The list of things that are acceptable to put in guacamole is very, very short, and this BULLCRAP is not on it. This also applies to bacon.
You want your avocados to be mashed up pretty well, but still have a somewhat chunky texture. You don't want the sort of homogeneous paste that plagues ready-made guacamole. In other words, do not use a blender.
Some fresh lemon or lime juice is essential. Cilantro is good, canned green chilies are good, salt is good. Some finely diced tomato is also a good idea as long as it's seeded -- you don't want it to end up watery. You should probably limit the number of additional veggies to two.
When you're done mixing everything, cover it and set it in the refrigerator for about a half hour, then enjoy. For added enjoyment, wait for someone to say, "eww, I don't like guacamole. Do you have any nacho cheese dip?" Mock him or her for being an indignant child.
Or "celebrities" depending on what you think of these guys.
First up, we’ve got David Spade and Chris Rock.
They were speaking on a radio station at the time and all I heard Chris Rock saying was, "Man, it’s okay, we’ve all got tax problems."
Also, a woman behind me saw David Spade and said, "Wow, he’s here like every year."
And next we’ve got Adam Sandler and Kevin James.
Kevin James was actually almost denied entrance into the media center here in Fort Lauderdale because he didn’t have his drivers license.
I had a chance to catch up with Drew Brees’ trainer, Todd Durkin, who is tremendously more fit than I am. He was there promoting his partnership with Under Armour, and even showed me these core shorts which A) looked almost like underwear and B) are supposed to be a big help when you work out.
(Note: Not that I would know since I don’t, you know, work out)
The most interesting part of our conversation was when he was telling me about some of the things Brees does to train. While his facility has some innovative workout accessories, sometimes you just need to get down and dirty.
He’s a beast in the weight room, man. Drew has legendary work ethic. We’re flipping tires, pushing sleds just like the big boys.
Wow. Like the World’s Strongest Man contests.
Now I feel bad for asking him if quarterbacks were wimps.
SB Nation Colts blog Stampede Blue has been busy talking to everybody in Miami about the Super Bowl.
They have must-read interviews with guys like Peter King. Big Blue Shoe, our correspondent in Miami, talked with King for an hour and has part one of the interview posted. Football fans need to check it out, Big Blue Shoe asks King about taking criticism from the fans, his supposed man-crush on Brett Favre and other interesting topics. Do yourself a favor, go read it.
The interviews don’t stop there. Stampede Blue interviews:
I had a chance to spend a few minutes with former Oklahoma State WR Dez Bryant this afternoon. Bryant, as many of you know, is a potential top 10 pick and arguably the No. 1 receiver on the board.
Decked out in Under Armour, Dez told me he was pretty jazzed about them being his first sponsor and that he’s got great respect for them. The media whirlwind is already starting as he’s actually filming his first commercial next week in Detroit for Under Armour along with Brandon Jennings of the MIlwaukee Bucks.
Here’s a snippet from my conversation with him:
Joel Thorman: How are you filling your days between now and the NFL Draft, which is two months away?
Dez Bryant: I’m down in Tampa, Florida training and getting ready for the combine. I’m doing the basics [like] lifting running, eating good, getting massages.
I got stuff every day just doing my routine.
Thorman: Getting massages…sounds rough.
Bryant: (Laughs)…Yeah, man, but you need it.
Thorman: You ever been to a Super Bowl?
Bryant: No, man, this is my first Super Bowl.
Thorman: What do you think of all the hoopla around here? Do you like it?
Bryant: I’m used to it in a way. I enjoy it. You don’t want anyone to think of you bad so you gotta enjoy it. I enjoy it because once nobody wants to do it anymore, you’re nothing anymore.
I’ll be posting more from my conversation with Dez Bryant later on.
Super Bowl I featuring the Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs saw the players on the winning team take home $15,000. The losers received a check for $7,500.
My how times changed.
The winner of Super Bowl XLIV will take home $83,000. But don’t feel sorry for the loser – they’ll snag $42,000.
The NFL is ever-evolving and that includes the cash flow to the players and even the cost of commercials.
In 1967, a 30 second Super Bowl ad ran about $42,000. This year, folks are paying $2,8 million for a similar spot.
And that’s down over $200,000 from last year.
OCNN strikes again. This time it was Chris Cooley asking Roger Goodell a question that I’m sure Chad Ochocinco (who couldn’t be there) would be interested in.
Cooley asked Goodell to comment on the uniform fines and players’ behavior on and off the field.
Specifically, Cooley asked if there was an alternatives to fine “other than cash."
"Maybe a spanking?”
Goodell paused for some short laughter and said, “We firmly believe there are rules in the NFL.”
He continued but the gist of it is, no, there will be no spanking alternative to cash fines.
The NFL conducted a press conference this afternoon to honor three men who are up for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Your finalists are:
It’s interesting that all three candidates come from teams that struggled mightily last season. I think that’s a testament to the work they did around their respective communities.
The winner will be announced on the field prior to Super Bowl XLIV.
