The Ravens are scheduled to land here this afternoon. By watching the footage of the San Francisco 49ers’ arrival last night and then by attending their news conferences, I was a little surprised how nonchalant and business-like they were. It fits coach Jim Harbaugh’s desire to treat this like a normal work week. I don’t see that as a good or bad thing, mind you. I was just a little surprised that you didn’t see players walking off the plane in fancy suits with video cameras pressed to their faces. Judging by the pictures the Ravens’ players have already posted on their Twitter feeds, I think you’ll see them revel in the moment a little more.
Speaking of surprises, Jim Harbaugh was asked about coaching against his brother only once in a near 20-minute news conference. Hopefully, that’s a sign of things to come the rest of the week but I doubt it. It’s a great story, but it should be only one of many this week.
I’m not much into any of the lame “guarantees” and the pre-game trash talk. It is overblown and it means nothing come game-time. It’s the Super Bowl after all and if anybody needs more motivation than that, they are probably in the wrong business. However, I wonder if linebacker Dannell Ellerbe’s comments on Twitter this afternoon while heading to the pep rally in the Inner Harbor will be cast by the media as the first verbal volley of Super Bowl week. Ellerbe tweeted: “Bout to pull up to the "send off"!!! Next time I'm back in Baltimore I will be a WORLD CHAMP!!! Crazy ain't it???” Again, seems pretty harmless to me but not sure the thousands of media members here, all of whom are looking for a little good-natured talk to liven up the coverage, will agree.
Speaking of talk, the Ravens’ full-team media day will be tomorrow at the Superdome. My colleague, Matt Vensel, is well ahead of me on this, having already documented the potential media-day darlings. Obviously, Ray Lewis, Ray Rice and Joe Flacco will probably get the most attention among reporters, but I’d be surprised if any of them make dramatic headlines with what they say. My guess is hard-hitting and tough-talking safety Bernard Pollard will have plenty of reporters captivated. The Baltimore media is used to it because we hear from Pollard nearly every day, but his intensity is unparalleled. Everything he does, from brushing his teeth in front of his locker to answering the most routine of questions, he does it with great intensity and aggression. It’s pretty impressive and amusing at the same time.
Ellerbe’s health, by the way, should be one of the bigger storylines over the next couple of days. I fully expect him to play, but the Ravens need him close to full strength. The big worry on the Ravens’ end has to be whether their defense can match the speed of Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers. Ellerbe is the Ravens’ fastest linebacker and a difference maker. They need him on the field.
Consider this a service for those Ravens fans coming down to New Orleans later this week, not an attempt to rub it in to all the Marylanders who are dealing with frigid conditions today. The weather here is in the low 70s and that’s pretty much how it’s supposed to stay all week. The game will obviously be played in a dome so that won’t matter, but the Ravens are practicing this week at Tulane University. Practices are not open to the media.
Aside from the weather, people are already raving about how great the logistics are with this Super Bowl. Everything is so close together, the two teams are staying downtown a couple of blocks apart. But with that comes some potential issues, too. The 49ers are staying about two blocks from Bourbon Street. The Ravens are less than a 10-minute walk from Bourbon Street so temptations and distractions loom for both teams. John Harbaugh has already talked to the team about curfews and avoiding any problems. It’s now up to the players to show their maturity and focus.
Because many of you have asked, individual units – either the offense or defense – are not introduced before the Super Bowl. Full teams are introduced. That means unless the Ravens concoct something where Lewis dances out of the tunnel either first or last – which I guess is completely possible – you won’t be seeing “The Squirrel” come Sunday.