NEW ORLEANS — Like a savory Cajun gumbo, the Super Bowl has something for everyone's tastes.
A departing megastar in Ray Lewis.
A record-setting quarterback, Joe Flacco, finally reaching the NFL's biggest stage, where he'll face off against Colin Kaepernick — a player representing the new wave at football's glamour position.
Dynamic defenses and big-play offenses.
A return to New Orleans for the first time since Hurricane Katrina devastated the area.
A touch of history as the San Francisco 49ers (13-4-1) seek their sixth Super Bowl title when they meet the Baltimore Ravens (13-6) next Sunday at the Superdome.
Oh, yeah, and an unprecedented sibling rivalry, with Ravens coach John Harbaugh guiding his AFC champions against younger brother Jim and the NFC champ 49ers.
I really don't have any words for it, said Ravens safety Ed Reed, who will play in his first Super Bowl at age 34.
Others will have millions of words to write and say about a matchup featuring fierce defenses, potent offenses and story lines worthy of America's unofficial sports holiday.
And guess who will ignore all those themes? The guys on the field.
All of the side stories, if you aren't playing in the game, I guess that's great, said Ravens center Matt Birk, who gets to his initial title game at age 36. You can enjoy that. I think as players we are just going to hunker down and focus in and concentrate on the task at hand.
While everyone else revels in the plot twists.
Such as the 37-year-old Lewis announcing the end of his Hall of Fame-quality career, stoking the emotional fire in his teammates and recapturing the level of play he had in his prime during three playoff wins. Lewis has 44 tackles in the playoffs after missing 10 weeks with a torn right triceps.
After performing his ritual dance before his second Super Bowl — he was the MVP of the 2001 game when the Ravens won their only championship — Lewis will strive for one more vintage performance.
Ray is a guy who's been here since the beginning of this franchise, strong safety Bernard Pollard said. He's a guy who is The Raven.
When Lewis leaves, it will be up to Flacco to grab the reins — if he's still in Baltimore. The only quarterback to win playoff games in each of his first five seasons plays out his contract next Sunday.