All we did was give them an extra edge
TRURO - You can almost taste the Colchester County flavour at Super Bowl XLIV.
Well, if a Makkar Pure Power Mouthguard actually had a taste, that is.
About 40 members of the New Orleans Saints are sporting the mouthpiece invented by Truro dentist Anil Makkar while seven players of the opposition Indianapolis Colts are also using the product.
The two teams are set to do battle for the National Football League's Vince Lombardi Trophy Sunday in Miami.
"(The Saints) were already a great team. They had all the right parts in place," the 48-year-old Makkar said over the phone from Miami, where he's attending Super Bowl festivities with the team and will take in the game Sunday. "I think all we did was give them an extra edge."
The mouthguard properly aligns the jaw and spine, allowing for better breathing and increased range of motion and power.
It all started when Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma was fitted for a Makkar PPM last year and noticed his headaches went away. He mentioned the mouthpiece to general manager Mickey Loomis.
"That's when we got the call," Makkar said.
Makkar and a team of six PPM-trained American doctors fitted the Saints players on Sept. 20, including cornerback Tracy Porter, who intercepted what could be Brett Favre's final pass in the NFC Championship game, kicker Garrett Hartley, who finished off the Minnesota Vikings in overtime in the NFC championship, runningback Pierre Thomas, tight end Jeremy Shockey, wide receiver Robert Meachem and safety Roman Harper.
The team was already off to a 3-0 start to the season then, and went on to win their next 10 games, and Makkar, who had always liked football but never pledged allegiance to a team, became a Saints fan, watching every game.
"It's been surreal," Makkar said of watching the wins keep rolling in for the team this season. "It's on a different level."
The mouthguard is already being used by such high-profile athletes as Cleveland Cavaliers centre Shaquille, O'Neal, Ottawa Senators centre Jason Spezza, PGA golfer
Mike Weir, Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell
Owens and Carolina Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme.
But having so many players on a team sporting the mouthguard has given Makkar the chance to see how it can affect that team's results. With the Saints getting to their first Super Bowl in the team's 44-year history, Makkar said he feels the results speak for themselves.
"Early on there was a lot of criticism; people who said it was just a placebo effect and that it didn't work," Makkar said. "So it's nice to see that criticism go away."
One of the biggest steps in that direction happened on Nov. 1, while Makkar was at the Super Dome as the Saints hosted the Atlanta Falcons. John Gruden, a former NFL coach turned Monday Night Football analyst, bragged about the mouthguard on the telecast and showed clips of Saints players making big plays in that game.
"I've played the Saints twice a year,
I've coached against these guys. I've never
seen these guys jump higher, I've never seen these guys play like this," Gruden said on the telecast.
"That was one of the biggest things for me," Makkar said. "He told the world about it."
Later in the season, on Dec. 7, the Colts players, including tight end Dallas Clark, placed orders for theirs.
The Saints dropped their final three games of the regular season, finishing 13-3, but Makkar said he wasn't concerned.
"It's hard to go 16-0," he said. "They had some injuries and they had already made the playoffs so they rested some guys so I wasn't really surprised.
"But they shot back pretty good in the playoffs. It was all strategy by the coaching staff."
But no matter what happens on Sunday, Makkar said he's already overwhelmed with how the season has shaken down for the Saints.
"It's already a great achievement," he said. "This was their first NFC Championship and if they won their first Super Bowl it would be the icing on the cake."