Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Loss to Jags Rings in Denver Ears

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Loss to Jags Rings in Denver Ears

Article excerpt

MIAMI -- Rod Smith is wearing his Super Bowl championship ring from last year. And it is gaudy and garish and studded with diamonds, emeralds and a kaleidoscopic spectrum of other shimmering stones.

He is one of the few Denver players who is wearing the cherished keepsake during this Super Bowl week when the Broncos are trying to become only the fifth team in NFL history to win back-to-back world championships.

"Most players don't wear their Super Bowl rings," somebody says to Smith. "Why are you wearing yours?"

And he looks down at the mass of metal on his finger and he caresses it like it is a baby's cheek. And he contemplates the question with a somber expression before blurting out an answer that is both flattering and flabbergasting to local football fans.

"Jacksonville," the Broncos wideout says. "This ring reminds me of Jacksonville."

He shakes his head in disgust: "I'd probably have two of these if it wasn't for Jacksonville."

Moral of the story: To win precious metal, you need precious mettle. And to that end, championship teams will find whatever motivation wherever they can, even if it means drumming up and dusting off an old reliable retread.

Months have passed. Years even. The Broncos have pummeled Jacksonville twice since then. And, still, that one devastating defeat to the Jaguars clangs around their brains like a migraine headache.

It really is true what they say about players and coaches: They think more about the games they lost than those they won. Losing, it seems, has an indefatigable persistence all its own.

The Broncos have won 32 games and a world championship in the two seasons since January, 1997, when the Jaguars defeated them, 30-27, in one of the most monumental upsets in NFL history. Not only did the defeat cost the Broncos a chance to win a Super Bowl; it perhaps cost them their place in history. If not for that loss, the Broncos might well be playing for an unprecedented Super Bowl three-peat tomorrow against the Atlanta Falcons.

Which is why "Remember the Jaguars!" remains a Denver rallying cry even 107 weeks after the fact. Broncos coach Mike Shanahan admits he has referenced the loss to Jacksonville hundreds of times over the course of the last two seasons, and for good reason: It remains the most galling defeat of his coaching career. …

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