Co-Host of WWL's "SportsTalk with Bobby Hebert & Deke Bellavia," Weekdays 4-8PM
Deke: A lot of love given to Louisiana in Indy
by Deke Bellavia,posted Feb 1 2012 3:09AM
Assumption, Vacherie, Baton Rouge, New Orleans…Yes, when it comes to the Super Bowl, there is a lot of Louisiana flavor up here in Indianapolis, Indiana. From former Assumption Mustangs and St. James Wildcats to Carver Rams and Purple Knights, Super Bowl XLVI has a nice “Bayou Feel” to it.
Before the Most Anticipated Game On The Planet comes the most-followed media session in sports: Media Day was Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, and our WWL crew had a chance to mix it up with some of the biggest names in football.
From the time we left the media center at the J.W. Marriot to when we were patted down entering the stadium, there was a good vibe about this media session. The Cajun Cannon was representing the Who Dat Nation with his favorite “I’m a proud Citizen of the Who Dat Nation” T-Shirt on, and Kristian was locked and loaded with fresh batteries, plenty of space on his recorder and his handy camera to give our folks back home a taste of what media day is like at the Super Bowl.
Good news is that now a certain number of fans can actually attend media day and also interact with what is going on down on the field. Fans will be able to have the same opportunity next year when the Super Bowl comes back home to New Orleans.
The big names were all there down on the field…I’m talking the likes of Peter King, Chris Berman, Deion, Marshal-Marshal-Marshal, the Playmaker, Warren Sapp, Kurt Warner…Just a few of many who were at Lucas Oil Stadium at Media Day.
There were several booths down on the field that had select players addressing the media and they also had several more players and coaches available in the back end zone as reporters could interview whom they wanted to interview. Bobby and I got a quick word from former Super Bowl-winning Coach Brian Billick. We talked with him about some of the issues he had to deal with the year the Ravens soundly defeated the Giants when he won the title.
Of course the Cannon asked Coach Billick about the Saints’ recent hire of Coach Spagnuola and what he thinks the Saints need to do in order to get back to the Super Bowl next year. Then we moved over to catch a word from former LSU Tiger and Carencro Bear Kevin Faulk.
Faulk is without question one of the greatest Patriots of all time, and with a win over the G-Men Sunday he will have his fourth Super Bowl Ring! After that quick stint Bobby, Kristian and I walked up in the stands to get a word from former Ole Miss Rebel and Purple Knight Benjarivs Green-Ellis.
Ellis is now dubbed the “Law Firm,” after he picked up that nick-name due to his sure hands and his ability to carry the ball in tight quarters without spilling the rock on the turf. Benjarvis gave kudos to his former coach at Ole Miss, Frank Wilson, and also said hello to his family and friends back home in New Orleans.
We also had a chance to chat with former Saints defensive lineman Rob Ninkovich. Who Dats will remember Ninkovich as one of the unknown rookies from 2006 that made a quick impression under then-first year head coach Sean Payton.
“That was the hardest training camp I have ever been a part of,” Ninkovich said of his first year in the league. The Saints held their first training camp under Coach Payton at Millsaps in Jackson with high temps and hard hits as the theme of that camp.
Since then Ninkovich has bounced around the league and now has a chance to win a title. “I look back at the chance I had with the Saints and I know that what I did then has helped me get to where I am now in starting in the Super Bowl with the Patriots,” he told us. Ninkovich informed Bobby and me that he’s coming back to New Orleans this summer to get married.
After the Pats media session was done we had a chance to grab a bite to eat and then it was the heavyweights time to shine. The NFL Network made their top flight analyst available. There were five big round tables where members of the media could interact with some of the best to ever play the game.
Warren Sapp, Coach Steve Maruichi, Deion Sanders, Marshall Faulk and Michael Irvin were all there. And, they were all entertaining, to say the least. Marshall was all smiles in talking about the Super Bowl coming back to his home town of New Orleans next season for a record-tying tenth time.
Then Bobby’s former teammate Deion “Prime Time” Sanders was next up on our list of visits. Yes, these two former “Dirty Birds” reminisced about their playing days in the ATL and the time they shared together.
“This guy is great,” Deion said of Bobby. “He was a great teammate and a good player. We had one of the craziest and wildest locker rooms ever,” Sanders said. Then perhaps the highlight of the day was a brief stop to see the man simply called the Playmaker.
Hall of famer Michael Irvin has never been short on words, but for members of the Who Dat Nation that did not already know, Michael loves New Orleans. A few years ago when Michael was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he talked about how special it was when the Saints got back home and re-opened the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina.
Irvin actually shed a few tears during that speech, and when I asked him about the Super Bowl returning to New Orleans simply put Irvin went off. “I am so happy for the city of New Orleans. Those folks have been through so much and they deserve it.”
Irvin preceded his thoughts on the Super Bowl retuning to New Orleans with a spirited talk about how upset he was with the national media after the Saints beat the Minnesota Vikings to advance to their first ever Super Bowl.
“The Saints had just won the NFC Title Game, they were going to the Super Bowl, and all I heard was the media talking about Brett Favre throwing an interception, and we spent a whole damn week talking about how the rules should be changed…And I was so pissed that we were robbing the people of New Orleans of something that meant everything to them. And you mean to tell me we were talking about Brett Favre? I was so upset with that,” Irvin said.
So all in all, the Louisiana flavor and the love shown and given to the Big Easy was very prevalent at this year’s Super Bowl Media Day… I can only imagine how good it’s going to feel to have the entire world focusing in on New Orleans again next year when the Super Bowl comes to town.