JERSEY CITY, N.J. – Sunday represents a milestone moment in the football careers of each Bronco: a Super Bowl. A game dreamed about by even the youngest of players.
For all but four Broncos, it will be their first time playing in a Super Bowl. But that doesn't mean they haven't experienced their own versions in some level of football. Championship game experience varies for each player.
Wide receiver Andre "Bubba" Caldwell has played in a title game at every stage of his career going all the way back to his pee-wee days, while rookie defensive tackle Sylvester Williams said that his first championship game was just a few days ago in the AFC title game.
"You always want to play in a championship," running back C.J. Anderson said. "Growing up, pretty sure everybody in here had individual accolades. You always want to play for that one championship that can solidify your career or make your resume that much better."
Anderson recalled playing in the sectional championship for Bethel High School in Vallejo, Calif., and though his team didn't win the game, the game still had an impact.
"We ended up getting smashed but I remember it was great experience," Anderson said. "A great game, good for the city, and good for the high school because at that time my high school was only 10 years old. It was good to get it going. It felt like the Super Bowl to me."
Defensive tackle Sione Fua also played his high school football in the state of California. He played for Crespi Carmelite in Encino and won a regional title in his junior year.
"It felt huge," Fua said. "Everything froze – it was for all the marbles. We were definitely jacked up and ready to go."
The rush and excitement of a championship game exists at every level. For the Super Bowl, it's intensified. Fua said that he expects those same emotions and adrenaline to return Sunday, but preparation for that started at the beginning of the week.
Fua said that, like any other game, he gets in his playbook and knows the game plan so he can play fast and reduce the impact of emotions.
Caldwell, a fifth-year receiver out of the University of Florida, played in the 2007 BCS National Championship Game against Ohio State and is very familiar with the type of emotions that Fua referred to. He mentioned the halftime speech from his quarterback at the time, Tim Tebow, and Head Coach Urban Meyer.
"(That was my) favorite moment ever in football, probably, at this point in my career. To witness that passion and emotion in that speech," Caldwell said. "And we just went out there and kept pounding them."
Those moments in time, at the top their respective games, created the inspiration for a repeat performance. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard, for example, said that his dream of one day playing in the Super Bowl was born out of little league title games.
"I won two Textile Bowls in little-league football with the Lyons Club," he said, laughing. "It was amazing. I thought that was my Super Bowl back in the day and that was one of the reasons why I dreamed of one day playing in a Super Bowl, because of my little-league championship."
On Sunday, that dream will be realized.