Relive the Broncos vs. Colts series history with photographs dating to 1974.
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — **The rush of excitement that hits people on the field and viewers off it as NFL football makes its return this weekend is hard to avoid. And for the players who line up on the sidelines, tapping into that emotion can make for some electric play.
But in the minutes, hours and days before the game, many players instead try to keep calm and focused. That is, until the Star Spangled Banner hits the home stretch.
"I don't really get hype and butterflies until they hit 'And the home of the brave," defensive tackle Marvin Austin said. "That's when I get the rush. 'It's here. It's time to show up.' Before then, I'm chill."
Defensive end Malik Jackson said the anthem is usually when his heartbeat starts pumping, too: "I don't get too excited until the anthem, and the whistle blows and the kickoff and then I get excited. I think I'll be calm, cool and collected and then once that first play goes, my blood'll start boiling."
But 'O'er the land of the free' or earlier? That's quiet time for a lot of players.
"A lot of times, you just try to relax because there's a lot of pressure out there, a lot of nerves, a lot of stuff going on," offensive tackle Ryan Clady said. "So I just try to be calm for the most part — just keep it chill as much as I can."
Jackson echoed those statements, saying "I think I'll probably be real mellow as I'm going to the game, then onve I get there, I'll get a little excited."
But this is probably the norm for plenty of professional athletes. You want to get into a rhythm, get focused and not try to rev your engine too much. And for other players, that might be the uptempo rhythm they want to get into.
Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders used to get excited for games like that. "I was that guy out there running around, jumping, dancing, just doing all kinds of crazy stuff because I'm excited about playing and the start of the season," he said. "In the past, I've entered the game and been like 'Wow, I feel like I've played three football games.'"
However, he's trying to change that. "This year, I'm just going to try to focus on maintaining my energy, because doing all that dancing, you're wasting a lot of energy. [...] I'm going to try to compose myself, keep my energy at a certain level and still enjoy and embrace the opening kickoff, because at the end of the day, it's about making plays in the game."
Call it the calm before the storm.
Music is a constant for a lot players. Austin said he listens to a lot of Bob Marley and jazz, which plays into his relaxed mood building up to the excitement of kickoff. Sanders said with a laugh that he used to listen to Lil Wayne in college, substituting 'The Best Receiver Alive' into the song 'The Best Rapper Alive'.
Then there are the pregame routines. Some are simple, like Jackson's schedule of cold tub, massage, showers, just basic preparation for the game. More superstitious players might have more eccentric rituals.
Aside from that, they might get in some quick pregame preparation, but most of that has already been done. Plenty of time goes into preparation on the field and off it. The coaches put in the time watching film to isolate what the players should look for, which is good for players since they don't have go home and spend all day watching tape. Instead, Jackson says his schedule is like this: "I go home, maybe an hour and a half at night, two hours, watch some film and just kind of write down questions or try to get a bead on a guy and just kind of do it like that."
As all that gets wrapped up days in advance, the day or two before becomes the players' calming period, giving them their time to focus on finding their focus and their rhythm.