JERSEY CITY, NJ–The boat screamed party. The Broncos exuded business.
A garish cruise ship on the Hudson River made for a strange setting for the Denver Broncos’ press event on Wednesday. “We’re on a business trip,” Head Coach John Fox explained. “There’s a big event on Sunday. That’s what we’re here for.”The rocking boat clashed with the steady message imparted by coach and players: the Broncos are in New Jersey to play football and not to play around. Likening the break between conference championship games and the Super Bowl to “a reverse bye week,” Fox affirmed that he would conduct a “padded practice today” to get back into a football flow.
Was cornerback Champ Bailey surprised at full pads a few days before the biggest game of his life? “Not really,” the fifteen-year veteran held. “It’s what we’ve done all year.”And given the success the Broncos have had all year, Bailey sees no reason to adjust the formula. “I think we’re a better team when we go through game-like situations with our pads on,” he added. “This is a business trip. We’ve got a job to do.”
The team’s focus and discipline comes in part from the head coach. It also comes from the head man in the team’s front office. Peyton Manning pinpointed a moment after a preseason poor performance when the Broncos put a sharper focus on their goal. John Elway, helmsman of the team’s two Super Bowl victories, tore into the Broncos in the locker room. “He pretty much laid it on us,” Manning explained Wednesday. “He was not happy with that game. It was a butt-kicking, whether it was preseason or regular season. He shared his thoughts that that wouldn’t be accepted under his role as leader of this organization.” The Broncos, in their demeanor during Super Bowl week’s press availabilities, exuded a so-serious sternness reflecting a team on a mission.
John Fox, like Manning and Welker, has walked away from a Super Bowl unhappy before. And the lesson he took from that experience? “That you don’t want to lose.”