Super Bowl buildup full of nonsense for Ravens, 49ers


January 30, 2013|Kevin Cowherd

You're a Ravens fan and right now you're thinking: what in the world is going on in New Orleans?

Has everyone down there lost their minds?

Deer antler spray?

Endless HarBowl hype with memories of John and Jim Harbaugh practically dating back to the womb?

Beyonce holding a news conference Thursday to talk about whether she lip-synched the national anthem at the presidential inauguration?

Is anybody even talking about the big game Sunday?

Actually, at times, it seems as if Super Bowl XLVII between the Ravens and San Francisco 49ers is almost an afterthought. And the Ravens haven't exactly been shy about yakking it up on non-game topics, either.

Ray Lewis, for one, keeps having to interrupt his "last ride" reverie to deny using — of all things — deer antler spray, which apparently contains a substance (IGF-1) banned by most major sports, probably because it sounds so ludicrous.

Bernard Pollard keeps insisting the NFL will be dead in 30 years if they keep making it a wuss league with all these rules changes where you can't even take a guy's head off anymore without drawing a flag.

And Joe Flacco, who's normally about as chatty as the repo man who's come to tow your car, has weighed in — sometimes with a poor choice of words — on everything from cold-weather Super Bowl sites to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to Art Modell getting into the Hall of Fame.

Hoo, boy. And it's only Thursday.

The thing is, it's not just the Ravens yakking about everything under the sun in the Big Easy.

How about the 49ers' Randy Moss saying he's the greatest receiver in NFL history? Better than Jerry Rice, better than Terrell Owens, better than Cris Carter, better than Michael Irvin. Better even than God, although Moss wasn't directly asked about that.

The Niners have also had to answer questions about their former teammate, defensive tackle Kwame Harris, who was charged with assaulting his ex-boyfriend after a riff that started with the boyfriend — stay with me here — pouring soy sauce on a plate of rice.

Sure, that's just the kind of thing you want to be addressing as an NFL player when your dream finally comes true and you reach the league's biggest stage.

Yet so much of it is just standard Super Bowl craziness, which breaks out every year at this time no matter which two teams are playing.

The fact is, it's often hard for players not to say anything stupid or controversial during Super Bowl Week.

Oh, they go there with the best of intentions. They go there fully briefed on the media hordes awaiting them and the need not to embarrass their team with dopey statements.

But then they get caught up in the circus atmosphere. Everywhere they go, a TV camera is winking on and someone's sticking a microphone in their face.

With so many opportunities to screw up and say something dumb, some players invariably do.

Maybe what's most shocking to Ravens fans this week are all the haters coming out to bash Ray Lewis.

But this was bound to happen. While he's revered here in Baltimore, NFL fans in the rest of the country tend to take a more jaundiced view of the future Hall of Famer — even in the midst of this emotional "last ride."

Sure, most Ravens fans see No. 52 as the heart and soul of the Ravens, a passionate, spiritual man who gave his all to his team, loves the city and gives tirelessly to the community.

But outside of Baltimore, while his greatness as a player is acknowledged, Lewis is often perceived as an overly theatrical phony. And some still think he got off easy after two men were killed in Atlanta following the Super Bowl 13 years ago.

Think I exaggerate about the level of vitriol directed at Ray-Ray?

Here's a snippet from a recent piece on Lewis by Gary Myers, the veteran football columnist for the New York Daily News:

"He has become a shameless self-promoter, preaching worldly philosophy that nobody other than his teammates, whom he wants to believe hang on his every word, really cares even a little about. Throw in the face paint, crying more than Dick Vermeil and the overhyped squirrel dance, and the man perceived to be one of the great leaders in the NFL spends an awful lot of time cultivating his own image."


So Lewis has taken his shots in the media this week, and this business about the antler spray hasn't made things any easier for him.

But the good news for the Ravens is that the week is finally drawing to a close. Pretty soon they'll be through answering questions and out of the madness. And by 6:30 or so Sunday evening, the only thing that will really matter is the game.


Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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