NEW ORLEANS -- A few fans have made their way inside the Superdome with more than three hours remaining until kickoff for Super Bowl XLVII. They had nothing on ESPN's John Clayton and me. We walked from our hotel to the dome and arrived before 12:30 p.m. local time -- five hours before kickoff and early enough to ... do what?
I've been feeding a steady diet of photos to my Twitter timeline, most taken from the second-row press box level high above the field. Clayton is seated directly to my left. Jerry Izenberg of the Newark Star-Ledger, one of the few reporters to cover every Super Bowl, is seated further down the same row. AFC North blogger Jamison Hensley is in the row ahead of us. He's special.
Lights for the halftime show were supposed to obstruct some views, but that is not the case from my vantage point right now. The biggest challenge for coverage will involve getting down to the field-level interview area in a timely fashion. The NFL is advising reporters to leave the press box with 7 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter for the walk down through stairs and multiple ramps. That walk could take 10 or 15 minutes. Those remaining in the press box for the full game probably won't be able to participate in postgame interviews.
I've got a clear view of the field from about the 5-yard line near the 49ers' end zone and along the 49ers' sideline. San Francisco is the home team, so its sideline is where the New Orleans Saints' sideline would normally be. I've got a clear view of five replay monitors. Those are often on a slight delay, allowing for the ability to watch plays live and then see them right away on the screens. That's a big help.
No players are warming up on the field yet. Louisiana-born music is playing over the loudspeakers. Clarence "Frogman" Henry's famous "Ain't got no home" is playing right now.