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Gary Shelton: Expect weird at a New Orleans Super Bowl

Among New Orleans’ Super Bowl weirdness: A defensive tackle (Chicago’s William “Refrigerator” Perry) scores on offense.

Getty Images (1986)

Among New Orleans’ Super Bowl weirdness: A defensive tackle (Chicago’s William “Refrigerator” Perry) scores on offense.


Someone will howl at the moon.

Someone will attempt to drink their way through Bourbon Street.

Someone will slip into the wrong bar at the wrong time with the wrong purpose in mind.

The city that leads the league in tomfoolery is finally hosting another Super Bowl.

Prediction: weird.

Here in the Big Easy, the home of voodoo shops and party beads, of street dancers and fortune tellers, why would you expect anything else?

Take Sunday afternoon in the moments following the first parade of the week. A man stands on top of a light blue float — the word "Hollywood" is on the side — and he smiles at the passers-by, then reaches down … and starts to dump garbage into the street. Armful after armful. And by the way, welcome to town.

What would you expect. As far as the Super Bowl goes, New Orleans is the home of strange happenings. You might remember Miami for the performance of quarterbacks — Joe Namath's guarantee, Joe Montana's comeback. You might remember Tampa Bay for its close games — Pittsburgh vs. Arizona, New York vs. Buffalo.

New Orleans?

Someone is going to turn loony. Just you watch.

This is the home of loony, remember?

This is the place where Jim McMahon once dropped his trousers and mooned a helicopter.

This is where commissioner Pete Rozelle — his smile so fixed, his face must have ached for days — gave the Lombardi Trophy to Raiders owner Al Davis. Charming rogue, my eye.

This is where Dallas running back Duane Thomas sat through a media session without speaking. Finally, he asked the time. Newspapers everywhere led their sections the following day with "11 a.m."

And so on.

Once, New Orleans was the natural home of the Super Bowl. Los Angeles can swallow up an event like this, and Jacksonville was overwhelmed by the size. No one seemed sure of why it ever went to Detroit.

In New Orleans, however, the gathering place of the French Quarter is perfect for the Super Bowl. Fans mill about, fans drink, fans shout. You can feel the presence of a big game here.

This is where a Washington television reporter reported that three unnamed quarterbacks had tested positive for drugs and had gone unpunished by the league.

This is where the FBI came to investigate if Len Dawson was involved in a gambling ring … until President Richard Nixon said there was nothing to it.

This was where Raiders defensive end John Matuszak left his hotel room and didn't return until 3 a.m. He was fined $1,000, but those who saw him wobbling through the French Quarter felt he got off cheap.

Dolphins coach Don Shula once brought his team to New Orleans for a Super Bowl, which pleased a great many people in Miami. It did not please Shula's predecessor, George Wilson, who growled that "Joe Doakes could have taken this team to the Super Bowl."

The next day, Shula showed up for his interviews. "Hi there," he said. "I'm Joe Doakes."

This is the city where Chiefs coach Hank Stram was mic'd on the sideline, which meant he would cackle "ah-hah" for all eternity.

This is where players Lance Rentzel and Fred Dryer showed up as reporters. Rentzel was "Scoops Branigan." Dryer was "Cubby O'Switzer." Bud Grant played the role of the Minnesota coach who had no idea they were joking around with their questions.

This was where Terry Bradshaw, already in broadcasting, suggested it was time the Broncos stopped "babying" John Elway.

And so on.

Nicknames don't fare particularly well in New Orleans. The Purple People Eaters starved here. The No-Name Defense was forgettable. The Orange Crush was crushed. The Greatest Show on Turf fizzled.

One of the oddest things about the Super Bowl, however, is how it seems to have lost its love of New Orleans. Five of the first 15 Super Bowls were played here, and seven of the first 20. Since 1990, however, only two Super Bowls have been played here. It has been 11 years since the Super Bowl last was played here.

This time? You can already envision the T-shirts about Roger Goodell, whose role in the Saints' bountygate has left him less than popular. Who knows what Terrell Suggs of the Ravens will say? Who knows what Michael Crabtree of the 49ers might do? This city seems to bring out the outlandish in everyone.

This was where William Perry scored for the Bears but where Walter Payton did not.

This was where Bill Belichick chided his former boss Bill Parcells for looking around for a new job (with the Jets) during Super Bowl week. The Patriots lost to the Packers.

This was where Tom Brady established his legacy, leading the 14-point underdog Pats to a victory over the Rams.

So what happens now?

Oddness, that's what. Can you wait to see it?

Listen to Gary Shelton weekdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on 98.7-FM the Fan.

Gary Shelton: Expect weird at a New Orleans Super Bowl 01/27/13 [Last modified: Sunday, January 27, 2013 10:52pm]
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