by Greg Gabriel
February 01, 02015
In the time I spent in the NFL, I was fortunate to be a part of four Super Bowl teams. The first three were when I was a scout for the Giants, and the last was when I was with the Bears. The good news is that we won two of those games, but the bad news is we also lost two. I can tell you form firsthand experience, there is nothing more exhilarating than winning and nothing more devastating than losing.
The first Super Bowl I was involved in was Super Bowl XXI. That game was held in Pasadena at the Rose Bowl. The Giants played Denver and after having a rough first half, we came out strong in the second half to win 39 – 20.
Four years later, the Giants were in Super Bowl XXV. Super Bowl XXV was held in Tampa and we played my hometown Buffalo Bills. There was a lot going on that year as our country was involved in the Gulf War at the time, and security was unprecedented. Also that year, for some reason, there was only a week between the Conference Championship games and the Super Bowl. The week before Super Bowl XXV we played the NFC Championship game in San Francisco. After beating the 49ers in the last minute, the team flew directly to Tampa to prepare for the Super Bowl. In the playoffs, following the 1990 NFL season, Buffalo blew out each of their opponents and were heavy favorites to defeat the Giants who had to play the game with backup quarterback Jeff Hostetler and backup running back Otis Anderson.
Knowing that Buffalo had such a high powered offense led by Jim Kelly, Bill Parcells devised a game plan to “shorten the game”. Bill figured if the Bills didn’t have the ball, they couldn’t score. We had a strong run game and were able to hold on to the ball for better than 41 minutes in that game. Still, the game came down to a last play field goal attempt by Buffalo. Scott Norwood missed the 47 yard attempt and the Giants had their second Super Bowl victory in four years.
Ten years later, the Giants were back in Tampa for Super Bowl XXXV. We played the Baltimore Ravens in that game and the Giants were never in it. Baltimore won easily 34 – 7.
My last Super Bowl was in January 2007 when I was with the Chicago Bears. Super Bowl XLI was played in Miami and the Bears played The AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts. That game started out great for the Bears as Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. After that, it was all Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, as the Colts coasted to a 29 -17 win.
Super Bowl XLIX New England (-1) vs Seattle
Today we play the final game of the 2014 NFL season. The defending champion Seattle Seahawks play the AFC champion New England Patriots in Phoenix. Each team is very deserving of their conference championship and that bodes well for the game
To date, in the playoffs this year, I have gone 7-3. Today, New England enters the game as a 1 point favorite. Having worked with Bill Belichick early in my career with the Giants, I know, first-hand, how he prepares. It was Belichick’s strong defenses that helped us win Super Bowl XXI and XXV. Both teams play strong defense. Last year, Seattle’s defense just destroyed the Denver Broncos offense in Seattle’s easy 43 -8 win. I can’t help but think that Pete Carroll and company will try and do the same thing today.
New England has what Denver didn’t have and that is the “Gronk”. Rob Gronkowski is a nightmare for any defense because of the mismatches he creates. Belichick will find a way for Gronkowski to make plays.
At the same time, New England has to find a way to stop Russell Wilson. Wilson has been up and down in the playoffs this year. After playing horribly for most of the NFC Championship game versus the Packers, he had a strong fourth quarter to lead the Sehawks to a come form behind overtime victory.
Looking at the playoffs this year, New England has been a far more consistent team. It can be said that Seattle is lucky to be playing today, and for that reason, I’m picking New England. Give the points and take the Pats. This may be Tom Brady’s and Bill Belichick's last Super Bowl together and maybe the last Super Bowl for each.
Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe