Monday, February 1, 2010

6:51 pm tonight, ESPN did it.

It is Super Bowl week. As my partner in crime, Jason Brown alluded to in the day's earlier post, it's time to crank up the hype machine.

Tonight, at 6:51 pm, ESPN's Sportscenter ran the first of what will likely be many stories of how important this particular Super Bowl is to the city of New Orleans.

Look, I get it, ok? I understand that Hurricane Katrina changed that city and its residents forever. I understand that New Orleans went through the most devastating natural disaster ever. We all saw the images from the news coverage. People stranded on rooftops. The markings on the buildings showing inhabitants, and the deceased. It was horrible. We saw the looting. The lawlessness.

We then saw New Orleans come back from all that. The first game played inside the refurbished Super Dome. The Saints beat Atlanta. It sent chills up my own spine. That game was bigger for New Orleans than what will transpire in Miami on Sunday night. This game isn't for the city now. This game is for the city's fans. The city has shown more fortitude, and guts than anyone could have imagined when the aftermath of Katrina was still unfolding.

We need to remember how the people of New Orleans survived, and overcame that back then. This Saints team, with all due respect to the good folks of New Orleans, is trying to win this game for the franchise. Yes, it's a celebration that will be like none other, should the Saints win, of course. I personally would love to be on Bourbon Street Sunday night after a Saints win. Still, this game isn't about Katrina. It's not about the rebuilding that has taken place. That was taken care of when the Dome reopened. I'm not trying to be cold here, but let's move on, folks.

Elsewhere in the world, Peppers Watch 2010 is back on, in full force. Julius Peppers' agent says he is convinced Peppers will play elsewhere next season, citing a communication gap between the Panthers and his client.

The only reason this is news, is because the agent broke the silence in the media. The Panthers never play the game in the press. N-E-V-E-R. Carl Carey saying things to the media at the Pro Bowl, and wrapping up his comments with a thank you to Peppers' supportive fans has an odor to it. A similar odor to 2009. Make comments to the media, hope the Panthers bite, player gets paid. Carey is trying to force the hand. Newsflash, the Panthers don't have to do anything until Feb 11. And they have 2 weeks in which to do something from then. All this is going to do, in my opinion, is make some folks unhappy about the situation. We'll watch this unfold, and given the uncertain nature of the 2010 season (capped or uncapped), it's anybody's guess how it will all play out.

Tar Heel fans, I may have more faith in your team than you. Thing is, you may be right. I am not a fan, but an observer, and I was stunned to see the Heels get smoked by Virginia on Sunday night. Admittedly, I didn't watch the game start to finish, but I was still stunned by what I saw. Carolina isn't playing it's best ball right now, and there is concern that their best may not be good enough to get them into the NCAA tournament. This is a young team, and they will get better. They may run out of time to get into the dance, though. Again, time will tell.

Went to Raleigh on Saturday and checked out the Carolina Hurricanes game as they hosted the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, I had a rooting interest, so I went as a fan. Wonderful hockey game, Hurricanes won 4-2. Chicago looked tired at the end of their 16 day road trip. Afterwards, I was able to catch up with members of the Hurricanes staff, players and coaches, plus I met several of the Blackhawk players as well. Only drawback to the evening was the drive through the Snowpocalypse.

Feels like I'm rambling, so I'll shut this one down. More during the week as we approach kickoff to the final NFL game of the playoffs.

Mike Solarte

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