4. Distractions, distractions, distractions
This Super Bowl has had more distractions than most. First there was Lewis being asked whether he had taken a banned substance called deer antler spray. Then 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver said Tuesday he didn't want any gay players on his team. Add to that the story of TV analyst Dan Marino fathering a child out of wedlock and San Francisco's Randy Moss boasting he was the best receiver of all time (to which Jerry Rice replied, "Scoreboard.")
Players were sure the media circus wouldn't affect Super Bowl XLVII.
"You get to play at this level because most of the guys are mentally tough, so when you get out there, the last thing you're going to be thinking about is what people are saying," 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin said.
Ravens center Matt Birk said the being a professional football player requires staying focused at the task at hand, something some guys can't handle. He said he compartmentalizes the bad stuff, blocks it out.
Patrick Willis, a 49ers linebacker, defended Culliver.
"In this business, it's always going to be something, and we know those guys," he said. "We know those guys' hearts. We know that those things that come out of their mouths aren't intended to hurt anyone or intended to make it about them."
Culliver apologized Wednesday and again Thursday, saying: "I'm sorry that I offended anyone. They were very ugly comments, and that's not what I feel in my heart. Hopefully, I can learn and grow from this experience and this situation. I love San Francisco."
5. New Orleans on the comeback
The Big Easy is playing host to its 10th Super Bowl and even though locals are crushed that the hometown Saints aren't playing in the game, they are happy to show a city that has rebounded strongly from Hurricane Katrina seven years ago.
"We're in an economic resurrection of the city," actor and businessman Wendell Pierce said. "This is a point in time that people will remember that New Orleans was on its way back. We came from total destruction and now we're hosting one of the great events known to the world."
The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp. says the big game served as a goal line to cross for more than $1 billion in improvements to the city. Much of that was spent fixing up the airport, where most fans will get a first impression of the city that depends heavily on tourism.
New Orleans officials hope that some of the fans don't pack up and leave on Monday. After all, there's another big event going on. Mardi Gras!
it's the best time ever, Pierce said.
"You're right in the middle of the greatest street party in the history of the world, Mardi Gras," he said. "To have the Super Bowl join that, it's one of the most festive times to be here in New Orleans. We're going to have great food, great time and one of the greatest games in ... world sports."