Veterans give Colts advice

Associated Press
Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) is congratulated after the Colts beat his former team, New England, in the AFC Championship game last week. Vinatieri was a key player in the Patriots' three Super Bowl titles, and he offered his current team advice on how to handle the big game.

INDIANAPOLIS - Anthony McFarland, Adam Vinatieri and Ricky Proehl all survived the Super Bowl hype and have the rings to prove it.


On Wednesday, Colts coach Tony Dungy asked that trio to give his other 50 players some insight on handling the two-week circus leading up to the biggest game in Indianapolis history.

"I gave them one real message: That the Super Bowl week is for everybody else, the football game is for us," McFarland advised teammates Wednesday. "That's the only thing that really matters. I say everybody focuses Super Bowl week around every other thing, and they save the best for last and that's the game."

Indy's toughest challenge will be working amid a frenzied environment that includes filling ticket requests, making travel plans for family members and handling the increased attention.

The Colts got a brief look at that stage Wednesday when dozens of reporters showed up at the team complex asking about things ranging from Vinatieri's relationship with Bears kicker Robbie Gould to the temptations that come with spending a full week on the beaches of Miami to Peyton Manning's bruised thumb.

The two-time MVP has practiced but has been coy about the injury, saying only that he was using Bill Belichick's theory. Belichick, the New England coach, is known for keeping the status of injured players secret.

To stave off any hint of distractions, the Colts sent two Super Bowl veterans - McFarland and Vinatieri - to the podium first, hoping to set the tone for the week.

For most Colts, this is a new experience.

Of the 53 players on the active roster, less than a half-dozen have ever been to a Super Bowl - McFarland, Vinatieri, Proehl, backup defensive back Dexter Reid and backup defensive tackle-fullback Dan Klecko. All have at least one Super Bowl ring.

Even longtime Colts assistants like offensive line coach Howard Mudd and running backs coach Gene Huey have never dealt with the buildup into February. Dungy went to one Super Bowl, as a backup on the 1978 Pittsburgh Steelers that beat Dallas.

"It's a three-ring circus with a game at the end," Vinatieri said. "I told them not to get caught up in the hoopla that starts beforehand because we are really only there for the game. I think the team that prepares the best, can get focused in and get rid of all distractions and can execute on the field is the team that's going to win."


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