FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The news that New Orleans would host the 2013 Super Bowl almost prompted joyous Saints owner Tom Benson to break out his parasol and skip, hop and do-wah-diddy down the halls of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where his peers voted for his hurricane-ravaged city to host the biggest annual football game of the year.
New Orleans is meandering through a rebirth. By the time it hosts its 10th Super Bowl -- and first since 2002 -- the change in its appearance, yet hopefully not its soul, should be somewhat complete. The same could be said about the NFL when it revisits Frenchman's Street, the French Quarter, Gentilly, the Garden District and, of course, the Superdome for its grandest game of the season.
One of the city's most famous sons, Peyton Manning, might not even be playing by then. His brother, Eli, will be a seasoned veteran. The home team might not be coached by Sean Payton, quarterbacked by Drew Brees or have Reggie Bush or Jeremy Shockey on its roster.
This country might have a different president.
Think about this: As befuddling to some as it was to see the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl in 2009, it's not out of the question to think that they could be a team to beat four years from now -- if Matt Leinart or another quarterback takes over for Kurt Warner and if Pro Bowl safety Adrian Wilson can still play at a high level or turns things over to Antrel Rolle.
Warner, by the way, was the losing quarterback in the last Super Bowl played in New Orleans seven years ago, when the New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams on Adam Vinatieri's 48-yard field goal as time expired.
The Cardinals' offensive and defensive lines are relatively young, and their running backs -- Tim Hightower and Chris "Beanie" Wells -- have a combined one year of experience right now. Wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin will have some age in 2013 and might be past their prime by then, but they still could be more than productive.
Quarterback Jay Cutler still could be in his prime, and, by then, you have to figure the Chicago Bears would have found him some wide receivers. His running back, Matt Forte, played at Tulane, which is located in New Orleans, just two years ago and still might have plenty of tread to make a sweet homecoming.
Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan might just be hitting his stride, as will the roster that is being constructed. The Falcons are a young team at nearly every position, having dispatched most of their older players this offseason. Running back Michael Turner might be slowing down four years from now, but the brunt of both offensive lines, wide receivers, linebackers and secondary is still wet behind the ears.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and, yes, the Detroit Lions are breaking in new quarterbacks in the NFC, and both teams will know if Josh Freeman and Matthew Stafford are any good by then. If they are, then the Bucs or Lions might be ready for the Super Bowl. The New York Giants, who seem to have a nice formula in place, also might be a threat.
In the AFC, quarterback Matt Cassel could have the Kansas City Chiefs peaking at the right time, having meshed with a young offensive line, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and a revamped defense. The mold is being shaped right now for the Chiefs to be a player by 2013, if not before then.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will be just 30 years old when the 2013 Super Bowl is played, and as long as he's healthy and the Pittsburgh Steelers stick to the formula of retooling that has worked for decades, they can never be ruled out. The Baltimore Ravens, with quarterback Joe Flacco and the consistently sound drafting of general manager Ozzie Newsome and his staff, could be ripe.
Some of the current models of longtime success -- the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles and New England -- could be in rebuilding phases by 2013. Yet, that has been said about those teams before, and yet they consistently seem to be in contention. Some of the current models of failure -- the Cincinnati Bengals, Oakland Raiders and St. Louis -- could be four years away from being four years away, or maybe they finally will have it right.
So much will change between now and then. Players will be traded, signed away and cut. Coaches will be fired. Coaches will be hired. Some of those brought back into the mix could be Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan, Bill Cowher and Jon Gruden. Who knows? Maybe even Tony Dungy.
The Super Bowl could be played after an 18-game regular season.
It's still a ways off, and there's certainly more immediate business at hand in the NFL. Still, it's a bit of good news for New Orleans. Like a lot of the soups and sauces that compliment the region's unique cuisine, this bit of good news has time to marinate for some extra special flavor in 2013.