By Nathan Summers
Thursday, December 20, 2012
METAIRIE, La. — After Wednesday’s late afternoon practice inside the New Orleans Saints training facility, East Carolina head football coach Ruffin McNeill reiterated his firm stance on player behavior in the days leading up to Saturday’s New Orleans Bowl.
In short, it is a zero tolerance plan, which means a majority of the city’s traditional tourist activities are not available to players who visited the city just a few weeks ago when they played Tulane but had precious little free time.
With the better part of week to spend in the Crescent City this time, however, Pirate players can still get some of the best flavors in town.
“I went out to Acme Oyster House and had some fresh oysters, and a little shrimp and oyster po’boy,” said ECU quarterback Shane Carden, who noted that he drove through New Orleans on the way to a football camp as a high school freshman but had never experienced the city until now. “Delicious food. It’s different, man. It’s really different down here.”
Carden wasn’t the only one chowing down in one of the world’s hubs of great cuisine on the Pirates’ first night in town.
Plenty of others converged on various well-known New Orleans eateries, and the overwhelming majority of them were tasting New Orleans for the first time.
“We had a wide variety of food, and I know the jambalaya was good,” said defensive end Lee Pegues, who stayed close to the team hotel and ate at the Harrah’s Casino along with line mate Chrishon Rose. “It was my first time having that, and the seafood was awesome too.”
After their lengthy practice, the players bussed back into New Orleans proper to go bowling at the city’s well-known Rock ’N Bowl on Wednesday, more proof that bowl weeks are a reward for players even though they have serious business at week’s end.
“It’s a very historic place, and we’ve been able to walk around and tour the French Quarter a little bit, and saw the old cathedral and Jackson Square, and it’s been a great experience in an area I’ve never been before,” punter Trent Tignor said. “With this bowl experience, it’s given us a little free time to go out and see what the local restaurants have to offer. I had some Cajun shrimp last night at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., and it’s been fun.”
Like any great place, there is more to do in New Orleans than one could ever accomplish in a week, and even for football players, it’s not all about the food.
“I’ve never been to a place like this, with a hotel right by the Mississippi River,“ said Pegues, a South Carolina native who said he has also gotten some Christmas shopping out of the way this week. “I’m a person that likes to fish, so I’ve been wanting to go out there every morning and go fishing.”
Although they are strangers to New Orleans, ECU players were understandably excited to ply their trade at an NFL training compound on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Saints’ indoor practice field is adorned in mural-sized game photographs and a huge photo of head coach Sean Payton with the words “DO YOUR JOB” stenciled across it.
“It’s really cool just to be down here, practicing in an indoor facility,” Carden said. “I’ve never really had an opportunity to practice in something like this so it’s very cool. Just being around here, obviously a lot of great players have been in these facilities and it’s cool to practice where they have.”
Contact Nathan Summers at email@example.com or 252-329-9595.
via The Daily Reflector.