Arriving in Jacksonville isn't the point


Published: Thursday, January 27, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 29, 2005 at 12:45 a.m.
When the Super Bowl is in New Orleans, we can relate because we have seen people losing their hurricane breakfasts on Bourbon Street before. And when it is in Tampa, it feels close, like you could almost reach out and touch a pseudo-celebrity.
But we have never seen anything like this - a Super Bowl in Jacksonville. If not for the speed traps, you could be there in an hour.
The event is actually spilling over into our community, which makes next week's Super Bowl different from the previous 38 and almost assuredly different from the next 308 because I doubt you'll ever see the game back in J-ville.
Nothing against the city itself, because so many of my colleagues have and will do plenty of Jax-bashing over the next nine days. But all it's going to take is one bad experience for an NFL bigwig in one of those claustrophobic cruise-ship rooms to end this experiment.
But since so many of you have questions, and since the biggest week in sports is just around the corner, I have answers.
Let's get right to the big story - will Terrell Owens play or will he simply be a loud distraction?
Already we need a T.O. from T.O. and access to the Cone of Silence even though the two Super Bowl teams haven't even arrived in Jacksonville yet. I'm convinced that nobody knows for sure whether or not Owens will play against the Patriots right now.
I do know that if he plays he won't be going over the middle where Teddy Bruschi lives.
But I don't think this is a distraction except to those journalists who have spent way too much time on the story (see: ESPN). The Eagles are used to dealing with Owens. The Patriots could care less.
Since so many sports columnists have been ripping Jacksonville and you lived there for 10 years, do you feel a need to defend your former residence?
No. You knew this was coming. Jacksonville is an easy target. It's the smallest market to ever host a Super Bowl with nowhere near enough hotel rooms. As a result, neither team is even staying in the same county as the game and fans are staying as far away as Orlando. (You know you're a VIP at this Super Bowl if you are not staying in the host city but at St. Augustine's Casa Monica Hotel or Amelia Island's Ritz-Carlton.) But let Jacksonville have its moment in the sun. It's not the city's fault that the game is being played at Alltel Stadium. You want to rip someone, rip the owners for putting it there.
Besides, the question isn't whether or not Jacksonville deserves a Super Bowl. It's whether or not Jacksonville ever deserved an NFL team.
The Patriots are 7-point favorites. What do you think the chances are that the Eagles will win their first Super Bowl?
Slim and none and Slim just fell into the St. Johns River. The Eagles have no chance. The Patriots are on the verge of completing one of the most special runs in the history of pro football. Their quarterback is 8-0 in the postseason.
Philadelphia is the champion of a bad conference. The Eagles are good, but they have not been tested all year the way New England has.
Holding the best offense in the league to three points, then turning around a week later and scoring 34 offensive points against the league's best defense is a little better than beating a Vikings team that backed into the playoffs and a one-dimensional Atlanta team.
Plus, Bill Belichick and his staff have two weeks to get ready. Plus, this is the last go-round for Belichick and his top two assistants. Plus, New England has easily been the best team in football for the last two years. Plus, the Eagles have already reached their goal - finally getting to the Super Bowl. Plus, the Pats spanked the Eagles last season.
No chance.
So what are you saying, that you aren't looking forward to next week?
I just printed out a 27-page memo from the NFL detailing media instructions for the week. The booklet tells you where to get on buses that take you to various parties, golf tournaments and brunches. What do you think?
But seriously, there is something about being at a Super Bowl that is special because you know that in sports bars and living rooms around America, most people are watching. The only bad part is we in the media miss the commercials.
You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at dooleyp@gvillesun.com or by calling 374-5053. You can hear The Pat Dooley Hour each weekday from 11 a.m. to noon on The Star 99.5-FM.

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