Five athletes share, in their own words, what happened after they reached major milestones in their sports. (Interviews by Greg Bishop, Sam Page, Coleman McDowell, Ben Baskin, Mark Bechtel)
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Since the late 1980s, it's been a tradition for the Super Bowl MVP to celebrate with Mickey, Donald, and the rest. Seattle Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith talked about his big trip after the team's Super Bowl XLVIII win.
"I remember Terrell Davis won the Super Bowl with the Broncos [when I was eight] and said, 'I'm going to Disney World.' But even though I've always played football, I never thought that would be me. Especially as a defensive player. I wasn't thinking about it until the game was over. The Disney folks tell you to be enthusiastic for the cameras, but I was already excited. You say, 'I'm going to Disney World,' and 'I'm going to Disneyland,' like, 20 times.
I left for Disney World at 6 a.m. on a private plane. I took my girlfriend. I ate a steak and candy and took a nap. I even had a waiter. Flying will never be the same.
I did the parade as soon as I got there. There were thousands of people, and some wore Seahawks' jerseys, even mine, which was rare. I did interviews. I signed footballs for 45 minutes.
A couple days later, I was watching TV, and I heard, 'When You Wish Upon a Star,' and I knew it was the commercial. Then I heard myself. What a surreal experience that was."
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Like every player who wins the Stanley Cup, Kings defenseman Justin Schultz got an entire day of one-on-one time with the trophy. He shared his day with some special kids.
"My wife and I went to the Ronald McDonald House at Alberta Children's Hospital. We wanted to take it somewhere kids may not have the opportunity to ever see it, or they had the dream of playing hockey and illness came into their lives and took it away. So we went there for an hour and let kids, parents, and families see the Cup. It was a great experience."
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After winning the 2014 Kraft Nabisco Championship, 19-year-old Lexi Thompson took part in the ceremonial dunking in Poppie's Pond, which surrounds the 18th green at Mission Hills Country Club in Rancho Mirage, California.
"Just being able to jump in with my family and caddie there beside me was a dream that I had for so long that finally came true. I had so many people jump in with me — they just kept coming! I remember the leap into the pond more than anything about that day. I do replay some of the shots from the final round in my head, but jumping into Poppie's Pond stands out. I've re-watched that video of myself taking the leap many times. To be able to wear the white robe afterward was an awesome feeling because you know what you've accomplished."
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During his first NFL game, in 2011, Randall Cobb caught a touchdown pass and scored on a record-tying, 108-yard kick return. The pressure was on to perfect the Lambeau Field tradition of celebrating with fans.
"Immediately after I dove into the end zone, I went into a panic. I didn't know what I was supposed to do. But then I just remembered, 'Oh yeah, Lambeau Leap.' So I jogged over there and jumped up. My teammates made fun of me because I didn't realize the wall was so high, and I hit the side of the wall. Luckily the fans grabbed me and pulled me up. The second score, when I got to the end zone, I just remember Jarrett Bush tackling me and me falling on my back, and then I had eight or nine guys jump on top of me. Finally, when they got off of me, they pointed at the wall, and I took off. This time, I used my hand as a prop to help push me up."
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Vanderbilt infielder Dansby Swanson helped his baseball team win the College World Series in 2014 — and lived to tell the tale.
"You feel like there's a truck on top of you. The people who fall off on top just keep jumping back on. It's a constant heavy pressure. It doesn't smell too good, either. After we beat Stanford to get to the College World Series, I jumped on the dog pile. I basically sunk all the way through and got a couple cleats to the face. I ended up getting a cleat mark right next to my eye. It was kind of funny, but it was actually a pretty close call to getting spiked in the eye. I absolutely, 100% learned a lesson. [After we won the title,] I was one of the first ones in there, but I waited for a few seconds before I jumped on."
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