NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Around Super Bowl XLVII and its host city with journalists from The Associated Press bringing the flavor and details of everything surrounding the game:
GRIDIRON TO LEMONADE STAND
Donald Driver didn't waste much time finding a new job.
The Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver announced his retirement Thursday morning, then helped kids from Junior Achievement sell lemonade at a pop-up stand in the Super Bowl media center.
Not only did Driver help behind the counter, he loaded up four carrying cases and he and his three new friends set out to find customers. Their cases were empty when they returned.
"All the money they've raised will stay here in New Orleans," Driver said. "What they're starting to do is learn how to run their own business, become entrepreneurs by themselves.
"I'm just here to raise as much money so maybe they can open up their own lemonade stand the next couple of years.
— Nancy Armour — http://twitter.com/nrarmour
JUDGE FOR YOURSELF: BEYONCE
Wondering about Beyonce and her response inauguration lip syncing flap?
Judge for yourself — here's her full rendition of the national anthem during a press conference Thursday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8p2MTKCLNsY
QUICKQUOTE: JERSEYS AND DRUGS
Authorities say buying a cheap imitation NFL jersey may be more harmful than you think.
Kevin Abar, assistant special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New Mexico, said there's evidence that Mexican drug cartels are getting involved in the counterfeit NFL black market trade because they can make quick money.
"A lot of folks may think that there's nothing wrong with buying a knockoff Denver Broncos jersey, but in reality, the money is being used to fund the drug war in Mexico," Abar said.
— Michael Kunzelman — http://twitter.com/Kunzelman75
STAT OF THE DAY: 158M AVOCADOS
AP Food Editor J.M. Hirsch has the stat of the day today: Americans are expected to consume 158 million avocados around the Super Bowl.
That's 79 million pounds of green goodness — up from 8 million pounds at the turn of the century.
So has the guacamole improved that much? Not really, it's just outstanding marketing and other factors.
— J.M. Hirsch — http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch
YUP, WE HEARD YOU, BEYONCE
Beyonce belted out the national anthem — for real — and America clearly heard.
Shortly after the singer's press conference on Thursday where she admitted singing to a backup track during President Barack Obama's inauguration, "National Anthem" became a trending topic in the United States on Twitter.
Millions of fans clearly approved of her impromptu performance, now reassured that her pipes are still fine.
— Oskar Garcia — http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .
NO TAPE NEEDED
Beyonce's version of the national anthem was worth the wait.
The superstar singer, roundly criticized for lip syncing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the inauguration 10 days ago, walked into Thursday's news conference for the Super Bowl halftime show and asked the ballroom filled with several hundred people to stand. She then belted out a spine-tingling version of the anthem, leaving no doubts about the power of her voice. Many in the room applauded when she finished.
"Thank you guys so much. Any questions?" Beyonce said, drawing laughs.
Beyonce admitted she sang along with a pre-recorded track at the inauguration, saying she hadn't had time to rehearse with the orchestra. This was too big of an occasion to have it be anything less than perfect, she said.
"I did not feel comfortable taking a risk," she said. "This was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make my country proud."
She did promise to sing live Sunday, however.
"I am well-rehearsed," she said. "This was what I was born to do."
That was about all Beyonce was willing to spill, though. She wouldn't say what she'll be singing, though she did say it was "not easy" to choose a few songs from her many hits.
"All of my songs are like my children," she said.
As for that rumored Destiny's Child reunion, Beyonce wouldn't confirm it.
She didn't deny it, though, either.
"I can't really give you any details," she said. "I'm sorry."
— Nancy Armour — http://twitter.com/nrarmour
The Baltimore Ravens don't like the artificial turf at Tulane's baseball field.
So they've moved to the Saints' facility instead.
The San Francisco 49ers were already training at the Saints' complex in nearby Metairie.
The AFC champions were forced to practice in the outfield of the baseball facility Wednesday because Tulane has broken ground on a new football stadium. Coach John Harbaugh, star linebacker Ray Lewis and several other players said it was "hard on the legs."
After the Ravens approached the league about practicing on grass, the NFL arranged for them to follow the 49ers at the Saints training fields.
— Barry Wilner
10 ADS TO WATCH
If you're a fan of Super Bowl ads, here are 10 to look out for during Sunday's game. With more than 111 million people expected to tune in, it's advertising's biggest showcase.
