Entering Super Bowl XLIV, Colts Hungry for Second Super Bowl Title in Four Years
FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. – Reggie Wayne sees the NFL's biggest day pretty simply.
Wayne, a veteran of many, many big games and big plays – not to mention one very big play in a very rainy, very big game – said when 6:25 comes around Sunday, and when the talking, speculating and waiting are at last done, there's but one objective.
It involves a feeling.
And it involves avoiding one feeling while attaining another.
So it was that when Wayne, the Colts' nine-year veteran wide receiver whose 53-yard touchdown reception drastically altered the early momentum in Super Bowl XLI, was asked this week just how many Super Bowls he would like to win, he said there is really no ideal number.
Impossible, he said, to limit a feeling like that.
"The more the merrier," Wayne said this week as the AFC Champion Colts (16-2) prepared to play the New Orleans Saints (15-3) in Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium Sunday at 6:28 p.m.
"One thing about winning one is that you have to figure out a way to win another. It's kind of like tattoos, it gets a little contagious after a while. In this case, two is better than one, and after you get this one, three is better than two. It never stops.
"It works for infinity, so hopefully we can get this job done because we understand it's not easy."
Such has been the approach of the Colts all week:
While media and observers have talked about countless storylines – the Colts' defense versus the Saints' high-powered offense and vice-versa; two of the league's best quarterbacks, Drew Brees of the Saints and Peyton Manning of the Colts; and notably, the Colts' place in history – players and coaches have said the only way those storylines matter is if the Colts approach the game as if nothing matters but that:
"You take it all in," Colts rookie running back Donald Brown said of a Super Bowl week that included three media sessions and more media attention and fan focus than any one-day event in s"It comes with the territory and it's a great opportunity, great experience.
"So you take it all in but you have to remember why you are down here."
That reason is simple: to win the third Super Bowl title in franchise history, the second since the 1984 move to Indianapolis.
The Colts, a playoff team a league-best eight consecutive seasons and the AFC South champions from 2003-2007 and again this season, won their only Super Bowl title during that span following the 2006 season. They did so by beating the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in a heavy rain in the same stadium in which they will play Sunday.
The stadium at the time was called Dolphin Stadium, and 19 active players from this year's Colts team were present when the Colts made history that night, when Manning – already a two-time Associated Press Most Valuable Player – was named the Most Valuable Player of the Super Bowl.
Manning since that night has won two more AP NFL MVPs. His total of four is more than any player in NFL history, and this season he won the second of back-to-back MVP awards by leading the Colts to one of the most remarkable seasons in franchise history.
The Colts, who had seven players named to the Pro Bowl – Manning, defensive end Dwight Freeney, safety Antoine Bethea, defensive end Robert Mathis, Wayne, tight end Dallas Clark and center Jeff Saturday – won 14 regular-season games, tying a franchise record.
They also set an NFL record by winning 23 consecutive regular-season games from mid-2008 through the 14th game of this season, and their 115 victories in the decade of the 2000s is an NFL record for victories in a decade.
They also have won 12 or more games in seven consecutive seasons, also a record.
The Colts with a victory Sunday can become the 11th franchise to win multiple Super Bowls in a four-year period, joining Green Bay (1960s), Miami (1970s), Pittsburgh (1970s), Oakland (1980s), San Francisco (twice in the 1980s), Dallas (1990s), Denver (1990s), New England (2000s) and Pittsburgh (2000s.)
Dallas won multiple Super Bowls in the 1970s, Washington won multiple Super Bowls from 1983-1991 and the New York Giants did in the 1980s and early 1990s, and Colts Owner and Chief Executive Officer Jim Irsay said doing so creates a legacy.
"From that aspect, there's no question the importance of what this means to us – the legacy in terms of getting a second one and being able to be a two-time world champion and separate yourself from some other franchises that have won one," Irsay said. "It's a big thing, and also in terms of even some of your players that are going to be considered for the Hall of Fame when their careers are done. The (defensive end) Robert Mathis', the Reggie Waynes, when you're a two-time winner, it's something that means a lot. This is something that's really big for us.
"At the same time - I can definitely say this from a personal point of view - is that having won one, you're somewhat playing with the house's money because you know that you have that world championship. No one can ever take that away from you.
"You have to realize in '03, '04, '05, that we lost to the Super Bowl champions. Twice the Patriots, and the Steelers [one]. Literally, we may have been to four Super Bowls if we were in the other conference in my opinion. I feel strongly about that. At the same time, winning the world championship is what it's about, and I've said it before: you scratch and claw, you're 100 feet from the top of Mt. Everest and you know only one person's going to make it and the other person's going to fall down to the bottom.
"It's something for us that means a lot to get the second world championship, no doubt about it. Having that first one in the bank, that takes some pressure off, I guarantee you that."
Colts linebacker Gary Brackett this week spoke of the game's historical importance, with the Colts having made the post-season nine of 10 seasons in the 2000s.
"It would be big in topping that (the decade) off," Brackett, the team's defensive captain, said. "You still look at teams like New England, because they have three Super Bowl rings and how they're remembered in this decade; also, a Pittsburgh – who has two (in the 2000s).
"So to get a second Super Bowl ring and having the most wins in the decade would definitely go down in history."
Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney agreed.
"It means a lot," Freeney said. "Winning one, okay – there are teams that have won one. I think teams that are in the upper echelon as far as Super Bowls are franchises and teams that can win multiple Super Bowls – going back and doing it again. It wasn't a mistake. That's what we want to do. Personally that's what I would love to do."
Wayne, during the seemingly endless waves of questions and interviews leading to Super Bowl XLIV, was asked the best part of Super Bowl XLI. He smiled.
"Winning," Wayne said. "Winning, winning, winning. That was the beauty of it."
He also recalled a moment during the celebration, when the feeling was fresh and before the teams exited the field. It was a moment when Wayne said he fully realized the difference in the feelings of the NFL's two best teams in the moment after its biggest games, and truly realized the importance of being on the winning side.
"I remember after the game was over, I'm celebrating with my teammates and it's 15 minutes after the game and I'm still seeing Chicago Bears walking off the field," Wayne said. "That's a feeling that you understand is not easy to handle, so the best way to not experience that is to win the game.
"That's what our focus is and hopefully we can get it done."