By Don Ruiz The News Tribune
ENGLEWOOD, COLO. — The second week of Super Bowl preparations can become a mixture of football and circus.
That leaves this first week as the time for full focus on football, say Denver coach John Fox and quarterback Peyton Manning, who have been to two Super Bowls each.
This week they begin preparations for their third: the Broncos vs. the Seattle Seahawks, Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“I have found (this week) is important,” Manning said Sunday after the Broncos advanced with a 26-16 win over the New England Patriots. “I know coach Fox will address … how we plan to prepare for this week and next week. And I think it is very important to get to know your opponent this week while you have somewhat of a normal itinerary.”
The Broncos showed up at their training facility Monday morning for weight work and then gathered for an afternoon meeting that covered the logistical challenges of Super Bowl preparations that will begin in the Denver suburbs and conclude next week in the New York City megalopolis, where much of the nation’s sports media will be gathered.
Fox scheduled Tuesday and today as off days for his players before they return Thursday for a practice that he said “will be the equivalent of our in-season Wednesday preparation.”
“It’s a race — like all week’s preparation,” Fox added. “We’ll have a lot to do, a lot to dig into. We’ll treat it like really all our preparation this season.”
Fox is the sixth head coach to take two different teams to the Super Bowl, joining Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Dan Reeves, Dick Vermeil and Mike Holmgren. Fox took the 2003 Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, losing to New England. He also was on the staff of the 2000 New York Giants team that lost to Baltimore in Super Bowl XXXV.
“I’ve known good friends, good coaches that have done this for 30 years and never been,” Fox said. “… I’m getting ready to head to my third Super Bowl, either as an assistant coach or head coach. I’ll be honest with you, I feel very blessed about that.”
Manning, 37, took the Indianapolis Colts to Super Bowls in the 2006 and 2009 seasons, winning in his debut.
“Being in my 16th season, going to my third Super Bowl, I know how hard it is to get there,” Manning said. “It’s extremely difficult.”
This will be the seventh Super Bowl appearance for the Broncos, although their last appearance was 15 seasons ago. Seattle has been there more recently, losing to the Pittsburgh following the 2005 seasons. However, there are no Seahawks on the roster with Super Bowl experience.
Fox hopes his experience — and Manning’s — can help prepare the Broncos for the distractions to come. Bronco receiver Wes Welker (New England), cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Arizona) and tight end Jacob Tamme (Indianapolis) also have Super Bowl experience.
“There’s a lot of noise on the outside,” he said. “We try to stay focused on just what we’re doing and the preparation on the inside. There’s no doubt that this is the nosiest one, for my experience. Again, just staying focused on the job at hand, and instead of the noise on the outside, stay focused on the job on the inside.”