Reporting from Miami Gardens, Fla. — Will he or won't he?
Can he or can't he?
It was only fitting that Dwight Freeney -- mystery man for the Indianapolis Colts -- showed up to Super Bowl media day Tuesday wearing flip-flops. In light of his severely sprained right ankle, his status for Sunday's game seems to flip and flop by the minute.
Freeney, a defensive end who finished tied for third in the league with 13 1/2 sacks, didn't have a noticeable limp as he made his way to his interview table at the event, and though he said the swelling had been bad, his ankles appeared to be roughly the same size.
"I don't know exactly what's going to happen," he said. "Obviously, the competitor in me says, 'Nothing's going to stop me from going on that field.' That being said, you don't know how [the ankle is] going to be come game time. I'm going to let the coaching staff and everybody collectively come up with that decision."
The New Orleans Saints are certainly planning on him being at full speed. From secretive team President Bill Polian on down, the Colts are notorious for keeping a tight lid on injury information.
"We're planning on him playing," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "We feel like they are going to have all of the bullets in their gun and their full arsenal, just like ours. Any time you play a team like this in an atmosphere like this, you expect everyone to play."
Freeney confirmed reports that he suffered a "grade-3" injury to his lower right ankle (which involves ligament damage) in the AFC championship game against the New York Jets. That type of injury normally requires three to six weeks recovery time, said Dr. Phillip Kwong, an orthopedic foot and ankle surgeon at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.
"A patient can mask some of the discomfort with medications," Kwong said. "He can try to compensate for some of the weakness by taping, or various types of devices in his shoe that lessen the tendency to turn the ankle. . . . But the more you tape up and bulk up, the less dexterity he's going to have."
Freeney said he has never taken a shot of painkiller before a game, but said, "that's a conversation me and the docs are going to have to have on Saturday, if it's even safe to do such a thing."
Saints safety Darren Sharper has 63 interceptions in his career -- nine of them coming against the New York teams -- and has had some big games against Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
He doesn't expect to have quite as much success anticipating what Eli's big brother, Peyton Manning, might do in the Super Bowl.
"I don't know if you want to read Peyton's eyes too much," Sharper said. "He kind of has those cat eyes that'll trick you if you watch them too much. The thing with Eli, I got a lot more opportunities against him.
"We'll see if Peyton is going to give me some opportunities because of our defense, some opportunities to make plays. He's just such a technician with the football.
"Earlier on, I got Eli when he was younger. Peyton is a little bit older, so I think he has seen a lot of things that defenses can throw at you. So it might be a little bit of a tougher challenge to get him than it was compared to his brother."
Quite a life
Peyton Manning was asked whether it was a pain or strange coming down to South Florida early with some teammates to attend the Pro Bowl.
"I got to fly on a private plane with six of my best friends and teammates," he said.
"We had Ruth's Chris Steak House food on the plane. The private escort ride to Miami. Shook a few hands, had to wave. Did one interview and made $45,000.
"I can think of some worse things."