INDIANAPOLIS (June 14, 2007) -- It was enough to make even the toughest NFL players giddy.
The blue horseshoe. The Lombardi Trophy in the middle of the Colts logo. Even a red ruby to represent the figurative blood shed by the Colts over the course of the season. And, of course, the Super Bowl rings were all handed out on -- what else? -- a silver platter.
"I know they normally say that diamonds are a woman's best friend, but tonight, they're a man's best friend, too," Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne said, barely containing his exuberance as he put his arm around former Colts linebacker Cato June.
The response to the shiny, new, $5,000 rings was unanimously exuberant.
Three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney said the design, courtesy of team owner Jim Irsay and his wife, was precisely what he envisioned.
But it was the private ceremony that really brought out emotions. All the Colts players and coaches from the Super Bowl team attended the ceremony but defensive tackle Montae Reagor, who is expected to practice with Philadelphia on June 14.
When they left the downtown theater's ballroom, players were so excited they didn't know what to do.
"I might sleep with it tonight," said Freeney, one of the NFL's most-feared pass rushers. "I think today is the first day it really hits. Now it hits home and tomorrow is a new day. So it's time to get another one."
Players names are etched on one side of the ring, with last season's motto "Our Time" and the word "faith" etched into the other side.
Irsay said he wanted the word "faith" because it represented the religious feelings of the team and the tragedies the Colts overcame, such as the suicide of Tony Dungy's son and the traffic accident that killed Reggie Wayne's older brother.
Missing from the ring were the diamonds that teams typically use to symbolize the number of championships won by the franchise.
In the Colts case that would be two, counting their 1970 victory when the team was still in Baltimore. Irsay opted against that for two reasons.
"We look at it as being the first one for the Indianapolis Colts," Irsay said. "And there was no need to bring up any friction."
Irsay's father, Robert, moved the team from Baltimore to Indianapolis in the middle of the night in 1984 and some Baltimore fans still haven't forgiven the Colts for leaving.
The team's quest for a Super Bowl repeat has already begun. The Colts are wrapping up their fourth week of mini-camp June 14, and veterans don't have to report again until training camp opens July 29.
Super Bowl MVP Peyton Manning kept a low profile after picking up the one personal trophy that eluded him through his first eight seasons in the NFL.
"It only gives you about a month and a half to wear it because then next season starts," Manning said last week. "I think you really can't wear it after that or you're just sort of hanging onto last season."
For Manning, the victory laps have been nonstop since his MVP performance in February.
He's been to the White House twice, met England's Queen Elizabeth II, was the host of Saturday Night Live, dropped the green flag for last month's Indianapolis 500 and golfed in an event that included Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan.
Most players, including Manning, said the ring ceremony was more emotional because it included everybody else from the team.
"It's a special moment because it doesn't happen every day," Dungy said last week. "It's been almost 30 years between mine. To me, it's really more symbolic of the guys starting in March and saying 'This is our goal' and then accomplishing it. Not everyone does that."
Dungy won his only other Super Bowl ring with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978.
What happens to the rings next is up to the individual. Dungy, like Manning, said he would probably stow his away soon. June asked Wayne for advice now that he's playing in Tampa Bay.
"Scratch your head, like this," Wayne said, raising his right hand with the three-ounce ring. "You show them that's a nice ring you've got."
The Associated Press News Service
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