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Colts face big challenge against new 'America's Team'

INDIANAPOLIS -- Move over Dallas, the New Orleans Saints are the new "America's Team."

With New Orleans about to make its first Super Bowl appearance in franchise history, memories of Hurricane Katrina still lingering and close ties between the team and the city's rebuilding effort, Colts players understand why the Saints are this year's sentimental favorite.

They just want to play the role of spoiler.

"There's a reason America is pulling for New Orleans, and why wouldn't they? They've been through a lot," Indy safety Antoine Bethea said. "Sports tends to pull people together, so it's commendable for New Orleans to be, as I guess you'd say, America's team right now. But at the same time, we're going to go out there as the Indianapolis Colts and play ball."

The reach of New Orleans' fans goes all the way to the highest levels of the White House.

"You know, I think both teams are terrific," President Barack Obama told ABC News. "I guess I am rooting a little bit for the Saints as the underdog, partly just because when I think about what's happened in New Orleans over the last several years and how much that team means to them. You know, I'm pretty sympathetic."

The Colts know they're still the favorite in at least one state, Indiana.

"He's entitled to his opinion and why wouldn't he be rooting for them?" Bethea said of Obama's decision to cheer for New Orleans. "Like I said, the city has been through a lot. But the Colts, man, we're going to go down there and give them a show."

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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