BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The New Orleans Saints spent all season talking about how the team's sense of togetherness helped spark a resurgent playoff run.
And the camaraderie has carried over to the postseason awards circuit.
One week after seven Saints and the coaching staff spent time having fun in Orlando, Florida, at the Pro Bowl, the New Orleans stars have descended on the Twin Cities for Super Bowl LII festivities, and they're extending the party to Minneapolis.
"I don't ever recall having this much amount of time with my brothers right after the season," running back Mark Ingram said. "To spend time with the guys, that's what it's all about."
Success opens up business opportunities off the field, and every one of the Saints has their own work to do in the Twin Cities. Ingram served as the analyst of ESPN's Madden Bowl on Thursday night and did a round of interviews promoting the game; Alvin Kamara played Madden against Kansas City's Travis Kelce and participated different activities for Vizio; Cam Jordan, always a favorite of the TV shows, was a spokesman for Polaris; and rookie cornerback Marshon Lattimore teamed with Gillette for the "His Big Day" program, celebrating the bond between father and son.
Once their duties are over, though, the Saints have been finding ways to hang out together. Ingram, Kamara, Jordan and Michael Thomas are sharing a house a little ways outside of downtown Minneapolis, and although Lattimore is staying with his father, Marland, he planned to spend a lot of his time hanging out with teammates.
"We're going to get together, those are my dogs," Lattimore said. "Off the field, too. ... I loved Orlando. Everybody being laid-back, everybody showing their real personality off the field, talking to all the great players that were there."
Jordan, who spent his first six years in Minnesota, hasn't spent any time in the house just yet, as he's visiting with his father, Steve, a Vikings great; catching up with Cal teammate Mychal Kendricks, an Eagles linebacker; and seeing old friends.
But it's still pretty nice to have the rest of the Saints around, especially in close proximity to the site of the Minneapolis Miracle.
"Being at a place where you lost three weeks ago, it doesn't really put enough distance between these feelings deep down inside, but at least it's deep down," Jordan said.
All of the Saints are getting tired of answering questions about Stefon Diggs' miraculous catch and the fallout, a problem that's exacerbated in the Radio Row car washes where players go on dozens of shows in a single day and answer all the same questions over and over.
"It's tough, but part of being with the brothers is that's a little bit of healing," Ingram said. "Being with them, having a good time. We feel like we should be (in the Super Bowl), but we're not, so all we can do is use the feeling that we have to focus on the next level and finish it out next year."
For some of the older players, like Jordan, Ingram and Drew Brees, who has been booked as a guest for showsFriday, this Super Bowl stuff is old hat. For rookies like Lattimore and Kamara, and even a second-year player like Thomas, it's their first chance to really taste the fruits of their spectacular rookie seasons off the field. As the week goes on, more teammates will flood into the city; linebacker Craig Robertson made an appearance at the Mall of America on Thursday, and punter Thomas Morstead will be in Minnesota on Friday to present his check to Children's Minnesota for the unbelievable fund-raising campaign that started after the Saints' playoff loss.
And there's a good chance that the Saints will have plenty to celebrate together Saturday night, the culmination of their week, when the NFL Honors show is taped and the league's major awards are announced.
Until then, this is a tight-knit group, growing even closer as they continue to have some of the fun they had during the season together.
"We're still kicking it," Ingram said. "It's just a continuation of last week, hanging with the brothers and just being with each other."