By Brett Martel
The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS — San Francisco defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois made one of his greatest football memories to date in the Superdome, where he won a national championship with LSU against Ohio State in January 2008.
Jean Francois also was voted MVP of that game, an honor that disrupted his celebration after he had climbed into the stands to see his family.
“They had to get a lot of the guys to grab me out of the stands to bring me back down, but it was a good moment when I got a chance to hold that crystal ball and see that confetti,” Jean Francois said.
As it turns out, the 49ers also are staying in the same hotel and using some of the same meeting rooms that LSU used leading up to the Tigers’ BCS triumph.
The memories are not so fond for a couple other 49ers who were in that same title game, but playing for the Buckeyes.
“I don’t want to hear it,” linebacker Larry Grant said when asked whether the sight of the Superdome brings back bad memories. “All I’m thinking about is hoisting that Lombardi Trophy in a few days.”
Grant said Jean Francois had not said a word to him about the game recently.
“He doesn’t want to bring that up with me,” Grant said. “I might slap him in the face.”
Niners offensive lineman Alex Boone, also a Buckeye back in 2007-08, said he did have some painful memories come back to him when he walked on the field against the Saints earlier this season. The 49ers won that game, 31-21.
“It was a little weird coming back. I just remember thinking about the championship game and I was happy this (past game against New Orleans) went differently,” Boone said. “Hopefully we can have success this Sunday.”
Farewell, Alex? Alex Smith leaving the San Francisco 49ers after this season is a topic CEO Jed York isn’t ready to address.
York made one thing clear Thursday: Smith hasn’t requested his release after the 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick lost his starting job to Colin Kaepernick.
Smith certainly hopes to remain a starter somewhere, and that doesn’t seem likely anymore with San Francisco, his only NFL team.
While the 49ers would love to have two winning QBs, York realizes that might not be a realistic luxury as far as Smith is concerned.
“Alex and I started with the 49ers the same year in 2005 and I’ve known Alex for a long time. And that’s part of the overall analysis you do at the end of the season, not just for one player but for everybody,” York said.
Hall of Fame Owners? An oddity for this Super Bowl has both teams’ former owners as finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The late Art Modell, who owned the Cleveland Browns and then moved them to Baltimore to become the Ravens, and Ed DeBartolo Jr., of the San Francisco 49ers, could enter the hall on Saturday. They are among 15 modern-day finalists, of which as many as five can be elected.
Modell bought the Browns in 1961 and took them to Baltimore in 1996. He was president of the NFL under then-Commissioner Pete Rozelle from 1967-69 and played an instrumental role in negotiating television contracts for the league. Modell contributed to the creation of Monday night football, too.
“That is always one of those situations that you really try to stay out of, because you don’t know how they vote,” Ravens star linebacker Ray Lewis said. “You can only tell them about the man who I knew myself: a true legend in his own way, a real visionary who changed thousands and thousands of lives. For the impact he’s had on this business and what he’s done for so many in this business, for me — I am a little biased — I would say, ‘Why wouldn’t he be in the Hall of Fame?”’
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