NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Around the Super Bowl and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of everything surrounding the game:
MODELL HOF DEBATE
One of the liveliest debates this weekend in New Orleans could be not about the Super Bowl itself, but on whether late Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell should be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of fame.
In Cleveland, many fans haven't forgiven Modell for deciding to relocate his Browns franchise to Baltimore 17 years ago. But his supporters contend he helped create America's most popular sport.
Modell will be considered for enshrinement along with coach Bill Parcells, former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr., single-season sacks leader Michael Strahan, offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, running back Jerome Bettis, wide receivers Cris Carter, Tim Brown and Andre Reed, defensive standouts Charles Haley and Kevin Greene, guard Will Shields and defensive back Aeneas Williams.
Also up for consideration, two senior nominees: defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson.
Voters will select between four and seven new members.
The Ravens' unexpected run to the championship game has been, in part, fueled by the team dedicating its season to Modell. Baltimore's players have worn patches with "Art" on their jerseys to honor Modell, who died on Sept. 6, just four days ahead of the opener.
— Tom Withers — http://twitter.com/twithersAP
BROTHERLY ADVICE: BOB BRYAN
Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh are hardly the only high-profile siblings who've squared off in their arena of expertise. The AP is asking some others who can relate how to handle going against a family member in the Super Bowl.
Tennis player Bob Bryan and twin brother Mike are the world's best doubles team, having won a record 13th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open last weekend. Their 20-2 record going into this weekend's Davis Cup matches against Brazil are the best of any U.S. doubles team in the 100-plus year history of the event.
When they were younger, however, the Bryans played singles and often found themselves facing each other in the finals of a tournament.
"We would flip a coin for the match," Bob Bryan said before he and Mike were to take the court in Jacksonville, Fla., for Davis Cup play against Brazil. "(Our parents) didn't want us to become rivals or be competitive against each other, which actually worked out great. We had all our trophies in the same trophy case and shared victories together.
"With both sons in the final (our parents) could sit back, get some lemonade and enjoy the match. There was no pressure on them because the family had pretty much taken home all the hardware," he added. "I saw an interview with the Harbaughs' parents and got the same sense. You could see there was no pressure or stress on their face. They felt like they've already won."
But Bob Bryan said he wouldn't want to be in John or Jim Harbaugh's spot this weekend. When he and his brother played each other, it was impossible to muster the cutthroat attitude athletes need.
"You don't have that killer instinct against that family member," he said.
In fact, playing WITH his brother has made their success that much more rewarding.
"Really, the reason we pulled the plug on singles so early is because we didn't get nearly the same amount of joy from winning," Bob Bryan said. "Now, when we're winning tournaments, we get to talk about it together forever. For the rest of our lives."
— Nancy Armour — http://www.twitter.com/nrarmour
QUICKQUOTE: CEE LO GREEN
Cee Lo Green explains why it seems there's more entertainment at this year's Super Bowl than others in recent history:
"The Super Bowl has become such a big event in itself. So many people come from everywhere, looking to not only be a part of the Super Bowl but also the festivities leading up to the game. There's so much to do from parties, concerts and events like our ESPN event where Goodie will be performing. It's so much to do."
TALE OF 2 CITIES
In some ways, New Orleans has gotten better since Hurricane Katrina. The restaurant scene, for instance.
But drive just a few miles outside the French Quarter and a different picture emerges.
This is definitely a tale of two cities.
Some parts of the Big Easy, such as the Ninth Ward and Treme, don't look a whole lot different than they did the day after Katrina came ashore — more than seven years ago. On a ride-along with three advocates for the homeless group Unity of Greater New Orleans, it didn't take long to realize just how much is left to do in this unique American city.
There are still thousands of abandoned homes and buildings — more than 10,000, according to some counts, maybe as many as 15,000. Many of the houses are still adorned with the spray-painted "X'' that became a symbol of the devastation during those awful days back in 2005, when it was used by searchers to let everyone know the structure had been checked and how many bodies could be found inside.
Christopher Weaver barely escaped the floodwaters after the levee just a block away from his house in the Lower Ninth Ward came crashing down. He's returned to a rebuilt home, but most of his neighborhood is marked by vacant, overgrown lots or abandoned homes that still bear the scars of Katrina.
With the Super Bowl blimp flying off in the distance, Weaver was asked what life is like for people like him.
He shook his head and looked at the abandoned lots across the street, obscured by weeds that are taller than he is.
"You can see it for yourself," Weaver said. "It sucks."
— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963
STAT OF THE DAY: $100M COIN TOSS
The stat of the day today is about gambling on a simple question: Heads or tails? Bettors worldwide are expected to wager $100 million on that coin toss outcome at the Super Bowl.
That's according to gambling expert R.J. Bell of Pregame.com, which tracks betting trends in casinos in Nevada and elsewhere.
Bell says in the past 46 Super Bowls, the coin has fallen heads 23 times and tails 23 times. But the NFC has won 14 of the past 15 Super Bowl tosses.
Suckers might think that means the Ravens are due for the AFC, but Baltimore's chances of winning the toss this time: Still 50 percent.
— Oskar Garcia — http://twitter.com/oskargarcia
TROUT CRASHES SUPER BOWL ADS
A rising baseball star is crashing the Super Bowl with his first major national commercial.
Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels, last year's American League rookie of the year and runner-up for the league's MVP, will be featured in a new ad for Subway, along with Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin, Justin Tuck of the New York Giants, Olympic speedskater Apolo Anton Ohno, and boxer Laila Ali, among others.
The ad marks Jared Fogle's 15-year anniversary of losing 245 pounds by eating Subway.
Trout says being part of a Super Bowl ad is "an incredible feeling."
The endorsement is a natural for Trout, who grew up eating the restaurant chain's sandwiches (His favorite: chicken teriyaki with hot peppers and oregano)
Since his favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, isn't playing, Trout says he enjoys checking out the commercials.
"Some get pretty creative, some of them get a laugh, some prove a point," he said. "I'm sure I'll be getting a lot of text messages during the Super Bowl just to mess with me a little bit."
As for the game, Trout says he thinks San Francisco to win even though he wants Baltimore to prevail.
"I've got a lot of 49ers fans on the Angels, and I know I'll hear it when I get to the spring," he said.
Pitchers and catchers report this month, and soon Trout will be playing alongside slugger Josh Hamilton. Trout said he texted the former Rangers superstar to welcome him to the Angels.
"The next thing he said to me was, 'Get your legs loose.' I was pretty excited. It will be pretty fun."
— Beth Harris — http://twitter.com/bethharrisap
STATE OF THE NFL
Player safety, the New Orleans Saints bounty program, cold-weather Super Bowls, even his popularity among New Orleans restaurant owners — NFL commissioner Roger Goodell touched on a wide range of topics Friday during the annual "State of the NFL." Among the highlights:
Goodell defended the league, which has come under increasing scrutiny following new studies about the long-term effects of concussions as well as recent suicides by former NFL players. President Barack Obama recently said if he had a son, he's not sure he'd let him play football. And the NFL is being sued by thousands of former players.
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