There was a private ceremony back in June where the Denver Broncos received their Super Bowl rings, and Jared Crick can only imagine that it was pretty special.
Crick has gotten a few glances at those rings, too, and can’t help but shake his head.
“I’ve seen a couple guys with them, but for the most part they keep them locked away,” Crick said. “They’re not flashing them, by any means, nor would I. I’d keep it in a safe and bring it out for certain occasions.
“But they are beautiful.”
What Crick has mostly appreciated as Denver gets ready to defend its Super Bowl title, however, is not the bling but how the Broncos got it.
That’s what the former Nebraska defensive lineman has noticed most since signing as an unrestricted free agent with Denver in April. It makes for an interesting next stop in his NFL career after playing four seasons with the Houston Texans, the last two as a full-time starter.
“It’s just kind of the confidence that everybody has,” Crick said. “In Houston we got close, and it’s not like we weren’t confident, but we never got to that point, so guys never knew what it was like to be a winner come playoff time.
“But 85 percent of this team is back, these guys are confident and know how to win big games, and it’s a great situation to be in.”
Crick, 27, will start at defensive end when the Broncos kick off the 2016 season Thursday night. That Carolina is visiting Sports Authority Field for a Super Bowl 50 rematch should only add to the excitement.
“It’s going to be rocking. It’s going to be a blast,” Crick said. “You can’t ask for a better start with a new team.”
It wasn’t surprising that Crick landed with Denver, where he reunited with former Houston coach Gary Kubiak, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Kollar. It was Kubiak who had made him the Texans’ fourth-round draft pick in 2012.
“So it was not like I was in a foreign place,” Crick said. “It was about as easy of a transition as it can get. I came in and already knew the defense, knew what would be expected of me and knew what to expect of the coaches.”
Denver went looking for pre-draft help after losing Malik Jackson to free agency. The signing of the 6-foot-4, 285-pound Crick then looked even bigger when the Broncos lost Vance Walker to a mid-August knee injury as the two were battling for the starting role.
It never changed the approach for Crick, who knew some risk came with leaving the Texans and some job security.
“You’re told, ‘You’re the new dude. You’re going to have to prove yourself, and if you want a starting job you have to earn it,’ and that’s the way it should be,” Crick said. “Unfortunately Vance got hurt — and it’s not the way you want to win a job — but I’ve got to do my part, and I’ve got to run with it.”
Denver feels more like home to Crick, who said it’s not unusual to be out and about and see somebody with a Husker shirt or hat. Growing up in both Cozad and Ogallala, he also knows western Nebraska is full of Bronco fans.
In addition to former NU fullback Andy Janovich and linebacker Zaire Anderson being with the Broncos, Crick also has reconnected with Von Miller. Crick and the All-Pro linebacker and Texas A&M product were represented by the same agency coming out of college and trained together in California before the 2012 draft.
“Von’s a character. He’s a funny guy,” Crick said. “Any situation, he’s always going to liven it up. It might be two-a-days, but Von’s gonna see the best of it, and that kind of spreads through the team. So it’s not only what he brings on the field, (it’s) what he brings to the locker room.”
The flip side of that was leaving behind J.J. Watt in Houston. Crick said the two had formed a great relationship and developed a synergy on the field that Crick knows might “take a while to transfer to guys here.”
“I still talk to J.J.,” Crick said. “We’ll still see each other. But it will be difficult without him on the team, because he was such a great teammate.
“But he’s going to be all right, I’ll be all right and we’ll move on with our careers.”
Denver will make that easier for Crick. He said he feels great, feels excited. And there’s something remarkable about this defense that was so instrumental in bringing the Broncos a Super Bowl championship.
“Just a lot of talent, across the board, and that always helps,” Crick said. “They’re on point and fly to the ball with all 11 guys, which fits my way of playing.
“But it’s not only the way these guys play the game but how they prepare. And there’s no, ‘I did this’ or ‘I did that,’ but always, ‘The team did this.’ ”