"It is really good to get back to work. We spent the last few days talking about the game and talking about things. Today we got our first chance to get with the team and really start looking at the Bears, working on things that we're going to do. And that's exciting. I think the players are enjoying it and we're looking forward to having a great practice. As we look at them, we see what a good ball club they are and why they're 15-3. They do a lot of things well and they're going to present a big challenge, but I know our guys will rise to the occasion to get themselves ready for it."
(on if he gives the team any cautionary tales about what can happen during
Super Bowl week)
"We have talked about it a little bit and really didn't talk in depth about anything that's happened any place else, but really stressed that it's a business trip, that we want to go down there and enjoy our families and enjoy the moment and not totally disassociate ourselves with the hype and the hoopla, but it has to be a business trip and you're going down there to win the ballgame. I had three guys speak to the team about that—Adam Vinatieri, Ricky Proehl and Anthony McFarland, all guys that have gone and won—and what it means to go down there and win and how you have to prepare. And I thought the guys did a good job of painting the picture to the team."
(on if there is a Super Bowl moment he remembers best)
"Yes. When it was 00:00 on the clock and we had beaten Dallas. That was my favorite one. Super Bowls are all special. You have two teams that are there and it's one of the very few times in sports where it's do or die, it's winner take all, the winner is the champion and the loser goes home. There's no next game to prepare for. It just happens very rarely. That's the exciting thing about it to me, and that's what I think our players, those three guys (Vinatieri, Proehl, McFarland) did a good job of getting across to our guys. It's a one-game season."
(on Ryan Diem, Aaron Moorehead and Kelvin Hayden)
"I think it will be special for those guys, no question about it. They're all doing well. They all came in different ways. Aaron came to us a free agent receiver who we liked a lot, didn't get drafted, did a great job in his first preseason and has been a guy who every time he plays, he does a good job for us. He doesn't get the opportunity with some of the receivers we've had, but he's been special for us. Ryan Diem came as a guard. We moved him to offensive tackle. He's been very, very solid, been part of a unit that's done a great job of protecting Peyton and open up running lanes for the past five years. Very, very quiet guy, but very, very professional in the way he does things. Kelvin Hayden is probably our type of player, a defensive back who had converted from wide receiver at Illinois, a very, very tough guy, physical, has done a great job on special teams and made some big plays when he's gotten the chance to play."
(on having someone like K-Adam Vinatieri in this game)
"As long as I've been in coaching, I've had that situation. We've had kickers—I was with Gary Anderson when I first started in Pittsburgh and Fuad Reveiz in Minnesota and Martin Gramatica in Tampa and Mike Vanderjagt—and it just seems like I've been blessed that every stop you've had good, solid kickers who you felt like were always going to make it when you went out there. And Adam certainly gives us that same type of confidence. That's important as you're game planning, especially for big games because most big games are close."
(on how he thinks Peyton will approach such a big game)
"I don't think Peyton's really going to change with the fact that this is the Super Bowl. Every game is a Super Bowl to him. We play the mock game, his team against my team in training camp, and that's the Super Bowl to him. So this part won't be any different. He's been in the public eye. Obviously this is going to be the biggest stage that most of us have ever had, but he's been in the public eye as a No. 1 draft choice, Heisman Trophy candidate, all of that. I just don't think it's going to be that much different for him in terms of his preparation the way he handles things."
|Colts RB Dominic Rhodes (Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)|
"Dom has been tremendous in the playoffs for us. We made the switch going into the playoffs to start Joseph (Addai) and to bring Dom off the bench, and he has been kind of like the sixth man that's ignited things. That was always his role when Edgerrin was here, and he has embraced it. We feel like we have two starters, guys who depending on the defense we're getting, the situation, they both can play. And they've both been effective at it. He really has energized us the last three games coming off the bench."
(on WR-Reggie Wayne's year and being under the radar)
"He is under the radar, but Reggie's been a great player for us for a number of years. I did think about that on Sunday night, as we're on the field, that here he's had a year, he's going to the Pro Bowl, he's going to the Super Bowl, he's accomplishing all these things, and Rashad is not going to be here to enjoy it with him, but he gets to see it. It's special, and Reggie has done it in such a way that you know he was playing for more than just himself this year."
