After a few months “vacation” I hope you guys are excited for the start of the football season. It’s been a busy off-season for me, namely working hard to get healthy and preparing for what I hope to be a great 2009 season.
This past weekend we opened up the pre-season in New Orleans. My buddy, Corey Vavala, lives down there and he picked up my brother and I and gave us the insider’s tour of New Orleans. We drove down Bourbon Street and could see all the people getting cranked up for the first Saints home game (we also saw this lady who dresses her dog exactly like her… I gave her a high five because she was wearing Bengals colors). After Bourbon Street we drove through the French Quarter and you could just feel the history and tradition in the air. As we approached the bridge heading into the lower 9th Ward, Corey prepped us for the range of emotions we were expected to feel. The sadness was almost immediate as we saw about 15 standing houses in a place where there were previously thousands. Brad Pitt and Oprah are trying to do a lot to restore New Orleans but there is still so far to go. The mass amount of destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina definitely stung both Jordan and I with an array of emotions. Hearing it was one thing… but seeing it was something else.
After our tour we decided to get some good old Cajun cooking and headed to a place called Palace Cafe. The food was amazing. Everything from the fried alligator to the crab claws, the gumbo, the cheesecake… it was phenomenal. I’ve now crowned New Orleans as my favorite city to eat and want suggestions for my next time back there! Anyone?
I finally checked out of Georgetown College (where our training camp is and where they were filming Hard Knocks for HBO) and got to see my wife and kids for the first time in 2.5 weeks. In case you didn’t know, my wife and I had newborns earlier this year (a boy and a girl) and they’ve been quite a handful. As first time parents, we’ve definitely had our work cut out for us. I encourage any and all advice from those of you out there that have twins! Without question, they’re tougher than anything I’ve ever experienced in football (and a lot more rewarding)! I swear, in the two and a half weeks I was away, they grew and changed so much. They were a lot less excited to see me as I was to see them!
I’d also like to point out how wonderful Delta has been for us as new parents. My wife had to travel alone with both babies and Delta was unbelievably helpful not only letting parents with kids board early but also helping my wife get situated with the two kids. It’s something that I truly appreciated when I was in training camp and she called so impressed with the service. Then again, since they’ve been so wonderful in the past when we traveled with our Rottweiler, Homer, I wasn’t expecting anything less.
Keep on the lookout for more blogs from me throughout the year. I hope you are all well out there and make sure to send me questions!