Jan. 27, 2014
By Tony Phifer
Not long after the Denver Broncos beat the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game for the right to play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII, Joel Dreessen got a call from one of his oldest friends, who wanted to reminisce about backyard football games in their hometown, Fort Morgan.
"My parents had a huge yard, and it was perfect for football," Dreessen said. "We used to play games all the time, call them the Super Bowl and dream we would one day play in the game. My buddy called me to congratulate me on making all of our dreams come true."
Dream come true
Dreessen, a former CSU star and current tight end for the Broncos, will be making his first trip to the Super Bowl after eight seasons in the NFL. It's a rare opportunity - one most NFL players never experience - and he plans to make the most of it.
"You work so hard to get here so you want to make sure you take advantage," he said. "This is the most competitive business in the world. We can already say we're better than 30 other teams, which is pretty remarkable. But we want to make it all 31 by beating the Seahawks."
This is Dreessen's second year with the Broncos after spending the previous five seasons with the Houston Texans. He had his best season last year playing with newly acquired Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, but a preseason knee injury has limited his playing time this year. After playing a limited role in the final 13 regular-season games, he has been inactive for Denver's playoff wins over San Diego and New England.
"It's been a frustrating season for me personally," he said. "Any time you miss all of training camp and the first three weeks of the season it's going to be tough. Plus, we've got a lot of good tight ends on this team. Once the season starts the coaches aren't messing with the depth chart, and I get that."
Despite the frustration - he caught just seven passes this year after reeling in a career-best 41 last year - he's excited to do whatever he can to help the Broncos win. He participates in every practice and will be ready if the game plan calls for a tight end with superior blocking skills - Dreessen's specialty.
He developed that skill at CSU, twice earning all-Mountain West Conference honors while starting 45 games from 2001-04. He played all four seasons for legendary coach Sonny Lubick, earning trips to four bowl games.
"I say this all the time - Sonny was such a great leader of young men," Dreessen said. "I learned more about how to be a good person than a great football player, and that has proven to be invaluable. I loved the entire CSU experience - living and working with my teammates, earning a degree (in Business Management) and working hard to get better. It gave me an education in every way."
Ram vs. Ram
In an interesting twist, Dreessen's position coach at CSU - Brian Schneider - will also be making his first Super Bowl appearance. Schneider, an all-conference linebacker for the Rams, is the special teams coordinator for the Seahawks.
Dreessen, who lives in Parker with his wife (Stacy) and children (Dylan and Kyla) during the season, is doing his best to stay focused heading into the biggest game of his career.
"Honestly, I think the outcome of this game will be decided by the basics - blocking, tackling and execution," he said. "You're never going to play the perfect game, but we'd like to be as close to that as we can. This is for the world championship. To have the opportunity to say we did it better than everyone else is really special, and we want to take advantage of that."
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