Ain't no ordinary celebration
• Photo gallery: Super Bowl XLIV
Wearing Mardi Gras beads and clearly exhausted from a late night of post-Super Bowl celebrations, Sean Payton leaned on a podium, clutching the Vince Lombardi trophy in his right hand.
"You can't get enough of this," the Saints' head coach said at a news conference at the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., convention center yesterday morning. "This thing lay in my bed next to me last night, rolled over it a couple times. I probably drooled on it. But man, there's nothing like it."
Certainly, the New Orleans Saints never experienced anything like it.
Before this one, the Saints had only eight winning seasons — and two playoff victories — in their previous 42 years combined. New Orleans had to win three postseason games over three great quarterbacks — Kurt Warner, Brett Favre and Peyton Manning — to win the title this season.
The last quarterback standing was Drew Brees, who joined Payton in 2006 with the idea of transforming the Saints into champions for a region needing widespread rebuilding after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
That was easier said than done, but in their fourth season together, they did it. Brees was chosen the Super Bowl MVP after Sunday night's 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
"I had to wake up this morning and turn to my wife and say, 'Did yesterday really happen?' " Brees said.
"Our victory last night was the culmination of four years of hard work, fighting through a lot of adversity, ups and downs and more importantly than that, representing a city that has been through so much," Brees said.
The theme for the Saints in 2009 became: A season of firsts. They opened with their first 13-game winning streak, which earned them a first No. 1 seeding in the NFC playoffs. That led to a first home NFC title game, then a first Super Bowl.
"I keep thinking of the word 'magical,' " NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "When you think about the relationship between the Saints and the Gulf Coast and the city of New Orleans, it was more than just a football game and more than just a football team. The hopes, the dreams and the struggles of that community were all reflected in that football team. It was a great night for the people in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region."
COLTS ARE 7-1 FAVORITES TO WIN 2011 SUPER BOWL
One bad pass by Peyton Manning hasn't cost the Indianapolis Colts any cachet.
Manning and the Colts are favored to win next year's Super Bowl, according to odds released yesterday by BetUS.com.
Indianapolis is a 7-1 favorite to take home the NFL championship, followed by the Chargers (8-1), Saints (9-1) and the Patriots (10-1).
The Rams, coming off a 1-15 season, are the longest shot on the board at 150-1.
The Colts were 5-point favorites in the Super Bowl on Sunday, but Drew Brees and the Saints rallied for a 31-17 victory. New Orleans sealed the upset when Tracy Porter intercepted Manning's pass and returned it for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Indianapolis is 3-1 to get back to the Super Bowl, while New Orleans is 5-1.
Raiders: Oakland has hired longtime NFL defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast as an assistant. The team did not say what Pendergast's role would be when announcing his hiring. Pendergast was let go last month as defensive coordinator in Kansas City. Pendergast had spent the previous five years as defensive coordinator in Arizona.
Browns: Cleveland has released wide receiver Donte' Stallworth. Stallworth was suspended for the 2009 season by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell after he pleaded guilty to killing a pedestrian while driving drunk in Florida. He spent 24 days in jail. Stallworth played one season for the Browns, catching 17 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown in 2008.