Remembering 2006 and Super Bowl XLI: Joseph Addai

Photo of the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI ring.

Photo of the Indianapolis Colts Super Bowl XLI ring.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The bunch that inspired a frigid procession through Downtown Feb. 5, 2007 after delivering the Lombardi Trophy to the Circle City returns this weekend.

In recognition of the 10th anniversary of the Indianapolis Colts’ 29-17 win over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI after the 2006 season, the team will honor its world champions at halftime of Sunday’s game with the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. More than 40 players and coaches have RSVP’d they’ll attend.

In the days leading up to the reunion, some prominent figures share memories of the organization’s first world championship in three decades.

JOSEPH ADDAI: The long season

I was so young that year. I wouldn’t say it was a blur because I remember everything about it.

Here’s a story that I haven’t shared with many people. We got to the Patriots game (AFC Championship game) and honestly I was like, ‘Man, I’m ready for this season to be over.’ I was worn out. I was ready to go home. If we win, it’s going to be another couple of weeks. I was thinking, ‘OK, it was a great year. We got this far. We can get to the Super Bowl next year.’ Part of me was ready for it to be over with. Where I was mentally, I was ready to cash it in. I was sort of hoping coach Dungy would tell us, ‘Men, we played hard. We did well.’ I was looking forward to him giving us that speech and us going home. I don’t want people to be mad at me, but I was ready to go home. I was tired.

That’s my story and I told it to coach Dungy. That’s something I remember about that year.

You’ve got to remember before the whole NFL process started, I played in a bowl game (Dec. 30, 2005). We (LSU) played the Miami Hurricanes and we beat them 40-3. Then the guys wanting to go into the NFL and trying to go to the NFL had to do their workouts and then go to the combine. After I get drafted (30th overall by the Colts), I went up there. I’m a rookie so I have to play in all the preseason games. Then we get to the playoffs. Four more games in the playoffs. That means I’ve played maybe 25 games since the bowl game. Counting my last year in college, I played about three seasons in something like 20 months. I was worn out, you know?

I remember the battle we had with the Patriots (in the AFC Championship game). You knew about the history and I knew how far back it went. For me, that last play sticks out the most, and not just because of how we came back and were able to win the game at the end. You know, Marlin (Jackson) sealing the deal with the interception.

Addai had the final three carries on the game-winning 7-play, 80-yard drive. He scored the go-ahead 3-yard TD with 1 minute to play by following the lead block of center Jeff Saturday, who flattened Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork.

We had been throwing the ball so much and that’s what people expected us to keep doing. But Marvin (Harrison) said, ‘Let’s run it.’ I remember the guys up front were great and I was able to run it in. Anybody could have gone through that hole. It was very huge. I talked with Jeff Saturday and he said that was his favorite play.

It was such a tremendous game, the way we had to come back and beat the Patriots. The Super Bowl was like the cherry on top after what we had done. You know, ‘Now we could cash in.’

Oh, man, that whole year was remarkable. I really enjoyed the whole experience. Dom (Rhodes) made it so easy for me. Coach (Gene) Huey talked to us before the season started. It could have been a bad situation. I was the rookie and Dom was the veteran. But Dom was great about it. He took me in. That was the biggest thing. As a rookie, he took me under his wing. He could have been hard on me.

INDIANAPOLIS - JANUARY 21:  Joseph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs in a touchdown to take the lead late in the fourth quarter over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game on January 21, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana.  The Colts went on to win the game 38-34.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS – JANUARY 21: Joseph Addai #29 of the Indianapolis Colts runs in a touchdown to take the lead late in the fourth quarter over the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game on January 21, 2007 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Colts went on to win the game 38-34. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The rest of the story: The pressure was on Addai. He was the first-round pick expected to replace franchise rushing leader Edgerrin James.

Addai did his part. He became the first running back to rush for at least 1,000 yards (1,081) while not starting one game during the season. In the Super Bowl, Addai and Rhodes were a two-fisted battering ram against the Bears. Rhodes rushed 21 times for 113 yards and one TD. Addai rushed 19 times for 77 yards and caught 10 passes for another 66 yards. The 10 receptions tied the Super Bowl record for a running back.

Addai, 33, resides in Houston with wife Keion and sons Jaylen, 6, and Jaxon, 16 months. The couple is expecting their third child. Addai works in commercial real estate development in the Houston area.

“The kids really take up my time,” he said. “They keep me busy. I’ve got a basketball practice this afternoon.”

You can follow Mike Chappell on Twitter at @mchappell51