When Darren Sharper's Packers played in the Super Bowl after the 1997 season, he figured it would be the first of many trips to the Big Show. And why not? He played for a great organization, a great quarterback in Brett Favre and a great coach in Mike Holmgren.
But the Saints safety knows firsthand just how special these moments are, and why he's savoring every moment of this year's journey. After all, he's playing for another team and had to beat Favre's Vikings to get here.
"It’s been a long, long time, as they say," he said. "(In) ’97, I thought I’d be back many a time after that game with a great organization and a great quarterback, but it lets you know how tough it is to get to this point, and you have to appreciate it, cherish this moment. And I’m going to make sure I do that, because we can pretty much say this might be my last time."
But Sharper hasn't waxed poetic about this year's trip for very long. After all, there's a certain quarterback he's got to worry about on Sunday who wears No. 18 for the Colts.
"The thing about playing against Peyton Manning is that he has seen it all," said Sharper, who tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions this season. "He’s a cagey veteran. You know, you try to say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. He might be one of the oldest and smartest dogs, and I don’t know if you can trick him too much. But we have different things that if you’re able to get to the quarterback, disrupt his timing, always knock him around a little bit, you think you might get a chance to, as they say, trick him or make a play off of him, because he’s still human. As he gets hit and hit and hit, it will start to change some of your decision making. So if we can get to him, we think we can make some chances to get turnovers.”
The Saints' pass defense has been considered a weakness, and Manning will surely try to take advantage.
(On how effective the Saints’ previous two game plans can be against Manning): “I don’t know. With all this talk, he might be throwing the ball off a one-step drop every time and not even give us an opportunity to get to him. But depending on how the game dictates itself, if we can get up, or if it’s a close game and he continues to have to make more plays or hold on to the football, we’ll see. Saying we can rattle him, I don’t know if that’s going to be possible. But we’re going to try to get to him.”