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Payton, Saints look to avoid Super Bowl hangover

NFL Meetings-Notebook

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -Sean Payton has been showing off the Vince Lombardi Trophy at the NFL meetings this week, even taking it over to the PGA Tour stop at Bay Hill.

The responses have been mixed.

``It was like the Holy Grail,'' the New Orleans Saints coach said Wednesday of his visit to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.

As for the NFL owners, coaches and players who have watched Payton and the Saints hoist it everywhere from Bourbon Street to Disneyworld?

I think they're jealous,'' Payton said.If you've never been to New Orleans, that Super Bowl party began 27 years ago. And it will never end.''

One thing Payton knows is that his team has to avoid a Super Bowl hangover.

Ever since beating Indianapolis in Miami, the Saints - an NFL also-ran for much of their 43 years- have savored the win. Remember, this is the franchise that, after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Big Easy in 2005, was forced to play all its games away from New Orleans.

The city has had perhaps more parades and parties than any recent Super Bowl winner, turning Mardi Gras into a Saints celebration. Payton admits all the extra appearances have left him with less time to prepare for next season.

Seems like we just got back from the Super Bowl and I got a March Madness bracket to fill out,'' he said.I couldn't even tell you who's on the bracket.''

FIGURING OUT FAVRE: Brad Childress is done trying to figure out Brett Favre's plans.

The Minnesota Vikings coach said he remains in contact with Favre but hasn't set a timetable for the star quarterback to decide if he will return next season.

One thing Childress could say for sure: Don't expect any updates any time soon.

I don't know if he's out of bed yet,'' Childress joked.I don't know if he's home in Hattiesburg (Miss.). I don't know.

``If you're talking to me or if you're talking to someone with the Vikings, better off to give you the farmers almanac for you to look at how it looks for 40-year-olds in the fall, planting season for that time of year, where their biorhythms are at,'' Childress added.

Favre is the NFL's career leader in nearly every major passing category and a three-time league MVP. The former Green Bay Packer had one of his best seasons after doing what was once unfathomable: deciding to play for his former rival in Minnesota. The Vikings were rewarded with 33 touchdowns and the lowest interception rate of Favre's career.

Minnesota's loss at New Orleans in the NFC title game left Favre battered and bruised. Favre has since said his main concern was whether his body could hold up for another season.

Childress has maintained he would prefer Favre return by the start of training camp - and even offseason workouts - if he comes back. But Childress also said he likely wouldn't have any problem if the quarterback joined the team as late as he did last year, when camp was under way.

``In this business you have to be able to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity because that's what our business is about,'' Childress said.

Even Childress can poke fun at Favre's retiring flip-flops the past few years.

It is interesting from the standpoint that it's the story that keeps on giving,'' he said.When you put your ideas on your thin pad, it makes your one-through-five list.''

FIRST PICK: Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo's is headed to pro days at Oklahoma and Nebraska and also expects to visit Texas and Notre Dame for personal workouts.

That's what your schedule looks like when your team owns the top pick in the draft.

St. Louis went 1-15 in Spagnuolo's first year as head coach. In what's shaping up as one of the best drafts in years, the Rams will get it started April 22. So up-close looks at Sooners quarterback Sam Bradford and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, Cornhuskers DT Ndamukong Suh, Longhorns QB Colt McCoy and Fighting Irish QB Jimmy Clausen are ahead for Spagnuolo.

When you sit in this position, you have a number of options,'' Spagnuolo said, knowing the Rams have a large number of needs.You know, you could be saying nobody is worthy of the top pick overall. We're fortunate. For us, this year that is not the case, not at all.''

Can the Rams, who need a quarterback, sell the fan base on taking a defensive tackle, especially with a change in ownership looming?

``You can justify about any position if you feel that person will have enough impact on the team in the first year,'' Spagnuolo said.

``Of course, quarterback is a little different with the demands of that position and the time it can take to learn. With a quarterback, you can't guarantee he'll come right in and play no matter where you pick him.

``It comes down to your philosophy: be safe or try to hit a home run?''

WINE AND DINE: New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton might have a new game-day superstition, and he can thank Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones for adding to it.

Payton said the only thing he always does on game days is chew Juicy Fruit gum. The attention generated from that caused fans - anybody, really - to make sure he never missed a Sunday stick.

There's not a week that goes by where that I don't get a pack of Juicy Fruit sent in the mail or a box of Juicy Fruit,'' he said.In fact, sometimes I don't even have to open it, I can smell the Juicy Fruit and I can just send it down for our stash.''

Things changed in the aftermath of the Saints' Super Bowl victory.

Cases of Caymus wine made their way into the Saints' celebration. So when Payton ran into Jones and Cowboys staff at dinner Tuesday night - at an Orlando restaurant owned by a man from Plaquemines Parish, La., no less - the new secret was out.

As Payton tells it, Jones helped the owner find some of the wine from a nearby store and had it sent over to the Saints' table. Upon its arrival, Payton let the Cowboys - where he was previously an assistant coach - bask in this party.

We had a formal presentation,'' Payton said, smiling.The Saints officially presented the Cowboys with two cases of wine. We had some laughs.''

AP Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.

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