Manning, Freeney, Garcon all get starring roles in Super Bowl’s media day show

By Michael Marot, AP
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Unlikely trio of Colts star in media day show

MIAMI — Indianapolis’ three-ring circus had an attraction for everyone Tuesday.

In front of Peyton Manning’s riser, security officials were called to break up an argument among reporters — before the league’s four-time MVP even arrived.

Receiver Pierre Garcon took the podium wearing a bandanna imprinted with the Haitian flag, and when Dwight Freeney walked to his spot, he joked about having a larger audience than Manning.

“I don’t know how Peyton feels,” Freeney said, drawing laughter.

The All-Pro defensive end finally cleared things up about his sprained right ankle.

Yes, he has a torn ligament, contrary to what the Colts had been saying. Yes, he has been getting treatment in South Florida since Friday. Yes, he has been waking up in pain, and, yes, he still hopes to play against New Orleans.

It sounded remarkably similar to the comments Freeney made in September after being diagnosed with a strained right quadriceps, an injury that reportedly was going to keep him out almost a month. Remarkably, Freeney didn’t miss a game and thrived in obvious passing situations that week against Seattle.

Could it happen again? The Colts wouldn’t be surprised.

“He’s been very consistent that way (healing quickly),” defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. “All you can say about that is that we have a game at 6 o’clock and we have to show up and play. We have to show up and play with whoever is there.”

Freeney said the attention on his ankle is “actually kind of crazy.”

“I try to stay away from all the TV stuff and focus, but I’ve got like 80 text messages telling me ‘You’re all over the TV about the ankle. Are you going to be ready to play?’ I’m like, ‘Listen, I’m going to take it day by day, I don’t know.’”

While Freeney may be the biggest story of the week, Manning isn’t far behind.

He’s attempting to join the short list of quarterbacks with multiple Super Bowl victories, a list that includes John Elway, Terry Bradshaw, Tom Brady and Joe Montana. All Manning has to do is beat his hometown team, the one his father, Archie, played for.

For Manning, though, the questions are never just about the next game.

He was asked about Indy’s spring soap opera, when offensive coordinator Tom Moore and offensive line coach Howard Mudd announced their retirements then came back with new titles. He was asked which coach had the most influence on his development, what he learned from former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, about his superstitions and even the rain that forced media day inside.

“I understand they had to make the call weather-wise to move it in here,” Manning said. “I think all our players and, I am sure the Saints players, have our fingers crossed that the weather will be good on Sunday, no matter what happens during the week.”

Meantime, Garcon, who grew up and attended school in Palm Beach County but who has family in Haiti, has drawn national attention for his efforts to raise money for the earthquake-devastated country. He waved the Haitian flag after Indy beat Baltimore in the divisional round and draped it over the Lamar Hunt Trophy after the Colts rallied from an 11-point deficit to beat the Jets in the AFC title game.

On Tuesday, he showed up with the special bandanna to make another sales pitch for relief efforts in the stricken country, his parents’ homeland.

“I think things are getting a little better now that they are starting over and trying to rebuild and pick up where things left off,” Garcon said. “I’m trying to play for them and for the people of Indianapolis and win the game for all of them.”

It’s a sentiment shared by Saints linebackers Jonathan Vilma and Stanley Arnoux, who, like Garcon, have relatives in Haiti.

Vilma is selling T-shirts with the phrase “Department of Domeland Defense.”

“Everything about the shirt was something that I felt like we needed, and it really helped with everything going to the Haiti relief effort,” Vilma said. “That really was a huge plus for me, because I can’t really do anything else besides that at the moment.”

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