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ATVS Goes to the Senior Bowl

Our man Seth takes in the sites and sounds of Mobile.

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

I drove from New Orleans to Mobile in a nice little rental car shaking my head every 15 minutes or so. This was less than 24 hours after the no-call and every few minutes, I would sigh loudly for no one in particular. I still couldn’t make sense of what had happened in the Superdome a day earlier. I stopped at a gas station in Slidell to fill up the car and stared at the Times Picayune’s “REFFING UNBELIEVABLE” headline for a few minutes before presenting your drab american money to the cashier. I tried to put 25$ in the car, which still had about a quarter of a tank of gas left. You can’t get much gas for 25$ (around 32$ Canadian) but with 10$ to spare, I filled the tank up. You gulf coast people have it made when it comes to gas prices. 25$ doesn’t even come close to filling up my Honda Civic back home.

With my leftover dollars, I headed across the street to a local seafood restaurant to get the last po-boy of my trip. It had been 12 years since I was last in Louisiana so I stocked up with as much po-boy fuel as possible.

This was the beginning of my week in Mobile, Alabama. Getting away from the frozen tundra of my hometown was worth its weight in gold. Fifty degrees and sunny is a lot better than 0 degrees and icy.

I treated this week as a semi-vacation. I didn’t have any deadlines or any content to worry about for the week. I could just go out and experience all that the shipbuilding capital of American had to offer.

At the official Senior Bowl hotel on Monday evening, I picked up my press pass and commiserated with fellow Saints fan, Deuce, on all that had happened in the ‘Dome the previous night. I was told by friends at the game that it was the loudest they had ever heard the Superdome as the game began and the quietest they ever heard it at the games end. A week later, it’s still hard to believe what happened.

I would end up back at the downtown area at the unofficial Senior Bowl bar later that night talking to my friend Owen, who writes for the Wisconsin SB Nation site, about how the Badgers and our Tigers have so much in common. It was like the spiderman meme come to life as we bitched and moaned about our offensive identities.

It was great night meeting twitter friends and shooting the shit until this happened:

When #drafttwitter comes to life it is a marvelously stupid thing. Nobody cares about your mock draft. The amount of made up terms I heard being used throughout the week was intense. I understand that coaching football players is different than scouting football players but I can tell you without a doubt a lot of scouting terms are made up. I’ve never heard anyone tell me a receiver had good “late separation” until this week.

I coached linebackers at the university level and never once said anything about their tackle radius. I heard that term this week. Maybe I’m a curmudgeon and I’m the one who needs to expand my mind but it felt attacked by these draft terms the whole week. I had a great time talking ball with everyone there but the draft lingo was nauseating.

Anyways, the next morning was the player weigh in. I chose not to attend. College football already has a neo-plantation vibe that we chose to willfully ignore as we indulge ourselves on Saturdays in the fall that I wasn’t about to go watch predominantly black kids stand on stage and have their bodies poked and prodded for a mostly white audience. I took a stand against this injustice*

*The real reason is that I didn’t wake up in time.

I was told to get to the stadium, Ladd-Peebles, an hour before practice but none of my friends were there when I arrived. It was overcast and a little chilly so instead of sitting on the cold bleachers, I sat in my car and played my favorite tower defense game on my phone for 45 minutes. It was later remarked that for someone from Canada, I was not handling the cold well.

Practice started and I took a couple nice pics of our boy Foster Moreau during team stretch.

And then I watched a football practice. It was boring. I’ve spent a good chunk of my life watching football practices. The format rarely changes. These were NFL teams structuring the practice plan (Oakland and San Francisco) and yet there was nothing interesting. Stretch -> install -> individual period -> 1v1’s -> special teams -> pass shell -> 11v11. Just about in that order every day. I definitely yearned to be out there coaching the quarterbacks. Both quarterback coaches even ran a lot of the same drills that I put my quarterbacks through.

Seeing top level athletes compete was kinda interesting but a football practice is just a football practice. The point of practice is to get better over time and to try new techniques not evaluate a receiver based on a couple routes.

It goes even deeper than that for the quarterbacks. Playing the most demanding position on the field and learning new terminology, new route concepts and new receivers is tough. Quarterbacks don’t spend the offseason working their minds. The offseason is for technical work. Senior bowl practice is not a great place to succeed.

Either way, I got to talk about football with some knowledgeable people which was nice.

After practice, I went back to my hotel to shower, warm up and get ready for dinner. We ate at another seafood place where I enjoyed the fried oysters. The seafood scene in Montreal is nice but it’s still not Gulf Coast level. I tried to get some seafood whenever I could.

It was at dinner when we all got the dreaded e-mail. Due to weather concerns, the Wednesday practice would be moved inside to the South Alabama practice facility and no media members could have access.

Everyone was sour. Except me. I did not need to sit out there and watch another practice in the rain.

This was the perfect time to treat myself to a museum day. I woke up Wednesday morning extremely hungover and took myself to the GulfCoast Maritime Musuem.

This was the highlight of my week. A rainy day in the middle of January in Mobile, Alabama meant I had the museum to myself. I learned about flags, sunken ships in the Mobile river, how the Gulf of Mexico affects the livelihood of everyone on the coast and how many sneakers you can fit into a shipping container (hint: it’s a lot).

I had a good time. At the gift shop, I bought my mom a dish towel with a picture of a trout on it with the quote, “Give me the trout, the whole trout and nothing but the trout.”. I loved it.

Unfortunately, Thursday practice was still open for media at Ladd-Peebles so the next morning I made my way out the hotel after another installment of “how many sausages can Seth eat at the continental breakfast”. I stopped at a Dick’s before practice because my sister wanted an LSU t-shirt. Looking back, I should have stopped at a sporting goods store when I was still in Louisiana because the Dick’s in Mobile, Alabama was all of our personal hells

There was a small section of LSU stuff and the best I could do for my sister was get her a purple and gold beer coozie.

At least the weather was nice and sunny when I arrived at the stadium. Foster Moreau really stuck out in that Thursday practice. He has a chance to be a real difference maker in the NFL unlike what he was at LSU. A change in scenery and away from the LSU offensive scheme will do him good.

Even if it’s sunny in Montreal in Janurary for a day, you can’t sit outside for longer than 5 minutes because it’s v. v. v. cold. Maybe my skin was not adequately equipped for a few hours in the southern sun.

After a nice dinner at Mexican restaurant with some friends, I headed back to my hotel for my final night in Mobile. An early trip to the Mobile Regional Airport had me put the lights out early that night.

I don’t know what I was expecting from the Senior Bowl. I went to network with some cool people and that worked out but the football aspect was lacking. Not enough Xs and Os talk. I was definitely in the wrong place.

See you in 2020, Mobile.