I learned very quickly down here in South Florida that the two teams in the Super Bowl are treated like, well, Super Bowl teams. The security is heavy and detailed.
I already touched on NFL security, which drew the attention of the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, but here are a few photos from a standard day for the Saints at their team hotel.
Not pictured is more than a dozen police cars in addition to the motorcycles.
As one media member said to me, "It’s just a football team."
As I was walking out of the media center this afternoon, I noticed quite a bit of security nearly pushing me out of the way and escorting a short man into the building and up the stairs.
That man may be short but he’s a major power player in the future of the NFL.
DeMaurice Smith, head of the NFL Player’s Association, conducted a press conference this afternoon and painted a bleak picture regarding the possibility of a lockout effectively stopping the games starting in 2011.
"On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 14."
(Note: That question was asked by none other than Chad Ochocinco of OCNN)
Smith also called going back to a salary cap system "virtually impossible" should a new deal not be done by March 5th, the start of a new league year.
In other words, the business of the NFL as we know it will more than likely be completely different one month from today.
Roger Goodell will likely respond at his press conference tomorrow afternoon. I will be in attendance and plan on reporting back in this space immediately following the conclusion.
Yes, you read that headline correctly. OCNN is outworking all the major media outlets at the Super Bowl.
Okay, that’s a stretch but the OCNN staff is everywhere down here.
This afternoon the NFL conducted a press conference here in South Florida for Queen Latifah and Carrie Underwood. Latifah is singing "America The Beautiful" and Underwood is singing the "Star Spangled Banner".
Ochocinco, the reporter, attended the press conference and asked Latifah if she ever thought she would be singing on a stage like this.
You don’t. You joke about it, even. You look at TV, you look at movies. You hear your favorite records, but do you ever imagine you’re actually going to be there? I can’t say I ever did, but I’m so honored and privileged to have this opportunity to do this and to be in such amazing company and to be around such elite athletes. Everyone is here.
Again, only at the Super Bowl do you find Ochocinco whipping out a microphone and interviewing Queen Latifah. Here's the photographic evidence (courtesy of @OGOchocinco) to prove it:
Former Oakland Raiders QB Rich Gannon spoke with our BigBlueShoe from Stampede Blue yesterday afternoon and was pretty honest with his feelings towards the current Raiders.
He admitted to BBS that they were in “disarray” and that he feels bad for some of his teammates that are still on the team.
So, it pains me to see how things are now. I still have some teammates, some guys like Shane Lechler, [Sebastian] Janikowski, and some of these guys I helped train and took under my wing when they first came into the building, I know they feel they really don’t have a chance.
Unfortunately for those type of guys, when they came in they were playing in big games, nationally televised, they were playing divisional games. They figured that was how it was. They haven’t gotten a sniff since. Now, I think they realize just how hard it is.
Check out Silver and Black Pride in the coming days for more on what Gannon had to say.
I had a chance to catch up with Hall of Fame running back Tony Dorsett this afternoon. He was there with the folks from YesterYear Fantasy Sports, which is actually a pretty cool historical fantasy league where you play fantasy football with guys from the 70s, 80s and so on.
One of the things I was eager to hear from Dorsett was difference in media coverage between the Super Bowl he played in during the 70s and 80s and the zoo that it’s become today.
Trust me, football is king and football deserves all the attention it’s getting. It’s grown by leaps and bounds but you’ve got a whole lot of media outlets. It’s a world wide extravaganza. It was that way when I was playing but its gotten bigger, man, and rightfully so.
Personally, my first memories of the Super Bowl becoming a “Wow” event came in the early 90s when the Cowboys were (or are) America’s team. There were the Triplets, the media coverage and everything that went along with what we now associate with Super Bowl Week.
It’s the same but its just magnified. It’s all relevant. Back in the 70s, it was big then. It was huge. Now, the venues they play in, some of them are a lot bigger.
He did point out that the technology of it all has changed the most. It’s no longer the media talking with the athletes, then filing their stories that evening for the paper the next morning.
The media outlets…everything has changed technologically wise. It’s just become a bigger and better thing.
The technology has most definitely changed. Back then, someone like me wasn’t interviewing him then posting it on a website 30 minutes later.
Look for more stuff later on today and tomorrow morning on my conversation with Tony Dorsett. Cowboys fans should take note of his thoughts on Marion Barber, Felix Jones and the two-back system.
Only in South Florida for Super Bowl XLIV can you find a Hall of Fame quarterback and Miss America posing for pictures.
Roger Staubach and Miss America were seen making the rounds on Radio Row as the Super Bowl XLV Host Committee unveiled the logo for the 2011 Super Bowl set to be played at the Cowboys’ new stadium in Arlington, Texas.
I've yet to see Jerry Jones walking around....
Yesterday was National Signing Day and it was covered brilliantly on SBNation.com.
Much of the focus was on the impressive recruiting classes of Florida and Texas but Saints QB Drew Brees reminded us yesterday that the Big 10 has awesome football (Sarcasm?).
"Being that Florida is a high school mecca just like Texas, I would like to ask all Florida players to consider Purdue. I have to be looking out for the Big 10 conference."
