Saturday, February 6, 2010

Second Championship Has Nice Ring to Colts' Keiaho

Freddy Keiaho entered Super Bowl Media Day, his video camera held high as he pointed from left to right, recording the event.

He brought the camera down to eye level, then zoomed in on teammate T.J. Rushing, who had been grabbed by a TV reporter. Keiaho taped Rushing for a moment before moving on and getting stopped himself by a reporter. Keiaho kept the camera going and recorded himself being recorded.

The San Diego State alum already has a Super Bowl ring. As he goes through this week leading up to his try for another, he’s going to preserve some memories.

“The first time around I didn’t really get to appreciate it because I was a rookie,” Keiaho said. “This time around, I have a lot more chance to enjoy it. My first year, it was a little more overwhelming. Now I have a chance to sit back and really enjoy it.”

Anyone who knows Keiaho knows he is a man of great faith, devoted to his wife of three years and a new father. And, really, he must be living right.

Drafted in the third round by the Colts in 2006, he was a reserve linebacker on their Super Bowl XLI championship team. He started most of the next two seasons, including 14 games in 2008 despite being diagnosed with a sports hernia in the season’s first month.

“You can’t run full speed,” he said. “It’s pretty painful to do anything.”

He had surgery after the season, and Indianapolis did not offer him a tender as a restricted free agent last offseason. But after visiting the Buffalo Bills, Keiaho signed a one-year deal with the Colts in April.

“They wanted me and I was coming off a pretty serious injury. It was the best thing to do at the time, ” Keiaho said.

It is possible, perhaps likely, that Keiaho leaves Indianapolis this year. He doesn’t complain about his role as a special teamer, but he started just two games this season and the man who plays in front of him, Gary Brackett, never comes off the field.

“There are always ups and downs in football,” Keiaho said. “You change from role to role. Every year is different.”

Once convinced Keiaho was healthy, the Colts brought him back because they needed him, even if it wasn’t as a starter.

“Freddie can play every position,” Indianapolis linebackers coach Mike Murphy said. “What that gives you, a comfort zone; he can play every position without making mistakes.”

While Brackett is considered one of the best middle linebackers in the league, one area there is no dropoff when Keiaho comes in — and this is rare — is mentally. A middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense, making and relaying and changing calls.

“Gary is like having a coach on the field, and Freddy is one of the few guys who can do that like Gary does it,” Murphy said. “In the past he played all three (linebacker) positions. I would not be afraid to put him in there. He is not a guy who just memorizes what he does. He learns the entire system.”

That separates Keiaho as player and likely makes him too valuable to remain a backup. He might not be a Pro Bowler, but he has the makings of a starter for some team.

Or maybe, if the Colts win another Super Bowl come Sunday, Keiaho will remember how much fun he’s had coming here two of his first four years in the NFL.

“That’s the only thing that’s important right now,” he said yesterday.

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