Denver native Campbell savoring Super experience

TAMPA, Fla. — Until now, Calais Campbell’s favorite Super Bowl memory was more than a decade old. And it involved the Denver Broncos.
Campbell was a preteen living with his family in Aurora when the 1997 Broncos advanced to the AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. His dad scored tickets, and Campbell and the whole Campbell family traveled to Pittsburgh for the game. Campbell, of course, wore a Broncos jacket and couldn’t be more thrilled when his favorite team beat the Steelers. The local fans weren’t so friendly after the game.

“I was kind of tall, so I seemed like a grown man but I was only 11, and I’ve got my Broncos jacket on and I’m screaming and yelling,” Campbell, who is now 6-foot-8, said. “People were throwing stuff at me, bumping into me. Pittsburgh fans were real mad. But it was a great experience, just being there for my first big experience.”

Campbell watched that Super Bowl, when the underdog Broncos beat the defending champion Packers, back in Denver. He loved those players, especially Terrell Davis. Campbell had a picture taken with Davis when Campbell was 8 years old. Campbell still as the photo, and is hoping to meet Davis and have him sign it. Davis, of course, is in Tampa for the Super Bowl for his job as an analyst for the NFL Network, so such a meeting surely can be arranged.

Campbell would certainly be happy to anger some more Pittsburgh fans this weekend.

Campbell, Arizona’s second round draft pick last April, has spent his rookie year backing up starting defensive tackle Darnell Dockett. As a die-hard NFL fan — who still loves the Broncos, by the way — Campbell said he knows how rare it is that he’s playing in the Super Bowl as a rookie.
And if there’s any chance he starts to forget, he’s got a roster-full of teammates who bring him back down to earth.

“I’ve been called a spoiled rookie the majority of the time I’ve been here,” Campbell said Wednesday morning during the Arizona media session. “I’ve got teammates who have been in the league 12 years and never won a playoff game, let alone got to a Super Bowl, so they’re letting me know how special it is. I think of it this way: There are 32 teams in the NFL, and all of them have rookies, but only two of them get to have spoiled rookies, so I’m happy to be on one of the two.”

It should be easy for Denver fans to root for Campbell. I know I’m pulling for the kid. He saved my day Wednesday. I had set my bag down on an empty chair while we talked for about 15 minutes, and forgot to grab it when we were done talking. About 10 minutes later, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was Calais, who tracked me down to bring me back my things.