"Definitely consider Purdue all you guys down here in Florida."
After being here for the last week, I can tell you that choosing Indiana over Florida might be a mistake.
SB Nation’s correspondent on the ground, Joel Thorman, has been busy covering the scene in Miami, and that includes taking photos for our blog network. He passed a long a slew of New Orleans Saints pictures to our Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles.
For Saints fans, you’ll want to head on over and check them out.
But one pic stands out above the rest. Seriously, who is this guy interviewing defensive coordinator Gregg Williams? I mean, if there’s one guy you want to party with while you’re in Miami for the Super Bowl, and choosing one guy from the throng of Saints supporters who are know to be professional partiers is a tough task – it has to be this guy.
Generally, analyzing a football game is done around the offense and the defense. Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Dwight Freeney, Darren Sharper. We tend to think of the stars or positional units like the offensive line, or the secondary. But coaches will tell you there are three phases to the game with each holding importance in ultimate victory – offense, defense and special teams.
At SB Nation, we like to cover all the angles, so our Colts blogger, Big Blue Shoe from Stampede Blue, took time from schmoozing with the bigwigs in Miami to interview the Colts special teams coach, Ray Rychleski.
Turns out that Rychleski is quite the talker and Stampede Blue got some great quotes. But it wasn’t all fun and games, the Colts are running a rookie punter out in the big game, just like they’ve done all season, so the question was put to the coach about the young leg.
BBS: Let’s talk about Pat McAfee. You’ve got a rookie punter. The rumor that I heard was that you wanted to keep Hunter Smith. The Colts decided to let Hunter go and they drafted Pat. Now, it seems Pat has blossomed as an NFL punter, as a kick-off guy, and other elements of his game. Is that because of you and your coaching?
RR: (Laughs.) Well, I think there are a lot of factors. First of all, he’s talented. And Jim Caldwell has a saying, “Talent wins if talent works hard.” Not only is Pat talented, he works hard at his craft. He’s been a god send. I always knew what Pat could do because, unfortunately, at Maryland I went against him. It’s amazing. A Mountaineer and a Terp getting together here. It’s not good. But, we’ve made it work, let me just say that. It’s been a lot of fun. But anyway, I knew Pat could kick-off, but we were a little reluctant because he was a rookie punter, first year, let’s not put too much on his plate. Plus, he’d never held [on field goals] in college before. And I saw him do it when I worked him out. I felt he could do it. Well, as time went on, I said, “We gotta give this guy a shot.” He’s too strong a leg. And, you know, he’s been a great punter, but hes really helped us out on kick-off coverage. Saying all that, hes done a marvelous job. I’ll give a lot of credit to Adam Vinatieri, Matt Stover, and Justin Snow who are three veterans. They took him under their wing, and he’s eaten up all of their knowledge. That’s whats great about the guy. He wants to learn. Now, he’s still got 22-year-old enthusiasm, which rubs off on those guys.
For the rest of the interview, go here.
Over the last six years, EA’s Madden video game series has correctly predicted the winner of the Super Bowl on five occasions. The lone miss was the upset heard ‘round the world when the Giants beat the Patriots in 2007, so that’s understandable.
Madden once again simulated a game and predicted the winner to be….
This is interesting stuff but clearly has no bearing on the game as they’re missing one key component of the game: Dwight Freeney’s injured ankle.
But before Saints fans start celebrating and Colts fans call for a new coach, it’s important to note that the Madden simulation only takes into account the perceived skill levels of each player on the field. Intangibles such as nerves and inexperience are not reflected. And according to this G4 video of the simulation, neither is Dwight Freeney’s questionable ankle, as the Colts’ defensive superstar can clearly be seen running and jumping down the tunnel at the head of his team before the game.
Wednesday at Super Bowl XLIV was relatively light compared to the previous two days.
The day started off with about an hour and a half with the Saints players. This session was a little different than the zoo called Media Day. With the exception of a few, all the players were hanging out at a bunch of tables lined across the room.
They were all very approachable and willing to talk. Some of the lesser names were hanging out in the back.
Then I ran into this guy talking to the Saints defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams.
After the Saints media session was finished, I moved onto an event in South Beach featuring the NFL and Telemundo. It was a flag football game that had quite the number of stars in attendance.
Coaching one team was Tony Gonzalez of the Falcons and on the other side was Greg Camarillo of the hometown Dolphins.
Players included Marcus Allen, Doug Flutie, Warrick Dunn, Tim Brown, Martin Gramatica and Warren Moon.
There were some good moments in this event as well:
And that was a wrap on day three at Super Bowl XLIV.
One of the stranger events of Wednesday’s session with the Saints was when a Honolulu reporter walked up to Roman Harper.
Reporter: "Roman, we’re big fans in Honolulu. We brought you some macadamia nuts."
Those are the nuts in front of him.
I didn't catch what the other present was and, frankly, I don't even want to know.
And the journey continues in South Florida for Super Bowl XLIV.
