By: Streeter Lecka Getty Images Entertainment
(USA TODAY) - Brett Keisel has now been to three Super Bowls as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, but he still remembers the intensity of his first trip, Super Bowl XL in Detroit, like it was yesterday.
"My first Super Bowl game I ran down the field for the kickoff and I was so jacked up that I was hyperventilating," Keisel said. "You're so filled with adrenaline and it's hard to decompress and just relax and play the game."
With the Steelers not making the playoffs, Keisel gets to enjoy this Super Bowl week as a spectator and spokesman, passing the torch of Head & Shoulders' "Mane Man" to Los Angeles Angels pitcher C.J. Wilson at an event Wednesday night. He reflected on how it felt to be on one of the two participating teams during all of the pregame hoopla.
"This is the biggest game in the world and when you win this you're the greatest in the world at what you have accomplished. There's so many things you have to block out to make sure you're ready to play on Sunday," Keisel said. "You almost overdo it when you're here because you realize what's at stake."
Keisel, who plans to shave his famous beard for charity next week, sees his team's division rivals coming home from New Orleans victorious.
"It's not really that I think Baltimore is better or they're in our division so they must be better," Keisel said. "I just feel like they're hot. When I watched the Denver game I thought 'these guys are going all the way."
He compared the Ravens' quest to win for retiring linebacker Ray Lewis to the inspiration his team found in running back Jerome Bettis, who planned to retire after Super Bowl XL.
"I think Ray understands how hard it is to get back to the Super Bowl. He made it there in 2000. 13 years later here we are. It's hard. It's hard to win this game. I think he'll get his team ready to go."
Chris Strauss, USA TODAY Sports