Craig: Super Bowl assignment includes early trip to the hospital

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2013 - 6:46 AM

An allergic reaction to Big Easy cuisine blind-sided reporter Mark Craig. Might have been the mystery sauce.

NEW ORLEANS - I may trail Adrian Peterson in rushing yards for the 2012 season (2,097-0), but I have horsecollared the big fella from behind when it comes to hospital emergency-room visits for allergic reactions to seafood during the 2012 season (1-all).

And mine came on the road in the postseason, not training camp. So take that, Mr. All-Day MVP frontrunner.

Well, that was fun.

New Orleans is a dream for lovers of seafood, jazz and alcohol. I'm batting .667 in my love for New Orleans.

For guys like me and, presumably, the best running back in the NFL, a week in New Orleans is seven days of steering clear of pots and pans that have the arms and legs of all sorts of sea critters hanging over the edge.

I've been dodging shellfish and peanuts for 20 years longer than AD has been alive. Tuesday night was just one of those tough losses. Sort of like when you run for 210 yards and then, bam, Christian Ponder throws two picks at Lambeau.

I thought I had successfully maneuvered through the maze of life-threatening food stands during Tuesday night's media/everybody else party. I stopped at two of them and got less than a handful of food at each one.

One stand made me laugh. It sold hot dogs, which brought to mind Peterson's answer when asked in August what he would eat after his scary episode.

"Hot dogs!" he said with a big smile.

Well, AD, don't eat any hot dogs in New Orleans. At least not the ones that have a big plop of bean sauce on them.

Next was an Italian place for a small handful of rice with chicken and what in hindsight was a suspicious-looking orange sauce on top. I ate it because, well, the only chef I truly trust in this town is Ronald McDonald. And Ron didn't have a booth at this particular party.

Within a few moments, that familiar feeling of "uh-oh" arrived. The same kind of moment that caused Peterson to call Vikings head athletic trainer Eric Sugarman. The same moment that made me wish the Star Tribune had a head, much-less athletic, trainer.

Before long, I was in a cab, barreling for the EpiPen medicine back in my hotel room. Yeah, mom, wife and oldest child, I should have been carrying it with me. I should keep it in my fist for, hopefully, the next 40 years or so.

Unfortunately, jabbing the EpiPen's adrenaline-filled needle into my thigh and counting to 10 didn't fix the problem. Unless fixing the problem includes my turning Arizona Cardinals red and itching all over.

After a trip to the convenience store and gulping some children's Benedryl, it was obvious that a Plan C was in order.

Plan C began by trying to make the front-desk guy at the hotel understand that my request for a cab to the nearest emergency room is a time-sensitive request that will last about 10 minutes. Then his job becomes calling 911 to come pick up the Minnesotan who's flopping on the lobby floor like a sun-deprived fish through a hole in the ice.

I made it to the hospital and had to wait. I've come to accept waiting as a fact of life in every situation. If you booked a 3 a.m., four-stop flight to hell, the overhead bins would be full and there'd be two 350-pound guys drooling on your shoulders.

I'm no Adrian Peterson, but the triage folks at the Tulane Medical Center must have been impressed by my credentials, or at least my redness and heavy breathing. I jumped the line fairly quickly.

Having just written a story about Ray Lewis and knowing I had a busy workday on Wednesday, I asked for the deer antler extract to help speed my recovery. Apparently, ER doctors are too busy to read reports about the alleged use of banned substances by the NFL.

Later, at about 1 a.m., the doc wrote me a prescription for steroids. Less than five days from the Super Bowl. Sweet. Just don't tell Roger Goodell that I'm going to pick them up as soon as I'm done with this col ...

Mark Craig •

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