Last year for the Super Bowl, New Orleans Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove was in a treatment center for a dependency to alcohol. His reputation around the league dealt with drugs, suspensions and attitude problems.
This year? A completely different man.
Hargrove told me this afternoon the difference between the Super Bowl last year and this year is that, "It was a lot quieter then."
He also said during Media Day on Tuesday that just about everyone complimented him on how well he was doing and how great things seemed to be going for him over the last year.
While that’s great news, he’s not used to hearing so much positivity. In fact, he said he went home that evening and talked to his brother.
"If you guys tell me one more positive thing," he told his brother, "I’m going to punch you."
He was joking of course but his story is inspirational at times and more closely resembles that of the childhoods some of these players had.
Let me set the scene for you…
On the left in the picture above is Martin Gramatica, former Bucs kicker, lining up as a receiver. This is moments before a man from the crowd yelled, "Gramatica, can you throw? Who are you going to kick to?"
Next to him is former Raiders receiver Tim Brown. And snapping the ball is another former Raider, Marcus Allen.
Doug Flutie. And, yes, he does still have the "Flutie Magic".
The head coaches are Dolphins receiver Greg Camarillo and Falcons receiver Tony Gonzalez.
Flag football in Miami...not bad, huh?
Another day in South Florida for Super Bowl XLIV…
Over at SB Nation’s Colts blog, Stampede Blue, they pass on a report from the Indy Star that speculates there’s no way Dwight Freeney won’t try to at least play. Agreed, no way Freeney doesn’t try to go.
But if he can’t get it done, his replacement will be Raheem Brock. All eyes will be on the defensive end spot on Sunday.
Raheem Brock at media day, courtesy of Stampede Blue. More pics available here.
Over at SB Nation’s Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles, they’ll be producing a two-hour podcast tonight starting at 9 PM EST. That’s two hours of Saints coverage for the Super Bowl with guest appearances. You can tune in here.
Come join us at 8pm Central for the last pre-game podcast we’ll ever have during this magical 2009 season. This one’s gonna be good. We’ve got two full hours blocked off to talk about nothing but Saints and the Super Bowl. Special guests, besides myself, include SB Nation writer Joel Thorman, who has been a credentialed member of the media in Miami and will tell us about all the behind the scenes action. There is also the possibility we will have enemy blogger BigBlueShoe from Stampede Blue, to talk about the competition this week.
Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day was the first I’ve personally attended so I didn’t quite know what to expect. According to several media folks around the league, there weren't many "freaks" at the event compared to previous years.
On Monday came one of the more boring media days in recent memory. The numbers of freaks, strippers and jackasses were low and there was just one puppet dude.
I can’t be certain, but I believe this to be the "puppet dude."
Don Banks of Sports Illustrated also thought this was a watered-down version of Media Day.
Most subdued SB media day in memory. Maybe it was the all-business teams we have to work with, but very little in the way of the absurd.
Maybe it was a little subdued, but there were still some strange occurrences. Like the Colts and Saints players singing karaoke.
Yeah, maybe it was subdued, but the spectacle of Media Day is still an event in itself. Maybe it’s just that the weird and absurd are starting to become normal.
The "organized chaos" theme continued Tuesday with the Indianapolis Colts, New Orleans Saints and hundreds of media members gathering in the club level section of
Joe Robbie Pro Player Dolphin Land Shark Sun Life Stadium.
Because of the weather (which actually turned out to be nice), media day was moved inside. From what I can gather, this is the first time it's been moved indoors.
Logistically, it was expected to be a problem but after going through it, I can’t imagine a more organized chaotic scene.
The way it works is that 10-15 of the bigger names on each team have their own booth and the media sets up camp in front of each booth.
For the Colts, Peyton Manning had far and away the most people and cameras in front of him. After him, it was Dwight Freeney, whose sprained ankle is the hot topic of discussion down here. For the Saints, Drew Brees and Reggie Bush were swarmed as was head coach Sean Payton. I had a front row view for Payton (something about Mike Freeman’s article made me want to hear him up close in person).
While the big names get their own booths with microphones and the whole bit, the other players on the team are just walking around the club level area like everyone else. Some had video cameras taking in the scene while others were keepin’ it real, like this group of Saints players.
Several media folks commented, "Wow! Look how relaxed they are!"
(They were really shocked that the players were relaxed.)
If the Saints players weren’t talking to the press or laying low off to the side, then they were singing karaoke on Super Bowl Idol.
As media day at Sun Life Stadium began to shut down, we made our way back to the media center in Fort Lauderdale, where I took a few minutes to write about my media day experiences.
Meanwhile, my partner in South Florida, BigBlueShoe from Stampede Blue, made his way over to the CBS folks and got some time with the broadcasters.
One minute I’m asking questions of Joseph Addai. The next, I’m sitting down with a one-on-one interview with Shannon Sharpe. I also had the opportunity to chat with Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason, Bill Cowher, and Phil Simms. Listening to Simms rant about the "Wildcat offense" was priceless. Cowher rooted for the Jets over the Colts because they played "tough, physical" football. Shannon Sharpe might not make many Colts fans happy with his on-air rambling, but I must admit the guy was very courteous and kind to answer questions. He also offered some funny stories about his playing days.
