ENGLEWOOD, Colo. --Terrance Knighton knows the power of words when they come from a voice as prominent as his. When there's a microphone in front of him, he doesn't make idle pronouncements.
"It's a man's league and whatever you say, put your name to it," Knighton said. "Whatever you do, your name is going to be attached to it."
So the 2014 winner of the Darrent Williams Good Guy Award knew what he was doing when he made his statement after last Sunday's win about the Broncos winning the Super Bowl. And in the days that followed, he hasn't backed off.
"It's an overall consensus in the locker room," Knighton said. "Guys might not say it but we all feel the same way: Super Bowl or bust, really."
He knew what the consequences would be. He knew that if the Broncos' 2014 path winds back to Foxborough, Mass., he'll wear a target even larger than the numbers on the back of his jersey.
"He's a good football player and he's a dominant presence for us in the middle of our defense and he does take on that role of leadership and take it seriously," said Defensive Coordinator Jack Del Rio. "He wants to help his teammates, he wants to stand up for his teammates and he wants us to be as good as we can be. And having that kind of support is important."
The support goes both ways. Del Rio was Knighton's coach for three of his four seasons in Jacksonville. He mentored him, guided him, trusted him and taught the young defensive tackle accountability.
"Coach Del Rio always told me, since my rookie year, 'You're a grown man. If you want to say something, put your name by it.' And I put my name by it, and I probably could have said it a better way, or probably not let my emotions get caught up in it, but I meant what I said."
And Del Rio has no problem with it.
"Absolutely," Del Rio said. "He's a grown man. And I know that he believes the things that he talks about and as long as a man steps up, puts his name by it. I've got no problem with it."
Knighton's teammates, who elected him a team captain, have no issue, either. It doesn't mean they'll make the same kind of pronouncements: those types of statements aren't for everyone, for myriad reasons: youth, personality, the desire to provide nothing but respectful statements on the record toward opponents.
But it doesn't mean they don't have the same confidence as Knighton.
"I'm pretty sure there's guys on the team that agree with me," he said. "I'm pretty sure there's guys who agree with me that won't say anything and probably don't want to get involved in being a headline or getting caught up in that.
"But I'm a vocal guy. I speak my mind. Obviously, that's why you guys (the media) talk to me."
Knighton speaks with candor and confidence. And with his words, he deflects the heat from others -- not unlike what he does as a defensive tackle, when he occupies multiple blockers to free others to make plays.
Of course, he wouldn't have said what he did if he didn't have the experience, the presence, and the gravitas of being the leader of a defense that is clearly among the league'e best.
"I believe that when players make guarantees, you have to be at a certain level to say that," he said. "And when you have a top-five offense and a top-five defense, and me being one of the main reasons why we have a top defense, shoot, I felt like I had the floor, and I could say it."
And the resonance of his statements the last few days is testament to the power of words -- and the power of a defensive tackle who will do everything possible to back them up.
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Terrance Knighton received the eighth-annual Darrent Williams Good Guy Award on Friday.