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Diamondin the rough

Cities by the numbers

New Orleans

55: rank by population (336,644)

25: percentage of residents 25 and older who have a bachelor's degree or better

23: average amount of time in minutes it takes residents to get to work

67: percentage of residents who drive to work alone

9: percentage of residents 5 and older who speak a language other than English at home

$37,751: median household income (national median: $52,029).

$194,300: median home value of owner-occupied homes (national median: $197,600).

Indianapolis

14: rank by population (798,382)

28: percentage of residents 25 and older who have a bachelor's degree or better

23: average time in minutes it takes residents to get to work

82: percentage of residents who drive to work alone

10: percentage of residents 5 and older who speak a language other than English at home

$43,652: median household income (national median: $52,029).

$125,500: median home value of owner-occupied homes (national median: $197,600.)

U.S. Census Bureau

Tickets: If money is no object

$249,000 Billed as the ultimate VIP/rock star/pro athlete/CEO/celebrity trip, the package for 10 people includes airfare to Miami on a private jet (with hostess), limo service from the airport, three nights at a "4-5 star accommodation" in Miami or South Beach, tickets to the game between the 20-yard lines, pregame NFL tailgate party, VIP tickets to a "major party" Friday or Saturday night and a gift bag worth $300. Available through eBay.

Weather report

Miami, Super Bowl Sunday: high 75, low 60, mostly sunny (10 percent chance of rain)

Our kids rule

The United States beat the World 17-0 in a football exhibition Saturday in Fort Lauderdale. It was 45 high school seniors vs. 45 under-20 players from Canada (which provided 32), Sweden, Japan, American Samoa, France, Germany and Mexico.

Quote of the day

"The first time I went, I was single, so I gave them to whoever I wanted. The second time, I was married, so my wife gave them to everyone she wanted."

Giants TE Howard Cross, on requests for Super Bowl tickets, to Ross Tucker of SI.com

A savior who hangs with his fans

Saints fans look upon QB Drew Brees in savior terms. When New Orleans opened 13-0, he became "Breesus," as in rhymes with Jesus. And if some took offense, they weren't Saints fans.

Black and gold T-shirts appeared that read, "What Would Breesus Do?" "Breesus is My Homeboy" and "Sweet Breesus." Photoshopped photos appeared showing Brees walking on the Mississippi River in front of St. Louis Cathedral.

Brees also is a man of the people. Rather than live in isolation in some megamillion-dollar mansion in a gated community, he and his family live in New Orleans' Uptown, the city's oldest neighborhood, in a 120-year-old home that needed $50,000 worth of repairs after Hurricane Katrina. Brees walks his dog in the neighborhood. He talks with neighbors. And he shops and eats — but doesn't party — in the French Quarter.

Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel

Dress for success

Longtime New Orleans radio personality Buddy Diliberto promised to wear a dress if the Saints reached the Super Bowl. However, the very popular Diliberto died before seeing the Saints finally make it.

So Chris Diliberto will honor his father's promise today before the team heads to Miami. He was in Gulfport, Miss., on Tuesday night to pick out a dress.

Diliberto said the dress-wearing event is expected to be held between the Superdome and the French Quarter.

"It was something my dad wanted to do in 1994 just after (coach) Jim Mora quit," Diliberto said.

Buddy Diliberto, who died of a heart attack in 2005, was best known for campaigning to get Mike Ditka hired as coach and getting fans to wear paper bags over their head during the Saints' lean years.

Biloxi (Miss.) Sun Herald

eBay item of the day

INFLATABLE 5-FOOT BLOWUP FOOTBALL PLAYER (Colts or Saints) WITH SELF-INFLATING MOTOR. These lightweight units can be used at various indoor and outdoor activities. All units come equipped with an internal motor, tie-down straps, ground stakes and instruction booklet. Price: $109

First there was an e-mail to Mount Union football coach Larry Kehres.

It came from someone named Pierre Garcon, who said he was a receiver at Norwich College in Vermont. He said he had watched Mount Union in the Division III national championship game and wanted to transfer to the Alliance, Ohio, college.

The Purple Raiders' coaches checked into Garcon's background. They discovered he was from Palm Beach and attended Norwich because he lacked the standardized test scores to qualify for an athletic scholarship.

Vince Kehres, son of the coach and the team's defensive coordinator, said the first time he saw Garcon was in the gym.

"He had on a T-shirt and shorts and (had) real muscles in his legs," Kehres said. "He was a legit 6-1, 200 pounds. And when he ran, he was a natural. You could just tell he was something special. We don't get athletes like him. He's the kind of kid you see playing on TV for Ohio State."

Garcon became an instant star at Mount Union, setting records for career catches and touchdown receptions. He was drafted by the Colts in the sixth round in 2008.

Though rather quiet and unemotional off the field, the coaches discovered Garcon "plays in a bad mood," Vince Kehres said.

"I talked to some scouts, and I said I know that he sometimes has trouble with his temper," Kehres said. "But off the field, I had him babysit my 1-year-old son. He'd sit there watching TV, eating ham pizza. He was a great kid."

Terry Pluto, Cleveland Plain Dealer

Diamondin the rough 01/30/10 [Last modified: Sunday, January 31, 2010 5:06pm]

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