JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- **It is the sport's most revered trophy, the visual representation of dedication, excellence and triumph that will remain etched into football immortality.
And when the Vince Lombardi Trophy is hoisted by the winning team in Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday night, it will not only mark the crowning of a World Champion, but also the realization of a dream that players and coaches through the NFL spend their careers working towards. To consider winning the trophy a special achievement would be an understatement – something that certainly isn't lost on Broncos Head Coach John Fox or Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll.
"I think it's a pinnacle for probably everybody that does what we do," Fox said.
"The trophy really does symbolize the ultimate challenge and competitiveness in our sport and in our world of coaching or playing," Carroll added. "To dream about being in this position as a kid and then working all through the years of coaching, battling and watching other guys do it and for the first time for us; it's a tremendous honor."
Of course, much of what makes the Vince Lombardi Trophy so special is the extraordinary difficulty of winning one – and enduring so much on the road along the way.
"Unlike different levels of football, there's only one happy camper at that end," Fox said. "That's going to be the team hoisting that trophy."
"It's a tremendous opportunity and it creates an extraordinary challenge to see if you can be the one," Carroll said. "It symbolizes a tremendous amount to all of us. We all live with that, our players and our coaches."
The trophy also in many regards represents the historical lineage that a team joins by winning the Super Bowl. Named after one of the greatest coaches in pro football history, the Vince Lombardi Trophy also signifies a team etching its place in the company of the other greatest teams in NFL history, among the most elite contingent of teams that have been crowned – and always will be known as – World Champions.
"(The trophy has a) great history and great memories," Fox said. "I think most of us, even out there, grew up and have a Super Bowl memory or moment, whether it was your team or an incredible play. It's been a big part of all of our lives."
The visuals are unforgettable – the confetti, the tears of joy and the unmistakable gleam of the sterling silver trophy being raised to the sky.
There have been 47 other teams in NFL history that have experienced that sensation.
Becoming the 48th and hoisting the trophy for the first time in the careers of either head coach?
"'Sweet' would be a good answer for me," Fox said.