ENGLEWOOD, Colo. –Linebacker Keith Brooking played in the Super Bowl during his rookie season. He lost the game to the Broncos, who were quarterbacked by current Executive Vice President of Football Operations John Elway.
Now in his 15th NFL season, Brooking is still fighting for his second trip to the big game.
"As a player, at this point in my career, just speaking for me personally, this what I live for," Brooking said. "This is what it's all about. There is nothing like playoff football."
Brooking has the fourth-most postseason experience on the Broncos roster, having participated in 10 career playoff games.
He has totaled 56 tackles with two sacks, four pass breakups and one forced fumble and has a 5-5 record in those appearances.
Brooking and the other veterans on the team have talked to the younger players about the need to stay focused and play the type of football that led to the Broncos earning the AFC's No. 1 seed.
"That opening kickoff weekend, it's intense," Brooking said. "Those juices are rolling and flying and obviously, it goes up even another notch in the playoffs. We all recognize that. We've talked about it. But at the end of the day, it's football."
Brooking admitted that it can be hard to stay focused with the increased intensity that the postseason brings.
"I've been victim to this, to being too intense, letting your emotions get the best of you, kind of take you out of your game," Brooking said. "At the end of the day, it's another football game, but the intensity will be increased. The emotion will be increased. There is no doubt about that, but you still have to stay within yourself."
That lesson has made an impact on rookie defensive end Derek Wolfe, who like Brooking, earned a trip to the postseason in his first NFL season.
Wolfe said he is listening to what the veterans have to say and trying to follow the example they set for the rest of the team.
"The sense of urgency around here, you can definitely feel it in the coaches' voices and the veterans' voices," Wolfe said. "It's just getting in line behind (the veterans), and just follow them. Do what they do, and you'll be all right."