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Colts kicker Stover could have become a Jet

Rex Ryan wanted "old man" Stover at the start of the free-agency signing period last year, Jets coach Rex Ryan reached out to former Ravens kicker Matt Stover. The Jets were having trouble re-signing Jay Feely, and Ryan wanted to sign Stover. He didn't, and the Colts picked up Stover on Oct. 14 to replace the injured Adam Vinatieri.

"Rex and I are good friends," Stover said Tuesday. "He came to me on the second day of free agency, but I didn't want to get in the middle of that. Jay and I are good friends, too."

Stover called Feely to let him know of Ryan's interest.

"I sabotaged myself by talking to Jay, and I said they were offering me a contract but I didn't want to get in the way,'' Stover said. "I felt it was the right thing to do. I think Rex found out Jay really was his guy."

Stover, 42, has made 14 of 16 field-goal attempts, including the playoffs, for the Colts and would become the oldest player in a Super Bowl. He would supplant Giants punter Jeff Feagles, who was 41 in Super Bowl XLII.

Cramping his style

Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden was a hero of Super Bowl XLI, when he picked off a Rex Grossman pass and returned it 56 yards for a touchdown in the Colts' 29-17 win over the Bears.

But Hayden almost didn't make it to the end zone.

"I was happy I made it because I had a cramp in my leg," he said. "I didn't think I was going to make it. I was telling guys if it was 10 more yards, I would not have made it. The cramp was killing me real bad, but it was a great moment, and I don't think it really hit me as it should yet."

When will it hit him?

"I think it will be a little bit more memorable when your career is over and you look back," Hayden said. "As of now, I have played in two Super Bowls in five years of my career. I am fortunate enough, because some guys go their whole career and never make it."

Guaranteeing win? Bush, Shockey come close

OK, they didn't come right out and say, "I guarantee we will beat the Colts." But Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey and running back Reggie Bush sounded awfully confident about their chances during media day at Sun Life Stadium.

"When we win this game, it's going to mean a lot to New Orleans," Shockey said. "I know the city is excited. I know it can do great things for the city."

Bush was asked about the Saints' famous "Who Dat?!" chant and replied, "You will hear me saying that on game day . . . after we win."

Big payday for Peyton

Colts quarterback Peyton Manning is already a wealthy man, and he'll be making a pile more of money in the not-too-distant future. Colts owner Jim Irsay said a new contract soon will be in the works. Manning's current deal runs through 2010.

"We know that Peyton's going to be the highest-paid player in the league," Irsay said. "It'll get done. There's no question about that, and it's something we'll focus on in the offseason.''

Manning, 33, signed a contract in 2004 worth $98 million. His younger brother, Giants quarterback Eli Manning, signed a deal worth more than $100 million before last year's training camp. Peyton's new contract could average nearly $20 million per season.

Now that's perspective

Unlike some self-absorbed pro athletes who believe their fame knows no limits, Colts linebacker Gary Brackett understands what's really important.

"Football will come and go," Brackett said. "I'm not naive enough to think that 15 years down the road, people are going to remember what position I played or what effect I had on the game. I think what you do off the field speaks about your character. How you affect young children and the message you portray and the positive message you convey."

His core values?

"Hard work, discipline and definitely perseverance," Brackett said. "There are always going to be some rocky starts. If you continue to work hard, things usually work out for you."

Nicely said.

Super Bowl payoff: Bad haircuts

Colts linebacker Clint Session made an agreement with safety Melvin Bullitt: If the Colts got to the Super Bowl, both would get Mohawk haircuts.

"I had to live up to my end of the bargain," Session said. "But it doesn't look too good."

And Bullitt's?

"It's worse than mine," Session said. "Hopefully, it won't last too long and it'll grow back soon."

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