NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens don’t want to have anything to do with the Vince Lombardi Trophy — unless they earn the right to hoist it after the Super Bowl.
Asked Wednesday whether he’s considered how great it would be to grasp the trophy after Sunday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers, Ravens coach John Harbaugh scoffed at the suggestion.
“I have given no thought to that,” he said. “You don’t earn the right to even think about that until you’ve won the football game and become the one true champion. We’re not the one true champion at this point. We’re going to fight like crazy to earn that award.”
Last week, CBS brought a faux Lombardi Trophy to the Ravens’ training facility and asked each player to pose with the hardware.
Linebacker Ray Lewis nixed the idea.
“I told my team, don’t ever take pictures with nothing that’s not yours, nothing that you haven’t earned,” Lewis said. “When we hold that Lombardi, whoever holds that Lombardi next Sunday, you’ve earned it when you touch it. And don’t fool yourself and try to trick yourself (by saying), `This feels great.’ Don’t go through that. I don’t believe in jinxes and all that, I just believe in don’t set yourself up for something. Just really work for it.”
Lewis grasped the coveted trophy in 2001, after the Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7 for their only Super Bowl win. That trophy is prominently displayed at the entrance to the team’s training complex.
Running back Ray Rice, who is playing in his first Super Bowl, has no desire to hold the trophy until the Ravens earn it.
“We have to work to get that,” he said. “I don’t want to see the Super Bowl trophy unless it’s rightfully ours.”
TEAM GLEASON: Steve Gleason sure knows how to get people’s attention.
The former special teams player — a hero in New Orleans since he blocked a punt for a touchdown in the Saints’ first home game after Hurricane Katrina — was accompanied by a brass band and some famous friends as he made the rounds at the Super Bowl media center Wednesday to raise awareness for The Team Gleason House for Innovative Living. The house, located near New Orleans’ BioDistrict, uses cutting-edge technology to help people with incurable neuro-muscular disorders like ALS or MS live more independently.
Gleason was diagnosed in January 2011 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which causes gradual paralysis.
“This disease, for far too long, has been left underfunded and ignored,” said former Saints linebacker Scott Fujita, who has remained good friends with Gleason. “That is not acceptable. That’s just not acceptable. … That is the challenge, to get this on people’s radar.”
Gleason’s appearance Wednesday was a start. Fujita, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and political pundits James Carville and Mary Matalin joined Gleason at a news conference to celebrate Chase Bank’s $350,000 grant to Team Gleason House. A new public service announcement featuring Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Ray Lewis, Clay Matthews and Herm Edwards also was unveiled.
Using an eye-controlled computer, Gleason gave a speech and answered questions. He had the audience in tears and, a few minutes later, roaring with laughter. Similar technology will let residents at Team Gleason control lights, doors, window shades, televisions and room temperature.
“A terminal disease can really mess with your mind. Honestly, it makes you want to run away to the moon,” Gleason said. “I did not want to fade away quietly.”
SAFETIES SHINE: While several talented linebackers could be a big focus in the Super Bowl, the last line of defense for each team is filled with big-play stars.
“All four safeties in the scheme are four of the premier safeties in football,” Harbaugh said.
For Baltimore, it’s free safety Ed Reed and strong safety Bernard Pollard. San Francisco’s side features Dashon Goldson and Donte Whitner. It’s a tossup which team has more talent.
Ravens receiver Jacoby Jones is impressed by all four of them.
“Ed, of course, is the greatest and Bernard Pollard,” he said. “Look at their side, No. 38 (Goldson), me and him came out together and played together in the East-West Shrine Game. He actually played corner in college. He’s got good ball skills. And 31 (Whitner), him and Pollard are just alike, smash-mouth.”
TOUCHDOWN, MOSS: Guess who burned Baltimore cornerback Cary Williams for his first NFL touchdown? That would be Randy Moss, the guy who will be on the other side of the ball again Sunday.
Williams was playing for Tennessee in October 2009 when Moss scored on a 40-yard flea flicker, the first of his three touchdowns in a 59-0 rout.
So, Williams isn’t about to question whether Moss still has it at age 35 — even if he’s no longer the dynamic receiver of his early days in the NFL.
“He’s a guy who can get over top the defense at any moment,” Williams said. “He’s a threat out there regardless. Randy Moss introduced me to the NFL.”
NO VACATION: Ravens linebacker and special teams standout Brendon Ayanbadejo learned a valuable lesson when he played in the Super Bowl with Chicago after the 2006 season.
“My last Super Bowl experience was in Miami, and we were kind of happy just to be there,” he recalled. “It’s like a vacation, You get there, you’re enamored, you’re in Miami and your team made it.”
It did not end well: Indianapolis 29, Bears 17.
“If you want to go to a Super Bowl and you want to enjoy it, wait until you’re not playing,” Ayanbadejo said. “That’s the mentality of this team. It’s all about business, it’s all about winning. After we win the game, then we’ll enjoy it.”
One of these days, he hopes to savor the Super Bowl experience without having to think about the game.
“In the future, when you’re retired and after the Ravens have won five Super Bowls in a row and you’ve got a ring on every finger,” he said, “then you can go to the Super Bowl as a fan and you can enjoy it and do the night life and the parties and all the things afterward.”
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)