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Super Bowl Notebook

January 29, 1999

MIAMI (AP) _ Ask Shannon Sharpe and he’ll tell you. There isn’t a subject he won’t offer an opinion about, including his place among the best tight ends of all time.

``I would like to think I’m one of the best,″ the seven-time Pro Bowl selection, who has 529 receptions for 6,759 yards and 44 touchdowns in 139 career games, said.

``If you look at Ozzie Newsome and Kellen Winslow, none of those guys ever played in a Super Bowl. Here I am in my second one. If those guys didn’t play in a Super Bowl, obviously they didn’t win one. I’ll take my numbers for nine years and put them up there with anybody.″

Sharpe had 64 catches for 768 yards and 10 TDs this season and he wants you to know that he helps Denver’s offense in other ways, too.

``None of those guys ever blocked for a 2,000-yard back. Kellen had two 1,000-yard receivers outside of him. So, obviously he gets support for that. If you look at what I’ve done, and this situation I’m in, my numbers rank up there and are favorable.″


QUICK HEALERS: Already loaded with the league MVP, a Hall of Fame-bound quarterback and one of the NFL’s top coaches, the Denver Broncos also have an advantage in the training room.

The defending Super Bowl champions use a device that some say helps them heal faster than their opponents.

Two weeks after suffering a strained right hamstring, Jason Elam kicked an NFL record-tying 63-yard field goal. Offensive lineman David Diaz-Infante returned to action 10 days after a knee strain, and wide receiver Ed McCaffrey missed only one game despite a hamstring pull.

John Elway, Steve Atwater, Bubby Brister, Alfred Williams, Neil Smith. All but Elam are members of the over-30 crowd and all have become familiar with an electronic device created by Denver inventor Dale Bertwell.

Called the Anodyne Therapy System, Bertwell’s device has small heating pads that emit infrared energy to increase the body’s production of nitric oxide gas.

Research has shown that nitric oxide acts as a healing agent to reduce swelling, increase circulation and decrease pain.

``I was really impressed with it,″ said Atwater, who used Bertwell’s device after knee surgery in January 1997. ``All the way up until July, my knee was still bothering me. It seemed like once I started using Anodyne, I was able to go out and practice and not have nearly as much pain as I had.″

So grateful was Atwater that he gave Bertwell a football from last year’s Super Bowl that was autographed by the Broncos.


GUARANTEED WINNER: A guaranteed winner this week is Pro Player, the sports apparel company that purchased naming rights on the stadium where the game will be played.

The company expects $5 million in retail sales for Super Bowl paraphernalia. Depending on the winning team, the numbers may even increase.

If Denver wins its second straight title, Pro Player estimates sales of $2 million for championship merchandise. Atlanta’s first NFL title could mean $3 million in post-game sales, the company said.


FALCONS CORNERBACKS: The Falcons haven’t decided if Ronnie Bradford or Michael Booker will start at cornerback in the Super Bowl.

Bradford started 10 games during the regular season, while Booker started six times when Bradford was hampered by a knee injury.

Bradford suffered a separated shoulder in the last regular-season game, putting Booker back into a starting role for the two playoff victories. Now, with Bradford ready to play again, the Falcons have a decision to make.

``I think Ronnie is getting better,″ secondary coach Ron Meeks said. ``He’ll be healthy enough where I think he’ll play. Hopefully, in an increased role.″

But the Falcons haven’t decided which player will start, Meeks added.

Booker said it doesn’t matter to him. ``You want to get the best people out there for the most important game of the year.″


CHRISTIAN’S TIME: Bob Christian is doing his best to feel like a part of the Super Bowl, even though he’s limping around with a crutch under each arm.

The Atlanta Falcons fullback, who suffered a second-ending knee injury on Dec. 14, has taken part in every interview session and spends his evenings going to dinner with teammates.

``I feel like I kind of dealt with the frustration before I got here,″ Christian said Thursday at the Falcons’ team hotel. ``I still get frustrated at times, like last night when I was watching NFL Films in the hotel room and they were showing great Super Bowls of the past.

``I was like, `Oh, man.′ Here I am at the Super Bowl and I want to be making some plays. I want to be part of the highlight film.″

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