Advantage or burden?
Experience edge can be good or bad in Super Bowl
Posted: Monday January 25, 1999 01:34 PM
MIAMI (CNN/SI) -- Both Super Bowl teams arrived early Sunday evening, but they brought with them drastically different levels of Super Bowl experience -- and expectations.
Before the Falcons departed Atlanta, they were greeted by a pep rally in Centennial Olympic Park, hosted by mayor Bill Campbell, who said the Falcons will have a parade after the Super Bowl, win or lose. The Broncos, knowing this is likely John Elway's last ride, know their fans won't be content with second place.
Super Bowl experience will no doubt be a storyline. The Broncos have fond memories of their upset of the Packers only one year ago, while the Falcons have only word of mouth from friends who have played in the Super Bowl.
But being the favorite in this game and having the experience can sometimes be a burden. As head coach Mike Shanahan told his Broncos this week, "If you get a little fat and start thinking you're better than you are, you'll get destroyed."
The Falcons are aware of their underdog role, simply because they're in unfamiliar territory this week, on and off the field.
"They have a big advantage. They've been through Super Bowl week and they know what to expect," Falcons receiver Terance Mathis said. "They know how to handle it. They've been there on Super Bowl Sunday. They know how to react with millions and millions of fans watching all over the world. They know. We don't."
The Broncos are cautiously confident, acknowledging they are the team to beat, but hardly boasting about their status as favorites.
"I don't think we're huge favorites in this game, but we're smart enough to know that they're the team that we were last year," said Broncos tailback Terrell Davis. "We can't be overconfident about the situation."
For Denver, the scenario is all too familiar. Last year, the Green Bay Packers were the team seeking a repeat and the Broncos were the underdog who had never won. Recognizing that will go a long way to prevent history from repeating.
Falcons coach Dan Reeves has been in an unprecedented eight Super Bowls as a player and coach. He will put some of that Super Bowl experience to the test this week -- in an effort to quell some of the controversy that he helped create last week, Reeves insists he will answer no more questions about his fractured relationship with Mike Shanahan and John Elway once he arrives in Miami.
Only four Falcons have Super Bowl experience -- linebacker Cornelius Bennett lost four times with the Buffalo Bills, safety Eugene Robinson was on the last two Packers teams, and receiver Tony Martin and safety Randy Fuller were in Miami four years ago with the Chargers.
"I'm not getting caught up in the hype -- I'm not mesmerized by the experience factor at all," Robinson says. "All I know is we've been winning games all season. Why should we stop now?"
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