This also is where hundreds of columnists looking for an easy day on account of a tee time lament the media excess and circus atmosphere of Media Day, unbothered by the irony that they are contributing to that excess by writing about it.
5. Kaepernick/Flacco: It is mandatory a Super Bowls quarterbacks be the focus of the perspective-laden piece placing each man in an historical context, a formula challenging this time because neither one has been in a Super Bowl before. (Or, as we in the media love to write and say: On this stage before.)
The peg for Raven Joe Flacco: Is he elite? This will be the game that anoints or denies him. Unless perhaps the Ravens win even though Joe had a really crappy game, in which case a reevaluation of the word elite might be necessary.
The peg for San Franciscos Colin Kaepernick: The Breath of Fresh Air. Nine games ago, this guy was most known for his tattoos, but now hes a pass/run wunderkind. Watch an enterprising columnist visit a New Orleans tattoo parlor (say, Tats R Us) to discuss Kaepernicks body art with an eclectic local ink god only to discover that 14 other enterprising columnists are there doing the same thing.
6. Football vs. real life: This is the staple annual theme piece for the beyond-sports, big-picture journalist (thinking Mitch Albom, or perhaps Jeremy Schaap) who delights to juxtapose the extravagance and partying that surround a Super Bowl with the poverty being endured by real folks just blocks away.
Any host city offers this contrast, dare say New Orleans more than most. This is where the serious writer notes that champagne, lobster and shrimp the size of kittens are being served at the Commissioners Party while, six blocks away, a family of 11 displaced by Hurricane Katrina lives in squalor battling over a can of tuna. (If the actual conditions are not quite squalor, well, this is why God invented embellishment!)
7. O.J. Brigance: Most of the tear-jerk stories will center on Lewis farewell and on the Har-Bros, but here is the real deal. Brigance, 43, is a former Ravens linebacker who now works in the clubs front office. He suffers from ALS (Lou Gehrigs Disease), is wheelchair-bound and speaks through a computerized voice. Lewis calls him his and the teams biggest inspiration.
Bonus: Brigance played four seasons for the Dolphins (1996-99), so he qualifies to fill the coveted Hometown Angle role for South Florida reporters trying to localize the Super Bowl for their readers.
8. The other Canes: Heres another Hometown Angle for the Miami guys to plumb. Stock premise: Ray Lewis is getting all the attention, but Baltimore safety Ed Reed and tackle Bryant McKinnie are other prominent ex-Miami Hurricanes for the Ravens, along with injured running back Damien Berry and receiver Tommy Streeter. For the 49ers, running back Frank Gore is a major player, and linebacker Tavares Gooden is a reserve. Oh, and of course Ted Ginn Jr., former Dolphins No. 1 draft pick, is a return guy for the Niners, so well be looking for local reporters to invite a gloating Ginn to complain how he never got a fair shot here.
9. Randy Moss: A thousand stories and sound bites all will portray the Niners backup receiver and once-controversial figure as the forgotten superstar of this Super Bowl. Even though he obviously isnt forgotten at all if so many people are writing and talking about him.
10. Local flavor: These is where media folks sent to New Orleans on the company dime justify the expenditure and prove to their bosses they arent covering the game from their hotel bar by venturing into the city and filing descriptive color pieces. These would include the aromatic Cajun cuisine of Bourbon Street, the buoyant brass of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, casual use of the words gris-gris or hoodoo, and (almost certainly) a requisite tarot-card reading.
A journalists research would likely also include three or four Hurricane cocktails at Pat OBriens, a fact that would be omitted from ones color piece but be deftly hidden on ones expense report.
That last thing is pure speculation, of course. Im not speaking from experience or anything.