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Monday, December 26, 2011
Off to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

NEW ORLEANS -- Usually, I’m a traditionalist and prefer football games outdoors over indoors.

But I’m very happy the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints will be playing their “Monday Night Football’’ game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Monday has not been a pretty day in New Orleans. It’s rainy and very foggy (my hotel room is pretty high up and I haven’t been able to see the ground). It’s also a little cold, but that opinion is coming from someone who is used to Florida weather.

Gee, you could make the case an outdoor game in these conditions could help the Saints and Falcons prepare for potential playoff trips to San Francisco.

Anyway, I’m about to brave the elements and I’ll have company. I ran into Dan Wolken, the fine national columnist for The Daily in the hotel workout room this morning and we’re going to share a cab into the dome.

Dan worked with me on the Carolina Panthers’ beat back in 2001 when I was with The Charlotte Observer. Dan was an intern and he got a true baptism by fire because that was George Seifert’s final season in Carolina. The Panthers won their opener and lost their next 15 games. Those were not pleasant days because coaches and players seldom were in good moods. But that season helped Dan get to where he is now. He spent five years living and working in Memphis before moving to New York to work for The Daily.

Fortunately, Dan and I should see a much better game between the Falcons and Saints than anything we saw back in 2001. By the way, I did sneak out in the rain earlier. I went to the record store and bought a CD of Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis’’ and I’m going to have the cab driver play it the whole way in. I’m guessing Dan hasn’t heard that one too many times.

Anyway, I’ll be back in touch once I get settled into the dome. I’ll have inactives for both teams roughly 90 minutes before kickoff. Also, remember, we’ll be doing a live chat throughout the game. Just go to the NFC South blog anytime shortly before or during the game and you’ll be able to get in. I’ll have a Rapid Reaction as soon as the game ends and a full column a couple hours after the game.