(on what Lovie has done differently with the Tampa 2 and if Dungy has the
advantage because of experience)
"No, I don't think anyone has the edge. All Lovie has done is what all the other guys have done, the things they really like about it, they emphasize. Other things they don't like, they tweak a little bit. But what Lovie has done is just encourage the guys to play hard. They play so hard. They never give up on plays. You see them forcing fumbles way down the field. You see them running and making hits and that, to me, is the thing that you notice, just how hard and how active they play."
(on if he has any funny stories with Lovie Smith like he had with Herm
"No, Lovie's pretty quiet. Lovie's a lot quieter than Herm. He just had a special way about himself and I guess the biggest thing, Derrick Brooks called me and he said, ‘Hey, after you guys won, I'm so happy for you getting to the Super Bowl, but you know I can't root against Lovie even though you were my head coach.' And that just tells you what the guys think about him and what I think about him as well."
(on how he would describe his emotions playing against Lovie in the Super
Bowl and everything in the last 18 months)
"My emotions are really focused in. I'm happy it's Lovie, I'm happy it's the Bears. I'm excited for him and one of my good friends, but really that part is taken out of it. I'm so excited right now. I really haven't slept much in the last three days; excited for our organization, just being around here the last couple of days and how everybody is fired up and upbeat. We've always had a great working environment, but just to see people that have worked hard get to go to the Super Bowl. That's the number one thing. Our fans and our city. After moving here in '84 and having it come to fruition and take that long to do it, it just feels special. Walking around town and being out and about, have people call and say how excited they are, that's the number one emotion. And for me, I think it was really a test. I think God gives you tests to see if you're going to stay true to what you believe and stay faithful. And for me, that's what it was, having to continue to believe, and sometimes when you have disappointments, it makes that final destination that much sweeter."
(on his assistant coaches like Mike Murphy and Howard Mudd and Gene Huey…how
happy he is to get them to the Super Bowl)
"That's who you really think of. I was very happy for our staff, three guys who have coached in the NFL a long time who are as good of position coaches as I've ever been around. I was standing up there on the podium thinking, ‘These guys are going to get to go and get to experience it,' and that's wonderful. You're happy for the equipment men and the trainers, guys that work 20-hour days all year and never get noticed, never get any notoriety at all. You're happy for them to be able to go. And probably most happy for (Owner and CEO) Jim Irsay. As I said the other day, he had the resolve…he wanted to stay here. I knew that. We got it done, that the team was going to be able to stay. We had the last week in Baltimore where I thought some of the things that were said and the way that thing was played up was just not right and he came through it like a man, like the strong man he is. I think he got rewarded and I'm really happy for him."
(on how he has been able to maintain the continuity on the coaching staff and what has been the benefit of it)
"It's a tremendous benefit. I think continuity is important. Usually when you're successful, you do start to lose guys. Guys get promotions—and we have had several guys who have turned down promotions to stay, and again, I think that's a tribute to Jim Irsay and the way he's built it, that people feel comfortable staying even though they may make more money some place else, get more responsibility. We've only had one staff change in five years and that helps you win. No question about it."
(on how his perceptions of Owner and CEO Jim Irsay have changed from
before he got here and now that he has been here five seasons)
"I didn't really know Jim that much. I knew who he was. Right after I got let go in Tampa, he called and the one thing that impressed me, he said, ‘I'm going to tell you this right now. This is not good negotiating, but I want you to be my coach. I don't care what it costs. You're going to be the coach of this team.' And if you want somebody to come at the right price, that's probably not the thing you tell them. But that just let me know how he was, a very honest guy, his emotions always out front. I told him after that, I said, ‘Well it's not going to be about money, so you don't have to worry about that.' We started talking about the old NFL and the way things were done and the Rooneys and the Maras and how he wanted Indianapolis to be that same way, that same feel of the community towards the team and the type of guys he wanted on the team. It took me about an hour to say, ‘Boy, this is a guy that I'm going to love to work for.' And that has just shown through in everything he does. He does so many things for our guys, for our staff, that go unnoticed. He does so many things for the city. He's just a special person and my admiration for him has just grown every year. When we would get close and lose games, lose in the playoffs, he was the most disappointed person, but it never came across that way. It was always encouragement. It was always, ‘Hey, we're building this thing in the right direction,' and never, never once did I feel any pressure that he's unhappy. He was disappointed as we all were, but just a special guy to work for."