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Big-game emotions run hot and cold

I wasn't too happy to see the 49ers the first time and I sure wasn't too happy to see them the second time. The first time, they were the underdog. They'd beaten the Cowboys on "The Catch" and all that. So a lot of people thought we were better off playing them. I would much rather have seen the Cowboys in that first one than the 49ers because I knew what we were up against. The second one, I knew we were in trouble, that us winning the game would be a major upset. One moment I don't think I'll ever forget was when one of our younger players _ I won't say his name; I wouldn't want to embarrass him _ came up to me when we were sitting on the bench when it was 16-13 with maybe two minutes to go and said, "We got 'em now. It's all over. We got 'em now," or something like that. And I said, "Is No. 16 (Joe Montana) still in the huddle?" And he said, "Yeah." And I said, "Then shut up!" I hate that kind of stuff, anyway. I always feel it's like the big jinx and sure enough, it worked again.

That game taught me why the 49ers are so difficult to beat in a Super Bowl. Obviously, most people who are playing in that game are playing with first-game emotions, the way I did in 1982 in Pontiac, whereas to the 49ers, it has almost become just another game to them. Even if some of the players who haven't been in that situation before don't have that just-another-game feeling, the core of the team has been there enough to not get overly worked up. It's almost an unfair advantage for a team that's been there so many times. That's why you see teams that win Super Bowls continue to win them _ because emotionally you're so much more stable once you've been there once or twice.

I've been asked if I felt like a loser because I didn't win a Super Bowl. I don't think you get that feeling the first time you lose one. But when you lose two, that feeling is most definitely there. My second time around, it definitely was not enough for me to have just played in another Super Bowl game. I can imagine the feeling of the Minnesota Vikings or the Denver Broncos after losing four of them. It has to be tough. The first one, though, you feel like you've accomplished something just being there.

I was really nervous and excited the first time. The best feeling I had in that game was when I went out in the pregame warmup and caught the first pass thrown to me. I was afraid I was going to totally forget how to catch a football. Even though I'd been playing the entire year, just to know I could catch a football again was a tremendous feeling.

The second one, it was a totally different feeling, although I think I'd have been more worked up for that game, the one in Miami, if I'd known it was going to be my last game.

The biggest difference between our two Super Bowls, of course, was the weather. In Miami, our fans came for the week, spent the week on the beach and enjoyed themselves, taking a vacation. When we played up in Michigan, with the snow and all, they flew up Saturday night and flew home Sunday after the game, so you didn't get that big-game atmosphere.

We got out of our hotel in Detroit once in a while, but we were not the most popular guys in town. We'd walk in different joints and it was like, "Uh-oh, here come the football players to try and pick up our women again." We were marked men from the beginning. By comparison, Miami was great. Of course, I was married by then, so the evenings were a little different.

That weather in Pontiac made things really strange. You put 50 guys in a hotel in the middle of nowhere with not all that much to do, they'll usually invent ways to keep themselves entertained after a while.

The biggest event that we had was the doughnut-spinning contest in the rental cars that they gave us. We'd go out to the deserted parking lot _ it was nothing but a sheet of ice _ and get these cars going maybe 4 or 5 miles an hour, then floor it and see how many times you could spin the car around without killing yourself or destroying the car. The event ended when someone buried a car in the snowbank.

We had guys out there two days before the Super Bowl, trying to drag a rental car out of a big snowbank. That was the big dramatic event there.

It got more exciting than that when we went to Miami, when it was "Let's Torch Miami Night" while we were down there. We got as cold as we could get and as hot as we could get in my two Super Bowls.

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