Today started off like any other: With me sliding into my Niners jersey. It’s the same one I’ve worn since the Niners beat the Falcons and the same one I’ll wear until the Niners beat the Ravens.
Of course this day started at 3:30 am and had a travel itinerary to New Orleans to catch the Super Bowl. So naturally I was amped upon waking at a non-human hour. Busted out some extra pushups and headed to LAX for the first flight to Louisiana.
Sat next to a gentleman who found out my last name. His next words: “I had a ferret once. Named it ‘Buehler’.” Then he silently chuckled to himself. The whole trip.
Once in New Orleans, I caught the tail end of the Niners arrival press conference. Missed Jim Harbaugh (and therefore prolonged the inevitable awkward moment of asking for a hug) but caugh Patrick Willis, Justin Smith and Colin Kaepernick’s name plate. Yeah, you read that right. If you think Kaep ducks out of pressure quickly, you should see him evade reporters. It’s breathtaking.
Both Smith and Willis have daunting tasks ahead. Smith, battling a torn tricep and an improved Ravens' offensive line and Willis trying to find “Where’s Rice” before he blazes by him. Yet both were loose and answering questions thoughtfully and sincerely. They were enjoying themselves. And that’s what each team should be doing: Enjoying some level of satisfaction of achieving this pinnacle.
Last year, I watched as the Patriots employed the “muzzle the ox” strategy, ignoring anything of interest and in 2010, watched as the Steelers used the “been there, done that” to diffuse the crush of the media attention. Neither strategy was successful.
Instead, a team must recognize the great honor of representing it’s respective conference and focus on executing the game plan with ease. The Niners seem loose. Enjoying this experience. That’s the only way they’ll leave with a 6th Lombardi.
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