HOUMA, La. – The king of the parade was strutting his stuff, bopping along to "Gangnam Style" and hurling beads and candy at cheering onlookers.
Up ahead, former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards led the line of floats, still beloved after four terms representing the state, then a 10-year jail sentence for defrauding it.
And back in the pack of the festivities, which were located 57 miles and light years away from the Super Bowl he might have been at but for that darn Instagram account, sat Brandon Jacobs, hanging out on float No. 6, tossing foam footballs and issuing handshakes to the folks of his hometown.Jacobs is a two-time Super Bowl champion and had the chance to repeat his 2012 success with the New York Giants by riding the coattails of the San Francisco 49ers' remarkable surge through the playoffs. Instead, the 30-year-old has had to look on from afar, as he was cut by coach Jim Harbaugh after posting some ill-advised photos of himself in a Big Blue uniform as a means of protesting his lack of playing time in the 49ers' backfield.
Instead of spending this weekend preparing for another title attempt, Jacobs was in the town of his birth on Friday evening, hanging out with friends on a garishly decorated float that was sponsored by a small local supplies firm.
"I don't see it as sad that I am here and not at the Super Bowl," Jacobs told Yahoo! Sports as he stepped out of what could be Houma's only limousine.
"This is my town and I grew up playing against these schools," Jacobs said. "It is good to come back whenever it is, whatever the occasion and whatever else is going on."
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Jacobs signed with the 49ers as a free agent after last season and figured to become a tandem act with Frank Gore in the team's running game. Instead, Jacobs was reduced to a minor role, carried the ball only five times for 7 yards in two games, and was irritated about his inertia.
This Super Bowl matchup against Baltimore's ferocious defense might have offered Jacobs greater opportunities, with his bulk and size a potential means of softening up the Ravens. But that chance evaporated in the oh-so-modern method of social media anger, meaning that the eight-season veteran will be a spectator like most of us come Sunday.
Or perhaps not.
"I'm not really going to watch it," he said. "I am going to be flying. My flight to Atlanta leaves around 4 p.m. and when I land it is going to be halftime, so I am not going to see it, I won't be watching."
Jacobs is a tough guy, a running back of unusual size and force, and enough of a boxing fan to want to become a promoter when he retires. But for all his words, he has been hurt by this process and the harsh reality that the NFL waits for no one has dawned upon him. There are no guarantees he will find employment next season, despite confident predictions to the contrary. His assertion that he has no regrets regarding his time in San Francisco rings hollow.
"I am not sad," he said. "I am rooting for the 49ers and want the 49ers to win. The boys have worked too hard not to. I have been there first-hand and seen it for myself.
"What happened happened, and I try not to let it bother me and I try not to talk about it. I am going to be back, I am going to be playing football next season, at the knockout level. I want people to know that.
"It was just the business part of it, that was why it didn't work out but I am a free agent again. I am doing the right things and if I have to prove myself all over again to certain people, then that is what I will do. I have been getting ready for next season ever since I got released. I'm not going to stop."
Time spent in this Cajun country town was enough to see how Jacobs could take some solace from an occasion like this. The good people of Houma don't judge, just as well for former Governor Edwards. On Friday, Jacobs was given the kind of reception that the 49ers will get only if they take the Lombardi Trophy back home.
Which, for the record, he is certain that they will.
Any latent ill-feeling toward the 49ers is reserved for Harbaugh and the team's hierarchy. Jacobs is both hopeful and confident that Colin Kaepernick's offense will prove too strong.
"Kaepernick is going to be the exclamation point," Jacobs said. "He has got an outstanding line in front of him and Frank Gore is going to make some great plays.
"It will be a knock-down, drag-out game, and the 49ers will take it.
"They will be doing it without me and that is just the way it is. I would hope that after winning two Super Bowls I could have had something to offer, but it wasn't to be."
And with that, Jacobs was off, up onto the float, with candy, beads, teddy bears, cheers and autographs in his immediate future, and a sad Sunday full of "what-might-have-been" thoughts to follow.
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