‘I could not catch my breath’: Sixteen gamers and coaches reveal tales of Tremendous Bowl nervousness
In getting ready for his first Tremendous Bowl in February 2014, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner did not actually stress about going through Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos‘ record-setting offense.
Wagner’s nervousness surfaced on the opening kickoff.
“I used to be extra nervous about that second when all of the flashes occur,” Wagner informed ESPN Seahawks reporter Brady Henderson. “It was bizarre. I at all times watched it on TV, and I at all times questioned if I might pay extra consideration to that than the precise recreation. The kickoff, you dream of being within the recreation and that second and all of the flashes. I used to be form of listening to that too lengthy, then I snapped again.”
As soon as the glare from the flashes had light, Wagner was an intimidating drive from sideline to sideline, recording 10 tackles within the Seahawks’ 43-8 triumph in Tremendous Bowl XLVIII. Smartphones have made the explosion of digital camera flashes out of date, however intense pregame jitters stay as a lot of a fixture on the Tremendous Bowl because the Lombardi Trophy.
Gamers and coaches all have recollections of coping with nerves earlier than the Tremendous Bowl, which is among the largest sporting occasions on the planet. Broadcast in additional than 170 nations, the Tremendous Bowl is watched by a median of 100 million individuals.
For some, the nervousness might be extreme. The Philadelphia Eagles‘ Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson raised awareness about anxiety by sharing their tales. It grew to become so intense that it triggered them to overlook video games, and vomiting grew to become a daily a part of their pregame routine. Brooks retired in January.
For others, nervousness appears to behave as a gauge, indicating they’re about to take part in one thing momentous.
Coping mechanisms can vary from making a distraction to simply ready for that first hit. Andre Rison, who performed for the Green Bay Packers in Tremendous Bowl XXXI, discovered a pair methods to take care of the nerves.
“I used to be nervous, so I referred to as Deion Sanders and we talked hours earlier than kickoff,” Rison informed ESPN reporter Eric Woodyard. “He had already performed in a single. The remainder was historical past.”
Rison scored on a 54-yard TD go from Brett Favre to assist lead the Packers to a 35-21 win over the New England Patriots.
“I additionally bought a number of paintings performed on my physique to take my thoughts off the massive recreation,” Rison stated.
Tales of Tremendous Bowl nervousness fluctuate, however they’ve a standard theme: This is not like another recreation.
— ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley
Editor’s notice: Some responses had been edited for readability and brevity.
Doug Baldwin: ‘Who’s towards me?’
Main as much as Tremendous Bowl XLVIII, some analysts stated Seattle’s receiver group was nothing particular with out Percy Harvin. Cris Carter referred to as them “appetizers,” resulting in a back-and-forth with Doug Baldwin that included this memorable line from Carter: “Google me, man. See if I ain’t within the Corridor of Fame.”
After the Seahawks’ victory, Baldwin was answering questions on the podium, with a hat commemorating their Tremendous Bowl championship resting subsequent to the microphone. A reporter requested him to give you a headline for the story his staff simply wrote. Baldwin answered merely: “Google that.”
“For me, it was at all times about discovering some sort of motivation outdoors of the conventional to form of recover from these nervousness emotions. So my mindset was, who’s towards me? Who desires to speak s— about my capabilities or the receiver room’s capabilities and what we’re all about? Searching for these out to form of fight the nervousness emotions to present me one thing to deal with, one thing else to battle for. So with the primary Tremendous Bowl, it was Cris Carter and a number of other different guys speaking s— concerning the receivers’ room.
“I am looking for some slight in order that it addresses that nervousness for me, so I do not actually need to take care of it.”
“However the gist is, I believe everyone handles nervousness otherwise. Clearly, I felt it main as much as the sport, as a result of you’ve got two weeks to organize. However I believe my technique was, how do I discover an extra motivator that may get me to the purpose the place the nervousness does not matter? I am looking for some slight in order that it addresses that nervousness for me, so I do not actually need to take care of it. I do not know if that is a wholesome option to deal with it, however it served me properly within the [competitive] enviornment.”
Carl Banks: ‘Rattling, I am within the Tremendous Bowl’
Banks is a two-time champion linebacker with the New York Giants who performed in Tremendous Bowls XXI and XXV.
“Any participant that has participated that did not dream that complete week of getting a sure sort of recreation or sure performs is mendacity to you. So, I dreamed about simply making performs, and I studied rather a lot, however there’s nervousness and [you feel] the magnitude of the second once you step on the sphere, however by the point that anthem is over, it is simply soccer.
“You notice that you simply’re within the Tremendous Bowl. It is the participant introductions, that complete factor after which the nationwide anthem performs, and by the tip of that anthem, it hits you. Like, ‘Rattling, I am within the Tremendous Bowl, and right here we go.’ Then, it is soccer after that, although.”
