We are almost exactly two days away from watching another Super Bowl. For me, that means eating like I’ve just fasted for three months, dealing with people who get real pissed if you talk during the commercials, sitting through some Coldplay, and hopefully, watching an amazing game that properly caps off an exciting 2016 football season.
What about the players who play in the game? What’s life like for them leading up to and during the Super Bowl?
Normally, this would be a question I couldn’t answer—I’d just make wildly inaccurate assumptions and move on with my life. But since FanDuel has been lucky enough to host three fellows who are former Super Bowl champions, I picked their brain for some answers…and a prediction for how things are going to go down this Sunday.
Here it is, Super Bowl week, as told to me by former New York Giants Brian Witherspoon, Jay Alford and Michael Coe.
What memories do you have from the week leading up to the Super Bowl?
BW: Well first, knowing that you will go down in history whether you win or lose is something I thought about a lot. Unfortunately, a bad memory I have was seeing a friend of mine on the Patriots, Tiquan Underwood, cut the night before the game. All of his family members were at the game and didn’t get a chance to see him play.
MC: During the week of the Super Bowl Coach Coughlin kept things regimented and routine. He believed in staying true to who you are and the process that was established. So really, as crazy as it may sound, it was a very normal week.
JA: This was after we won Super Bowl 42—Strahan just told me “Never take getting to the Super Bowl for granted because it’s never promised. I played for 14 years and I had an amazing career, but nothing can replace the feeling of this one win. So don’t forget this feeling. ”
What was the best and worst part of the experience?
BW: Best—seeing the support that the team had was very encouraging. You don’t understand it until you see how far the fans have traveled and what they’re willing to put up with while trying to share every moment with you. Also, just being in the Super Bowl and being able to add some new jewelry to my collection wasn’t bad either.
The worst part of the experience—waiting for the clock to hit zero.
MC: The worst part of the Super Bowl was the waiting. Waiting for kick off and waiting at halftime. TC did a great job because those are uncontrollable factors. You can easily get distracted if you allow yourself to, but the focus we had speaks to TC and the “Giant way.” You learn how to deal with variables, overcome, and do your job.
JA: The best part about being in the Super Bowl wasn’t the game itself. For me, it was the playoff run we had in 2007—being able to go on a road winning streak, and managing to gel as a team with our backs against the wall. We really established a family while making that run.
With everything going on, is it harder than usual to concentrate on practice and game plans?
BW: I wouldn’t say harder, but there is a lot of anticipation and build up. You’re anxious to get going.
MC: It wasn’t really hard to stay focused, because we knew the reason why we were there and the task at hand. The mantra of TC saying ” Do your job” has stuck with me to this day. It was more than just a saying it, it was a way of life.
JA: No, it’s not hard. Actually, it’s one of the easier games to be a part of. The first week, no one is really there to be a distraction—that’s when most of the game planning was done. And then most of Super Bowl week is mental reps and walkthroughs.
And finally, who is winning this Sunday and why?
BW: I’m not going to say who’s winning because I have a feeling this will be a very close game. For both teams, it’ll come down to who can stay patient, and consistently find themselves in third-and-short situations. That’s the team that’ll win.
MC: It’s a tough choice. They both have elite defenses and MVP-caliber QBs. One thing I learned is doing the little things right consistently adds up to wins on each play, which adds up to wins in each quarter, and ultimately, to winning the game. I like what I see from both the Broncos and the Panthers, but I’m going to go with Steve Gettleman, Carolina’s general manager. He is a Giant at heart, and a big part of Giant culture during both Super Bowl runs. He’s built a winner, and I think this roster will bring the Panthers their first title.
JA: I have Denver winning it. Peyton is such an elite quarterback, and when you give him two weeks to prepare, I’ll take him over anyone. Also, the Broncos defense has all the tools needed to counter what Cam can do, so it’s going to be tough for the Panthers to get going.
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