John Elway and the Broncos offense get remembered, but it was John Mobley's tipped pass that secured Denver's first Super Bowl, typical of a defense short on hype but long on production. He talks about that play and his Super Bowl XXXII memories.
Linebacker John Mobley played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Denver Broncos.
A bruised spinal column forced him to retire in 2003. Mobley had his best season in 1997, finishing with 132 tackles and four sacks, earning All-Pro status.
Mobley was a key component of the Broncos teams that won Super Bowls in 1997 and 1998, and as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII victory, we'll be interviewing prominent players from that team and asking them about their memories of that team and their championship season. Today, Mobley shares his memories.
EVERYONE TALKS ABOUT THE LOSS TO JACKSONVILLE IN THE PLAYOFFS THE YEAR BEFORE. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU OPENLY DISCUSSED OR WAS IT JUST UNDERSTOOD?
It was just understood. It left a sour taste in everybody's mouth. After it happened, it was kind of like it was erased from my memory because it hurt so bad. I think everybody took that as a motivational factor and used it in preparing for the next season.
WHAT DID YOU REALISTICALLY EXPECT FROM YOURSELF AND THE TEAM GOING INTO YOUR SECOND SEASON IN 1997?
I think my rookie year was a learning experience for me. I had a pretty successful season in my opinion. My personal goal was just to do a little better statistically than I did my first year and I just wanted to progressively get better. But as a team, I think everybody knew what we were capable of, having gone as far as we went the season prior to that and having the success we'd had. I think everybody was inspired and really just looking forward to the season.
WHEN PEOPLE REMEMBER THAT TEAM, THEY TALK ABOUT THE HALL OF FAME OFFENSIVE STANDOUTS, BUT YOU GUYS WERE NO SLOUCHES ON DEFENSE EITHER, HUH?
We had a lot of talent. (Steve) Atwater was our captain back there. He was our quarterback on defense. If it weren't for him, we would never have gotten as far as we got defensively. We had a lot of guys that were really just hungry to play football and just enjoyed playing and they just wanted to make the guy next to them look better.
DID YOU EVER GET THE SENSE THAT PEOPLE DIDN'T GIVE YOU GUYS THE CREDIT YOU DESERVED ON DEFENSE?
You know what? It never mattered. It never mattered to us as a defense. We just wanted to go out and perform the way we knew that we were capable of performing. We all knew what kind of talent we had so it wasn't a matter of what everybody else thought about it. We knew we were good, and if they didn't see it, then that was on them.
YOU GREW UP IN PENNSYLVANIA. WERE YOU A STEELERS FAN, AND DID THE LOCATION OF THE AFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME AGAINST PITTSBURGH ADD ANY SIGNIFIGANCE?
I was an Eagles fan growing up, but any time you get to play in your home state, it's a great opportunity to want to do well. I had a lot of fans come up for that game — a lot of people I went to school with and a lot of family, so it was important for me to have a good game. It didn't happen (laughs), but it was a great experience for family and friends to come see it.
DID YOU PAY ANY ATTENTION TO WHAT PEOPLE SAID, GOING INTO THE GAME AS TWO-TOUCHDOWN UNDERDOGS?
Not at all. We kind of used it as fuel because they kept talking about Green Bay and their offense and their defense. It was funny, every article that you read, there was little or nothing mentioned about our defense. It might have had something about Elway and 'TD, but defensively they gave us no credit, and we kind of used that as motivation, used it as fire going into the game, and I guess it worked.
ON THE FIRST PLAY OF THE FINAL DRIVE, YOU HAD DORSEY LEVENS SNUFFED OUT IN THE BACKFIELD AND HE BROKE A TACKLE FOR 20 YARDS. WHAT WAS GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD?
Redemption. Redemption. I got yelled at so bad in the huddle from my teammates for missing that tackle that I knew I had to make up for it somehow and I just wanted the opportunity to do that.
WHAT ABOUT ONCE YOU KNOCKED DOWN THE FINAL PASS?
Everything was forgotten and nothing but joy and jubilation.
DO YOU REMEMBER THE DETAILS OF THAT PLAY?
Yeah. I'll never forget it. It was fourth-and-6 and we had a bomb blitz. That was kind of our all-out blitz. It was one-on-one; you get whatever man that you got. I knew I had (Mark) Chmura. I knew he was going to run an option route. If I played him to the inside he was going to cut out and if I played him outside he was going to break in and just get past the chain and Brett (Favre) was going to throw him the ball so I kind of fiddle-faddled and played cat-and-mouse with him the whole time. He didn't know if I was inside or outside. When he finally sat down I just jumped on him and got my hands in there and knocked the ball down.
ALFRED WILLIAMS SAID HE WAS UPSET YOU GOT TO MAKE THE PLAY BECAUSE HE WANTED TO END THE GAME HIMSELF.
He always talks to me about that. "You didn't even know what you were doing. You didn't know the magnitude of it." I really didn't at the time, but it didn't even matter. All I was thinking about was winning and fortunately enough we did.
YOU WERE A YOUNG GUY, BUT YOU HAD TO HAVE BEEN EXCITED.
No doubt about it. You dream about that when you're playing little league football and pretending you're in the Super Bowl and you're making that big play. There's no better stage to do it on.
DID YOU EVER SEE A SPECIFIC FACE IN THE CROWD WHEN YOU GOT BACK THAT STOOD OUT TO YOU?
I just knew it was tons of people. That's Denver for you, man, they've got the most supportive fans in the world I think. I don't even know what time we got back in town but everybody was out there in droves. Even the parade, there was not one empty spot alongside the route of the parade. It was filled to capacity, the whole city of Denver downtown. It was just unbelievable just to look out and see it and just to see how much these fans really loved their Denver Broncos. It was just a thrill to be able to give them the championship they'd been waiting on for such a long time.
YOU PLAYED FOR THE BRONCOS YOUR ENTIRE CAREER. KNOWING YOU WERE HEAVILY INVOLVED IN DENVER'S ONLY TWO SUPER BOWL VICTORIES, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN TO YOU PERSONALLY?
It means a great deal. I look back on it now and I think about it. When you're actually doing it and all these things happen, you really don't put much notice into things, but now that I'm able to sit back and reflect, it's a great thrill to really see what you've done and accomplished. It just makes you feel good. I think everybody's purpose in life —everybody's searching to find something that's going to make them whole, make them feel like they've invested their time wisely in life. Doing something like that, man, people play their whole careers and never even come close to something like that and we were fortunate enough to get two of them. I definitely feel blessed and fortunate that the Broncos took a chance on me and that we were able to have success.
Each Tuesday and Friday between now and Super Bowl XLII, we'll spotlight a different member of the 1997 team. This coming Friday, Jason Elam will share his memories.
PREVIOUS SUPER BOWL MEMORIES:
Linebacker Glenn Cadrez
Offensive Lineman Brian Habib
Safety Steve Atwater
Wide Receiver Ed McCaffrey
Tight End Shannon Sharpe
Defensive End Alfred Williams
Linebacker Keith Burns