The Marks Post: When in Rome
Remember that scene from Major League where Bob Uecker is fist bumping the air back and forth while in the press box? Well, that’s how I was feeling on the inside Monday night while in the auxiliary press box of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. I thought about doing it for real but remained stoic as possible because there’s no cheering in the press box.
In case you were under a rock for the past week, I was in the Superdome for the College Football Playoff National Championship.
The two days in New Orleans for me began with the media party at the National World War II Museum. The party was in the main lobby with buffet and drink stations. I wanted an Old Fashioned, but they didn’t have the bitters to make them. So, when in Rome, I got a Sazerac.
While mingling in the lobby, I met the former coach of the New Orleans Saints Jim Mora. I wanted to ask him about his playoffs rant, but I figured he’d been asked about that enough already.
I was at the party with Raymond Partsch, our former editor, and we ended up going explore the museum. The whole museum was open members of the media for free. I had been there before back when it was still the National D-Day Museum. We saw a lot, but it will take days if you want to really experience everything.
While meandering through the exhibits, there were other food and drink stations. The roasted turkey was superb, and the beignets and bread pudding was sinful. I switched to drinking cold pop because that Sazerac was enough.
After going down the Road to Tokyo and the Road to Berlin, the party was winding down. I planned on going down another road, Bourbon Street, after, but that Sazerac knocked me out. I went back to the media hotel at the Sheraton and wanted to get a Diet Coke. I couldn’t find a vending machine, so I had to go to the bar in the LSU slippers my sister Allison got me for Christmas. I guess the bartender felt sorry for me because she let me have it.
The next morning I went into the media hospitality room at the hotel for breakfast. The room was a hangout place for members of the media with a bar, arcade games, a pool table, a shuffle board table, and a ski ball machine. They had Donkey Kong and Frogger among other games on the arcade but no Galaga.
After breakfast, I walked down to Champions Square where Raymond was doing his radio show. Ochsner was gracious enough to let area radio shows broadcast from its media department. I was mainly hanging out with radio guys on the balcony overlooking Champions Square and the Superdome.
Lunch Monday for Raymond and I was at the Catty Car Corner. I ordered the red beans and rice, and oh my! It was fantastic. Also enjoying lunch were members of the Secret Service because President Donald Trump was going to be at the game that night.
While walking back to the hotel, we checked out the Museum of Trade, Finance, and the Fed at the Federal Reserve. It was free to get in, so it was good to walk through it after eating all that red beans and rice. We continued through Lafayette Square on our way back to the Sheraton.
After changing clothes into my coat and tie for the game, I took the media shuttle back to the Superdome. After going through security, I went to the media dining area and got some gumbo and potato salad. IT WAS TERRIBLE.
I then went walk around and hang out on the sideline before going to the press box. Before going to my seat which was in Section 636 which was part of the auxiliary press box and on the same row as the Lafayette and Alexandria television stations. I grabbed a couple cookies and a cup of coffee. It was a miracle I didn’t drop my cookies and spill my coffee all over me because the steep stairs to my seat was a death trap.
President Trump and Melania came out on the field for the National Anthem, and I was sitting right above them even though I was in the Arctic Circle. It was a humbling experience to be in the same building with the leader of the free world.
At halftime, I went into the main area of the press box and saw everybody lined for food. While in the food line, I met Rick Neuheisel, the former head coach of Colorado and a current television analyst. I got me a hamburger, two obligatory wieners, and a King Cake. Good thing Lent starts in about six weeks after eating all that.
It was during the fourth quarter when LSU took control of the game when I wanted to pull a Bob Uecker. I also wanted to keep high fiveing George Faust who was sitting next to me.
I went on the field after the game into the sea of humanity to take pictures of the post-game celebration and of the trophy presentation and almost got my front teeth knocked out in the process. I was taking pictures, and some guy backed up into me and knocked my camera into my face. Afterward, I walked toward the stage and crossed paths with “The Honey Badger” Tyrann Mathieu. Then after the trophy presentation, I saw Odell Beckham Jr. in the band section trying to get them to play “Neck,” but they wouldn’t.”
After the game, I went to the LSU post-game press conference and to the media work room to write my story for all the papers owned by Louisiana State Newspapers. Once my story was done, I went back to the hotel and visited with people in the media hospitality room before calling it a night.
To complete the story, I got back to the office at The Ville Platte Gazette at about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday and made it through the afternoon on about three or four hours of sleep, but it was worth it. Then, Wednesday morning before Mass, I shaved my beard. It was getting long and bushy, and I thought about shaving before the championship game. But, LSU was undefeated since I had my beard. If I shaved and LSU lost, I would not have forgiven myself. The thing is, though, LSU men’s basketball improved to 4-0 in the SEC after beating Texas A&M Tuesday night which was the night before I shaved. Call me superstitious.