Greg Cote: Lavish welcome for Super Bowl’s biggest stars — the Roman numerals

Super Bowl With a Smirk marvels that sports now keep statistics and records for everything, even for stuff you never imagined, and the NFL is becoming as bad as baseball. For example, we’re only in the middle of it. but this Super Bowl Week already has shattered the old record in the category: Most References, Deer Antler Extract.

Now on to our regularly scheduled offering:

Maybe it was 9/11, or the struggling economy, or natural disasters like hurricanes and floods, but the NFL has made a concerted effort to reduce the over-the-top, bombastic extravagance, cost and excess associated with its Super Bowls.

I never said that concerted effort succeeded.

The latest evidence to the contrary is to arrive by barge Thursday evening on the Mississippi River, set to music, a light show and a rain of exploding fireworks.

And what arrival is receiving such fanfare?

The arrival of the Roman numerals!

The five letters in the Super Bowl XLVII logo stand 30 feet high and more than 100 feet wide and will be received with the royal welcome so richly deserved as thousands cheer the barge’s arrival. A police escort will then shepherd the famed numerals to their home in New Orleans’ Woldenberg Park, where the league’s regal icon will be defaced overnight by graffiti. (OK I made up that last part but not the rest of it).

No word yet whether the arrival of the Roman numerals will be simulcast live in Rome.

• Thursday is a big day for news conferences at the media center, led by Beyonce’s appearance at the event promoting the halftime show. The room is expected to be packed with media, mostly leering men texting each other wardrobe malfunction jokes. Later will be the NFL Health & Safety event, which reporters annually vote as the Super Bowl news conference most conducive to a quick nap.

• The NFL’s Counterfeit Super Bowl Merchandise and Tickets Press Conference also is scheduled for Thursday. Officials are expected to warn the public to avoid buying Super Bowl tickets that seem exceptionally small and are imprinted with the words ”Muvico” and “Django Unchained.”

• Is it his smile? Those piercing eyes? A survey by, an online dating service, found that an overwhelming 82 percent of respondents think the Ravens’ John Harbaugh is the sexier of the coaching brothers. In an unrelated story, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, crestfallen, missed Wednesday’s team practice and spent the day locked in his hotel room sobbing into the bathroom mirror.

• The city of San Francisco has a hippie/New Age funk to it, and host city New Orleans is renowned for its voodoo and mystics, so this was inevitable: The S.F. Chronicle asking Berkeley astrologer Andrea Mallis about the game. She favors the 49ers based on the astrological charts of the two coaches and QBs. Of Colin Kaepernick: “Scorpios are intent,” she said. “One of the most potent signs of the zodiac.” So there.

• The Vince Lombardi Trophy given to the Super Bowl winner is 7 pounds of sterling silver produced for Tiffany in Parsippany, N.J., and valued at $3,500. Says Tiffany executive Tom O’Rourke: “It’s made by local craftspeople employing skills from the 1800s.” Smirk finds it impressive that the folks making the trophy are that old.

• Big brother is watching, and I don’t mean sexy John Harbaugh. hidden cameras are broadcasting scenes from all over New Orleans this week. Some of it seems a bit intrusive. I thought I just saw grainy footage of Ray Lewis in his hotel room snapping the antlers off a deer. But I might have been mistaken.

• The NFL on Wednesday announced its seven-man Super Bowl officiating crew led by referee Jerome Boger, and nobody much cared.

• The National Chicken Council reports Americans will eat 1.23 billion chicken wings on Sunday. That is astonishing. I don’t mean that number. I mean that there is a “National Chicken Council.”

• Finally, SiriusXM radio announced its SB broadcasts this week are going out in nine languages including Hungarian. Somewhere in Budapest right now, a woman is stewing meat for goulash while listening to Gil Brandt analyze whether Joe Flacco is elite.