More than 111 million people watched, but only a few know what it feels like to have played in the big game. Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin shares the experience, from the minute he woke up until he left MetLife as a champion
I wake up to a light piercing through the closed shades in my hotel room at the Westin in Jersey City. It's Super Bowl Sunday morning, and the butterflies in my stomach let me know it. It's the first game day in a long time that I have had this feeling. It's the biggest game of my life, so what would you expect? I shut my eyes to try to get some more sleep.
That's not happening. As I lie in the bed trying to focus on nothing, my tip sheet for the game becomes the focal point of my thoughts: Champ Bailey's press technique, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s tendencies. I decide to get out of bed and take a shower.
I like taking long showers. This one is no different. The late game gives us so much downtime that it's difficult not to get over-excited too early. Taking long showers helps me control those emotions. Now I'm on my way to breakfast. I walk into the hotel banquet room that was made into our cafeteria. It’s always hard for me to eat breakfast on game day, but I always eat the same thing: one pancake, two pieces of bacon, hash browns, and a handful of watermelon and pineapple. I eat slowly.
I head back up to my hotel room after eating what I could. On my way up, I see my teammate Bryan Walters. We started playing a multiplayer application game on our phones the week prior to coming to New Jersey. We make small talk to create a distraction from what is really on our minds. We play the game for a while before it's time to get ready for our offensive walk-through.
My body has already started to adjust to the adrenaline flowing through my veins. I can feel my body temperature rise as we begin our offensive walk-through. I take a few deep breaths to calm my nerves. With each play call, I envision lining up against the toughest look the Broncos defense can give me. It makes it easier in the game if the defense calls the right play against ours. We walk through our first 15 plays on the call sheet. And now it's time to wait. Again.
I walk into my room and start packing what's left of my personal items. I take breaks from packing to play the game on my phone whenever my mind starts to wander to the game on the field. It takes me forever to pack two bags.
Now it's about time for me to get into my normal routine. I pull out my team issued iPad, with video of the Broncos' defense. I watch their last game against the Patriots. By now I have seen every play four or five times, but watching the game itself helps keep my emotions in check. After I watch enough to ease my mind, I head down to get lunch.
In the banquet room, I sit next to Kam Chancellor, my teammate and close friend. I load up on carbs (pasta) while exchanging defensive and offensive game plans with him. He assures me that our defense knows Peyton Manning's offense well enough to stop it. I assure him our wide receivers can't be covered. He tells me their goals on defense. I tell him our goal as receivers is to make Marshawn Lynch the MVP. I remind him that if Marshawn wins it, everything has worked out like we planned it. Then something catches our attention. The TV sitting adjacent to us is airing ESPN Sunday NFL Countdown, and the analysts are making their Super Bowl predictions. Ray Lewis is the only one of the four picking us to win it. Suzy Kolber, Steve Young and Trent Dilfer all picked against us. Kam and I look at each other, and without saying a word, we take our phones and capture that moment. The fire that was already intensely burning inside is now being stoked. I have to contain it. When I look at my brother Kam's face, I see anger exuding from his pores. I'm sure he can see the same from mine. I head back to my room.
All packed, ready to go and wearing my game-day suit, I head down to the buses taking us to the stadium. I place my bags and pick my seat next to the window. I put my earbuds in and pick a slow song off my game-day playlist. Otis Redding's "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay" helps waste the time. At 3 p.m. the bus departs for MetLife Stadium. The journey our team embarked on at the end of July is coming to a glorious end.
We arrive at the stadium. I like to be the last one off the bus. It's a personal tradition I started at Stanford. It gives me a few moments alone to thank God for this blessing. I exit the bus and walk to my locker. I tell Richard Sherman that our traditional warm-up routine on game day will commence at 4:20. I start getting ready.
I finish listening to "The Language" off Drake's latest album. I rap along with the song: I am the kid with the motor mouth, I am the one they should worry ’bout. I grab my gloves and walk out to the field. It's our time!
I take my lap around the stadium to warm up my legs and survey the land. Yep, 100 yards by 53-and-a-third. Just as I had thought. I catch up to Sherm. He tosses me the ball. We continue to toss it to each other as we jog back and forth down each sideline. Then we set up in our corner where he tosses me a few jump balls. I do the same for him. Then we come together, give each other a hug, tell each other, "Have a day," and go our separate ways.
Kickoff is 15 minutes away. We run out of the tunnel, and I jog to the opposite end zone and take a knee. I’m just thanking God for my opportunity. To be here, on the biggest stage football has to offer, is truly a blessing.
I’m thinking, Get in the end zone! On this play, the call is a zone-beater. We know the Broncos like to play corners over, but they sometimes check to cover-4 when we motion the receiver over. This is the perfect play for us against this defensive look. We ended up going to this play twice in the game. I make the catch, make tacklers miss and then dive across the goal line. The 10-yard touchdown catch gives us our 43-8 lead. How many guys can say they’ve scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl?
The party has started before the clock hits zero. We know we are going to be Super Bowl champions. This is something I’ve been working toward my entire life; something I’ve been dreaming about since I was playing as a kid in Pensacola, Fla., at the Salvation Army. The backyard football, acting like we’re scoring the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl, those are dreams of ours—and now, to actually experience it is a tremendous feeling. Down on the field, I get to celebrate with my family, and my agent, Buddy Baker.
My 11-year-old brother, Devon, and I go back out to the field and meet the fans. I spot two fans I know very well from doing community outreach work in Seattle, and I go say hi. I want to share the moment with them as well. All of the 12s have been amazing this season.
I’m the last player in the locker room except for Russell Wilson. Some of the equipment guys come over with a bottle of sparkling apple cider, and I take a second to sip with them. I stick the nameplate from my locker in my backpack and head out. The buses are waiting. A glorious ending it was.