I’ve heard the audio and it’s great stuff. Look for that to be posting over at Stampede Blue in the next day or so.
After that, it was off to dinner with BigBlueShoe, at which point I reminded him of the crushing playoff losses his Colts delivered to my Chiefs. Things got a little awkward after that and we drove home in silence.
Ah well, it was probably for the best.
Tomorrow we are up bright and early for some time with the Colts coaches and players. The Saints will be mid-morning then we’ve got a few other things lined up for the day.
While you've got the time, check out a more in-depth recap of the Saints day over at Canal Street Chronicles.
Courtesy of our Sprint Palm Pre, we’ve got some photos from
the zoo media day this afternoon.
New Orleans Saints TE Jeremy Shockey was a fun interview this afternoon for Super Bowl Media Day.
(For the record, I did resist the urge to ask him if he would be slamming drinks in a suite if he couldn’t play this weekend. I know, I know…but he’s twice my size.)
He was asked about resisting the urge to go out on the town in an environment like South Florida.
"This city does not sleep."
He said it’s okay if you go out and grab a beer and a steak with your family but to remember what the number one task is this week.
But when the game is over…Well, that’s a different story.
"When we win the Super Bowl I’ll bring everyone back here and even buy the ticket."
There we go. That’s more like it.
Colts QB Peyton Manning answered an estimated 11 billion questions from hundreds of reporters this afternoon. One of the better exchanges was he was asked about his relationship with Tom Moore.
Peyton laughed a little and explained some Tom Mooreisms.
"He uses some expressions that are so old we don’t really know what they mean anymore."
Examples of Tom Mooreisms:
-Mute point instead of moot point
-point in case instead of case in point
-irregardless, which Peyton described as a double negative
He said many of the expressions are either so far out there he doesn’t understand them or from "World War II or something." He also said he and his teammates even made up a t-shirt with their top ten favorite Tom Moore expressions.
Indianapolis Colts head coach Jim Caldwell had a throng of media around him with many of the questions centering around Dwight Freeney, his relationship with Tony Dungy and his coaching style.
However, there was one question that caught his eye (and mine). A reporter with a Sun Life Stadium microphone asked:
"Coach, Land Shark Stadium changed its name to Sun Life Stadium and it looks like it’s here to stay for a while. Would you ever considering selling your nicknaming rights?"
Caldwell asked for clarification not understanding the question.
"How about Jim "Sun Life" Caldwell?"
Caldwell smiled but wasn’t in any mood to be taking any joke questions and moved on.
I was standing at Reggie Wayne’s booth listening to him talk about his alma mater, The U, when a familiar voice next to me started asking questions.
"Hey Reggie we’re with OCNN."
"Oh, shoot!" he said laughing.
That voice was none other than Chris Cooley of the Washington Redskins. He, along with Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, was decked out in OCNN gear.
Yes, that’s the Ochocinco News Network, the brainchild of Chad Ochocinco of the Cincinnati Bengals.
And this isn’t completely a joke. They had multiple cameras and upwards of ten "employees" that I saw. Ochocinco legitimately threw some money into this and they were running around getting interviews like any other of the media folks there.
I asked an OCNN cameraman who he was here with and he said, "Our whole team. Cooley, Ray Rice, Dockett and Chad."
That’s quite the crew.
Was a more perfect match ever made than the Super Bowl and sports betting? It’s hard to imagine one; America’s obsession with football combined with the opportunity to get easy money. So it’s natural that you can bet on almost anything associated with the Super Bowl. Canal Street Chronicles lets us know some of the wackier things that you can bet on:
For example, you can bet on whether or not they will show the replay of Tom Benson celebrating after Garrett Hartley’s missed field goal against Tampa Bay during the Super Bowl broadcast.
Other fun betting lines:
How Many Times will CBS show Kim Kardashian on TV during the Game?
(Wager is on the number of times Kim Kardashian will appear on TV during the Game (from kick off until final whistle). Live pictures only, Any Taped Pictures or Past Video does not count towards wager.)
Will a member of the Who smash a guitar on stage during the halftime show?
What side of the ball will the Players that perform the Gatorade Shower be from?
Seriously, doesn’t it sound like if gamblers wanted to coordinate with certain parties (ahem, the networks, the Who or Kim Kardashian) they could game the system? Someone needs to investigate.
While Stampede Blue blogger Big Blue Shoe is in Miami covering the Colts at Media Day, the blog is also doing analysis of the big game. The number-crunchers have determined that the Saints and Colts had six common opponents, so that’s as good a place as any to start with a statistical break down.
It’s a geek paradise of numbers which illuminates the nitty-gritty like:
Another stat that jumps out at me is the Saints’ ability to force 3 and Outs against these teams, forcing over 5.5 / game. That’s higher than the #1 team in the league (49ers), who forced 5.1 / Game. Thankfully for us Colts fans, the Colts are 2nd in the league offensively, at 2.5 / Game.
