The Ravens are virtually everywhere

Features: Digital sports fans have access to a blitz of information about Super Bowl-bound Baltimore.

Super Bowl Xxxv

Ravens Vs. Giants

January 22, 2001|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

There's oodles of hoopla surrounding the Ravens and their Super Bowl bid. And you don't have to miss any of it, no matter where you are, provided you're plugged in to a gadget - whether it be a computer, cell phone, pager or wireless PDA.

Want an instant analysis of the current drive and how many passes Trent Dilfer has completed? Want to hear what an assistant coach is telling ESPN on the sidelines? Or chat live with a player before and after the game? Then consider being a digital fan - between the Web, the wireless world, and a plethora of electronic devices, you'll never miss a thing.

"I may have to work on Sunday, and if I do I'm going to be watching my cell phone for the score," said Terry France, a 33-year-old sales representative and hardcore Giants fan who lives in New York City but plans to wed a Baltimorean.

"The old days of watching football seem almost prehistoric now. If I can get the day off, I'm going to be watching the Super Bowl on TV and regularly going to NFL.com to get a computerized assessment of the game. They've got all kinds of cool stuff on there, like the stats on the leading rusher and passer. It's good to have all that at your fingertips."

The Web alone will be offering a host of features for information-hungry Ravens fans. Starting today, the Ravens' official Web site at www.- ravenszone.net will offer live streaming video of player and coach interviews. You'll need to download plug-in software for your Web browser, called "Stream Genie" that officials hope will speed up the transmissions.

Larry Rosen, director of broadcasting, video and Internet services for the Ravens, said Stream Genie is bit of an experiment.

"We're trying; we're giving it a go to be able to stream all the way to the post-game celebration," Rosen said. "We're pushing the bounds of the envelope. What we want is to be able to provide content for not only casual Web users, but also the more sophisticated, more erudite user as well."

Under NFL rules, all streaming video windows must be closed during the game. But other features, such as player diaries and pre- and post-game activities, will be shown.

The Ravens Zone is also providing chat rooms all week for live, online conversations with selected players.

Since the beginning of the playoffs three weeks ago, the site's average hits per day have doubled, with more than 3 million hits last Monday, the day after the Raiders beat Oakland for the AFC championship, said Brett Dorman, the Ravens Zone coordinator.

Webcasts, increasingly popular phenomena on the Web that feature streaming live video of all sorts of things, will be all around the Super Bowl.

On www.earthcam.com, links will be available to watch Ravens or Giants fans cheering in bars, in the stadium or on the street. The Webcasts are also going to show live news conferences before and after the game.

SunSpot (www.sunspot.net), The Sun's Web site, will offer daily audio feeds and stories from Tampa and coverage on game day that's updated every five minutes. For nostalgia buffs, SunSpot has collected the original stories and photos from the old Baltimore Colts' championship years.

On Super Bowl Sunday, NFL.com is offering free alerts to fans with pagers, wireless phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) who can't watch the game on TV. The alerts will provide scoring updates but little else.

For those who want to follow the game more closely, the NFL Gameday Live section of NFL.com will have a live audio feed of the game and up-to-the minute summaries of all action, stats, and offensive drives.

On www.superbowl.com, you'll find information not only about the players, but also about the cheerleaders, under a link called "NFL for Her." You can even download clips of high-definition television broadcasts.

Getting Raymond James Stadium in Tampa wired for the wireless transmissions has been a challenge.

Verizon, which is handling communications for the NFL and 3,300 members of the news media and hospitality industry, reports that it has installed more than 1,600 voice lines, 50 high-speed Integrated services digital network (ISDN) lines and 36 video feeds.

"There is a huge difference between this year's game and Tampa's first Super Bowl in 1984 and even in 1991, when almost all of our extra capacity was for voice," said Jim Wolfe, Super Bowl project manager for Verizon.

"Today, we are transporting a staggering amount of data in addition to voice and video transmission."

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