1. Samsung Mobile's 2-minute ad with "Knocked Up" actors Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen, directed by Jon Favreau ("Iron Man"). The company has not released details about the ad's plot other than to say that it shows Rogen and Rudd on a "quest to become the next big thing." Teaser here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzfAdmAtYIY
2. Best Buy's 30-second ad in the first quarter stars Amy Poehler, star of NBC's "Parks and Recreation," asking a Best Buy employee "lots of questions." Teaser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcmW8HCuLo8
3. Kraft enlists Tracy Morgan from NBC's "30 Rock" to introduce its new Mio Fit water enhancing drops in a 30-second ad during the third quarter. Teaser: http://www.youtube.com/user/makeitmio?feature=watch
4. Hyundai Motor Group's Kia invents a fanciful way that babies are made, blasting in from a baby planet in its "Space babies" ad for the 2014 Sorento crossover. Link: http://www.youtube.com/user/KiaMotorsAmerica?feature=watch
5. First-time advertiser Paramount Farms is touting its Wonderful Pistachios brand of nuts in a 30-second ad with Korean pop sensation Psy. The campaign: http://getcrackin.com/
6. First-time advertiser Axe shows a woman in the ocean getting rescued by a sexy lifeguard, but going for an astronaut instead. It promotes Axe's new cologne "Apollo" and its contest to send someone on the first suborbital space tour in 2014. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGoU3VH7He4
7. Audi's 60-second ad in the first quarter, with an ending voted on by viewers, shows a boy gaining confidence from driving his father's Audi to the prom, kissing the prom queen and getting decked by the prom king. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANhmS6QLd5Q
8. PepsiCo's Frito-Lay's Doritos "Crash the Super Bowl" ads are back for the seventh straight year. Two 30-second commercials made by consumers will make it on the air. Fans voted for one winner and Doritos chose the other.
9. Ford Motor Co. enlisted late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon to choose road trip stories submitted by Twitter with the hashtag (hash)steerthescript to base its Super Bowl commercial for Lincoln. The ad features rapper Joseph "Rev Run" Simmons, Wil Wheaton, who acted in the iconic science-fiction series "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
10. The Milk Processor Education Program, known as MilkPep and popular for its "Got Milk?" print ads, is featuring actor and professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson in a 30-second ad in the second quarter that is directed by Peter Berg ("Friday Night Lights.")
— Mae Anderson
BEYONCE, BUT WHO ELSE?
There's lots of hype for Beyonce's halftime performance at the Super Bowl, but she's far from the only A-list act in New Orleans this week.
The NFL has announced Jennifer Hudson is planning to sing "America the Beautiful" before the game with the chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Just add her to the already packed list. It also includes:
— Justin Timberlake, in his first major musical performance in four years (hosting Saturday Night Live doesn't count — he hasn't been an official musical guest on the show since 2006).
— Stevie Wonder
— CeeLo Green with his old hip-hop clique, Goodie Mob.
—Rascal Flatts with Journey.
And then there's the parties. Lil Wayne is throwing a bash. Jay-Z will host another event the night before his wife, Beyonce, takes stage. Jamie Foxx and Santigold are also performing, while DJs including Diplo and Questlove from The Roots are spinning.
Not that it's ever difficult, but it's extra easy to find a party in New Orleans the next few days.
— Stacey Plaisance
PUTTING POLITICS ASIDE FOR NEW ORLEANS
Long working on opposite sides of the American political spectrum, James Carville and Mary Matalin are pulling in the same direction when it comes to promoting their adopted home of New Orleans as a Super Bowl host.
Carville, a longtime Democratic strategist, and Matalin, a Republican pundit, are the co-chairs of the Super Bowl host committee. They're also married.
They've been making the rounds together from one event to the next in the convention center, which houses both the NFL Experience theme park and work stations for several thousand international media.
Carville is from Louisiana and the couple married in New Orleans. Then in 2008, they decided to move here from Washington, D.C. Now living in a stately home just two blocks off of historic St. Charles Avenue, they've been among the biggest boosters of the Big Easy's recovery from Hurricane Katrina, lending their support to a variety of community projects with goals ranging from restoration of fragile coastal wetlands to education and economic development.
The pair agree that while organizing a Super Bowl doesn't cost as much as a presidential campaign, it's just as hard because it's a multiyear project with a lot of moving parts.
Carville says he's always been a sports fan so the transition was natural for him. Matalin says one obvious goal is to get New Orleans back in the regular rotation as a Super Bowl host, but the larger goal is to help the city's future by demonstrating how successfully it can host one of the biggest single events in the sports world. While New Orleans is hosting its 10th Super Bowl, the NFL championship has not been played there since 2002.
Says Carville: "If it goes the way we hope it does, it'll go beyond economic impact. It'll go beyond who won the game. It think there's something significant that's coming to a point here in the city."
— Brett Martel — http://twitter.com/brettmartel
ZOO VS ZOO
File this in the quirky Super Bowl wager department: Zoos in Baltimore and San Francisco are gambling with the homes of two ravens and a rhino. Continued...