For a deep-dive into stat mania, head on over.
For lighter fare, check out some of the pics from Colts Media Day, here. Here’s a taste, Pierre Garcon gears up for the craziness.
Dwight Freeney's ankle, courtesy of my Sprint Palm Pre
Indianapolis Colts DE Dwight Freeney took the stand at media this morning in Sun Life Stadium. He was one of the biggest draws there with Deion Sanders of NFL Network and Suzy Kolber of ESPN front and center.
The topic of the day, of course, was his ankle. Freeney described it as "day to day."
"It was pretty bad. The swelling on it was pretty huge but it’s gone down a little bit."
He also said that he would do whatever he could to play on Sunday but ultimately that decision comes down to the doctors.
"If I have to tweak my game to go to whatever strengths I have [then I’ll do that]."
The worst case scenario is that he can’t play (although the overwhelming majority of media folks here believe he’ll be active no matter what).
"I know they’ll be fine without me [if I can’t go]."
For the Colts sake, let’s hope that’s not the case.
SB Nation has the Super Bowl covered, so much so that we dispatched blogger Big Blue Shoe from our Colts blog, Stampede Blue, to the big game for exclusive Colts coverage. Never one to disappoint, he filed this report to Stampede Blue after talking with several Colts players.
The most interesting perspective came from defensive lineman Daniel Muir and offensive lineman Ryan Diem. The Saints are new to this Super Bowl thing, but the Colts were in a Super Bowl just a few years ago, and won it all. So while Saints fans, players and coaches might be like a kid on his first trip to Disney World, the Colts are the embodiment of a business traveler visiting a well-known destination.
At Daniel Muir’s press table, he talked about how he felt team was fresh heading into the game.
“This isn’t a vacation. It’s a business trip.”
At Ryan Diem’s table, I walked in on him discussing the possiblity (sic) of playing another Super Bowl in the rain (it’s raining heavy here). Diem said the rain isn’t an issue. He was then asked questions about Jim Caldwell, and Diem answered by saying Caldwell was very organized in his meetings. This contrasts a bit with former-Colts coach Tony Dungy, who spoke more from his heart during meetings. Caldwell uses PowerPoint a great deal in meetings to get important notes across.
Diem also echoed what Daniel Muir said about how the Colts view this Super Bowl.
“More of a business trip than it was last time.”
We all know Peyton Manning is a Football God, right? Manning is celebrated as one of the best QBs of this generation and even thought of as among the best to ever play the game. There’s no debating it, and it’s one of the reasons the Colts are thought of as favorites in the big game. So that much is settled. Wait a minute, we’ve get a last-second point of disagreement.
Saints blog Canal Street Chronicles is taking the negative on this debate, and while praising Manning as one of the most dangerous players in the game, he does have a small chink in the armor.
Manning actually plays worse, statistically, in the playoffs than he does in the regular season.
CSC has put together a table of Manning’s regular season stats and post-season stats since 2003 and found that the arrow points down in every major category. Some stats go down a little, some go down quite a bit. Manning’s interception to TD ratio is not as sterling come playoff time.
Conversely, Drew Brees’ playoff performances have been better than his average regular-season games. Of course, Brees has a much smaller sample size in the comparison (5 games to 14 for Manning), but at least it’s something for Saints fans to hang their hat on.
To view all the stats and analysis, head over to Canal Street Chronicles. For a summary, we’ll go with this:
So, what can we expect from Manning and the Colts? Well, 25 points, for starters. But also, consider this: Manning has won a Super Bowl ring. One ring. Only one ring. That means that in eight postseason campaigns, only once has he managed to avoid having that one bad game that was sufficient to knock his team out of the playoffs. That exception came, ironically, in 2006—by far his worst offseason statistically, other than the lone disaster in 2002. That year, the Colts’ defense carried the team into and through the Super Bowl—even though Peyton picked up the MVP for his 81.8-rated game. Had the defense not played so well, the Colts might have lost in the opening round to Kansas City, when Peyton had a 71.9 rating. More likely, it would have been the following week against Baltimore, when his rating was 39.6! Manning’s worst game since his playoff debut came in his Super Bowl year!
Photo of Colts RB Joseph Addai comes courtesy of my Sprint Palm Pre
Ray Lewis has described the Baltimore Ravens defense as "organized chaos" and that’s exactly how I would characterize Monday’s Super Bowl Events in South Florida.
From the rain causing delays and practice schedule changes for the Saints to the media blitz that is radio row to our own Big Blue Shoe talking to the Colts players front and center….it’s been a whirlwind.
The day started off with some logistical things like finding out where the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center is, picking up credentials and finding a place to write stories throughout the day.
Every media outlet you can think of is here. Yahoo! Sports, CBS, Sports, Sports Illustrated (Curiously I only saw one ESPN guy today). Heck, I even saw a table for the local radio station back in my hometown of Kansas City.
Shuttles are available to take you everywhere but timing is tricky because multiple sources have told me that not one thing in the history of Miami has ever started on time. Nope. Nothing. Ever.