Lance Briggs: ‘That is the most important second of our life’
Briggs helped a Bears staff fueled by its protection attain Tremendous Bowl XLI, which Chicago misplaced to Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 29-17.
“I had greater nerves within the playoffs main as much as the Tremendous Bowl. That one-and-done feeling was worse than the lead-up to the massive recreation.
“The factor I keep in mind was the locker room. It was fascinating to me. Subsequent to our title tag, it had the Tremendous Bowl patch, in order you are getting dressed you are pondering that is the most important second of our life.”
“The factor I keep in mind was the locker room. It was fascinating to me. Subsequent to our title tag, it had the Tremendous Bowl patch, in order you are getting dressed you are pondering that is the most important second of our life.
“I do keep in mind throughout warm-ups there have been so many flashing lights, so many individuals taking footage. I had by no means seen something like that. Nevertheless it did not make me nervous. It gave me a sense of accomplishment. It is so laborious to get to a Tremendous Bowl, so I used to be telling myself, do not let the second get too large.”
— ESPN reporter Jesse Rogers
Kevin Butler: ‘I did not wish to let Walter Payton down’
Butler was a rookie kicker for the 1985 Bears, who routed the Patriots 46-10 in Tremendous Bowl XX in New Orleans.
“I used to be nervous. The morning after the championship recreation you notice you are going to the Tremendous Bowl, and as a rookie coming in, you are simply enjoying it week to week, making an attempt to battle the nerves.
“There have been some demons going into the Tremendous Bowl as a result of I needed to remain good after that championship recreation.”
“I had an up-and-down playoff. In [the divisional round against the Giants], on the windiest day I’ve ever performed in, I missed three discipline targets. So I had a heck of per week with nerves main into the NFC Championship Recreation towards the Rams, however I had an excellent recreation [4-for-4, including an extra point]. However there have been some demons going into the Tremendous Bowl as a result of I needed to remain good after that championship recreation.
“The nerves had been there, however not a lot due to the magnitude of the soccer recreation. I had performed in large video games all through my profession, at Georgia and different locations. I used to be nervous concerning the second. I did not wish to let Walter Payton down. I did not wish to let Dan Hampton down. These had been the place my nerves got here from. The yr earlier than, a few of these guys had been my heroes. The additional strain got here from myself, not a lot from the sport itself.”
Gary Fencik: This was going to be the final time we had been all collectively
Fencik was the beginning free security for the ’85 Bears.
“For me, one of many large points was early within the week, our defensive coordinator, Buddy Ryan, informed me confidentially that he can be leaving to be the pinnacle coach of the Eagles after the sport. So this was going to be the final time we had been all collectively. So I do not know if it was nerves, however we had a really emotional evening earlier than the sport. With two weeks to organize, we had been prepared. However we needed to win for all these causes.
“The opposite factor that was nerve-wracking was coming by means of for individuals who for a decade stated to me, ‘Hey, if you happen to ever get to a Tremendous Bowl, name me up I might love some tickets.’ I had 5 brothers and sisters, and also you solely get so many tickets. I needed to get a home for them in Mississippi. I needed to get a lodge for my mother and father. I had faculty buddies asking. It was loopy. And so in the course of the week, I used to be two tickets quick. I used to be performed. I had no entry apart from going out to scalp two tickets. So I had dinner with Bob Verdi, columnist with the Tribune. I informed him I used to be completely in bother with tickets. He stated he may have the ability to assist me out. He bought me two unbelievable tickets below the situation that I by no means point out it to anybody. That is the primary time I am revealing that in over 30 years. He saved my butt. That was as large a problem as the sport.”
Grady Jarrett: ‘That was an incredible second for me’
The Falcons defensive deal with had three sacks in Tremendous Bowl LI, however his large efficiency got here in a shedding effort because the Patriots overcame a 28-3 deficit to win 34-28.
“It undoubtedly was a surreal second for me. It was simply an thrilling time. Anyone who tells you that it is simply one other day, it is simply one other recreation, it is simply unfaithful.
“You are undoubtedly wanting round, taking within the atmosphere. It was one of many pre-walk-through stadium issues, I am unable to keep in mind if we did it the day earlier than, and in Houston, that they had the JumboTron the place they had been placing the roster up and your image up. And my title got here up and my image, and for me to see my title up there on the highest getting ready to play a Tremendous Bowl, that was an incredible second for me. And I am certain it was for everyone on the sphere.”
— ESPN Falcons reporter Michael Rothstein
Ray Lewis: ‘You bought to relax, sugar, you bought to relax’
Lewis is a two-time Tremendous Bowl champion. He earned MVP honors whereas serving to the Ravens beat the Giants in Tremendous Bowl XXXV after which had seven tackles in a win over the 49ers in Tremendous Bowl XLVII.
