Watching the Pro Bowl a ‘Brees’ for Peyton, Super Bowl participants
Posted: Monday, February 1, 2010 4:27 pm
By: By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) — It was supposed to be a night off for the Pro Bowl players who’ll compete in next Sunday’s Super Bowl. Come to Miami a day ahead of schedule, mingle with the NFL’s other superstars, get another look at the stadium where a champion will be crowned.
That wasn’t good enough for MVP Peyton Manning.
“On our way down,” Indianapolis receiver Reggie Wayne said, “he was watching film.”
Super Bowl week didn’t officially begin until today, but for Manning, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and about a dozen other players, it started early. Some of the Colts’ and Saints’ best hung out on the sidelines in Miami on Sunday night, watching the AFC beat the NFC 41-34 in the Pro Bowl — a game in which they would have had the chance to play, at least under past circumstances.
But this year the Pro Bowl precedes the title game, so Manning, Brees and the rest were reduced to Super Spectators instead.
“It’s fun to be here,” Manning said during ESPN’s telecast of Sunday’s game. “It’s always fun to play in the game. Obviously I’m excited tonight, knowing I have a real game next week.”
For Manning and the Colts, this is old hat — they were in the Super Bowl in the same stadium north of downtown Miami three years ago, beating Chicago for the crown.
For the Saints, this is all new, and they’re still basking in the joy of winning the NFC title.
“It’s just been euphoria,” Brees said. “So obviously we’re excited to be here, but we definitely have a job to finish.”
Both of the Super Bowl clubs had seven players tabbed for the Pro Bowl. From New Orleans, Brees was joined by Jon Vilma, Darren Sharper, Jahri Evans, Jonathan Goodwin, Roman Harper and Jonathan Stinchcomb. Besides Manning, the Colts picked for the game were Antoine Bethea, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Robert Mathis, Jeff Saturday and Wayne.
They were introduced shortly before kickoff with the rest of the Pro Bowlers, and unlike players from some teams, particularly those who are Dolphins rivals in the AFC East, weren’t booed.
Fans, not so much. It rained lightly before the game — the same sort of weather that greeted the Colts for their Super Bowl win over the Bears.
“I could be accustomed to come to Miami and feeling rain,” Saturday said.
Colts owner Bill Polian decided it would be too challenging to bring Indianapolis’ Pro Bowlers back home, just to have them return today to South Florida. Saturday said one of the best parts of the Super experience was the team flight, coming down those stairs from the jet and onto the tarmac as a team.
“We’ll be the welcoming committee,” Saturday said.
The most intriguing Super Bowl story line might be the most obvious one as well, with two of the game’s elite quarterbacks — Manning and Brees, who combined for 8,888 yards passing and 67 touchdowns, each posting basically identical numbers to one another.
“Well, they’re probably not giving enough credit to the other side of the ball as well,” Brees said. “I know that our defense has played exceptional as has the Colts’ defense. So it’s going to be one of those games that’s, you know, back and forth, down to the wire I’m sure.”
And at halftime came the perfect photo op, the meeting of the quarterbacks.
Manning and Brees shook hands and nodded at each other, then walked across the field side-by-side. They wished each other luck, then headed their separate ways, knowing the roads would lead them back to the exact same spot next Sunday night.