INDIANAPOLIS — According to several million New Englanders, Adam Vinatieri will always be a New England Patriot.
Even though he hasn't worn the "flying Elvis" on his helmet since the AFC semifinal loss to Denver on Jan. 14, 2006. He has since spent six highly successful seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, highlighted by winning a fourth Super Bowl ring five years ago.
It has been 10 years, almost to the day, since he kicked a 48-yard field goal to beat the St. Louis Rams, 20-17.
"I've come to accept it," said Vinatieri yesterday during a one-on-one interview with The Eagle-Tribune. "I was there for 10 years, 10 great years. We had a lot of great times. We had a lot of success as a team. The fans were always great to me."
Vinatieri has taken a liking to Indianapolis. He has moved his family from Orlando, Fla., to a suburb about 20 minutes away from Lucas Oil Stadium.
"The people here are very nice. I think it's a Midwestern thing," said the 39-year-old Vinatieri, who is married with three children. "We are very comfortable. I get to see my family every day and bring my kids to and from school. It's a great place to raise a family."
While a lot of people expected his famous teammate, Peyton Manning, to be an ambassador for Indianapolis this week, it hasn't happened. Manning, who isn't expected back with the Colts next year and could even retire due to persistent neck injuries, has not shown his face around the city for more than a few hours this week.
Vinatieri doesn't mind picking up some of the slack to promote this region and this game.
"They've been planning this a long time and things really seem to be going well," said Vinatieri. "Lucas Oil Stadium is beautiful. It really is. And the city is a great city. It's easy to get around. There's a lot to do. I think everyone is going to be happy with their experience here."
As for Manning's absence, Vinatieri empathizes with his quarterback, who could be a free agent in a month.
"It's a strange situation," said Vinatieri. "There's a lot involved. I just know he loves playing here. He has a special relationship with the fans. Hopefully, Peyton and (team owner Jim Irsay) can come together and figure it out."
As for the big game tomorrow, unlike a lot of the locals here, Vinatieri is pulling for his former team over the Giants and Manning's brother Eli.
"How can I not?" he said. "I still have a lot of friends there on that team."
Coughlin downplays controversy
Tom Brady said he'd heard enough trash talk from the Giant defensive backs.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin's message to Brady yesterday sounded like Sgt. Hulka's "Lighten up, Francis" advice in the movie "Stripes."
"I'm not sure what you're referencing. I know that there are one or two quotes out there, but, to be honest with you, I don't know that either one of them is any different than Tom Brady's quotes," said Coughlin. "I think it's just a matter of our team has played good football against a great football team."
$400 to park
Yep, that's what one owner of a 30-spot lot about a quarter mile from Lucas Oil Stadium has planned.
"I'm going $400 and I pretty much am sold out," he said. "I just raised it from $350 this week on one Internet site, and they keep selling."
Lots around the Super Bowl village have ranged from $20-$30 the previous two days.
Champion of business
You get the feeling that if Tom Coughlin weren't the head of a Super Bowl contender, he'd be running a Fortune 500 company.
Listen to the former Boston College head coach's answer when asked what it takes to be a winner.
"Surround yourself with great people, people who have an outstanding work ethic, people who are business-like, who are focused and concentrated," said Coughlin. "Get everybody on the same page and have the same inspiration, same kind of drive, same kind of desire. Do the very, very best you can. Work to the best of your ability. Be efficient. Don't waste time.
"You boil it down to blue-collar work ethic. You go to work every day and work as hard as you possibly can and surround yourself with great people."