Newark, N.J. • If linebacker Bobby Wagner helps the Seattle Seahawks win Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII, a Denver player will take some of the blame.
Broncos defensive back Omar Bolden is largely responsible for Wagner’s becoming a football player at Colony High School in their hometown of Ontario, Calif.
Wagner, who would go on to Utah State, was a good basketball player, and the football team needed a linebacker. "I literally went into the gym and told him, ‘You’ve got to come play football.’ … I don’t know why; I just thought he’d be good," Bolden said.
Wagner proved to be "a tackling machine," said Bolden, who played at Arizona State. "It didn’t take much, man. Fundamentals were out the window. Everything he was doing was natural instincts."
BYU product Brady Poppinga may have not have matched the other star power in the room during the Fox Sports media availability session, but he may have been wearing the biggest Super Bowl ring. Poppinga earned it as a Green Bay Packers linebacker three years ago, although he was on injured reserve.
That status doesn’t diminish the achievement, as he looks back. "I gave ligaments, bone, blood, sweat, tears … I felt I was just a part of it as any of the guys out there, because of what I gave up," he said.
Poppinga considers himself part of the Packers’ modern foundation, as a member of general manager Ted Thompson’s first draft class in 2005. So the Super Bowl triumph over Pittsburgh was "the culmination of all that; it wasn’t just one game," he said.
Poppinga, who went on an LDS Church mission to Uruguay, will be the analyst for Fox Deportes during the first Spanish broadcast of a Super Bowl by a U.S. network. Chad Lewis, another former BYU player, once analyzed the Super Bowl for a Chinese audience.
Ring for a Ram?
Highland High School product Haloti Ngata won the Super Bowl with Baltimore last year, and former Rams teammate Stewart Bradley could receive a ring with Denver. Bradley had wrist surgery in August and was placed on injured reserve after being hurt in a preseason game against Seattle. Bradley, a linebacker who played four seasons in Philadelphia and two years for Arizona, had signed with the Broncos as a free agent.
The original No. 18
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning would have needed to change his jersey number upon arrival in Denver, except Frank Tripucka insisted that he wear it. Tripucka, the father of former Jazz forward Kelly Tripucka, had his No. 18 retired as Denver’s original starting quarterback in the AFL from 1960-63.
Tripucka, who lived in New Jersey, died in September at 85. Manning met with his family the following weekend when the Broncos visited the New York Giants.
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