Being a Denver Broncos fan in the Pacific Northwest isn’t the only thing that sets David Richie apart these days.
He also has the distinction of being a Super Bowl champion, having won an NFL title with the 1998 Broncos.
The defensive coordinator at Archbishop Murphy High School in Everett and a former standout at Kelso High School and the University of Washington, Richie will be cheering for his former team today, 16 years after Denver’s victory over the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXII.
“There are no words that I can use to describe it. It’s amazing,” Richie said of his Super Bowl experience. “You get asked that question a lot. People are like, ‘What’s it like?’ It’s like the Super Bowl, but you’re out there!”
Richie, 40, grew up a Seahawks fan and said it was his “lifelong dream to be a Hawk.” He played on the defensive line for the University of Washington from 1992-96, earning second-team All-Pac 10 honors his senior year.
After college, he signed as a free agent with Denver and in his first season in the NFL found himself at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Jan. 25, 1998.
“I was like, ‘Wow. I’m actually here,’?” Richie said. “This is actually the Super Bowl. This is actually going to happen. Media day was nuts. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos interviewed us. … We’re getting interviewed by MTV ‘House of Style.’?”
In the week leading up to the game, Richie and his Bronco teammates — including future Hall of Famers John Elway, Shannon Sharpe and Gary Zimmerman — did their best to keep things as routine as possible.
Richie said that philosophy worked, right up until a few minutes before the kickoff.
“When it came to game day itself, it was business as usual,” Richie said. “But when you run through the tunnel and here’s Jewel standing next to you getting ready to sing the national anthem, that’s when it hits. It’s like, ‘Whoa, this is nuts.’
“You know you made it to the big time when Jewel is singing your national anthem. Seeing Jewel there was huge. She’s a multi-platinum artist. I can’t remember who did halftime.’”
For the record, the halftime show was titled “A Tribute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary” and featured Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, Martha Reeves and The Temptations.
As for playing in the game, well…
“I didn’t even get in the damn game because it was so close,” Richie said with a laugh. “My big role for the Super Bowl was I played Reggie White and got our offensive line, John Elway and Shannon Sharpe and those guys ready for the Super Bowl.”
In the practices leading up to the game, Richie was designated as White — the future Hall of Fame defensive lineman — on the scout team. His job was to mimic White’s tendencies in every way possible.
Apparently Richie did his job well.
“I do get a little mark on my belt. Reggie White never got to John Elway the entire game,” Richie said. “I was right there when the offense would come off the field. (Broncos offensive linemen) Gary Zimmerman and Tony Jones were coming up to me asking, ‘Hey dude, what did you see?’
“It took every guy on that 53-man roster to get that job done that day. We were huge underdogs.”
The Broncos pulled out the 31-24 win thanks to a Terrell Davis 1-yard touchdown run with 1:45 left in the game, defeating the Packers and head coach Mike Holmgren, who left Green Bay for Seattle one season later.
Everybody on the roster, including the scout team Reggie White, received a flashy championship ring. Richie said he still wears his occasionally on date nights.
“It’s pretty flashy,” Richie said. “Being John Elway’s first Super Bowl victory in ’98, they spared no expense.”
Richie said Elway asked for a “12-table ring.”
“Someone asked, ‘What’s a 12-table ring?’?” Richie said. “Elway said, ‘I want them to be able to see it from 12 tables away.’?”
Richie went on to play two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers and a year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In 2001 he played in the XFL, and won a title with the Los Angeles Xtreme. The XFL folded after its first season.
Richie then turned his attention to coaching, including a stint at Central Catholic High School in Portland, Ore.
In the fall he joined first-year coach Jerry Jensen’s staff at Archbishop Murphy.
“We kept in contact via social network,” said Jensen, who played with Richie at Washington. “I can’t remember who made the first contact, but I’m glad to have him up here. He relates to the kids. He’s a good technician. He teaches his craft.”
Jensen said Richie’s NFL — and Super Bowl — experience warrants respect from the players.
But as a coach, Richie does more than just flash his ring.
“I’m a regular coach,” said Richie, who also serves as the campus supervisor at Archbishop Murphy. “Any time you’re coming to a new situation, you’ve got to earn their respect. We’re hands on coaches. It’s not like it used to be in the old days. I can still get out there and show the guys how to play. This is the technique. That’s what gets the players’ respect.”
Like most people, Richie plans to watch the game today. He’ll be at home in Everett with his wife, Carin, and son, Jackson. And to celebrate his past team, he’ll be wearing “orange all the way.”
Richie, who said the Super Bowl was “definitely one of the top-five” moments of his life, may even think back to Super Bowl XXXII during today’s game.
“The Super Bowl was an experience I’ll never forget and I feel very blessed to have been in one and been on a world championship team,” he said. “There really is no better game than the Super Bowl.”