By Simon Evans
DAVIE, Florida (Reuters) - When New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams urged his players to give Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning some 'remember me' shots in Sunday's Super Bowl he must have expected a response.
While the media have responded predictably, giving plenty of attention to the comments, Manning himself was not rising to the bait on Monday.
"I don't have (a response). I didn't hear it. I guess I have been playing long enough that I don't have any reaction to a comment like that," he told reporters.
In a radio interview Williams remarked that given Manning released the ball so early, the Saints had to "do a good job finding ways to get to him, and when we do get to him, we're going to have to make sure he gets a couple 'remember me' shots when we get there."
Saints defensive end Will Smith believes there is nothing wrong in what his coordinator urged.
"I think it got misinterpreted. Gregg has never once told us to go out and hurt any quarterback, especially Peyton," Smith said.
Saints safety Darren Sharper agreed.
"The thing about 'remember me shots'... I don't know if you think it means the quarterback or whoever is not going to get back up, he can still get back up, but it's 'remember me' because he is going to remember he just got his bell rung," Sharper said.
"You can always get those types of shots on whoever is playing the game once they step between the white lines. The quarterback can always get hit. It's just how they get hit."
Sharper said Williams' comments had not caused surprise in the Saints locker room and that, in any case, all the coordinator was talking about was the need to get physical.
"He was saying that we're going to play physical and any chance we get to hit the quarterback, we're going to maximize that opportunity," he added.
"We think, come later in the game, even though Peyton Manning is probably the best fourth-quarter quarterback in the league, that it could change how they play."
However, the Saints safety knows how tough a task his team faces to disrupt Manning.
"He's been around so long and played in so many big games. He is very mentally tough and has seen it all," Sharper said.
"He prepares harder than anyone prepares in this league. He is tough and has been a starter in every game he has had a chance to start. (Reporting by Simon Evans in Miami; Editing by John O'Brien)