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NFL Notebook

Associated Press

The NFL notebook …

METAIRIE, La. — Many New Orleans fans waited all their lives to see the Saints get as far as they did this season.

So what was a few more hours outside the airport on a cool, damp night?

The Saints’ plane didn’t get back to New Orleans until around 1 a.m. Monday after being delayed several hours in Chicago because of icy conditions.

So a couple thousand fans who started lining the roadside near a charter terminal around 9 p.m Sunday night had to wait about three hours longer than expected before they could thank their team for a memorable season.

“It was really unbelievable to see the turnout at the airport — the thousands of people that waited,” Saints coach Sean Payton said Monday at the team’s training headquarters, where players began to clean out their lockers for the offseason.

“It was cold and wet and the reception we received, I know everyone felt very grateful,” he said. “It’s no different from the reception fans in this city have given us all season long. Their resolve and loyalty to this team is certainly felt throughout this locker room and the organization.”

MANNING X-RAYS

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was scheduled to have X-rays on his injured right thumb Monday, although Indianapolis doesn’t believe it will affect his status for the Super Bowl against Chicago on Feb. 4.

Manning hit the thumb on his throwing hand on the helmet of left tackle Tarik Glenn late in the Colts’ 38-34 victory over New England.

PATRIOTS

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — If the New England Patriots ever had a hex over Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, that’s all over now.

The team that won three Super Bowls in four years with Tom Brady’s leadership and Adam Vinatieri’s kicks heads into next season trying to avoid a third straight year without a championship.

“We’ll come back next year and try to do it better,” Brady said, “but I’m proud of the competitiveness we showed.”

VICK CLEARED

ATLANTA — Michael Vick was cleared by police Monday of any wrongdoing at a Miami airport, four days after the Falcons general manager said the star quarterback had “let a lot of people down.”

Vick’s water bottle was seized by security at Miami International Airport last Wednesday. Police said it smelled of marijuana and had a hidden compartment that contained a “small amount of dark particulate.”

Lab tests found no evidence of drugs, and the bottle no longer is considered evidence in an investigation.

Police will not file charges and there will be no disciplinary measures from the NFL or the Falcons.

“If there is no violation of law, there is no basis for discipline,” NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told The Associated Press.

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