The NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy, given to the winner of each year’s Super Bowl, made its triumphant return to Anderson on Monday and it did so with a meaningful victory lap.

The trophy appeared as part of a promise that Indianapolis Colts President Bill Polian made at the 2006 Saint John’s Sandi Patty Golf Classic.

Colts Vice President of Public Relations Craig Kelley brought the trophy up from Indianapolis Monday in the back of his personal vehicle. But it was the route he took to get it to Anderson Country Club that made all the difference.

“I took the trophy through the Anderson University campus,” said Kelley in paying homage to the place where the Colts first had their summer training camp. “It just seemed appropriate. If Smith Hall (where the public relations staff was housed at AU) had been open, I’d have taken it through there too.”

The Colts continue to be firm supporters of the charity event. The Lombardi Trophy was put on display just outside the No. 9 green where team members and other celebrities could pose for photographs with the famous symbol of NFL excellence.

“This is something that goes to you heart and not your head,” said Kelley.

It didn’t take long after the Super Bowl win over the Chicago Bears for Polian to be reminded that he promised he’d bring the trophy to this event if the team won.

“Some people in the office reminded me after the date was announced,” said Polian. “I hadn’t forgotten. I can’t promise we’ll win it every year, but I promise we’ll bring it if we do.”

The entire experience of winning the Super Bowl and the aftermath has created a very hectic off-season.

“I’m not sure it has fully sunk in yet,” said Polian. “You know I’ve had more experience on the other side (not winning the Super Bowl) than on this side.”

But he’s all ready to put that big win in the past and move forward.

“I don’t think you defend anything,” he said. “I agree with (Florida basketball coach) Billy Donovan when he said you are the champions. It’s in the history books. That story’s been told. Now we prepare for the new season. We begin preparation for the unknown. We’ve gotten over awful season-ending losses before. We have put the Super Bowl win behind us as well.”

So far those preparations have been easier than in year’s past.

“This has been a less stressful than in years past because we are more healthy in terms of injuries and off-season surgeries,” said Polian.

The new year will present a new roster, new challenges and new possibilities. Improving on last year’s team is possible, if not necessary.

“We can always be better defensively,” he admitted. “When we are healthy we are better defensively. If we would have played all season on defense the way we did in the three playoff games and the Super Bowl, we would have led virtually every defensive category in the league.

“It is almost a must that we get better in our kickoff return coverage. But we have new players coming in that we think are as good or better than the ones they replace.”

The loss of Dominic Rhodes to Oakland in the off-season casts a different look at the running back position.

“We had to create a solid one-two punch in the running game,” said Polian. “That was a key last year in Joseph Addai having fresh legs for the playoffs. We think DeDe Dorsey can fill that role.”

There are a couple of other key areas as well for the Colts in 2007.

“We would like to lead the NFL in turnover ratio,” said Polian. “Or we would at least like to be in the top three. Our pass protection has always been important. I think we’ve had the fewest sacks over the past five years.”

Should all of those things fall into place this season for Indianapolis, then Polian just might need to keep another promise for the 2008 Sandi Patty Classic.

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