- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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NEW ORLEANS -- Before I run off to Super Bowl media day, let’s take a look at the top headlines from around the NFC South:
Although uncertainty remains about the funding, five finalists have been selected as potential designers of a new stadium for the Falcons.
Jay Adams writes that most of the early mock drafts have the Falcons going for a tight end or defensive lineman in the first round of the draft. That makes plenty of sense because tight end Tony Gonzalez has given indications he’s leaning heavily toward retirement and the Falcons need an eventual successor to defensive end John Abraham. But, if the Falcons don’t re-sign Brent Grimes and/or Sam Baker, I could see them turning their attention toward cornerback or left tackle.
Owner Jerry Richardson met with state officials to ask for a reported $62 million in funding for renovations for Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers already have been lobbying Charlotte officials for $125 million in funding. If both the state and city come through with that kind of money, the total will come to $187 million. Presumably, Richardson and the Panthers would come up with the other $63 million. I recognize it’s common for state and city tax money to finance new stadiums or renovations. But it’s still a little weird that Richardson is asking for help because the owner was very proud of the fact he was able to build the stadium without any taxpayer money in the first place.
The Jim Harbaugh vs. John Harbaugh storyline is probably the biggest of this Super Bowl. In the spirit of telling what family rivalries can be like, Joseph Person got Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula to recall what it was like coaching against his father, Don, and brother, David.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The name of Times-Picayune columnist Jeff Duncan appeared in transcripts of testimony about the bounty scandal in December. Assistant head coach Joe Vitt testified that the team believed former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was texting the names of who the Saints were going to draft to Duncan before the picks were announced publicly. This supposedly happened during the 2011 draft. I wouldn’t put anything past Williams. But Duncan says, if there were such texts being sent, they weren’t coming to him. I’ve known Duncan for more than a decade and if he says he wasn’t getting texts, then I can assure you he wasn’t getting texts.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Baltimore running back Ray Rice had some high praise for Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano. Rice played for Schiano at Rutgers. Although Schiano has drawn some criticism for perhaps being heavy handed, Rice said the Ravens use the same team-first approach that Schiano believes in. The Ravens obviously are in the Super Bowl, so maybe Schiano’s style isn’t a bad thing. We’ll find out for sure in time.