I had to move out of a room so a bomb sniffing dog could make way for the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. I bumped into Peter King. I huddled outside in the rain with ESPN’s John Clayton while armed military personnel escorted the Colts into their hotel. I listened to the Bill Polian radio show from 15 feet away and confirmed in person that Peyton Manning has a large forehead (I kid, I kid Colts fans!)
I also saw our own Big Blue Shoe from Stampede Blue make his way to the front of the interview stands to get his questions in.
And tomorrow we’ll do it all again.
Make sure you check out first-hand reporting from Stampede Blue all this week. Canal Street Chronicles is holding down the party in New Orleans until the day of the Super Bowl so make sure you check them out for on-site reaction immediately following the game. For now, gets your Saints fix from CSC’s radio appearance on Monday morning.
Last week Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com published an article ripping into New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton. You can read it for yourself but the main assertion was that Sean Payton believes he’s better than everyone else, especially the media, and he’s not afraid to tell them that.
And, oh yeah, that Payton calls and throws expletive-filled jabs at reporters that criticize him.
I’m not saying that report is accurate (because I don’t know one way or the other) but Reggie Bush said something to me and the rest of the media horde today that made me think parts of it may be true.
"During the week he is a normal guy, but on game day he is a different person. It is almost like he is bi-polar. He is absolutely intense on game days. You don’t want to approach him because you don’t know if he is going to snap on you. That is just him."
And that’s coming from a player that has been surprisingly productive in recent weeks.
When news surfaced last week that Minnesota Vikings LT Bryant McKinnie just straight up skipped Pro Bowl practices with no notifications, and then blatantly lied telling Twitterverse that he was injured even though he was out late the night before, a lot of folks got upset.
Here was a guy who needed to show up for three practices and play in about a quarter of one game for a nice lump of money.
And he bailed.
Peyton Manning on the other hand understands the value of the Pro Bowl even though his Super Bowl schedule was interrupted to attend.
I got to fly on a private plane with six of my best friends and teammates. We had Ruth Chris Steakhouse food on the plane, took a private escort right into Miami, shook a few hands, had to wave, did one interview and made $45,000. I can think of some worse things to put yourself through.
Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had no reaction to the comments made by New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams last week.
Speaking to 104.5 The Zone last week, Williams seemed to indicate that he wanted to knock Manning out of the game come Super Sunday. He said the Saints had to get a few “remember me” shots on the Colts quarterback.
“If it happens, it happens,” Williams said. “And the only thing you’d like for me to say is that if it happens you hope he doesn’t get back up and play again.”
“Don’t have one,” he said this evening. “I didn’t hear it. So, I guess I’ve been playing long enough that I don’t have any reaction to a comment like that.”
Manning’s the epitome of professionalism and his head coach didn’t have much of a response either so we didn’t expect much else.
We’re sitting in Jim Caldwell’s press conference at the moment. He’s not done speaking as this is published but I wanted to update the status of Dwight Freeney’s ankle sprain.
Here’s the update: There is no update.
In typical coach speak, Caldwell didn’t give up much.
“If he can’t go – it’s the old mantra that we’ve set time and time again – the next guy’s up,” he said.
However, Caldwell did say that Freeney has been good about getting back on the field sooner than expected.
“He’s been a quick healer,” Caldwell said.
“If he’s not practicing,” he continued, “we’re preparing as if he’s not going to play. If we get him an opportunity to get him to play, then obviously we’ll get him in there.”
Peyton Manning wasn't getting in on any Freeney speculation, either.
"I'm not ready to speculate on his situation. I'm hopeful he will play."
After Freeney, popular topics included the South Florida rain (it rained three years ago when the Colts played the Bears) and his relationship with Tony Dungy.
If you haven’t heard, there’s been a constant stream of rain hitting South Florida today. Not only is this incredibly annoying when you don’t bring the necessary overcoats, but it’s causing logistical problems for the NFL.
Tuesday’s Media Day, traditionally held on the field of the Super Bowl stadium, has now been moved to the club level of Sun Life Stadium.
This doesn’t change a whole lot as the content of the various media reports won’t be affected but it does make life difficult for those media types on-site (like me) and possibly for the players should the weather continue.
"We will not change much due to the weather," Colts head coach Jim Caldwell told reporters today. "We'll get prepared for it just in case we have to deal with some of the same issues we dealt with last time."
During a press conference this afternoon, officials from the tri-county area jokingly blamed the rain on each other. This is one thing the Super Bowl Host Committee can’t control (like they do everything else).
Super Bowl officials did reach out to weather experts and assured us that weather for the big game is expected to be sunny and cloud-free.
The Saints have arrived in Miami and they are lovin’ life. Thanks to everybody’s favorite technology, Twitter, they document their arrival.
reggie_bush Team Plane! Destination: Superbowl!
Pierre_Thomas Just touchdown in Miami. We here baby!!!!!!
BillyMiller83 Cold in New Orleans and rain in Miami, things out of the norm like the Saints in the SB! Change is good, let’s get it!
ltorrence24 Just made it to Miami, guy working at the hotel looks just like #9’! Hilairious..
