Sugar Bowl cup salvaged from Superdome

ATLANTA -- Sugar Bowl director of communications Greg Blackwell reached back to his Army days when he rescued the Sugar Bowl cup from a battered Louisiana Superdome.

The sterling silver cup, crafted by a New Orleans silversmith in time for the first Sugar Bowl in 1935 using a design dating to the 1700s, was left untouched when looters ransacked the bowl offices at the Superdome in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

Blackwell, Sugar Bowl executive director Paul Hoolahan and business manager Kathy Gaspard didn't know that when they donned haz-mat suits to see what they could salvage on a late September mission to the Dome, by then guarded by Blackwell's old outfit, the 82nd Airborne.

"The cup was there in an alarm case, which could have been easily broken into. But for some reason, nobody did," Blackwell said. "I don't know why.

"They tore up everything else, but they failed to get the most valuable piece of property we had," he said.

Because Hoolahan had told him that they would be looking for "sensitive" items in the office, Blackwell brought along a keepsake from his Army days: A parachute bag that fit inside a poncho liner, just the thing to hold a delicate item.

"Paul told me to grab the cup," Blackwell said. "So I did."

And he has held onto it ever since. He brought it this week to Atlanta -- temporary home of the Sugar Bowl.

"I'm ready to pass the torch now, though," Blackwell said. "I'm looking forward to the day we can return it to the Superdome."

The cup was to be presented to the winning team after Monday night's game between Georgia and West Virginia, but they will later receive a replica while the original is returned to the Sugar Bowl offices.