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The players are here, too

Super Bowl XLVII has plenty of stories beyond coaching brothers

Harbaugh brothers, and let’s call it Ravens 24, 49ers 21. Or Harbaugh brothers, and let’s say 49ers 27, Ravens 24.

There, I’ve spared you a vast majority of the cliché pieces that will spring up in the days leading up to that rather consequential football game they’ll play in New Orleans Sunday night.

Virtually all of them will mention the opposing coaches that just happen to be siblings. Just about all of them will include a pick, though let’s face it, none of us really know what’s going to happen. We’re just guessing.

The real fun of Super Bowl XLVII involves the stories of the men actually on the field who will decide this contest. And there are plenty to choose from.

Start, as you tend to, with the quarterbacks, from those powerhouses Delaware and Nevada. Joe Flacco and Colin Kaepernick are proof that you don’t need to be from a marquee setting (like Flacco), or look like a matinee idol (Kaepernick), to make it big.

Long in the shadow of guys like Brady and Manning and even Ben Roethlisberger in his own division, Flacco conquered all of them this season. Plucked off the bench in a bold mid-season gamble, Kaepernick passed and ran wild, and is a defensive coordinator’s game-plan nightmare.

Stories also abound in the long-overdue veterans getting their chance. For the Ravens, that means Matt Birk, Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs getting a just reward for their long service to the league. For the Niners, it’s guys like Justin Smith, a standout for 12 seasons, entering the big stage for the first time. All are worth rooting for.

Also, we have two terrific running backs at the heart of this tale. Frank Gore is San Francisco’s all-time leading rusher, quite a feat for a franchise where Joe Perry and Roger Craig starred. Ray Rice, the pride of New Rochelle, might be Baltimore’s most pivotal offensive cog. Whichever of these backs fares better on Sunday is a good indicator of how the game might turn out.

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