It took an entire season for Sergio Brown to finally nail it.
There’s a particular order to the strange madness of Ric Flair’s famous swagger-drunk rant that makes it brilliant, and Brown had to master it.
Flair was the rolex-wearing, diamond-ring wearing, kiss-stealing, wheeling, dealing, limousine-riding, jet-flying son of a gun. And he was having a hard time holding those alligators down.
Brown wanted to embody the bravado line for line, but one part kept tripping him up.
“It was in training camp, the first time I brought it out,” Brown said. “Like in stretch line. And I just kept getting the lines wrong.”
When Flair said “kiss-stealing,” Brown heard “kid-stealing.”
It was like a confusing lyric to a song. Like listening to “Living on a Prayer” and hearing “It doesn’t really matter if we’re naked or not.’’
Punter Pat McAfee cleared things up.
He told Brown, “Sergio, ‘He doesn’t steal kids.’ He is not a kidnapper.”
Brown said, “You’re right, you’re right, I can’t say that.”
Eventually, he had Flair’s routine down line for line.
But he only broke it out in certain places.
“It’d usually be like on an airplane or it’d be like in the locker room like this, just playing around or something,” Brown said.
But over the past two weeks, it’s become the signature of the Indianapolis Colts’ run to the AFC Championship game.
After the Colts ran over the Bengals in the first round of the playoffs, Brown stood surrounded by his teammates gleefully shouting every one of Flair’s boasts with his teammates adding Flair’s patented “Woo” as exclamation points.
When the Colts sent the Broncos packing on Sunday, he did it again.
It become the Colts unofficial postgame celebration and initially, Brown was skittish about even doing it.
I didn’t even know I was going to roll it out because [defensive tackle] Ricky Jean-[Francois] usually dances after,” Brown said. “Next thing you know, somebody calls my name.
“I put my head down, because I just remember last year we played Kansas City, I danced, and I was doing like the bad lip-reading. I was like, ‘Aw, if I get up there I’m gonna be on YouTube and they’re going to be making fun of me.’ So I got up there and it was a success.”
Back in the AFC Championship for the first time since 2009, the Colts are trying to ride the wave of confidence into the Super Bowl.
It’s a place Brown’s been before — with the Patriots.
In 2011, Brown was just a second-year safety making a name for himself on a Patriots team that went 13-3 on the way to Super Bowl XLVI, where they fell to the New York Giants.
Now, he’s a five-year veteran, and only five other players in the Colts locker room have more playoff experience. Knowing the feeling of getting to the Super Bowl only makes him want to get back that much more.
“I got asked the question a lot, and I don’t really know how to dance around the question. Just say it’s the playoffs and nothing else matters other than when the whistle blows,” Brown said. “And it’s the team that makes the least mistakes that’s going to win and that’s the mind-state that we’re going into the game with.’’
No team has dominated the Colts in recent years like the Patriots. In November, they handed the Colts a 42-20 beating,
“You remember the feeling,” Brown said. “You remember how it felt to lose. You remember how they ran on you, and you have some pride about yourself and you fix it.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.