Super Bowl Preview: Which Team Has An Edge?

Football fanatics will break out the party snacks and huddle around the big screen on Sunday for the biggest game of the year. Host Alex Cohen talks with NPR's Mike Pesca for a preview of Super Bowl XLIII. The Pittsburgh Steelers are facing the Arizona Cardinals in Tampa.

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ALEX COHEN, host:

Back now, with Day to Day. This Sunday is the Super Bowl. The Arizona Cardinals will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa. Both teams have been there in Florida since Monday. Also there and joining me now from the site of Super Bowl 43 is NPR's Mike Pesca. Hi, Mike.

MIKE PESCA: Hi.

COHEN: So this is the Super Bowl. Of course, this is huge. But otherwise, for the teams and players, how is this week different from a regular week of football?

PESCA: Well, it's just so different as to be almost unrecognizable to everything else they ever do. Well, first of all, there are over 4,000 credentialed members of the media. I have met many of these people, and I question their credentials. (Soundbite of laughter) But aside from the crush and the demands on their time, it is a weird travel schedule.

For a regular game, there is usually a week between games in the NFL. And a team will arrive in the visiting team's city usually, maybe, a day before the game. Here they arrive almost a week before the game. And that is just to accommodate the fact that the Super Bowl is this huge corporate affair, this huge media affair. So it's interviews and a little bit of practice, and interviews and a little bit of practice. And if a team losses focus, it could really hurt them come Sunday.

COHEN: It sounds like a pretty intense week. Now, let's say I were a betting woman. Does this kind of hectic schedule favor one team over the other?

PESCA: Well, you know, even if you weren't a betting woman, even if you were someone with, you know, who lives and dies with the Steelers or who bleeds Cardinals Burgundy - I think there probably are people like that - you might say that the Pittsburgh Steelers might have the edge, because in general, they are the more experienced team, having been to and won a Super Bowl just three years ago.

Most of the players on the current Steelers were on that Super Bowl team, whereas the Arizona Cardinals only have six players who ever played in a Super Bowl. But very importantly, one of those players is their quarterback, Kurt Warner. And Warner has won a Super Bowl in the past, as has his counterpart on Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger, both Super Bowl winning quarterbacks.

And in fact, this is the first time that two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks have faced each other since guys named Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw did so back in the '70s.

COHEN: Finally, Mike, the Super Bowl is usually one huge party. But given the current economy, do you think it'll be as big of a celebration?

PESCA: Officially, they give figures that are absolutely impossible to check about how much the Super Bowl adds to the economy. $300 million is one of the official totals. But I've read different economists saying the impact on a local economy is very small. And I have informally talked to some limo drivers and talked to some people who work in hotels. And they said, you know, a year ago, if you told them the Super Bowl was going to be here, they would've thought they'd all be booked up by now. But you can still get a limo maybe on Friday and Saturday, maybe not Sunday going to the game.

So it does - and another indication is that there used to be two huge parties sponsored by Playboy and Maxim, and Playboy is not having its party. So that's the economic indicator of this Super Bowl, that Playboy is not having its party.

COHEN: NPR's Mike Pesca in Tampa, Florida for this weekend's Super Bowl. Thanks Mike.

PESCA: You're welcome.

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