by Ross Snow
The San Francisco 49ers team plane landed in New Orleans late Sunday night, giving players and staff a quick chance to explore the city before beginning their rigorous Super Bowl preparation. While some opted to sample New Orleans signature cuisine or decorated jazz scene, 28-year-old backup quarterback Alex Smith had his eyes set on a more obscure New Orleans attraction.
"We should totally check out one of those voodoo places," suggested Smith to a group of 49ers special teams players he deems 'friends'. "Like, just as a joke – just to see what kind of weirdos hang out there. It's like 'Oooh, magic, we're so scared.' But seriously, cab picks us up in 10 minutes."
Smith, the 49ers starting quarterback to begin the season, was replaced by second-year quarterback Colin Kaepernick in Week 10, despite leading the 49ers to a 6-2-1 record. Although San Francisco has continued success, some wonder if Smith is wishing ill-will towards Kaepernick.
"Look at this voodoo doll, it's got markings that kinda look like tattoos," laughed Smith. "How much do you guys dare me to buy it?"
"We know what he's doing and it's pretty sad," said 49ers punter Andy Lee, ordered by coach Jim Harbaugh to 'chaperone' Smith on the trip. "This isn't the first time he's done stuff like this, either. Just last week I had to stop him from handing Kaepernick a Gatorade cup full of Nyquil during a timeout," continued Lee. "And honestly, even with the Nyquil, Kaepernick probably still would've outperformed Alex."
"An elixir of strength? Yeah right," said Smith, filling his basket. "As a joke guys," he said, showing the basket, "could you imagine? If I actually buy all these?"
Mamie LaVoy, the owner of Voodoo Palace, seems to appreciate the attention the store receives from sports players.
"Our shop actually receives a large portion of its income from sports stars. You'd be surprised," said Lavoy. "Heck, Bernard Pollard has probably single-handedly kept us in business the past few years."