Mobile, Ala. — The NFL’s influence on Mobile this week is readily apparent before you even arrive.
My short connecting flight from Memphis was filled to capacity, with nary an inch of space in the small overhead compartments. The woman sitting next to me and her two business associates were clearly flummoxed by this development, until she was approached by another passenger who asked whether she had a son playing in the Senior Bowl.
It sunk in at that moment: She was wearing a Nebraska sweatshirt. She didn’t even know what the Senior Bowl was prior to that, only that it was making travel a lot more hectic.
The NFL was in town.
The natives do appear ready. In the line for car rentals, one friendly employee said she’d been handing keys to NFL and team employees all day. She then told a story that goes to the heart of how much the Senior Bowl is woven into the fabric of this quaint Southern town.
She proclaimed how she had been wanting to go to the game for ages, but the one time she actually got a ticket — 25 years ago — her opportunity was regrettably thwarted. She made clear she still wasn’t over it. Why did she have to miss the game you ask? Well, only because she was in labor with her son.
Yes, Senior Bowl means that much to Mobile. Much as it does to the prospects, scouts, coaches, agents, journalists and fans here this week.
We will have daily video and blog updates, photos, columns and more from practice through Thursday, updating you on all the action. Stay tuned for more.