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Super Bowl: Day 1

January 29, 2013

Today is what I call a “unicorn day”– a day so good that you can’t believe it even exists.  I feel like the luckiest girl on the planet that I’ve been given this opportunity and I am doing my best to make the most out of it.

My day began walking from my hotel to the convention center, which is housing the Super Bowl media center.  Luckily, my hotel is within walking distance to the media center.  However, even though I wore flats, my ankles were tore up by the time I got to the media center.  I think I’ll have to buy some backless shoes tomorrow.

At the media center, I picked up my credential.  I then boarded the bus to head to the Superdome for Super Bowl Media Day.  On the bus, I was sitting next to a guy who has been to 30 Super Bowls.  He was from Hawaii and always attends to send back video footage to the island.  He was pretty entertaining and asked me funny questions like what type of makeup I thought he should wear for his on-camera work.  I was one of only two women on the bus, so that was pretty interesting!

When we got off of the bus at the Superdome, we headed inside and had to go through a pretty long security process.  This is where being a woman came to my benefit, as I was put into a separate line and moved through quicker than all of the men!

By the time I finished with security, my ankle was bleeding because of my shoes.  A stadium employee, Warren, saw this and took me under his wing.  He has worked at the Superdome for ten years and took me to get a bunch of bandaids.  Once I got them on, I was good to go!

I then headed down to the field which was an amazing experience!  The media day was sponsored by Gatorade, so they had a bunch of Gatorade tubs set up throughout the field.  I grabbed one and went and drank it on the end zone.  It was a fun experience!

There were various media sets, including NFL Network and CBS, set up on the field.  It was fun watching them do their jobs.  However, the most entertaining journalist by far was ESPN Chris Berman.  Listening to him speak was just hilarious, as he is such a storyteller.  He was going on for nearly five minutes about how he has visited 40 states.  It was great.

At ten a.m., the 49ers took the field and the Ravens came on at 12:15.  Media day can basically be surmised as organized chaos.  Ten or so of the top players were at podiums and swarmed by the media.  Lesser known players then just roamed around the field and you would have to hunt down the ones you wanted to talk to.  It was easy to find some guys, and hard to find others.  I spent nearly 30 minutes looking for the Ravens’ Michael Oher, to no avail.

When it came to media day, the Ravens were much more energetic than the 49ers.  I don’t know if this is because theirs was later or because of personality differences.  Nonetheless, the Ravens were more jovial, were playing jokes on each other and were quicker to just approach media members.  However, my favorite interview was 49ers kicker David Akers.  He’s had a tough season, but we spent a lot of time talking about faith.  He told me about how he has used faith throughout his career–which has included being cut and forced to work at a restaurant–to persevere.  It was a wonderful story.

After media day was over, I hit the French Quarter for some amazing interviews.  The first was at Preservation Hall, which is one of the most famous jazz venues in the world.  There, I met with creative director Ben Jaffe, who is the son of Preservation Hall’s founders.  Ben is probably in his forties and has this big barrel of curly hair.  He rode up to the Hall on a bicycle, greeted me and the next thing I knew, we were sitting in the dim room featuring Quaker pews talking music.  It was such a cool experience. 

After I finished my interview with Ben, I had a phone interview with Ti Martin, the co-owner of the famous Commander’s Palace restaurant.  This woman is phenomenal.  She’s so articulate and proud of her city.  We laughed and shared stories and it’s safe to say that I hope to make this woman a friend.

Once my phone call with Ti was finished, I walked over to the Napoleon House.  This was the house that was restored for Napoleon to be his home in the “new world.”  There, I met with jazz trumpeter Leroy Jones.  Leroy played the role of “Little Louis Armstrong” in the halftime show during Super Bowl XI.  He also spent a decade touring with Harry Connick, Jr. and is a well-known jazz performer in New Orleans.  Leroy was a gem.  He was someone who was able to give me an oral history of jazz in New Orleans, while also laughing with me about which Super Bowl team better represented Democrats and which would be more Republican.

After leaving Leroy and the Napoleon House, I walked back to my hotel and wrote my first story of the week for Forbes.  Exhausted, all I wanted to do afterward was fall asleep.  However, i knew that there was more fun awaiting me.

Tonight was the Super Bowl Host Committee Media Party.  The party was held at Mardi Gras World, where many of the parade floats for Mardi Gras are made.  Walking into the party, a large marching band made an aisle for attendees to walk through, while performers on stilts worked their charm.  It was one of the coolest party entrances I’ve ever seen.

The party itself was amazing.  There were three stages for bands, and these jazz bands rocked the house!  There were 40 New Orleans restaurants present, serving up everything from grits to alligator bites.  The drinks were flowing and the space was lively as colorful floats could be seen in every corner.  It was a treat!

After staying at the party for an hour, I hopped in a cab to meet some friends at Emeril’s restaurant.  I have one word for this dining experience:  Amazing.  Emeril was actually in the kitchen putting his magic touch into the dishes.  I ate a delicious salmon and we all split four desserts.  It was one of the best meals of my life.

I’m having the time of my life.  I just wish my friends and family could be here with me to experience it.  I don’t know what I did to deserve this opportunity, but I am so grateful for it.

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