Zane Beadles once helped the Utah Utes win the Sugar Bowl.
He will attempt next Sunday to help the Denver Broncos win the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl XLVIII
O Denver vs. Seattle
At East Rutherford, N.J.
Feb. 2, 4:30 p.m.
TV » Ch. 13
He was jacked then and he’s jacked now.
"Everybody’s obviously very excited," he said. "I’m very excited. [But] there’s a workmanlike attitude. It’s like, this is great, but now it’s not good enough just to get there. We want to go there and win. It’s going to be a difficult game. They’re the No. 1 defense in the league and there’s good reason why. We’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game, execute at a high level to be successful. That’s our focus."
For Beadles, who’s now in his fourth season as a pro, that means doing his job on the offensive front of a record-setting attack by protecting franchise quarterback Peyton Manning and opening holes for the Broncos’ run game against a Seattle defense that specializes in making quarterbacks look bad and running backs look ordinary.
"The defense is the strength of that team," he said. "Everyone talks about their secondary, but their front seven is no joke. They have guys rushing the passer. They’ve got guys inside who are tough to run the ball against. Their linebackers are good football players. It’s definitely going to be a challenge for us. It’s going to be a fun one with the offense we have and the defense they have."
The two biggest names heading into the biggest game on the planet are Manning and Richard Sherman, for reasons as varied as Sherman’s expansive persona. Asked about the defensive back’s infamous rant after the Seahawks ousted the 49ers in the NFC championship game, Beadles said:
"He’s a passionate guy. You have to be emotional because it’s an emotional game. I never tell anyone how to speak, or anything like that. It’s not the way I go about and do my business. That’s his deal."
Beadles’ deal is keeping defensive linemen off Manning. When he doesn’t, he feels the scorching burn of a million eyes zeroing in on him, maybe a billion eyes on Sunday.
"That’s not a good feeling," he said. "We never want to be in that position. We talk about it. Don’t be that guy who gives up a hit or gives up a sack."
When Beadles was at Utah, he played left tackle. At Denver, he’s moved inside as a guard. But he still plays with the same cerebral approach that has helped build a fine career with the Broncos. The big man majored in mechanical engineering in college, mastering a stiff curriculum that included classes such as Fluid Mechanics 3700 and Sustainable Energy 5800 and Thermodynamics 3600.
In a class called Mechatronics 3200, he built a functioning robot that he and three classmates called the "Shia Destroyer," named after actor Shia LeBeouf. At Hillcrest High School, Beadles racked up a 3.92 grade-point average. At one juncture, he thought when he was done with football, he might as well use his big brain to contribute to his country by getting an advanced degree in aerospace engineering and developing defense weapons systems.
For the time being, he’ll settle for defending his iconic quarterback in a huge game.
Playing in front of Manning is a singular-type deal for Beadles.
"It’s a lot of fun," he said. "He’s the best there is at getting us into successful plays at the line of scrimmage, dissecting defenses and seeing things pre-snap. We all know what we’re trying to accomplish. We know what the game plan is going in, certain things we’re looking for and the adjustments we’re going to make."
Although he’s never played in a Super Bowl, Beadles, 27, said he’s pretty sure he knows what to expect — intermittent stretches of practice sessions to polish up the Broncos’ game plan, mixed with a ridiculous amount of hoopla and hullabaloo.
He already has been swept up in the latter, having appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show last week, dancing with the host and lightly talking some football, some Super Bowl, some Manning. DeGeneres and a sponsor donated $10,000 to Beadles’ charity foundation during the spot. She also gave him a large pair of orange sports underwear, asking him to wear the shorts during the game. Beadles, in turn, gave DeGeneres a signed No. 68 Beadles jersey.
An even trade, then.
"It’s going to be crazy, being in the biggest media market in the world," he said. "Two very good teams coming in, there will be times when we don’t want to deal with it, but it’s the nature of [the Super Bowl]. It’s what we signed up for."
It’s an unforgettable chance, he said, to sit atop his profession: "It’s everybody’s ultimate goal. There are plenty of guys who have played in the NFL and never had the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl. I feel fortunate that I’m in this position early in my career. Hopefully, I’ll get to enjoy it more."
GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone.
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