Last Modified: Saturday, February 02, 2013 9:53 PM
NEW ORLEANS — A random sampling of the Super Bowl Eve chicanery in the French Quarter would suggest that the NFL has a big problem today for its little end-of-the-season gala.
The regular season and the playoffs, the coaching suspensions and player pestering, should have it down to the traditional two final teams still standing by the late afternoon kickoff.
This reportedly was decided two weeks ago when the Baltimores and the San Franciscos won the AFC and NFC titles.
They were both in full evidence Saturday afternoon on Bourbon Street and the surrounding environs.
Linebacker Patrick Willis seems to be the jersey of choice for the 49ers fans, by a narrow margin over new quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Ravens fans are trending toward quarterback Joe Flacco, with linebacker Ray Lewis a distant second.
But there are probably as many Saints jerseys as either one of them, mostly Drew Brees, of course. Even though many live here, I do not recall many Dolphins fans showing their colors when the Saints played the Super Bowl in Miami.
It also did not appear their day’s attire was a casual choice.
They seemed to be wearing the Saints garb defiantly, maybe just in case NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell should catch a glimpse of the promenade.
A few even took to Who-Datting the 49ers and Ravens fans. A Saints pep rally almost broke out on a corner of Jackson Square as befuddled visiting fans looked on and the cast of “Duck Dynasty” egged them on.
Maybe they expect to crash the party, Goodell be damned, and demand their rightful spot in the big game. Delicious idea.
Security is tight, however, and the actual Saints will probably be turned away for the coin toss, leaving the Ravens and 49ers to settle things without them.
And that’s the dilemma for the Who Dats, both here and throughout the state.
Who do you like in the game? Better yet, who do you pull for without a true rooting interest between the teams?
After all, you have to watch it — it’s the Super Bowl, and it’s not ALL about the commercials.
It’s not as simple as choosing between blue crabs and dungeness crabs.
You may have heard that this is, in fact, the Bro Bowl, as blood brothers Jim Harbaugh (49ers) and John Harbaugh (Ravens) will square off as the head coaches while their loving parents try not to notice.
Both seem decent enough sorts while putting up with the week’s 297 media opportunities. Perhaps John is a little more open and quotable, but not by enough to seal the deal.
There’s a bit of state angle.
The Ravens have future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed, who grew up in nearby St. Rose, but fled to Miami for college. The Niners have defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois, who grew up in Miami, but chose LSU for his college ball.
Call that one a wash.
There’s the sentimental, win-one-for-the-aging-star angle.
The 49ers have Randy Moss, never a very a cuddly story during his career. In his dotage, however, it does appear that the moody, bitter edge has softened some with maturity. He did cause a bit of a stir at the big media day when, after some thoughtful reflection, he declared himself to be the greatest wide receiver who ever lived. Not sure how that’s playing with the 49ers fans, many of whom were still wearing Jerry Rice’s No. 80 jersey on Saturday.
On the other side, there is Ray Lewis, who has done an admirable job of morphing his image from being under suspicion for an Atlanta murder to the league’s elder statesman and role model. But he seems to be trying just a little too hard to play the Jerome Bettis good-guy role in what will be his last game.
Not sure there’s much to choose from there.
For the fashion conscious, it’s really no contest.
The Niners have one of the NFL’s truly classic looks, just absolutely royal from head to toe. The Ravens were throwing paint at the canvas, facing tall odds aesthetically to begin with by mixing black and purple. The look does, however, convey the creepy feeling you’d expect from a team named after a dark Edgar Allen Poe rant.
But do you really want to base it on that?
No, my suggestion is to forget the players, forget the subplots and the Harbaugh family squabble, and just decide which city, which fans, you’d want to see happy and celebrating here.
New Orleans itself is more often compared to San Francisco, but mostly for the food.
The people, even the local loonies, I would suggest have more in common with Baltimore and its blue-collar persona.
At the risk of fan profiling, extensive research here does suggest that the 49ers are more of an aloof wine-and-cheese crowd, in stark contrast to the rambunctious beer-and-shot delegation from Baltimore.
They don’t really need to wearing those jerseys to tell them apart.
From talking to their fans, Baltimore seems blissfully content to be that city that everybody forgets about stuck between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. San Francisco expends an awful lot of wasted energy looking down its nose at Los Angeles.
The Ravens are getting funky in the Quarter; the 49ers are more like just taking it in.
The Ravens’ fans will appreciate the victory more.
As to who I think will actually win … well, at lunch Saturday in one of those courtyard restaurants, an enormous black bird alighted nearby, just squawking away — a raven, if you will.
That’s a good enough omen for me.
• • •Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org