Don't expect Packers to be affected by a 'Super' hangover

by | CBSSports.com
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METAIRIE, La. -- Google hangover remedies and you'll find thousands of different concoctions or methods to remedy. What you'll find is there's never a tried and true way to prevent one, other than not celebrating at all.

The way the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints celebrated their Super Bowl championships on the surface appear drastically different.

The Saints threw Mardi Gras-style parades and partied bigger and better than possibly any other winner in NFL history. It's the New Orleans way. The Packers' Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers said they celebrated in what they called blue-collared, Midwestern fashion.

"I've been in this league long enough that when people say nice things about you, you should just say, 'Thank you,'" McCarthy said.

Rodgers added: "Our team, this city, this organization enjoys kind of downplaying some of that stuff and enjoys living in the moment rather than living in the spotlight."

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Rodgers said Packers general manager Ted Thompson snuck in a Super Bowl championship banner into the team's indoor practice facility. McCarthy and Rodgers said that's really the personality of the Packers to remain low key.

"It's expected," McCarthy said. "It's about winning world championships in Green Bay."

While the Saints may not have necessarily used those same words, and because of the festive nature of New Orleans, it appeared the Saints overcelebrated their Super Bowl XLIV. But the principle message within the organization as the 2010 season approached was synonymous with the Packers' rhetoric.

"Every team wants to play and wants to give you their best shot," Super Bowl XLIV hero cornerback Tracy Porter said. "Every team wants to try to say they beat the defending Super Bowl champions. That's the thing that we pretty much got all last year."

So regardless of style or substance, being the envy and target of the other 31 teams in the league can become a taller order to overcome than actually winning the original Super Bowl -- no matter how much or how little you live it up post-Super Bowl.

Porter and the Saints at least made the playoffs last season, which hasn't been a given at all for Super Bowl champions during the last 12 seasons. Only half of the previous year's champions even made the postseason. The loss to the Seahawks in the NFC Wild Card game, though, was more embarrassing than missing the playoffs all together.

"So many of the questions going into last season are what have you done to prevent the Super Bowl hangover and how do you defend against that and how do you prepare for a season after being the champs," Saints quarterback Drew Brees said. "Obviously that's a fun thing to be called the defending champs and also everybody tries to make it a stressful thing. But in the end, I feel like we handled that situation very well even though we started off 4-3 which was not optimum for us. I felt like we were playing some of our best football at the end of the season.

"Unfortunately the playoffs did not go the way we expected, but I still feel like we had as good of a shot going into the playoffs as anybody. That's all we wanted. That's all you could ever ask for in this league. I feel like we learn a lot from every season whether it goes really, really well or you fall a little bit short. We have a lot of guys that went through both of those seasons. I think that is going to benefit us moving forward."

Now it's seemingly the second day after a Super Bowl XLIV playing and partying binge for the Saints. The wooziness and grogginess of the 2010 Super Bowl hangover season has seemingly been put behind them.

So life on the Super Bowl sober train begins for the Saints on Thursday night when they face the newest possible glory over-consumer as they travel to take on the Packers as they revel in their Super Bowl XLV triumph. I asked cornerback Tracy Porter about not having the shadow of being the Super Bowl XLIV hero hovering over his shoulder going into this season:

"It feels different not being a Super Bowl champ, but coming into this game we still feel like we're a prestige organization. We're a winning ball club. We won a lot of games that we have under our belt [in 2010]. It's not like we're a losing franchise coming into a prime time game. It just so happened the season didn't go the way we wanted or finish the way that we should have finished. We lost in the playoffs, but everyone comes into this season 0-0."

Then I peeked over his shoulder into his locker and there's a figurine display with Porter stepping in front of Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne for the famous Super Bowl pick six.

So there are plenty of reminders all throughout the Saints locker room and training facility of their Super Bowl XLIV victory. But the Saints feel they have now lived through the aftermath of success and understand the roadblocks.

Brees and Saints coach Sean Payton have different schools of thought on how the Packers may handle the increased hubub.

Brees said that it's unchartered territory for the Packers as no defending champion has ever been through a lockout leading into a season. Rodgers said he didn't buy into the lockout presenting another hurdle in repeating as Super Bowl champs.

"We've got our sixth year in the same offense, third year with the same defense," Rodgers said. "We got a system that has been in place and it's proven to work. We're excited about the opportunity in front of us."

And then there's the sentiment that the lockout may have cutdown on the Packers' distractions.

"To some degree because of the lockout, you almost feel that Green Bay didn't have that same opportunity to celebrate the championship," Payton said. "Because soon after the Super Bowl, the discussion for the better part of I don't know how many months was daily lockout-related news as opposed to the team that won its last six games to win a world championship and the last four being on the road at Philly, at Atlanta, at Chicago and of course the Super Bowl. So the offseason this year was uniquely different."

The way the Saints and Packers celebrated their Super Bowl wins also came off as being uniquely different. We'll have our first chance to see whether the Packers' theory works for them come Thursday.

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