Indianapolis has been a good host city. They’ve done a good job here of keeping things to the point where they’re not too crazy. Everything is within walking distance once you’re downtown, and they have it spaced out pretty well with the different venues.
All the parties are pretty much industry parties. The other night, I was at the EA Sports party and it was a who’s who in terms of the people there. Same with the ESPN Party on Friday. It’s kind of an end of the year reunion at these parties with players from around the league.
Everyone that you respect and compete against, you have a chance to see them in a different setting. It’s an interesting change of pace.
Seeing all these guys, hanging out, being friendly with guys you are “rivals” with, kind of changes the way a “rivalry” is made. But more than that, I think free agency has changed that atmosphere. With free agency, you could be my teammate one day, and the next you’re on the Seattle Seahawks, our rival. I think that has a bigger effect on how we approach things than getting together, and catching up like this off the field during Super Bowl week.
Look at Donovan McNabb. He’s a Philadelphia Eagle for so long, and they turned around and traded him within their own division to the Washington Redskins. I don’t think that would’ve happened in the early days of football, before free agency existed.
In a similar respect, a lot of the buzz around Indianapolis this week, outside of the game, has been about Peyton Manning. We as players are aware of what’s going on, but we don’t really talk about it that much. It’s definitely all over the media and in the papers here though.
The whole thing just shows you the business aspect of the game. It seems like every year now, you have an athlete that has to go through a challenging time with his team. Although certain players are embedded in the community and the face of a franchise, at the end of the season, we’re all still evaluated and looked upon as assets. Are you still of worth, or have you become a liability?
It’s really tough because he’s taken the Colts to two Super Bowls, and I don’t know how many consecutive years of 11 wins. But now they’re ready to discard him and look for the next young gun. I don’t think the money can be used as an excuse because the Colts knew he was having surgery. They knew missing time was a possibility, and they still inked the deal before the season. It’s really hard, being a veteran player in this league, when you see other veterans treated that way.
I’m excited to see the game on Sunday. I think it’s going to go down to the wire and be a real thriller.
For the Patriots, I think Tom Brady had his one bad game that he was going to have this postseason, and they were able to get past Baltimore anyway. He is the epitome of that old slogan: repetition and discipline. He’s very disciplined in his preparation week in and week out. His mechanics as a quarterback are almost flawless. The way he commands and leads the team, no matter how much they may be up on their opponent, you can see he has that look that some of the great athletes have.
He always comes ready, and goes out there to put his opponent away.
I do think the defensive line of the New York Giants will be a problem for the Patriots. Their left tackle being banged up, as well as Gronk being hurt, will come in to play. But I feel like New England is waiting on something. I think they’re waiting to strike, and I do believe that they see this as a payback for Super Bowl XLII. So my prediction is the Patriots.
SPORTS CARS IN ST. LOUIS?
I’m excited for what’s to come in St. Louis for us as an organization. Obviously, there will be a lot of changes under a new regime, and I think one thing we know for certain is that there will be a change in how we prepare for a game-planning perspective.
From what I hear from players that have played for Coach Fisher, he brings a certain element to the team where you play with confidence, you’re almost cocky in your game planning and ability to execute that on Sunday. I think that has effects on the game when you don’t come in second-guessing yourself or thinking you may not be able to compete. He’s seen it all in the NFL. He knows how to get a team ready for 16 games. He knows when to push down on the gas and he knows when to pull on the brakes.
I think we have the talent in the core of our team, our nucleus, that we can build off of. Now it’s time, to use an analogy, to go get some sports cars. We have a sedan. We have a SUV. We have that dependability. Now it’s time to go get those flashy pieces, bring some characters into the locker room to help us get over the top. Immediately you have to think about the offensive line and wide receiver. We also need some secondary skill players on defense.
But for me right now, before I worry about any of that, I have to take this time to unwind. I always take about 4-6 weeks off after the football season is over to give my body some down time, and recover from the season. I turn off all physical activities for that period of time. The body needs that.
Mostly during that time, I’ve been spending time with my family and my kids, making sure I get quality time with them. It’s good to catch up on the things that I wasn’t able to be so attentive to for the last five or six months.