Former NFL quarterback Steve Beuerlein is in an interesting situation: Having played for both the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, one of his old teams will come out victorious in tomorrow’s Super Bowl 50.
While Beuerlein did not win a Super Bowl with either the Broncos or the Panthers in his playing career, he did reach the NFL’s pinnacle with the Dallas Cowboys in 1993. This victory came about under the guidance of Jimmy Johnson, a coach Beuerlein sees as a particularly sharp leader who knew how to get the most out of his teams.
Another coach receiving praise from Beuelein is Lou Holtz, who started his successful tenure with the Fighting Irish in 1986. This was Beuerlein’s senior season, but he was unsure he would be given a chance to play due to past injuries. Yet Holtz did give him a chance, which resulted in his best statistical season and a fourth-round NFL Draft selection.
Beuerlein currently works as a game analyst for The NFL on CBS and on CBS Sports Network’s Monday NFL QB. He found time during a busy media week to talk with Register correspondent Trent Beattie before Super Bowl 50, which takes place on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.
You’ve played for both the Broncos and the Panthers. Do you look at the Super Bowl this year as being a win-win situation?
No matter what happens, one of my former teams will come out on top, so you can see it as an automatic win, but you can also see it as one of the teams automatically losing. I’m taking the positive angle — no matter what, one of my former teams will win, so it’s a good thing, regardless of which team it is.
The Panthers are better all-around than the Broncos, so I think they have a better shot. I also think if Peyton Manning tries to do too much on his own, the Panthers’ defense will be all over that, and the game may end up being like it was for the Broncos against the Seahawks in the Super Bowl two years ago. Peyton has been slowed down by injuries, and his physical decline has been well-documented, so he needs to play smart football by staying within his current capacity and not trying to take the whole team on his shoulders. If he does what he can and doesn’t press things, the Broncos have a shot at winning.
I do have to say, though, taking my analyst hat off, my heart is with Carolina. My years with the Panthers were the best NFL ones I had, and I played there the longest of any of the six pro teams I was with.
You played in Super Bowl XXVI with the Dallas Cowboys. Do you have any advice for first-time Super Bowl players this year?
The Super Bowl is such a spectacle, with so many things to get caught up in, but having two weeks before the game really helps you to prepare. You can get all the stuff outside the game taken care of and then just concentrate on playing.
My basic advice would just be to try to minimize distractions and make everything as routine as possible. If you keep things simple and positive, they tend to go well. It’s just having the clarity of mind to think about the few things you should be doing and doing those as well as you can.
Jimmy Johnson, who is a master psychologist, was key to us playing well in Super Bowl XXVI. He prepared us the entire season, really, making us believe we were going to win. He would say that the best game we’d play would be the last game of the year, and, after much preparation and perseverance, it was. He was very adept at presenting a given situation in the way that would make the team most productive.
Lou Holtz was another great coach of yours. What do you appreciate most about him?
Lou was a real game changer for me. Even though I only played one season with him (1986), he really revitalized my game — and he also helped me to become a better person. I had been injured the year before he arrived, so he didn’t have to give me a shot in my senior year. He could have passed over me for a younger guy, who would be building for the future, but he took a chance; and it turned out well for me.
Lou’s Catholic faith is a huge part of who he is. He’s a very strong, consistent Catholic, who lets his faith shape his overall vision of life. He has standards he believes in, and he inspires others, Catholic or not, to believe in them, too. My life was forever changed because of him, and I’m profoundly grateful for that.
Had you been going through a tough time with the injuries you mentioned?
I really had been. I was one of the leaders on the team, but an injury during my sophomore year was misdiagnosed, and I was forced to play in my junior year when I really shouldn’t have been playing. I had a difficult time squaring where I wanted to be with where I actually was, and I really had a terrible junior season. Things just weren’t working out like I had hoped they would.
I spent many nights in the chapel of Sorin Hall at Notre Dame, which is under the shadow of the golden dome. I would sit there in the dark, with no one else but God. There were long, quiet, one-to-one conversations that reinforced my deeply held beliefs that I was not alone and that all would be okay. I was suffering a lot, but knew that if I kept praying and did the little that was within my power to do, things would eventually get better and would start to make more sense.
Did your parents play a role in giving you that strong sense of faith?
Absolutely. My parents raised us four boys within the traditions of the Catholic Church. We planned our Sundays around Mass and would never consider missing it for something like a football game. The Mass was an essential part of our identity, so whatever else may have been happening, the Mass was always there, anchoring us in the faith passed down from the apostles.
My parents also taught my brothers and me what was acceptable behavior and what was not. We had clear rules and standards, which is so necessary if children are going to be happy. A child without boundaries has nothing to lean on and is basically lost, while a child with boundaries has support and direction in life.
My dad was especially good at raising us boys within the Catholic traditions. With his German heritage, he has a strong sense of order, respect and duty. I relied on his guidance a lot, and even do so today. From time to time, he will send a book that helps me with whatever challenge I happen to be facing. He’ll often include handwritten notes in the books, which makes them even better.
Since you already work at an insurance company year-round, is it tough to maintain priorities during the football season, when you also work for CBS?
My schedule is all over the place during the season. Even when we’re not in the football season, it can get a little bit crazy. I don’t have a set work routine, where I go to the office every day from nine to five … [and] with four kids, it is very tough to get bored.
Even though I don’t have a normal work routine, I do maintain a normal faith routine. That’s what makes the adventure enjoyable rather than crazy. No matter where work takes me, I pray every morning and night for guidance to make the right decisions. Continual prayer, combined with Sunday Mass, is absolutely necessary in order for me to keep grounded.
My dad communicated these things to my brothers and me, and I hope I’ve been able to lead my kids in the same way. I want them to be able to look back when they’re my age and have the same sort of gratitude that I have for my dad.
Without a doubt, I like to have fun in life, but I also know that the most satisfying things will only come after death and that what we do now determines where we go then. All our actions should be pleasing to God, so that when our time comes to be judged, we will have a swift entry into heaven.
Register correspondent Trent Beattie writes from Seattle.
Many of his sports stories for the Register can be found in Fit for Heaven.