By Brandon Moree, Denver Broncos
JERSEY CITY, N.J. – The AFC Champions have arrived.
Sunday evening, the Denver Broncos arrived in New Jersey in advance of Super Bowl XLVIII, to be played Feb. 2 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
“Our team’s excited,” quarterback Peyton Manning said. “We’ve worked hard to earn this opportunity and we couldn’t be more excited. The Super Bowl, it’s a big deal. I know how hard it is to get here. I know how much time and sacrifice our team has made in order to have this opportunity to play in this game. So we were excited getting on that plane, we were excited getting off that plane and we’re looking forward to being here all week and hopefully playing a good game next Sunday.”
Getting on the plane and flying across the country cemented the reality of the mission that the Broncos have been on all season long.
“I think once you start packing and you walk out of the house with your suitcase, that’s when you realize what’s in front of you,” cornerback Champ Bailey said. “You know, it’s a good feeling. Like I said, I’m not going to get too hyped about it. I’m just ready to get down to work and prepare and do the things I need to do to make sure we win this game.”
Leaving Dove Valley, several fans sent off the team with banners, flags and cheers. Upon arrival the team was greeted at the airport by dozens of media and fans before boarding the busses.
At the hotel, positioned right on the Hudson River, hundreds of Broncos fans lined the street to welcome the team.
“It was cool getting a warm welcome,” linebacker Wesley Woodyard said. “We got sent out from Denver by some great fans waving outside. It feels great.”
For some Broncos, the trip to New Jersey is also a trip back home. Safety David Bruton said that fellow safety Mike Adams was excited about getting back to his hometown and would be their advisor for finding the right restaurants to go to.
But Bruton added that he’s not as worried about finding the best food as he is just soaking in the environment.
“I don’t have anything specific I really want to do,” Bruton said. “I’ve been here a few times but nothing like this. I just want to enjoy the process. It’s not every day I get a chance to play in the Super Bowl.”
Some of the players looked more like tourists as they were taking pictures and videos while getting off the plane and settling into the hotel.
While there is plenty of excitement to take in, the Broncos have made it clear that this is no vacation.
“I definitely feel very blessed,” wide receiver Wes Welker said. “To have this opportunity and to be in this situation is very rare and you can’t take it for granted. You just want to make the most of it, have fun with it, but at the same time understand that we’re here on a business trip and ready to play this game.”