Excited tension hung heavy in the air in New Orleans on Monday evening as the coming Super Bowl XLVII super-storm of tourist dollars began to filter into town.
Most streets downtown near convention center are already cordoned off. There are NFL banners blanketing the city. The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is bathed in soothing purple and gold lighting. And the city's service industry is girded for an influx of out-of-town money, even more so.
Reminds me of Houston's own Super Bowl experience oh so long ago.
Did I mention there is a blimp hovering over the city? Yeah. Did we have a blimp in 2004?
CBS has taken over Jackson Square, broadcasting steps away from Cafe Du Monde, and naturally Bourbon Street is already insane, even more so. And the majority of actual ticket-holding fans aren't even here yet.
The NFL apparatus was telling media on Monday not to photograph their credentials for social media use, with violators getting their creds taken up.
Tuesday morning the media of the world comes to the Superdome for media day with the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens to ask Colin Kaepernick dumb questions about his tattoos and to ask Ray Lewis what his favorite bible verse is.
The media HQ at the Morial Convention Center is a who's who of sports media. SiriusXM, ESPN, DirecTV, CBS Sports hold court in a giant ring near the back of the hall. It's very cold in the hall, maybe to make the northern souls feel at home.
On top of the Super Bowl domination, New Orleans is also in the midst of Carnival, the beginning of Mardi Gras, so the city won't feel anything close to a breather for two weeks.
As I made my way around the city on Monday night, I kept thinking about how it would have felt to have the Houston Texans here playing in the big game. How most of the Bayou City would have barreled down I-10 East with the intensity of a thousand suns and popped a squat in the Crescent City. Ah well, always next year. In New York.
This week quotes from an upcoming President Barack Obama interview in The New Republic were released, with the prez voicing concerns over the inherent violence and physical toll that goes hand in hand with the game of football, but he was mainly worried college players, who are still growing and developing.
''I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,'' Obama said, just before millions of middle-aged dads crushed beer cans onto their heads in disgust.
Obama's words were already fodder for the media on Sunday and Monday during player interviews, naturally, with players and coaches generally gaffing them off.
Then there was Ravens safety Bernard Pollard predicting that the NFL won't even exist as we know it in 30 years. Pollard himself laid out New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker in the Ravens' AFC Championship Game victory over the Pats with a vicious hit that scored him a $15K fine.
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(That means the Texans have three decades to snag that Lombardi thing. Your move Mr. McNair, I guess.)
The next six days in New Orleans will no doubt be an orgy of celebrity/athlete schmoozing, overpriced hotel rooms, corporate expense accounts burned beyond recognition, high security, and superbly gridlocked traffic.
Now aren't you glad it's five hours down the street from you?