MIAMI -- Jonathan Vilma's not complaining. He's in the Super Bowl. The last thing he cares about is who he and the Saints are playing. It's the Colts? Fine. Whatever. He's in the Super Bowl, and he's downright giddy about it.
But he will admit one thing: he was pulling for the Jets.
"I was hoping," the Saints linebacker said this week when asked if he was rooting for the Jets to beat the Colts in the AFC Championship game. "I watched their season and I still have a lot of friends there on the team. They deserved it. I felt like they were playing real good ball at the end, on defense especially. I was hoping they'd go. I would have been excited for them."
Vilma, who was traded from New York to New Orleans before the 2008 season, still has plenty of friends on the Jets, especially on their defense. He was pulling for the Jets to reach the Super Bowl even before he knew he and the Saints would be playing in it.
But as it stands, Vilma has more than enough going on this week even without having to catch up with (and figure out how to beat) his old friends.
He is home, first of all. A Coral Gables native who played his college football at the University of Miami, Vilma is spending his Super Bowl week trying to tune out the cacophony of friends and family who want to wish him well -- or who want tickets.
"It's a good feeling," Vilma said. "But you have to remind yourself you're on a business trip."
Vilma also has family in Haiti, and like many others, he's been moved by the devastation there. He created a Saints-themed T-shirt with his signature on it to sell in New Orleans with profits going to Haiti relief. Once the Super Bowl is out of the way, he looks forward to being able to devote his time to the relief effort there.
"In the position I'm in right now, where I'm really restricted in terms of what I can do, it's really about doing something positive, doing something effective right now, and then being more efficient once the season is over and there's more time," Vilma said.
He's enjoying being around teammates with whom he shares a common bond, such as Jeremy Shockey, with whom he played at Miami.
"It's funny with Shockey, because we had similar situations," Vilma said. "He got hurt, I got hurt. He got traded, I got traded. And we've been making the most of it since, obviously. We felt a little bit slighted, and I know he had a lot more controversy coming to New Orleans from New York. But we were able to relate. The situations were similar."
Ah, but what a Super Bowl run just two years later can do for a man's mindset. As Shockey claimed for his part earlier this week, Vilma says that he harbors no ill will toward his former New York team.
"I had a real good time up there," Vilma said. "I really enjoyed playing in New York. Enjoyed the fans. Really enjoyed my teammates. I still keep in touch with a lot of my Jets teammates. It was just a situation where I didn't fit the system, I knew I was coming down here where they wanted me and I was coming to a situation that I thought was good."
As it turns out, he was right.