“I at all times had a assured, nervous vitality. It was by no means like the sport was too large or nervousness kicked in. It was by no means that for me, it was at all times within the second, I used to be so within the second.
“Rod Woodson used to inform me on a regular basis, ‘You bought to relax, sugar, you bought to relax.’ As a result of I used to be simply at all times prepared for the second. … Let’s get by means of all of those flags and fly cross and let’s get the ball snapped. In all of my profession, I might inform you this, I used to be at all times ready to guide.”
Lincoln Kennedy: ‘I used to be exhausted’
Kennedy was the Oakland Raiders’ proper deal with in Tremendous Bowl XXXVII, which they misplaced to former coach Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-21. Kennedy grew up in San Diego, which was the positioning of the sport, making a hometown feeling, for higher or worse.
“The general nervousness comes from coping with the unknown. You are on the precipice of the most important recreation you have ever performed, and there is an unfamiliarity with what goes on and what goes into the Tremendous Bowl. And if you happen to do not respect that, irrespective of what number of instances you have performed in it, you are not ready for it.
“And we had been the final of the one-weekers [there was one week between the conference title games and the Super Bowl in 2003, the last time that happened]. So when you’re there [and there’s a two-week gap], you take care of all that nervousness of the unknown and the hype and all that the primary week. Then, the second week, it is again to regular. Besides, we did not have that second week.
“On a private degree, my week was a double-edged sword. We had been enjoying in my house metropolis — San Diego. Every little thing was simply … further. I used to be the discuss of the city. I used to be everybody’s VIP. I needed to be all over the place, and I used to be, so I used to be extraordinarily stretched out. By the point the sport got here, I used to be exhausted.”
— ESPN Raiders reporter Paul Gutierrez
Rob Ninkovich: ‘I used to be so nervous. It was ‘I’ve to win”
Ninkovich was a Patriots linebacker who went 2-1 in Tremendous Bowls. After shedding in Tremendous Bowl XLVI to the Giants, he was on championship groups in Tremendous Bowls XLIX and LI.
“We’re enjoying in Arizona, towards the Seahawks [in Super Bowl XLIX on February 1, 2015], and the sphere was tremendous slippery. Invoice [Belichick] got here in and mandated that everybody put on seven-stud cleats [longer ones used for slippery or sloppy fields]. The primary play of the sport, I slip so dangerous. It was an outdoor run, I had two tight ends on me. I hit the primary tight finish, I bought bounced out, and it is everyone’s hats to the ball as a result of it is Marshawn Lynch. I run and attempt to reduce, and each ft slip out from beneath me. That they had painted the entire discipline inexperienced, and it was tremendous slimy. Very moist and slippery.
“All week I stored pondering, I have never received a Tremendous Bowl. I actually have not performed something. Particularly once you play for the Patriots, everybody assumes you have received a Tremendous Bowl.”
“When Invoice mandated the seven studs, it was form of like a psychological [game]. I hated carrying seven studs as a result of in the direction of the tip I had dangerous Achilles tendinitis. At any time when I put seven studs on, I felt like my toes had been raised larger than my heels, and I felt prefer it put added strain on my Achilles. So I used to be nervous I used to be going to tear my Achilles. Nevertheless it was the Tremendous Bowl, so I used to be like, ‘Screw it! If I tear it, I tear it.’ I used to inform guys this — ‘If it pops right this moment, it pops. It has been enjoyable!’ They’d all be like, ‘Shut up, Ninko!’
“The entire cleat factor was possibly a blessing in disguise as a result of it took my thoughts off the magnitude of the sport. All week I stored pondering, ‘I have never received a Tremendous Bowl. I actually have not performed something.’ Particularly once you play for the Patriots, everybody assumes you have received a Tremendous Bowl. They hadn’t received in 10 years at that time. So I had extra nerves going into that second one. I used to be so nervous. It was ‘I’ve to win. I’ve to have a fantastic recreation. We have now to cease Lynch.’ After which within the third one, I did not have many nerves as a result of I knew it was my final recreation. It was ‘I will go play and hopefully we win.'”
— ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss
Invoice Parcells: ‘It is similar to Elvis in Las Vegas’
Parcells coached the New York Giants to 2 Tremendous Bowl wins, beating the Broncos in Tremendous Bowl XXI after which edging the Buffalo Bills in Tremendous Bowl XXV.
“After we had been near the Tremendous Bowl [XXI in Pasadena, California], I simply needed to get it going. In different phrases, we had been ready too lengthy for it. All of the work was performed and I used to be able to play. Let’s go.
“The sport was at 3:18 on the Pacific coast, and I used to be within the stadium in my dressing room at 1 / 4 to eight. I needed to get out of the lodge and get into my atmosphere.
