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Phuket prepped for Super Bowl

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket prepped for Super Bowl | Thaiger

PHUKET TOWN: Super Bowl XLIV (that’s 44), the culmination of the NFL season and the biggest annual sporting event in the USA, will kick off early tomorrow morning, Thai time.

The New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts will meet in Miami to decide the destination of the next Vince Lombardi trophy.

It will be an historic occasion for the New Orleans Saints, who will be determined to ensure that their first Super Bowl appearance is a successful one. The Colts, by contrast, will be making their second Super Bowl appearance since 2007.

The Saints’ first ever Super Bowl is particularly significant coming just five seasons after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and forced thousands of people to take shelter in the Louisiana Superdome, rendering the stadium unsuitable as a sporting venue for the entire 2005/2006 season. The New Orleans Saints were forced to play their home games in neighboring cities that year, failing to make the divisional playoffs and finishing with an overall record of 3-13.

Expats in Phuket have been known to make an early rise – or all-night plunge – to be awake for the 6am kickoff.

This year’s game is especially important for local resident Karen Ellison, who is both owner of Duke’s Big Board Bar in Kata and a native of New Orleans. Ellison will make sure her pub is up and running for football fans the morning of the game.

“Living in South East Asia redefines the concept of a traditional ‘tailgater’ and instead we serve breakfast to the foolhardy folks willing to catch an early hour kick-off. No matter, we still get to catch the game live and replace burgers & hot dogs with bacon and eggs. At Duke’s Big Board Bar in Kata, we’re just trying to make everyone feel a little bit at home…while away from home,” she said.

For Ellison and other natives of New Orleans, the Saints’ first Super Bowl appearance is about more than just football.

“Like the tsunami which devastated Phuket in 2004, New Orleans was decimated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The spirit of New Orleans, affectionately called NOLA, has been experiencing a rebirth under the Fleur-de-lis so proudly worn by the Saints,” she said.

Things turned around in the seasons following Hurricane Katrina as the Saints worked their way towards winning records and discovered superstar talent in runningback Reggie Bush and quarterback Drew Brees. Their progressive success continued this year, finishing the regular season and booking a spot in the playoffs with a record of 13-3.

The Saints faced the Arizona Cardinals at the Louisiana Superdome in the conference semi-finals and were comfortable victors, winning 45-14 to take their place in the NFC Championship for the second time in the club’s 53 year history.

It was there that the Saints took on veteran quarterback Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings for the rights to show in Super Bowl XLIV. With the clock ticking down and the scores tied at 28-28, the Vikings had one last drive from which to score what would surely have been the winning points. The script was written for the veteran Favre – who is the oldest quarterback to ever win an NFL payoff game – to lead the Vikings to the Super Bowl, but the Saints clearly hadn’t read it. They intercepted an errant Favre pass to send the game into overtime and kicked a game-winning field goal to claim a 31-28 victory.

The Colts route to the Super Bowl was more routine for the consistently successful team. They finished the regular season 14-2 and comfortably dispatched the Baltimore Ravens 20-3, and the New York Jets 30-17, to secure the AFC Championship. Colts QB Peyton Manning – who is arguably the best player in the NFL today – continues to claim his future spot in the NFL Hall of Fame with his precision passing and widely respected team leadership.

The Saints, who go into the game as slight underdogs, will be looking to dynamic running back Reggie Bush to find a way through the Colts defense. The Colts will, as always, be reliant upon Manning, who led them to their Super Bowl success in 2006. The Saints will be hoping his opposite number Drew Brees, who has enjoyed the best season of his career to date, can conjure up a match winning performance in Miami.

A TV audience of in excess of 90 million is expected in the US, with millions more likely to tune in around the world.

Kickoff is set for 6:25am Thai time and the match will be screened live on True TV and Astro Supersport.

 

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