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Super Bowl-bound Garcon hoping for Haitian smiles

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - Haitian-American Pierre Garcon wore a huge smile after helping the Colts advance to the Super Bowl on Sunday and expressed the hope that his performance might help lift spirits in the earthquake-ravaged country.

Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Pierre Garcon, whose family is from Haiti, holds the Haitian flag after his team defeated the New York Jets in the NFL AFC Championship football game in Indianapolis, Indiana January 24, 2010. REUTERS/John Sommers II

Garcon, a second-year receiver, caught 11 passes from Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning for 151 yards and a touchdown in the 30-17 victory over the New York Jets.

“Hopefully it brought some smiles to the peoples’ faces out there,” said Garcon, who waved a Haitian flag on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I was trying to do it for the country.”

Garcon, drafted in the sixth round out of the small Mount Union college in Ohio with the 205th pick of the 2008 NFL draft, came up big along with rookie receiver Austin Collie as the Jets put their best defender on Reggie Wayne.

“It was the game plan for somebody to have a great game today. Today just happened to be my day,” said Garcon, lingering in the locker room long after most of his team mates had left.

“I hope it brings more awareness to the tragedy going on down there. There’s a lot more that needs to be done. It’s a good day, I guess. A good day.”

Garcon, who was born in New York and grew up in Florida, said the rest of his family was born in Haiti.

“Everybody else in my family was born in Haiti -- my sisters, my parents. I was the only one in my family not born in Haiti.”

Garcon said he is not aware of losing any of his Haitian family members to the earthquake, which authorities estimate killed up to 200,000 people.

“The communication hasn’t been the greatest, but we’re still trying to get more information about what’s going on down there,” the 23-year-old told reporters.

Garcon said he tried to use the tragedy as “motivation” to play his best “for the people of Haiti to see that one of theirs is here and it is not all bad. Trying to bring a little smile to them.”

“It’s all positive. I still have one more goal, and that’s the Super Bowl. I don’t think of myself as an ambassador. I just want to help.”

Editing by Nick Mulvenney