Pressures of going undefeated
Mark Schlereth discusses attempting to go undefeated and the pressure that comes with the pursuit.
This is a place where I've been as a player with two different teams, the 1991 Washington Redskins and the 1998 Denver Broncos. Obviously, both teams came up short in our quests for perfection and both ended up 14-2 with the extraordinary consolation prize of winning the Super Bowl. I'm not going to lie and say that I don't look back and wish that one of those teams had run the table. I'm not going to deny that was something that I wish I had done now that I'm retired. But I can honestly say that during the season it wasn't something that any one of my teammates ever mentioned.
Sure, once both teams got to 10-0, we started to hear the questions from the media more and more. At one point it seemed like every question was about going undefeated, but on the practice field and during the game we never brought it up because going undefeated wasn't our goal and we knew that we had to play each week's opponent because we had a bull's-eye on our back. My Broncos team was especially aware of that fact because two seasons prior we'd lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Jacksonville Jaguars despite having a team that we thought was ready for a Super Bowl run. We took that defeat with us into the offseason and into subsequent seasons and always remembered that all the hard work, practice, blood, sweat and tears could be demolished in one game if we let our guard down when it counted.
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