Although they remain a heavy favorite to win Super Bowl XXIV, the San Francisco 49ers found they weren't invulnerable -- to the flu virus, that is. The bug has tackled a few of the 49ers players, including star running back Roger Craig.
Call it the French Quarter Flu or whatever, but it kept Craig inside the 49ers hotel while the rest of the team was practicing Thursday afternoon.
Craig was excused from practice early on Wednesday because of flu-like symptoms. It was decided to give Craig more rest.
"I don't think Roger needs the work as much as he needed to rest," said 49ers coach George Seifert. Trainer Lindsy McLean said Craig was suffering from some light-headedness.
Guard Guy McIntyre who missed Wednesday's practice with the flu, participated in Thursday's drills and was taken off the San Francisco injury report.
Oddly enough, Craig showed up for Thusday morning's media interview session despite his discomfort, while several other San Francisco players were reprimanded for not showing up at Wednesday's session.
Niners safety Ronnie Lott did some work on pass defense but no strenuous work because of a thigh injury but Seifert said Lott will play on Sunday.
The 49ers worked on containing John Elway's runs and the Broncos' halfback pass plays.
"We've had drills for Elway's running just so we're in tune with it," Seifert said.
As for Elway, the Broncos quarterback sounded hoarse and was coughing as he went through a media interview session in the morning. Elway shrugged off any suggestion that he was not in top shape.
"My health is not a concern," he said.
Elway was criticized by Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw earlier in the week, then answered back saying:
"Terry Bradshaw has been bashing me ever since I got in the league. He didn't like the money I make. He still doesn't.
"He can stick it in his ear."
Thursday, Elway said that the exchange was not distracting him or the Broncos and their preparations for the Super Bowl.
"It just makes it that much more exciting," Elway said.
Denver coach Dan Reeves, meanwhile, was a bit angry over the slick field conditions at Tulane University.
"It's terrible," Reeves said of the field conditions. "You go through the whole practice worrying if somebody's going to get hurt.
"There's probably nothing that can be done about it, but it's extremely wet and it doesn't drain. Guys were slipping down, so you just hold your breath hoping somebody doesn't pull a groin muscle or a hamstring or tear a knee up or something."
On Wednesday, Elway slipped at least four to flu
times setting up to pass. On Thursday, wide receiver Mark Jackson had the biggest scare when he landed hard after slipping on a pass pattern and came up limping on his left leg. Later, Jackson was OK.
Denver downgraded tight end Clarence Kay from probable to questionable because of a bruised thigh on the morning injury report then reported him improved in the afternoon.
Running back Bobby Humphrey still was listed as questionable because of cracked ribs.
The NFL announced that Dick Jorgensen will be the referee for Sunday's game. It will be the first Super Bowl for the former University of Wisconsin basketball player. Former NFL head linesman Al Sabato will be the instant replay official.
Besides Jorgensen, four other game officials will be working their first Super Bowl. Among them are: umpire Hendi Ancich, head linesman Earnie Frantz, line judge Ron Blum and side judge Gerry Austin.
The 49ers haven't decided yet whether they will activate linebacker Jim Fahnhorst or running back and special teams standout Harry Sydney from injured reserve.
Toughest tickets in town are invitations to tonight's annual NFL Super Bowl party at the New Orleans Convention Center.
Approximately 3,000 guests will attend the lavish affair and be served Creole, Cajun and Asian Cajun cuisine, and listen to jazz, Cajun and Zydeco groups perform.