INDIANAPOLIS — Twelve-year-old Vaziri Napier was listening to his mother, Tara O'Sullivan, who was wearing a blue Indianapolis Colts No. 18 jersey (Peyton Manning), giving a long-winded answer about why she was rooting for the New York Giants.
He stopped her in her tracks.
"Mom," Vaziri said. "You hate Tom Brady!"
O'Sullivan tried, painfully, to explain herself with her son and 11-year-old nephew listening intently.
"I don't hate him. I just don't like him ... as a quarterback," O'Sullivan said. "I'm a Colts fan. I love the Colts. I don't like the Patriots."
Mrs. O'Sullivan is not alone. Far from it.
The vast majority of Colts fans walking the streets of Indianapolis yesterday were with her. The fact that Eli Manning, Peyton Manning's kid brother, appears to be an excuse not to root for their AFC brethren in the Super Bowl.
It's understandable. Before this season, in which the Colts lost Manning and won only two games, the Patriots and Colts were every bit as enthralling as a Red Sox and Yankees playoff game.
They met nine times in 10 years, three times in the AFC Championship. The Patriots won five. The Colts won four.
The one "problem" might have something to do with the Patriots three Super Bowl titles to the Colts one.
Or the fact that Manning, as great as he is, will probably go down as the second best quarterback of his generation behind ... you guessed it ... The Handsome One from New England.
"We are rooting for the Giants," said Hope Mansfield, who moved to Indianapolis 20 years ago with her husband, Jenkins, from their native Brooklyn. "One reason is Eli. We have a connection with him. We are also from New York ... But I'm not a Patriots fan. I don't know if I could ever be a Patriots fan."