“It is an thrilling time. That is what I keep in mind. I do not suppose ‘butterflies’ is the proper phrase. I believe ‘impatience’ may be extra the proper phrase.”
“It is an thrilling time. That is what I keep in mind. I do not suppose butterflies is the proper phrase. I believe impatience may be extra the proper phrase.
“[In the tunnel before the game] I wasn’t serious about my life’s journey or something like that. It was extra like, ‘That is actually the massive present.’ I imply, it is similar to Elvis in Las Vegas. Everyone is watching.
“One of many issues that involved me was the man who did the sphere — George Toma — he informed me the sphere was somewhat oily. I used to be on the market fairly early on, I wish to say 9, 9:30, simply form of looking for the spots the place it may be slippery. I do know the tip zone bleachers had been very near the tip zone, so I used to be capable of warn my receivers, be sure to’re cautious if you happen to’re going out of the again of the tip zone. It sounds silly, however I used to be simply searching for some slippery spots on the sphere, stuff like that. I used to be making an attempt to determine the place the shadows had been going to be, the place you are going to have the solar, the place you are not. That form of stuff.”
— ESPN Jets reporter Wealthy Cimini
Patterson is often carefree earlier than video games, jokes round with teammates and with followers, tosses the ball into the stands to play catch with followers for a minimum of quarter-hour as a part of his pregame warm-up. And he did that earlier than Tremendous Bowl LIII as a member of the Patriots, though he admits now it was all just a bit bit completely different.
“I used to be nervous the entire recreation. Could not hear. Could not breathe. My coronary heart was simply pounding the entire recreation. It was completely different, man, the entire recreation was completely different.
“I used to be doing my little [pregame] routine, however I simply bought tremendous drained. I do not know, it is bizarre. You bought to be there to actually perceive. It is laborious to clarify.
“[He kept telling himself:] It is a recreation. It is a recreation. It is nonetheless a recreation, one thing we have been doing our complete life, simply are available in and play the sport.”
Dean Pees: ‘Do your regular routine’
Pees was the Patriots’ linebackers coach for Tremendous Bowl XXXVIII and defensive coordinator for Tremendous Bowls XXXIX and XLII. He was the Ravens’ defensive coordinator for Tremendous Bowl XLVII.
“The very first Tremendous Bowl I went to, with New England, Invoice Belichick did an unbelievable job of speaking to the gamers — as a result of that they had already been to 1 the yr earlier than and two years previous to that — of telling the blokes within the pregame, do not exit and get all overvalued and spend all of your vitality within the pregame as a result of it is the Tremendous Bowl. Guys are going on the market, they’re all amped up and all these items and all excited and going 110 miles an hour in pregame. Do your regular routine.
“I at all times felt that was a bonus his groups had as a result of he form of had them toned down, and also you see different groups on the market simply leaping round and going loopy and yeah, they give the impression of being good for the primary two collection, and by the third collection half of them are hyperventilating as a result of they expended all their vitality in pregame and at first. He at all times did an excellent job of holding everyone calm and in routine.”
Antwaan Randle El: ‘It is only a matter of going out and hitting anyone’
The Steelers receiver threw a landing go in Tremendous Bowl XL to assist Pittsburgh beat the Seahawks.
“You may have jitters earlier than each recreation, so the Tremendous Bowl is not any completely different. It is only a matter of going out and hitting anyone. In the event you exit and hit anyone, even if you happen to get hit and knocked down, it is like, ‘All proper, I am good.’
“Preparation kills a number of that stuff. I imply you are not getting your regular evening’s relaxation the evening earlier than the Tremendous Bowl, however I at all times took my Ambien anyway, so I used to be good. However, it simply comes all the way down to being ready, and when you’re ready, now it is like, ‘Let me exit and make this catch. Let me exit and block anyone actually laborious or get knocked down’ and then you definately’re able to go.”
Nate Solder: ‘I could not catch my breath’
The previous Patriots offensive deal with performed in 4 Tremendous Bowls, going 2-2.
“You simply have a lot extra time to consider every thing. ‘What in the event that they do that? What in the event that they do this?’ You may have a lot extra time to go in your individual head and over-worry about all that stuff.
“I keep in mind the entire recreation [in Super Bowl XLVI], I could not catch my breath. A month later, I keep in mind I talked to one in every of my coaches from highschool, I stated, ‘It is the weirdest factor. Even the littlest motion I made, I could not catch my breath.’
“I used to be in all probability holding my breath the entire time as a result of I used to be so nervous. You have a tendency to try this. Your pure capabilities lock up.”
“He stated, ‘Had been you respiration?’ I stated, ‘In all probability not. I used to be in all probability holding my breath the entire time as a result of I used to be so nervous.’
“You have a tendency to try this. Your pure capabilities lock up.”
— ESPN Giants reporter Jordan Raanan