Three nonstars who might affect the game
David Thomas TE, Saints
I see Thomas running 5-yard curls and outs and QB Drew Brees having to throw for his hot receivers more than in almost any other game. I don't trust TE Jeremy Shockey staying whole for four quarters, so I see Thomas and RB Reggie Bush being huge in getting Brees out of trouble.
Raheem Brock DL, Colts
You'll see him inside, trying to shoot the A-gaps, and then at left end, trying to beat T Jon Stinchcomb outside. Depending on DE Dwight Freeney's availability, you could see Brock at a linebacker spot, too, chasing (RBs) Pierre Thomas and Bush sideline to sideline.
Jabari Greer CB, Saints
Peyton Manning is the only quarterback who throws into tight coverage consistently. That means Greer will be vital. The most likely scenario for one or more turnovers is for Greer to take educated guesses on balls.
Peter King, Sports Illustrated
NFL backs off Who Dat flap
The NFL backed away from moves to enforce trademark rights to the "Who Dat" chant by Saints supporters. Last month, the NFL sent letters demanding local businesses stop selling T-shirts bearing the slogan "Who dat?" part of the chant "Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints."
The NFL cited a 1988 trademark registered in Louisiana, claiming it had exclusive rights to sell paraphernalia with "Who dat?" on it. In response, Louisiana's attorney general sent a letter to the league defending the right of fans and vendors to the chant. And a congressman and senator protested to the league.
The NFL relented, telling Louisiana officials it would make no more claims on the chant and agreeing to send a letter to vendors informing them.
On the house
As the Colts return to Miami — site of all three of their previous Super Bowl appearances — so are approximately 200 employees and their guests, more than 400 in all. Owner Jim Irsay is footing the bill for his entire staff, from the maintenance crew to executive assistants.
"One of my greatest joys is to be able to share and uplift people," said Irsay, who provided a similar trip when the Colts traveled to Miami for Super Bowl XLI after the 2006 season. "This is what life is about. You realize what a rare opportunity this is, and the shared experience is where the magic comes from."
It's important, he added, that employees know "you see them."
Freeney going "in the right direction"
Indianapolis coach Jim Caldwell sounded optimistic Friday that DE Dwight Freeney could play.
"He's trending in the right direction," Caldwell said.
Freeney, left, has been receiving treatment several times daily, trying to speed up the recovery after tearing a ligament in his right ankle during the AFC title game.
Meanwhile, WR Reggie Wayne gave the Colts a scare when he pulled up short on a route. But Caldwell said he previously hurt the soft tissue below his right kneecap and has played with pain for most of the season. So he's expected to play.
For the Saints, CB Randall Gay missed practice with a stomach illness but was listed as probable.
Hatin' on Peyton
RB Joseph Addai says Peyton Manning is a great teammate but added if he played for another team, he might hate the Colts quarterback.
"I think if I was on another team I wouldn't like him," said Addai, below. "I know a lot of (the media) just watch Peyton when he marches up the field and scores quickly. I would hate to be on the other side when that happens.
"I've been on the field watching him just do that and kind of sometimes forgetting my assignment because I'm watching him work. So I think if I was on the other side of the ball, I wouldn't like him. And I know most people don't."
New Orleans Times-Picayune
He wrote it
Watching Indianapolis is like watching a factory play football. The Colts are methodical, predictable, disciplined, mechanical. They don't run trick plays. Their offense hasn't shown a new formation, or even a new play, in months. Their defense rarely varies its fronts. The Colts win because no NFL team has better offensive timing, defensive discipline and overall precision. Review film of the Colts and you know exactly what they are going to do — the question is, can you stop them?
Watching New Orleans is like watching an outdoor cocktail party play football. The Saints are spontaneous, unpredictable, boisterous. They love trick plays. Every week the offense shows new formations and actions. The defense uses a zany style — blitzing way too much, gambling for interceptions way too often. No NFL team plays a more relaxed style or seems to be having so much fun. Review film of the Saints and you have no idea what they are going to do — they probably don't, either.
When the mechanized, cybernetic Colts meet the wacky, laissez-faire Saints, I for one am expecting a fantastic game.
Gregg Easterbrook, ESPN.com
Quote of the day I
"When we meet and talk, there's not this, 'We've got to win one for the city' speech.' That feeling permeates throughout the team. Fans remind us how important it is. Giving them something to be proud of is important."
Saints coach Sean Payton
Quote of the day II
"We don't riot. But we're going to party like it's 1999. And let me tell you, there's not enough beer. … This town is going to have one heck of a celebration. We're going to have a good time."
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin on if the Saints win
Yes, one of those Lombardis
Saints quarterbacks coach Joe Lombardi never met his grandfather — Vince Lombardi died in 1970 and his grandson was born in 1981 — but he grew up in a house steeped in football tradition and Lombardi's influence. He saw Lombardi's Super Bowl rings, watched all the old NFL Films videos and dug various books on his grandfather off the family bookshelf.
Lombardi wanted to be a player, but when his career at Air Force was over, he was sent to Ohio to serve out his commitment. After two years out of the sport, he became restless and took a job coaching at the University of Dayton. From there, he went to the Virginia Military Institute, to the XFL, to Mercyhurst College, to the Atlanta Falcons in 2006 and, a year later, to the Saints. Now he is closer than ever to touching the league's championship trophy — named for his grandfather — and adding a Super Bowl ring to the family's collection.
What they're saying
The Kardashian Effect: Khloe marries Lamar Odom, and the Lakers win the NBA championship. Kim dates Reggie Bush, and the Saints are Super Bowl bound. Should the Saints pull the upset on Sunday, Kourtney Kardashian, left, may become the most wanted woman among athletes.
Melissa Jacobs, Forbes.com
Number of the day
438 Super Bowl XLIV will be the 438th game (counting all regular season and postseason games) the Colts have played since moving to Indianapolis in 1984. Between 1953 and 1983, the Colts played exactly 438 games. As of now, the Baltimore Colts and Indianapolis Colts have each won 230 games. So if Indianapolis wins, they will surpass the storied Baltimore Colts in total victories and Super Bowl wins.