47 thoughts to ponder on Super Bowl XLVII
Television and its advertisers probably wanted Tom Brady here, but he was busy throwing the ball away on fourth down and doing a Ty Cobb imitation to protect himself from the Ravens' fierce defense. So you get the kid from Audubon, who has been clutch throughout the playoffs
Attending a Super Bowl in New Orleans should be at the top of any NFL fan's bucket list. But before you try the gumbo and the crawfish etouffee, here are 47 other things to nibble on ahead of this year's fascinating game.
1. The practice of kissing the right biceps in celebration is called "Kaepernicking," which 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is attempting to trademark. The practice of quietly winning playoff games on the road without bringing attention to yourself is called Flacco-ing, which everyone should try to mimic.
2. Kaepernick is the first quarterback to start the season as a reserve and lead his team to the Super Bowl since Jake Delhomme brought the Panthers to the Supe following the 2003 season. Delhomme replaced Rodney Peete in the second half of the season opener.
3. The Ravens were forced to adjust their offensive line when guard Jah Reid suffered a season-ending toe injury after the first playoff game. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, a Woodbury High product who was a reserve for the first time in his 11-year career, came off the bench and is playing his best ball in years.
4. The key to McKinnie's season probably was his solid play in an otherwise meaningless Week 17 game against the Bengals. It was his first extended duty all season, which started when he had to accept a $1 million pay cut to $2.2 million.
5. Niners Pro Bowl safety Donte Whitner suffered serious injuries when he was hit by a car when he was 6 years old, chasing a football into the street outside his home in Cleveland. He was told by doctors that he might never walk again. A few years later, he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that he forged his mom's signature on a permission slip to play Pop Warner football.
6. Team architect Ozzie Newsome's first two draft picks as a Ravens executive in 1996 were Jonathan Ogden and Ray Lewis. Ogden is expected to be tabbed for the Hall of Fame this weekend. Lewis is closing out his HOF career this weekend.
7. Lewis' first career sack was on Jim Harbaugh when the Niners' coach played for Indianapolis.
8. Lewis and tight-ends coach Wade Harman are the only holdovers from Baltimore's Super Bowl win after the 2000 season. The only 49ers player to win a Supe was reserve linebacker Clark Haggans, who played for the 2005 Steelers.
9. The last time the 49ers played a Super Bowl in New Orleans, they beat the Broncos (corrected), 55-10, for the 1989 title. Tampa was the site of the Ravens' only other Super Bowl appearance. They hammered the Giants, 34-7.
10. Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta is one of Joe Flacco's closest teammates. Pitta, in his third season, had a career-best 61 catches and seven touchdowns, and just two drops on 94 targets. Pitta was a walk-on at BYU who left as the school's all-time leading receiver.
11. Baltimore running back Bernard Pierce is the 12th Temple player to reach the Super Bowl. Owls players are 14-4 in Supes, led by former Steelers tight end Randy Grossman's 4-0 and Patriots/Colts fullback/defensive lineman Dan Klecko's 3-0.
12. San Francisco defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was a Ravens assistant from 2006-10, so he knows Baltimore's personnel quite well.
13. Proof that numbers aren't everything: The Ravens have scored 157 points in the six games since Jim Caldwell replaced Cam Cameron as the offensive coordinator in mid-December. In the six games that led up to Cameron's dismissal, the Ravens scored 157 points. They were 4-2 during each stretch, except five of the six games with Caldwell were against playoff teams.
14. Given how the bounty scandal destroyed the Saints' season even before it started, what kind of reception do you think Roger Goodell will get when he presents the Super Bowl trophy Sunday night? It still won't be as bad as when Gary Bettman hands out the Stanley Cup in June.
15. The Ravens beat the 49ers in a 2011 Thanksgiving game, which was the first time two brothers coached against one another in an NFL game. Sunday will be the second time, and first in a playoff game for any of the four major sports.
16. Jack Harbaugh, the coaches' father, recalled going into the 49ers locker room after that 2011 game: "It was quiet and somber and finally I saw Jim all by himself . . . his hands on his head. And we realized this is where we were needed. We know we are going to experience that one way or another this week."
17. Ravens center Matt Birk and 49ers wide receiver Randy Moss were teammates with the Vikings from 1998-2004. Don't expect pregame hugs, since Moss sulked his way out of Minneapolis following the Vikings' playoff loss in Philadelphia after the 2004 season.
18. Kaepernick is 2-1 in domes as a starter, including a win in New Orleans in late November. Flacco is 1-5 indoors, including a loss at Houston earlier this season when Reliant Stadium's retractable roof was closed.
19. Good move by Kaepernick to order pizza for an overflow media contingent recently at 49ers practice. The Super Bowl MVP award is a combination vote of fans (20 percent) and sports writers/broadcasters (80 percent). Quarterbacks have won five of the last six Supe MVPs.
20. Given John Harbaugh's background as the Eagles' former special-teams coach, it's no surprise the Ravens were second in average starting position after kickoffs (around their own 25) and fifth in their opponent's starts (just more than the 20).
21. Remember, it was Ray Rhodes who hired John Harbaugh to be an Eagles assistant, not Andy Reid.
22. San Fran running back Frank Gore's full name is Franklin Delano Gore. Give the parents points for historical knowledge even if FDG doesn't roll off the tongue like FDR.
