XLV: McCarthy fit team for rings a bit early

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Green Bay Packers players reported to their team meeting Saturday evening prepared for some final words before turning in for their last night preceding Super Bowl XLV. They got a speech from Dr. Kevin Elko, a motivational guru, and then a surprise.

Coach Mike McCarthy had each player and coach fitted for a Super Bowl championship ring, a highly unusual move in a sport full of superstition and "one day at a time" mentality. It was the culmination of a late-season dose of Pittsburgh-style bravado McCarthy brought to the Packers over the past two months.

"No disrespect to the [Pittsburgh] Steelers," McCarthy said after the Packers' 31-25 victory in Super Bowl XLV. "We respect their football team. We respect the way they play. They're a good tough physical football team. But we fully expected to win this game. This is our time. We talked about it the first day we watched film [two weeks ago]. You could see the confidence building during the week."

Only two Packers players had appeared in a Super Bowl game prior to Sunday, so not everyone realized McCarthy was putting the cart before the proverbial horse.

"So that's pretty unusual, huh?" linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "Well, I liked it. It made things real for us."

According to center Scott Wells, the ploy fit McCarthy's week-long theme.

"We're a confident bunch and we knew we had a tough challenge," Wells said. "But the message all week has been about us. It wasn't about them. We knew if we played our game well, we would win this game."

Some players spent longer than others, imagining what it would be like to slip on the ring.

"It was the night before the game," linebacker Desmond Bishop said. "And we could see that it was right there. Everything we wanted was right there in our hands, literally and figuratively."