Pierre Garon celebrated the biggest day of his NFL career by honoring his Haitian relatives.
The Indianapolis Colts receiver, whose parents emigrated to the U.S. from the earthquake-ravaged nation, spent most of last week concerned about the fate of his family and friends still living in Haiti.
On Sunday, after the Colts’ 30-17 victory over the New York Jets in the AFC Championship Game in Indianapolis, he held up the Haitian flag for the second straight week, a sign of both gratitude for those who have helped in the relief effort and in recognition of what more still needs to be done.
“This is what it’s all about,” Garon said. “Just trying to do it for the country.”
Garon also did it for his teammates.
He caught 11 passes for 153 yards, both career highs, and scored the go-ahead touchdown with a nifty twist and quick toe tap in the back corner of the end zone for a 4-yard TD.
For Garon, it’s been an emotional few weeks.
Against Baltimore last week, he chased down Ed Reed after an interception and punched the ball out. Indy recovered, ending a possible Ravens scoring chance and erasing what could have been a game-changing moment.
Between games, Garon spent the time watching news coverage of Haiti, talking to his mother, who was calling relatives and signing autographs for those who donated money to his own charitable foundation. He is planning to travel to Haiti in April to assist in the recovery.
Garon, who was born in New York and attended high school in Florida, can now prepare for his own family reunion next week. He said his Florida relatives decided not to travel to Indy for the championship game, opting instead to wait until he could get back to warmer South Florida.
On that stage, at the Super Bowl, Garon hopes to continue to spread the message about Haiti.
“It’s just bringing awareness to that because what’s going on over there is very tough,” he said. “Nobody should go through that, especially people who are less fortunate already. It’s just bringing awareness. Everybody’s been really showing their hands and helping us out, and I really do appreciate it.”
Man of Year finalists
Redskins linebacker London Fletcher, Browns wide receiver Mike Furrey and Chiefs guard Brian Waters are finalists for the NFL’s Man of the Year Award.
The award, named for the late Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, goes annually to the player who combines on-field excellence with off-the-field community service.
Recent winners include Kurt Warner of the Cardinals in 2008, Jason Taylor of the Dolphins in 2007, and Drew Brees of the Saints and LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers, co-winners in 2006.
The winner will be announced before the Super Bowl on Feb. 7.
Miami gears up
South Florida is ready for the Super Bowl party to begin.
The Colts and New Orleans Saints punched their tickets Sunday to the tropical playland, and though the game isn’t until Feb. 7, Miami officials don’t want revelers to wait.
“The last time I looked outside, all the hoteliers were dancing in the street,” said Rodney Barreto, chairman of the South Florida Super Bowl Host Committee. “This is going to be a big shot in our arm. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.”
And the odds are …
Peyton Manning and Indianapolis opened as a four-point favorite to beat New Orleans in the Super Bowl.
That was the line provided by oddsmaker Sean Van Patten of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, which provides betting lines for roughly 90 percent of sports books in Nevada.
Patten says oddsmakers like that Indianapolis succeeded against the NFL’s top defense in a 30-17 win over the New York Jets.