Broncos have to handle off-field hoopla

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Denver Broncos will return to the practice field Thursday morning, their first full team workout since they punched their ticket to Super Bowl XLVIII with Sunday’s win in the AFC Championship Game.

Though the coaches have been grinding away in recent days -- as have many players, including quarterback Peyton Manning -- the Broncos will really get down to the football business at hand in the on-field workouts in the coming days. The early part of this week was spent on the other part of getting ready for a Super Bowl, the part that covers simply being one of the teams in the game.

The part where everybody -- as in everybody who knows you, or knows somebody who knows you -- wants tickets. Everybody wants hotel rooms, everybody wants a piece of the action. People you know now, people you knew a decade ago, people who roamed the hallways of your elementary school.

Just people, everywhere. Enough so the most important person a player from a Super Bowl team can have around him is the person in charge of saying “yes’’ or “no’’ to everybody else. The evidence is largely anecdotal, but players who handle their own ticket requests often play in the game as if they handled their own ticket requests.

Then the questions will come. Questions from every corner of the media world, and from media from many corners of the world.

Questions about things, all types of things, some good, some bad, some simply tossed in to get a response worthy of late-night television. The early leader in the clubhouse for the most likely nonfootball questions -- asked by those in a tie or a superhero costume of these teams from Washington and Colorado -- will have the words “legalized’’ and “marijuana’’ in them.

Certainly football is an enormous part of deciding a Super Bowl, but plenty of teams have put themselves in position to lose on the field because they didn’t handle the people around them or the questions posed to them with any sort of dexterity.

“We’ll address that,’’ said Broncos coach John Fox when asked about handling all the things that come with a Super Bowl. “I think there are enough young players in that locker room that can get some information from guys that have been through it before. There are a lot of things you deal with during these two weeks. We’ll try to educate our guys to the best of our know-how.”

For the Broncos, Fox has been to a Super Bowl previously as both a head coach and an assistant. Certainly the Broncos' chief football executive, John Elway, has plenty of Super Bowl experience and might know a thing or two about living in the glare of the hot lights, having seen the title game from all sides.

But in the locker room, the Broncos have just four players who have been through the big game week, which is four more than the Seahawks have. Manning (twice), Wes Welker (twice), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Jacob Tamme will have to be sounding boards at times for everyone who needs one.

Asked about what the Broncos have in place, which included a “spouse day’’ to brief family members on all the details, Fox said; “We’ve got a good plan.’’

Asked if he would share the plan, Fox added with a laugh, “No.’’

It’s all part of navigating the next 11 days until the football is finally placed on the tee and the cameras flash. The teams that come through what happens off the field in the best shape often win on the field.