When Super Bowl XXXVI ends Sunday night, either the Rams or the Patriots will be world's champs - for a year. But the big game has left a much more lasting mark on the Big Easy.
It's a sunny afternoon at a neighborhood gym in downtown New Orleans, and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue is working the fence row like a politician, shaking hands and passing out autographs while New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial tosses the pigskin like a quarterback. What in the world is going on here?
"Well," says Tagliabue, "we feel that it's important that the Super Bowl be a lasting memory and a meaningful event for the people who live in the city that hosts the game and not just for the people who come in to see the game." So it is that in the shadow of the dome where the game will be played the NFL has left a million-dollar legacy in a gymnasium.
"When you think about it, you want to leave a legacy in each city where you've been," says former San Francisco quarterback Steve Young. "We hope to expand it to all the NFL cities, so wherever the NFL is, we have a brick and mortar building to help the neighborhoods to help kids not only to play sports but to be educated."
So a million dollars from the NFL to upgrade the computers at the Youth Education Town of New Orleans. It will be put with another million collected locally. "What year was that taken?" a fan asks Joe Namath, as a youngster hands the former Jet an ancient bubblegum card to sign. "I imagine it was 1968 or '69," says Joe. Kids who weren't even born when Broadway Joe was playing can always be grateful to the NFL. A final thought from Joe Namath? "Now, looking at this picture, I'm glad I shaved!"