In mighty Jacksonville, expect smooth sailing in finding a hotel

February 01, 2005|By PETER SCHMUCK

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - They call this the Bold New City of the South, which is a nice way of saying that all the good nicknames were already taken, but you've got to give the people of Jacksonville credit for ingenuity.

They were able to convince the NFL that they could handle the huge influx of Super Bowl tourists by bringing in cruise ships to provide thousands of overflow hotel rooms. The limbo contests are just a bonus.

It's a brilliant plan for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it makes me start humming the Love Boat theme every time I look out at the St. Johns River from my cushy, land-based hotel room.

The Love Boat soon will be making another run. ... The Love Boat promises something for everyone.

Cruise ships are just floating hotels anyway, with one important difference. When all those rich people realize they're in Jacksonville, they can just call up to the bridge and tell the guy dressed like Gavin MacLeod to "Get us out of here!"

(There are worse things than watching the game on satellite television in Aruba - though there's always the slight risk of the ship being broadsided by an overweight Orioles pitcher on a Waverunner.)

I also think the cruise ship idea is perfect for the thousands of Eagles fans who are headed here without tickets. I've long advocated putting them on giant barges and sending them out to sea, but this is the next-best thing - especially because the Exxon Valdez wasn't available.

That just gave me a great idea for a discount Orioles cruise. The ship could just pull up in Jacksonville late at night and have Elrod Hendricks buy umbrella drinks for the Oriole Advocates until they're convinced they're in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

So, you don't think Jacksonville is a little touchy about the national perception that a second-tier city is hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world? Think again.

This was the headline over the lead column in yesterday's Super Bowl section of The Florida Times-Union:

"Take your best shot, then stop whining."

Columnist Mike Freeman went on to bash some of the more prominent Jacksonville bashers and give a glowing testimonial to the town that is home to the NFL Jaguars and a couple of the best golf courses in the country. I'll concede it is a nice place with a lot of nice people, but it really isn't the perfect location for an event of this magnitude.

There was a lot made of the fact that the Patriots arrived in town Sunday looking like a bunch of businessmen with their suits and briefcases, while many of the Eagles got off the plane carrying camcorders to record their first Super Bowl experiences.

It led to the obvious impression that the Eagles are wide-eyed newcomers at the Super Bowl, but quarterback Donovan McNabb playfully bristled at that characterization yesterday.

"Just because we have camcorders doesn't mean that we are caught up in it," he said. "This is footage. This is something we can show our grandkids. This is one we can show our kids when they get older."

I totally understand. When it takes four tries to get here, you can't fault the Eagles for wanting to go home with some proof.

The Hass Avocado Board has been distributing a flier that says Americans will consume 43.8 million pounds of avocados on Super Bowl Sunday. The California-based avocado advocacy group asserts that would produce enough guacamole to fill the bowl at Alltel Stadium to a level of 10.5 feet.

To quote the great philosopher Homer Simpson: "Sounds like a wager to me."

Eagles safety Brian Dawkins on the keys to stopping Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:

"We have to be patient, we have to move around, we have to disguise, we have to get pressure," Dawkins said.

Sounds logical, considering the alternative would be to be impatient, stand still, dress normally and not get any pressure.

Signs of the impending apocalypse: Detroit will host the next baseball All-Star Game and the next Super Bowl.

Final thought: If you're driving to the game, just take I-95 for about 16 hours and you'll drive right into Jacksonville. Patriots fans should have no trouble finding it, but there have been reports of Eagles caravans getting lost looking for liquor stores in South Carolina and Georgia.

PETER SCHMUCK'S

SUPER BOWL ...

THUMBS - UP

Terrell Owens got through a restricted practice yesterday on the ankle that has sidelined him since December. Today, he will try to get through the big Super Bowl media day without suffering further injury by putting that foot in his mouth.

... OR SUPER BORE?

THUMBS - DOWN

Could have sworn that they put the Super Bowl in Jacksonville because it is a warm-weather city, but temperatures have been in the 40s and 50s the past couple of days. The cashier at the hotel gift shop kind of summed it up yesterday: "This ain't Miami."

(Peter Schmuck's Super Bowl ... Or Super Bore? article appeared in hard copy on page 3E)

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