NEW ORLEANS - Super Bowl 47 brought an emotional homecoming for guys like Ed Reed and Jacoby Jones of the Baltimore Ravens.
Reed and Jones, both from New Orleans, had vital roles in the nail-biter win over the San Francisco 49ers. They also had vital roles in games leading up to the Super Bowl – Denver, New England.
You could see the emotion in their faces at postgame press conferences early Monday morning after the big win. Both had difficulty putting into words what it meant to win the biggest game of their careers in their hometown.
"I'm just trying to get yall whatever yall want right now," Reed told the media. "I've never been so happy to do anything."
As Ed Reed reflected on growing up five minutes from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and being born at a hospital and visiting a hospital with his mother that was eventually destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, he was a mixture of smiles, head shakes and signs of a man fighting to hold back tears.
"It goes to show how much Louisiana folks can persevere through anything," Reed said.
Reed and Jones knew at the start of the 2012 season that the Super Bowl would be in New Orleans. Reed said that's when they began to spread the word with their teammates about how great it would be to play in a Super Bowl in their hometown.
Whether it was those early conversations in the locker room or additional inspiration found in the departure of team leader Ray Lewis , the Ravens got to New Orleans. Reed and Jones felt it only fitting that they help the team experience The Big Easy.
With the help of Jones' mother, and her cooking of stuffed peppers, gumbo, sausage and other regional favorites, teammates experienced a real dose of Cajun cuisine.
It seemed a perfect end to the story that the boys from New Orleans, after showing such hospitality to their teammates, be blessed with clutch performances on such a stage.
"They call me clutch, Dragonfly Jones, they call me everything, man," Jones said as he laughed in response to a question about his performance. "Just winning a Super Bowl is great, you know. The guys you played with, that you won with, you will forever remember those guys."
While they celebrated, the boys from The Big Easy were humble.
Speaking about his record-breaking kickoff return in the game, Jones said, "That's hats off to the 10 guys that blocked in front of me."
In addition to the 108-yard kickoff return at the start of the second half, Jones had a 56-yard touchdown reception in which he caught the ball as he fell to his bottom, got up, shook two defenders and took the ball to the house.
Reed led the team on defense. He was second on the stats sheet in total tackles (5) and had an interception in the second quarter that helped the Ravens build a big lead heading into the second half.
Without those the big plays from Reed and Jones, things may have been different for the Ravens, who won 34-31 and struggled to find the endzone in the second half.