23. Gore's big career break came in 2006 when the 49ers traded Kevan Barlow to the Jets and handed the starting job to Gore. He responded with 1,695 rushing yards and is the franchise's all-time leader with 8,839.
24. Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was a teammate of Nick Foles at Westlake High School, just outside of Austin, Texas.
25. Flacco has a streak of 162 pass attempts without an interception, including 93 in three playoff games. Kaepernick has one pick in his 52 postseason throws.
26. Commercials cost about $3.8 million for a 30-second spot, which is up about $300,000 from last year, and nearly $127,000 per second. If it took you 7 seconds to read those two sentences, the Daily News would owe you $886,000. Take a check?
27. San Fran wide receiver Michael Crabtree also was recruited to play basketball at Texas Tech by Bobby Knight, no less. Crabtree stuck to football, however, became a first-round pick and had a career-best 85 catches this season.
28. This is the 10th time New Orleans has hosted the Super Bowl, but the first post-Katrina. East Rutherford, N.J., is the site of next year's game (Feb. 2, 2014). The forecast for the Meadowlands area for this Sunday? Temperatures in the 20s-30s with light wind.
29. Ravens star defensive tackle Haloti Ngata lost both parents while he was at Oregon. His father, Solomone, died in a car accident in 2002. His mother, Olga, died of a heart attack during kidney dialysis just before he was drafted in 2006.
30. Baltimore is the second team to beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady in the postseason. The other was the 2010 Jets, which lost to the Steelers in the AFC title game.
31. San Fran beat Aaron Rodgers and Matt Ryan on its way here, which also isn't too shabby.
32. Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti was born in Philadelphia in 1960, but his family moved to the Baltimore area less than a year later.
33. The Ravens have won the last three meetings with the 49ers, including a 9-7 slugfest in 2007 and a 16-6 zzzz-fest last year. Advertising executives will be crying in their Bourbon Street Hurricanes if there's not more scoring on Sunday.
34. Combined, the teams are averaging more than 30 points in their playoff games, while giving up 22. The over/under is 46 1/2.
35. San Fran kicker David Akers missed a career-worst 13 field goal attempts this season, including a discouraging 7-for-13 from 40-49 yards out. The Niners gave Billy Cundiff a look in early January before deciding to stick with Akers. Cundiff, ironically, badly missed a 32-yard field-goal attempt for the Ravens last year that would have sent the AFC title game into overtime. Instead, the shank sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
36. The last Super Bowl in New Orleans was the best of the previous nine. Adam Vinatieri kicked a 48-yarder as time expired to beat the Rams in Supe 36 (2002 season) and give the Patriots, 14-point underdogs, their first title.
37. If the pregame show you are watching does a feature on O.J. Brigance, be sure to watch. Brigance won a ring with the Ravens as a player, but his body has been ravaged by ALS since. He speaks through a computer and is a senior adviser for the Ravens. Brigance speaks to the team before each game and has become its inspiration.
38. "O.J. took me under his wing when I first got here," Ravens safety Ed Reed said. "Everything he's been through and is going through, to still be the same O.J. and being a light to you and being a light for our team. He's been like an uncle to me and like a brother."
39. The natural progression for Super Bowl coordinators is to become head coaches. Ravens d-coordinator Dean Pees, however, wants no part of that again. "I was one in college," said Pees, who coached Kent State from 1998-2003. "They can have that gig all they want. [When] you become a head coach, you become everything but a coach . . . I watch head coaches even in this league - there's just so many other hats that you have to wear. I don't want to wear those hats. I want to wear this one right out here on the practice field, call defenses and play ball and have fun with the players."
40. So . . . All we are saying is that NFL teams don't need to give Pees a chance. (Groan.)
41. Linebacker Aldon Smith was voted the team MVP by 49ers coaches. Smith set a team record with 19 1/2 sacks, and his 33 1/2 in his first two seasons broke the league record of 31 held by Reggie White. Smith's first career sack came at Lincoln Financial Field when he brought down Michael Vick on Oct. 2, 2011.
42. Baltimore had six players selected to the Pro Bowl. San Fran led all teams with nine.
43. Niners quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst's son Keller, a high school junior, is a five-star Division I quarterback prospect. Keller attends Palo Alto High in California, the same high school that produced 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh.
44. Geep's first name is George. He played linebacker (and baseball) at Princeton and has known Jim Harbaugh since the mid-80s.
45. Anquan Boldin threw the crushing block on San Diego's Eric Weddle that allowed Ray Rice to convert a similarly heart-stopping fourth-and-29 by mere inches for Baltimore this season. If not for that win, the Ravens would not have won the NFC North on a tiebreaker.
46. Ed Donatell, the 49ers' secondary coach who had been rumored to be up for the Eagles' defensive-coordinator job, won a pair of Super Bowl rings as the d-backs coach with the Broncos in the 1990s. Around here, however, he holds the stigma of being the Packers' defensive coordinator when Donovan McNabb and the Eagles converted a fourth-and-26 in a 2003 playoff win over Green Bay.
47. Joe Flacco is a free agent after this year, but Baltimore is not about to let him get away. It will be interesting to see the value of his new contract. One benchmark to consider is the 5-year, $100 million contract Drew Brees signed in July that included $60 million guaranteed. Brees was 33 when he signed that deal. Flacco just turned 28.