That last one comes from Leigh Torrence and is in reference to a dude working at the Saints hotel who suspiciously looks a lot like Drew Brees. Don’t believe us? You made us bust out the evidence. From Leigh’s Twitter account:
Turns out Brees, Sean Payton and other players were dressed as bellhops when the rest of the team arrived at the hotel in Miami.
Local, state and federal agencies have descended upon South Florida in a coordinated effort with the NFL to provide a safe and secure Super Bowl at Sun Life Stadium. Milt Ahlerich, NFL VP of security, told us this afternoon that NFL security has devoted two years of planning to make sure the event goes off without, uh, a bang.
In fact, this event drew the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano.
As we were waiting to enter the room the press conference was being held, this dog first had to sniff things out.
These K-9s will be at the stadium and are trainer in over 19,000 explosive. Ahlerich said that if you went to the shooting range the morning of the game, and then washed your hands, the K-9s would still sniff that out.
The NFL is dropping about $6 million of their own money into security for the Super Bowl, Ahlerich said. It’s a “very robust and well coordinated” plan of attack he told reporters.
He also said the most common items that will be confiscated at the gate are camera and binocular cases because of the difficulty screening those items.
I guess it’s safe to say you’re a VIP when a bomb sniffing dog needs to make its way through the room first.
From Joel Thorman come the following first impressions at Super Bowl week...
SB Nation has arrived in South Florida for Super Bowl XLIV. Currently, we're stationed in the media center dubbed "Radio Row". Booths, on-site radio stations and television cameras are dominating the scene. Just about every major media outlet is represented in some fashion down here.
It's good to know SB Nation has joined that crowd.
The weather is getting off to a rough start. It's pouring down rain but I'm not complaining. The temperature is still in the high 60s and the clock says AM.
A few sights and sounds as I walked in:
We're off to some press conferences detailing the plans for the week. Expect plenty of commentary, photos and player quotes.
Super Bowl Week has arrived and America rejoices. The week leading up to the Super Bowl is truly American spectacle at its finest.
No sporting event dominates the landscape like the Super Bowl, just look at the raw numbers of households watching. Even the totally football-clueless tune in. There's a whole sub-genre of the Super Bowl surrounding the commercials that will be run during the game. That's the absurdity of the Super Bowl, and how it's an American institution like none other.
The only downside to the immense popularity of the game, and the week leading up to it, is that all that spotlight has driven out the crazy. The crazy is half the fun of Super Bowl Week. Can we get a Max McGee sneaking out the night before the game and getting tanked then starring in his team's win? How about the Colts partying like the Raiders in New Orleans, or the Cowboys of the 90's as chronicled by Jeff Pearlman in Boys will Be Boys? Maybe a cocaine bender, or a Eugene Robinson soliciting a prostitute? Heck, how about something tame like Drew Brees pulling a Joe Namath and guaranteeing victory?
Nowadays, we usually get no such luck on the crazy front. We can only hope and pray someone says or does something crazy. Especially since SB Nation is on-site covering Super Bowl Week from Miami. We've sent Joel Thorman for general coverage all week.
Unless some player makes the news, we'll just have to talk about the teams and the game.
Up first, the NFC representative, the New Orleans Saints. The Saints have never played in a Super Bowl before. The Colts won one a few years ago. The Saints are kind of the new fresh-face of Super Bowl contenders. The Colts are the seasoned veterans who have been elite for most of the decade. Plus, they have Peyton Manning. Given that scenario, Indy is considered the favorite and some of the media are already proclaiming a victory. SB Nation's New Orleans Saints blog, Canal Street Chronicles, begs to differ. Clark Judge lays out the winning scenario for the Colts, Canal Street Chronicles offers up a point-by-point retort.
Meanwhile, there is significant news in the Indianapolis Colts camp. Star defensive end Dwight Freeney has ligament issues in his ankle, and is listed as questionable for Sunday's matchup. If Freeney can't go, that's a huge issue for the Colts.
SB Nation's Colts blog, Stampede Blue, will be covering the Super Bowl from a Colts perspective all week long. Big Blue Shoe is on the road to Miami and will detail his adventures all the way through the Super Bowl game.
They also take a look back at the guy who helped build this Colts team, Tony Dungy. This is the second time a team has gone to the Super Bowl one year after Dungy left as head coach. Jon Gruden's Bucs pulled off the trick, and now Jim Caldwell's Colts have done the same. Dungy's imprint was on both teams.
Putting team success above personal accolades is just one of the values Dungy instilled while he was in Indianapolis. Another value Dungy put in place while he was in Indianapolis was sticking to your convictions, even when it was unpopular. During the Colts' Super Bowl run, fans were calling for Dungy to make drastic changes to fix the team's woeful run defense, but he knew the system was working, they just had to put the right players in the right places. We've seen how that value continues to guide the Colts under Jim Caldwell. Caldwell stuck to his belief that benching the Colts' starters against the Jets was the best decision amidst backlash from fans, the media, and even within the locker room.
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