The joy of six
Lodish poised for record sixth Super Bowl
Posted: Thursday January 28, 1999 08:22 PM
MIAMI (AP) -- On Sunday, when he sprints onto the field to replace one of the Denver Broncos' starting defensive tackles, Mike Lodish will make history.
Already one of nine players who have played in five Super Bowls, Lodish will become the first to play in six.
And when he does, he'll think about the many players, some of them Hall of Famers, who never went to a single Super Bowl.
"I'm a very fortunate young man," Lodish said. "I'm very blessed, and I know that.
"I feel bad for the guys who never had a chance to be in Super Bowls, especially the great players. But at the same time, I've worked very hard to get where I am. I don't take anything for granted.
"I hope they can see that, yes, I'm a guy who will play in six, but that I played very hard every time. I hope they can respect that and say, 'There's a guy who deserves to be there even though he isn't a Hall of Famer, because he competes hard.' "
The joy of six will be a remarkable accomplishment for Lodish, considering that he was a 10th-round draft choice of the Buffalo Bills in 1990 who has been a starter in only one of his nine NFL seasons.
Reaching the NFL's pinnacle game seemed easy to Lodish, who went to a Super Bowl as a rookie -- and again in each of his next three seasons. On the other hand, the first four appearances ended in losses, which wasn't so easy to swallow.
"I couldn't believe that I was a rookie in the league going to a Super Bowl," he said. "That was crazy. But by the time we lost the fourth one, I thought I was an unlucky charm.
"You go the big game with such excitement. Four times, I left feeling as down as any time I can remember. You never want to accept second best for just being there."
Lodish, who signed a free-agent contract with the Broncos in 1995, got another shot at a Super Bowl title last January, and cashed in as Denver defeated Green Bay 31-24.
"I was on top of the world," he said. "It's a feeling I'll never forget, very fulfilling. It was like a 300-pound block of ice had been lifted off my back. There was a tremendous sense of gratification right after that last second ticked off the clock."
Lodish finally has his ring, and so does Broncos quarterback John Elway, who endured three losing trips to the Super Bowl. Because this is likely to be Elway's final game, Lodish said he and his teammates have a special feeling about it.
"If this is going to be his last game, we'd like to see him go out a winner," he said. "Back-to-back Super Bowl championships would be a nice accomplishment for a guy who was always told he was one of the best in the league, but never got the ring."
To win it for Elway, Lodish and the Broncos defense must play the same run-stuffing defense they played in two previous playoff games, when they held Miami and the New York Jets to identical rushing totals -- 13 carries for 14 yards.
That's a tall order, since Atlanta running back Jamal Anderson rushed for 1,846 yards this season -- second only to Denver's Terrell Davis, who had 2,008.
"He runs the ball very hard, and we're going to have to put a lot of hits on him to stop him," Lodish said. "I think the key to our run success the last few games is our attitude. It's a frame of mind when you say: You're not running the ball on us. If you're going to beat us, you're going to beat us in the air.
"We know how important this is. Defenses win championships. If you don't play good defense, you're not going to win the Super Bowl."
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