Hayden Says Colts 'Right on Track' to Accomplishing Mission
INDIANAPOLIS – It was just three years ago when Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden timed a double-move just right and leaped into the air to intercept a game-changing pass, returning it 56 yards for a score that would seal Super Bowl XLI.
The touchdown made it 29-17, the final score of the Colts' Super Bowl victory. And it also meant one another thing to the team's starting defensive back: "Mission accomplished."
Hayden said the team goes into every regular season with the goals of winning the division, securing home-field advantage and "then taking care of business in the playoffs and come home with the Super Bowl."
"Right now, we're right on track," Hayden said. "We just want to get this done and look back and say, 'Mission accomplished.'"
While the interception is still fresh in the fifth-year veteran's mind, Hayden said it is not the most memorable moment of Super Bowl XLI.
"The team goal was to go out there and win. That's the most memorable part about it," he said. "It's once a in a lifetime opportunity. You don't know if you're going to be back. Just to get to the ultimate game and come out with the win is more important than anything."
Hayden downplayed his unforgettable interception, a moment many Colts fans remember as the clinching play, instead saying, "I just did my job, nothing special. When my number was called and my opportunity came, I just took advantage and made a play."
Despite being there just three years ago, Hayden said the team's veterans are as eager as everyone else to get an opportunity to play once again on football's biggest stage.
With 25 players returning from Super Bowl XLI, Hayden said he is confident the Colts will know what to do upon arrival in Miami.
"They know what to expect," Hayden said of his teammates. "And they know how to handle themselves."
INDIANAPOLIS-NEW ORLEANS CONNECTION
When the Colts and the New Orleans Saints square off in Super Bowl XLIV, it will match two of New Orleans' finest against the Saints team.
Both quarterback Peyton Manning and wide receiver Reggie Wayne grew up in New Orleans and both said this week that they are happy to see the Saints in the Super Bowl.
"Reggie and I are both excited," Manning said. "It's obviously our second trip back, and both being from New Orleans, I think he and I share the same feeling; we're excited for the city down there.
"Obviously, we're going to do whatever we have to do to get ourselves ready to play and win," Manning added. "But I think it is an exciting time for both of us."
Wayne grew up a Saints fan and was able to rattle off a list of players he followed a kid. But he singled out fellow wide receiver Eric Martin as his all-time favorite.
Manning and Wayne are not the only ones with ties to Louisiana. Another, running back Joseph Addai, played his college ball at Louisiana State University.
"Hats off to them. I'm excited that they did win the NFC, it does a lot for the people in New Orleans," Addai said. "I was in Baton Rogue when (Hurricane) Katrina came, and I got evicted, so I can only imagine what happened in New Orleans. It really touches a lot of people that are from that area and are fans of theirs, (not just) because of football, but what happened around that time and is still going on."
Addai's sentiments were echoed by Manning, whose parents and older brother, Cooper, still live in New Orleans.
The Colts quarterback said the city has been a huge part of his family's life, including his father's, who was a legendary quarterback for the Saints and a part of their organization for 39 years.
"They deserve it, and I know the city is excited," he said. "And the New Orleans Saints players do just wonderful things for the community down there. They really do. It's been a great relationship between the players and fans, and what a great way for these players to reward them with a trip to the Super Bowl."
FOLLOWING THEIR LEAD
Defensive captain Gary Brackett is one of many leaders in the Colts locker room.
After watching guys like Manning, Wayne and center Jeff Saturday lead the team for years, Brackett was named a captain in 2006 and has led the defense ever since.
On the field, Brackett said the most important key to being an effective captain is communication. And if you can communicate well, you can lead well.
But off-the-field communication is just as paramount, according to the linebacker. Leading by example and being able to tell younger players what it takes to win is just as key as telling someone where to line up on defense.
Brackett said it is important to open the lines of communication during the offseason and build them as the season progresses. The most important message of all, Brackett said, is to tell the younger players to take care of their bodies, which he said is their livelihood.
With the Super Bowl just over a week away, the seventh-year veteran said it is clear the team's younger players have gotten the message.
"Guys see that, guys respect that," Brackett said. "I think we have a slew of rookies that take that lead now. Donald Brown, Jerraud Powers. And the treatment room, it's almost like a race getting here at 7:00 a.m. When the doors open, you have guys waiting in line."
Brackett said that type of discipline and that type of professionalism comes from the leaders.
"Guys have taken heed to that, and you can just see that development," he said.