Clancy Barone took quite the circuitous route to reach the pinnacle of his career.
Like anyone who coaches the offensive line, Barone toils in obscurity, but his mandate with the Denver Broncos screams of urgency every week: Give the quarterback a chance to compete.
In this case, that’s Peyton Manning, the grizzled leader who faced the vaunted Carolina Panthers defense and remained upright just enough to help engineer a 24-10 victory in Super Bowl 50 for his 200th career triumph, an NFL record.
Two years after Denver absorbed a 43-8 Super Bowl beating by the Seattle Seahawks, Barone and his Broncos buddies rejoiced at Levi’s Stadium. It started with a sprint down from the coaches’ booth high above the field to the sideline.
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“I’ve got friends who’ve been in this league for 30 years, and they have never gotten to this point once,” Barone said earlier this week. “So I feel very blessed, very fortunate, to have been here twice in the past three years.”
Barone had family and friends dotted throughout the stands, and he had a broad following nationally. His résumé lists seven college programs and three NFL franchises.
The Red Bluff native played on the offensive line at Sacramento State in the mid-1980s, then started his vagabond coaching tour. It started at American River College in 1987, then Sac State, and in quick order, Texas A&M, Eastern Illinois, Wyoming, Houston and Texas State before NFL stints in Atlanta and San Diego and Denver.
The last line coach with local ties to celebrate a Super Bowl triumph was James Campen. The Ponderosa High School and Sacramento City College product is the offensive-line coach with the Packers, winning a Super Bowl with them in 2010.
Shaq attack – Carolina linebacker Shaq Thompson grew up appreciating brother Syd’Quan, seven years his senior. Wanted to be like him, play like him, achieve like him.
Now it’s a role reversal of admiration for the former Grant High stars. It’s Syd’Quan who beams about his kid brother now.
If not for a bit of rotten luck, Syd’Quan might have been able to compare NFL notes with Shaq, maybe even been on the same field. Syd’Quan played one season at cornerback with the Broncos in 2010 but went down with a torn Achilles’ tendon on a noncontact play in a 2011 exhibition game. He never regained his burst and is now a Grant assistant coach. He and brothers Le’Arthur and Ricky, and their mother, Patty, attended Sunday’s game, which marked Syd’Quan’s 29th birthday.
“I play for him,” Shaq Thompson said of his brother earlier this week. “I wish I could bring him down to the field for his birthday, but he knows I’m playing this game for him.”
Curry power – Warriors star Steph Curry, a Carolina fan to the core, ceremoniously pounded a drum three times and yelled “Let’s go!” to punctuate the Panthers’ “Keep Pounding” mantra as the team raced onto the field. Carolina even had a locker room stall for Curry that included jersey No. 30, matching his Warriors number.
The “Keep Pounding” theme originated with late Panthers linebacker Sam Mills, who urged his former team to “keep pounding” during the 2004 playoffs. Mills succumbed to stomach cancer in 2005.
MVP benefits – Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder, which played the Warriors on Saturday night, was camped out on field level with a camera as a credentialed member for the website The Players’ Tribune.
MVP royalty – Thirty minutes before kickoff, 40 previous Super Bowl MVPs were introduced, some laboring a bit as they walked, but all in good spirts. From Joe Namath to Terry Bradshaw to Aaron Rodgers, players marched out and waved. Some of the loudest cheers, naturally, went to Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young of the 49ers. The loudest cheers were for Terrell Davis and John Elway of Broncos fame.
The only boos? Tom Brady, cascading down from Broncos fans.
Flipped out – The honorary captains for the coin flip represented Super Bowl royalty with Marcus Allen, Fred Biletnikof, Montana, Jim Plunkett, Rice and Young. Montana flipped the coin (it was tails).
Elway excellence – John Elway has had some career. The résumé short version: first pick in the famed quarterback draft of 1983, back-to-back Super Bowl conquests with Denver to conclude his Hall of Fame career, and now a Super Bowl win as the club’s general manager.
The title made Elway the second Hall of Famer to win a championship in any sport as a player and executive, joining Jerry West with the Lakers. Elway has always been inspired by his mentor and best friend, his father. Jack Elway served as head coach at San Jose State and Stanford and worked in personnel with the Broncos in the 1990s. He died in 2001.
“John is the architect of this team,” Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning said earlier in the week. “He’s been successful in everything he’s been involved in.”