Mike Shanahan coached the Denver Broncos to wins in Super Bowl XXXII and XXXIII. Only four coaches (Bill Belechick, Chuck Noll, Joe Gibbs, and Bill Walsh) in NFL history have won more Super Bowls than Shanahan. Entering Super Bowl 50, he is one of only 13 coaches to have won the Lomabardi Trophy multiple times.
Shanahan’s name is included with Lombardi, Noll, Walsh, Tom Flores, Jimmy Johnson, George Seifert, and Tom Coughlin to have never lost a Super Bowl as a head coach.
It’s an honor to have my friend, and legendary head coach Mike Shanahan, for the first installment of High Five.
1) How many Super Bowls have you been involved with as a head coach and in other capacities?
“As an assistant coach, I was with Denver for three Super Bowls and we were 0-3. Back in 1995, I was offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers when we won that Super Bowl. We won two as a head coach with the Broncos.”
2) What is your motto on attending Super Bowls?
“I have been to one Super Bowl that I wasn’t coaching in and it was truly hard because you’re doing a lot of interviews and talk shows but you’re not part of the process. You know all the hype and the work that goes into the Super Bowl. The one time I was there when I wasn’t a participant, I said I’m going to make sure if I go back to the Super Bowl, it’s going to be as a coach. When you go to the Super Bowl, you want to be playing in it.”
3) If Joe fan could look through your eyes, what are three things they should look for this Sunday they normally wouldn’t notice?
“First, you’re dealing with two excellent ball teams, and I think both will try to establish the run. If you can run the ball, you will then have some good opportunities for play-action calls.
“Second, at least from my perspective, turnovers will go far in dictating the outcome of this game. You have to really stress ball security in the running and passing game.
“Third, looking at the two teams, I really believe in this game it will be the one that is more successful on third down. You want to have manageable situations on third down. If you are getting positive yardage on first and second down, you probably won’t be more than third and five. That puts you in the 50 percentile chance of converting. That’s when you take a good look at the rushing yardage. The team that does this will control the momentum of the game.
“Those are three things I would be emphasizing.”
4) Other than winning your two championships with the Broncos, what is most significant memory of the Super Bowl?
“For me, besides winning the two at Denver, is winning the first one with San Francisco when we beat San Diego 49-26 and Steve Young passed for six touchdowns. Steve finally got the monkey taken off his back for winning a Super Bowl as the starting quarterback. It was a great experience for me to be with the San Francisco 49er organization and see how they did things. That gave me the ability to win two Super Bowls in Denver.”
5) You’ve been part of several championship teams, is there any difference in each or do they hold their own special meaning?
“When I was coaching in college I was lucky enough to be on national championship teams at Oklahoma in 1975 and Easter Illinois in 1977. Anytime you go into the season, you are looking to be the best at what you do in that year.
“My main thing is what you’ve done, not what you should have done. Anytime you lose a Super Bowl, you always go back and say could we have done anything different? That’s living in the past. You either get it done or you don’t.
“Whatever area you are in, be it high school, any division in college, you are competing to win it. The ultimate is when you are able to do that. The mindset is to win it, to go get it done. If you are able to do that as a team, you feel like you’ve really accomplished something. When you do it once as a team, you want to go back and try to accomplish the same thing. That’s one of the reasons I still enjoy coaching. “