Super Bowl experience? Some Broncos recall a painful past
The Denver Broncos tell of humiliating memories, concussions and nerve-racking pregame preparation as they hold court on Super Bowl Media Day.
Seattle Times staff reporter
NEWARK, N.J. – Set to make his third Super Bowl appearance in eight years, Denver Broncos receiver Wes Welker certainly has relevant experience ahead of Sunday’s big game.
That isn’t to say they were necessarily enjoyable experiences.
Welker, then with the New England Patriots, tied a Super Bowl record with 11 catches in a dramatic 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in 2008 and then had a memorable fourth-quarter drop in a 2012 rematch — another narrow defeat, 21-17.
So is redemption on Welker’s mind?
“I don’t even think about it,” he said during Tuesday’s Super Bowl Media Day. “The past is the past. What happened happened. I’m just looking forward to this one.”
Welker has 79 receptions for 762 yards in 11 playoff games, 18 for 163 in the two Super Bowls. With seven more catches Sunday, he would pass Andre Reed for fifth-most in NFL postseason history.
With such production, it might be no surprise that Welker doesn’t feel like he has anything left to prove.
“The only thing I have to prove is to myself and going out there and just playing the best game I can,” he said.
The only thing that looked to rattle the otherwise steady Welker amid an hour of questions came when he was asked, yet again, to compare his current and former quarterbacks — Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, respectively.
“I think I’ve covered this question ad nauseam over the course of this year,” Welker said. “They’re obviously great quarterbacks and have done a great job. That’s it.”
And who is better?
“They’re both good in their own way,” Welker said.
More Super Bowl memories to forget
Super Bowl heartache extends beyond Welker, as cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie also has a painful memory from 2009.
With the Arizona Cardinals, he was nearby when Pittsburgh receiver Santonio Holmes made the game-winning catch with 35 seconds left in Super Bowl XLIII, clinching a 27-23 win.
“Does it haunt me? Yeah,” Rodgers-Cromartie said, “because every time the Super Bowl comes around, they show that one play ... and you see yourself right there. I was that close to getting a ring.”
He added: “If you give them 10 chances, I don’t think they make that throw and catch again.”
Learning from before
John Fox coached Carolina to the Super Bowl following the 2003 season. One of the biggest things he took away from that experience: how to handle the pregame.
So much is made of the extended halftime at the Super Bowl — from 12 minutes in the regular season to 30 minutes -— but Fox said the pregame is much more difficult for teams to deal with.
“There are things to do at halftime,” said Fox, one of six NFL coaches to lead two teams to the Super Bowl. “You can make adjustments. We had guys going for IVs. There are things to do. In the pregame, you can get amped up too early and maybe be too amped up because you have two weeks to prepare. There’s nothing to do in that locker room.”
• Concussions have been a lightning-rod issue in the NFL recently, and Welker has suffered two this season. But when asked if he would continue to play in the Super Bowl if concussed again, the receiver said: “What do you think? I mean, you want to be out there. The Super Bowl, this is what you dream about. You’re going to be there. I don’t care what it takes, you’re going to be out there in this game.”
• Regarding endless questions this week about how the chilly weather might affect the game, Fox said: “It’s not like we’re from Miami. ... We’ve probably had 12 to 15 practices in single digits. We’ve practiced in snow, we’ve practiced in big winds — they come off those mountains — so we’re kind of used to that.”
• Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child asked players Tuesday to sing some of the pop group’s best songs. Veteran cornerback Champ Bailey was deemed best of the Broncos and won an Xbox One.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff reporter Jayson Jenks contributed to this article.