Not all dreamers get to the NFL, and certainly, many who get to football’s highest level don’t get the chance to play in the Super Bowl.
There are at least a dozen who will be participating for the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks in Sunday’s Super Bowl who toiled for at least eight years in the NFL before getting a chance to play for the title.
Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey is the poster child. He waited 15 years. The other includes the last XFL player still in the NFL, a couple of Chargers who got close, a Canadian who lost the NFC title in overtime a couple of years ago, and a number who played on very bad teams before finding their way to ones of the cusp of greatness. Bailey is philosophical about being at his first Super Bowl.
“If I was supposed to be here, I would have been here a long time ago,” Bailey said Thursday. “Things do take time, and I finally got with the right group of guys, as a whole.”
Denver defensive end Jeremy Mincey played on a lot of bad teams in Jacksonville and was heading nowhere late in the season when the Jaguars released him in December for missing a meeting. The Broncos picked him up.
“Dude, this is what we play for, man,” said Mincey, who has played six seasons, missed another with a thumb injury, and had another as a practice squad player. “This is why we keep playing.”
Seattle guard Paul McQuistan played with the Raiders and Cleveland before coming to Seattle. As much as he wanted to play in the Super Bowl, he never worried whether he would get there. It wasn’t a career breaker.
“This is a team game,” he said. “Getting here is icing on the cake.”
The odds of playing in the Super Bowl aren’t good. The average career length is less than four years and only 106 players out of close to 1,700 make it each year.