This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Time for sports.
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SIMON: There's a football game tomorrow. Have you heard? The 47th Superbowl starring the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Ravens and a couple of guys named Harbaugh who say please, please, enough about us. Talk about our players. Howard Bryant of ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine joins us now from the studios of member station WFCR in Amherst, Massachusetts. Morning, Howard.
The Superdome in New Orleans has hosted heavyweight fights, papal visits, and — after this weekend — seven Super Bowls, an NFL record. But no event looms larger in the dome's history than Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that turned the stadium into a teeming shelter of last resort.
During the storm, reporters spared no hyperbole when describing scenes of human suffering. The Superdome, in particular, was described as a "hellhole" and "apocalyptic," and it was sort of true.
You might look for a player along the sidelines in the Super Bowl on Sunday named Alex Smith and wonder, as he might, if he'll be the next Wally Pipp or Ken Mattingly.
Pipp was the Yankee first baseman in 1925 who had a headache and was told to take two aspirin and sit out the game. A young player named Lou Gehrig took his place — and stayed at first base for 14 years, becoming one of baseball's most storied players.
Pipp wound up working in a screw factory. He was a good sport who told fans in later years, "I took the two most expensive aspirin in history."
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And I'm Audie Cornish. With the Super Bowl this weekend, football fans are renewing a perennial debate about the game's best players, but not just this year, of all time. Jerry Rice is arguably the best wide receiver. Linebacker Ray Lewis, who will play Sunday for the Baltimore Ravens, gets mentioned, alongside Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus, even Lawrence Taylor.
A few years ago, before "CTE" was as much a part of football conversations as "quarterback rating" or "wild card spot," I had a conversation with some friends about unsettling news stories that linked the sport to brain injury.
As we spoke, an avowed hater of sports piped up. "Football, as it's currently played, is completely indefensible," she said.
If you're invited to a Super Bowl party and aren't quite up to speed about Sunday's big game, join the club. This blogger's a Buffalo Bills fan and tries to kind of tune out around this time of the season because, after all, it brings back some painful memories.
Originally published on Fri February 1, 2013 3:28 pm
Credit Bill Ray / Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
It's hard to imagine a day when the Super Bowl wasn't a spectacle of all things over the top.
It's harder still to imagine that the first-ever Super Bowl really wasn't that super. It wasn't even called the Super Bowl. It was known as the First AFL-NFL World Championship Game. Played in Los Angeles in January 1967, the Green Bay Packers versus the Kansas City Chiefs, it remains the only Super Bowl that did not sell out. The most expensive ticket, according to the NFL, sold for a mere $12.