Bears Arrive in Style at MIA

When the Bears left Chicago on Sunday, it was about 18 degrees outside. Upon their arrival in Miami for Super Bowl XLI, Mother Nature greeted them with a 75-degree afternoon. The Indianapolis Colts will make their way to the Sunshine State on Monday. Although the Monsters of the Midway are still 7-point underdogs, that role suits them just fine.

Head coach Lovie Smith flipped through the Indianapolis Colts media guide on a three-hour flight that delivered the Bears from the cold of Chicago to the warm comfort of Florida.

"I looked at 18 pages of Peyton Manning," Smith said Sunday night about two hours after the Bears touched down at Miami International Airport.

The Bears know they will have to contain No. 18, the Colts' Pro Bowl quarterback, in one week at Dolphin Stadium. If they don't, they won't finish off the goal they set for themselves way back in the spring - winning Super Bowl XLI.

Wearing an orange tie reflecting one of the Bears' team colors, Smith bounded down the steps of the plane and hurried to one of six buses waiting to take his team to the team hotel.

"I was one of the first guys to get off the plane," he said. "I got a chance to get my seat real quick and see the players get off and see the smiles on their faces."

The Bears wrapped up their Super Bowl preparation in Chicago and will get back to work in Miami starting Monday.

"We feel good about where we are right now," he said. "But you know they all say the same thing. One more step, and they can't wait."

Their chartered plane sported a big Bears logo on the side when it arrived at Miami International Airport. As they taxied up, the pilot opened the window of the mammoth jetliner and flew a Bears flag.

The temperature was about 60 degrees warmer than the frigid teens the Bears left on a trip that whisked them from snow-covered fields to palm trees.

It also took Smith just three seasons to land the Bears back in the Super Bowl for the first time since 1986.

The team hotel, just five minutes away from the airport and miles from the glitter of South Beach, featured a big orange and blue 'C' on the elevator doors and a large sign above many of the doorways with "Finish" sandwiched by two Bears heads.

Smith said Friday his plan was to take keep the Bears on a normal schedule as much as possible. That will certainly be interrupted by media mob sessions the first four days this week, including one Tuesday at the stadium where they will face the Colts in a week.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The Bears didn't have a curfew Sunday night, but one will be in effect starting Monday.

"Our curfew is midnight," said rookie Devin Hester, who played in college at the University of Miami. "I told the guys everything starts [on South Beach] at one o'clock, so we'll already be in bed."

Hester has become one of the unofficial Bears tour guides for this week.

"Miami is a great place to visit," he said, "and there are all kinds of things you can get into. We do want to have a little fun but careful of your surroundings. We're here to play a football game."

All season long they've dodged the doubters, who questioned just how good these Bears could be because they play in what was considered a weaker NFC this season.

Their 15-3 record was met with some skepticism, and quarterback Rex Grossman has been a question mark - incredibly good one week yet horrifically bad the next.

The defense that led the NFL with 44 takeaways wasn't as tough down the stretch until a strong showing in the NFC championship game rout of New Orleans and its top-ranked offense.

Now come the Colts and their high-powered attack.

"You know what? It finally sunk in today for the first time that we're in the Super Bowl," cornerback Charles Tillman said. "You see all the Super Bowl 41 stickers, and we get to the hotel and we have all the fans and media here. It's actually starting to sink in that I'm in the Super Bowl, that the Bears are in the Super Bowl."

JC


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