Colts Arrive in Rainy South Florida Monday for Super Bowl XLIV
MIAMI – Peyton Manning had a young feeling Monday.
It wasn't just that the Colts' quarterback – who this season won a fourth Associated Press Most Valuable Player Award in his 12th NFL season – was at the Super Bowl for a second time in four seasons, and therefore once again living a young person's dream.
No, Manning said, it was more than that.
It's that when the Colts arrived in South Florida on Monday for a second time in four seasons to begin preparing for Super Bowl XLIV, there was as much new around Manning as there was old.
Manning said that was a good feeling. And yes, it was a young feeling.
"It has a different feel," Manning said Monday evening during his first media availability of the week as the AFC Champion Colts (16-2) prepared to play the NFC Champion New Orleans Saints (15-3) at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida on Sunday.
"It's a new year because we have a new team. We have a new head coach. We have a number of new players. There are 25 guys who were on our team three years ago, but because we're so young, it makes the older guys like myself and (center) Jeff Saturday excited about being down here.
"This is not a bad place to have to come back three years later for a Super Bowl."
Following the 2006 season, the Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in Super Bowl XLI, which also was played in Miami. That game was played in a driving rain, and when most of the Colts team arrived in Miami on Monday, there again was a steady rain.
"I heard coaches getting off the plane saying, 'Deja Vu,' Colts Head Coach Jim Caldwell said early Monday evening. "Whatever the conditions are, we're certainly looking forward to the challenge."
Said Manning, "I don't know what it is – the Colts bringing rain to Miami, I guess."
Offensive tackle Ryan Diem said his guess is it will clear by Sunday.
"If it doesn't, we've all played in the rain before," Diem said. "It's nothing new to us, so it won't be that big of an adjustment."
Caldwell, in his first season as head coach after seven seasons as a Colts assistant, also spoke to the media for about 15 minutes after the Colts' arrival. Manning, cornerback Kelvin Hayden, Diem, running back Joseph Addai, defensive tackle Dan Muir and middle linebacker Gary Brackett also spoke.
The Colts as a team will attend the NFL's Super Bowl Media Day Tuesday, with practices scheduled Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, as well as a Saturday walkthrough.
Of the aforementioned group, Muir is the only player who wasn't with the Colts for Super Bowl XLI.
"It's a real good feeling," Muir said. "It's a real, real good feeling. We worked all season to get to this point. Now, it's here. The main thing is focusing. It's easy to get caught up in the whole 'Super Bowl, the biggest game,' and all of that stuff. It's easy to get caught up in it.
"The main thing is tell yourself, 'Relax and do the same thing you did all year to get here.'
Diem said while there was excitement Monday, he tried to approach it more as a veteran.
"Guys are definitely excited," Diem said. "Myself, personally, it's probably a little bit more of a business trip than it was last time. Last time, it was all new. It's quite a circus to be around. It's exciting and different. For me, I'm going to treat this like a normal week as best I can.
"Obviously, it's a different atmosphere and different circumstances than back home, but I'm a little more calm and reserved for this week."
During his press conference Manning was asked about being one of six Colts players attending the Pro Bowl in South Florida Sunday, and if it was inconvenient not traveling with the team Monday. Manning and other Colts Pro Bowl players flew to South Florida Sunday, and though they didn't play in the game, they participated in the All-Star game's festivities.
"As we've done all year, we have dealt with circumstances in a positive way," Manning said. "We were told what the expectations were coming to the Pro Bowl. I got to fly on a private plane with six of my best friends and teammates. We had Ruth's Chris Steakhouse food on the plane.
"We took a private escort into Miami. I shook a few hands, waved, did one interview and made $45,000. I can think of some worse things to put yourself through."
The quote drew laughter from the gathered media, but Manning continued more seriously.
"If it was just one guy – if it was just Jeff or (wide receiver) Reggie (Wayne) by himself – I don't think that guy (would have enjoyed himself)," Manning said. "The fact that we were together, we felt like we had a team. We got to go eat dinner after that. We enjoyed it and made it a positive.
"But we're glad everybody's here now and we're ready to go."