The party atmosphere of the French Quarter will beckon many this week at the Super Bowl in New Orleans.
The debauchery of Bourbon Street, the famously raucous locale packed with bars and night clubs, is a potential distraction the Ravens are determined to avoid.
The AFC champions will have curfews to follow and the big game to prepare for Sunday night against the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
How will the Ravens handle the party-hearty atmosphere surrounding them when they arrive in the Big Easy this afternoon?
"You compartmentalize and focus in," six-time Ravens Pro Bowl center Matt Birk said. "You enjoy it when it's time to enjoy it and focus on work when it's time to go to work."
Several players made the point that there's plenty of time in the offseason to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
"You just act like you've been somewhere before," running back Anthony Allen said. "There have been guys from other teams in the past who have taken advantage of the situation and overdone it. We don't want to do that. We won't do that. We want to stay locked in and get that ring. It's going to be a fun week, but it's about football, not partying."
As exciting as New Orleans can be, players emphasized that this is a business trip.
"Absolutely, this is why we play the game: to make it to the big game," Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones said. "I think guys have an understanding of what's at stake. You can party later. This is the most important game of our lives right now."
Low-key and understated, quarterback Joe Flacco said he doesn't anticipate the Ravens having any problems maintaining their focus.
"I don’t envision it being very hard," Flacco said. "I think we all know what’s at stake for this game, and I think you have to enjoy it. There’s going to be certain points of being down there that you have to enjoy. This is something that doesn’t come up very often, so talking to the media, everything that goes on surrounding the game, that, to us, is secondary.
"But everybody else is really like the prime reason that we’re playing the game. You have to enjoy that. We all understand what that means and how to be smart about it. I think we have a team that does a great job doingthat, and we will this week, too.”
Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence in his players' concentration level, stating he has no concerns.
"Our guys, that’s all we’re are thinking about right now," Harbaugh said. "There is an old saying: 'The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.’ That is good wisdom right there. And our guys have done that. Our guys are football players. Our guys love ball. Our guys are into that part of it.
"I saw a quote that [49ers head coach] Jim [Harbaugh] had, in terms ofenjoying this moment, but enjoying the most important part of this moment, which is the football. That is the best part of it. We can do the other stuff anytime, but it is not very often that you get an opportunity to prepare for the Super Bowl, and that is what our guys are enjoying.”
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