Like many other Americans, Emerson Boozer will sit down tonight in front of a television and take in all that is the Super Bowl.
Like most sports fans, he marvels at the spectacle of the game, the media frenzy, the hype, the millionaire players and the amount of advertising dollars spent on this one day - all leading up to the foremost celebration of football.
But unlike the rest of us, Boozer has seen this circus from inside the tent.
Boozer played in Super Bowl III for the New York Jets, one of several area athletes that have seen action in the Big Game.
"The overall hype is much, much more intense. There's more flavor and more color to it than we had back 30 years ago," said Boozer, who now lives in New York. "It has all the makings of a major, major event, a big deal - aside from Janet Jackson and her crew."
Through all the hoopla, however, Boozer said a player's driving force - winning a ring - never changes.
Barney Chavous agreed. The current football coach at Josey made his way from Petticoat Junction to three Super Bowls. He lost one as a member of the Denver defense in 1978 and won two as a Broncos assistant after the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
"The thing I remember most is that basically, all you want is that ring. That's the ultimate reward in this game, and it means so much that you end up blocking everything else out," Chavous said. "From the time you start lifting weights in the spring to training camp, through all the aches and pains, it all rides on this one game.
"That's a burden all the players carry," Chavous said.
Super Bowl III, 1969
New York Jets
Boozer, a Richmond Academy graduate, started for the Jets at running back and rushed 10 times for 19 yards as the underdog Jets won, 16-7.
"I think we felt it was a humongous game because of the impact it had on the game at that time," Boozer said, referring to the AFL-NFL merger that followed the season.
"The stress and strain of it all was so much," he added. "Coming down to the third and fourth quarters, it was so thick you could almost grab the intensity with your hands."
Super Bowls V, VI, X, XII, XIII
1971, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1979
Waters, a defensive back from North Augusta, helped the Cowboys win two of five Super Bowls in nine-year span. The Colts won 16-13 in 1971, Dallas routed Miami 24-3 in 1972, Pittsburgh beat Dallas 21-17 in 1976, the Cowboys topped Denver 27-10 in 1978 and the Steelers won 35-31 in 1979.
Super Bowl XII, 1978
Chavous, an end on Denver's famous "Orange Crush" defense, watched his team turn the ball over eight times to the Cowboys in a 27-10 loss.
"What I remember is how we lost the (1978) game, not how we played," Chavous said. "We had eight turnovers and still had a chance. So when I see turnovers in big games, that's the thing I reflect back on because that was the dagger that really killed us."
Super Bowls XI, XV
Guy, Oakland's punter from Thomson, kicked for a 40.5-yard average in the Raiders' 32-14 win over Minnesota in 1977. He punted for a 42.0-yard average in the Raiders' 27-10 win over Philadelphia in 1981.
WILLIAM "REFRIGERATOR" PERRY
Super Bowl XX, 1986
Perry, the Bears' defensive tackle and goal-line fullback from Aiken, scored a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter of Chicago's 46-10 rout of New England - one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history.
Super Bowls XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX
2002, 2004, 2005
New England Patriots
Brown, a receiver/returner from Blackville, played a large role in Patriots' run of three titles in four seasons.
He caught six passes for 89 yards in the 20-17 win over St. Louis in 2002, eight for 76 in a 32-29 victory over Carolina in 2004 and two for 17 yards in a 24-21 win over Philadelphia in 2005.
Reach Steve Sanders at (706) 823-3216 or email@example.com.