From Super Bowls to super sweets

Mike Lodish

Here's a piece of football trivia guaranteed to stump your friends.

Who is the only person to play in six Super Bowls, the most in NFL history?

No, it's not Tom Brady -- he had a chance to play in his sixth this year but came up one win short. Fifteen others have played in five, including John Elway, Charles Haley and Bill Romanowski.

The answer? Mike Lodish, a former 10th-round draft pick who now sells his mom's peanut brittle for a living.


Now, that's super.

* * *

This past Sunday, Mike Lodish did the same thing millions of other Americans did. He sat at home in front of his television, watching the AFC and NFC championship games.

Lodish was rooting hard for the Denver Broncos to beat Brady's New England Patriots -- but not just because Lodish once played for the Broncos.

His legacy, or at least a big part of it, was on the line.

"It's nice to be a part of a championship team, and it's nice to be a part of history," Lodish said Thursday by phone. "But you never want to get knocked off the top."

Lodish didn't appear destined for the top when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 1990. He had played at UCLA and made the All-Pac-10 team, but he was an undersized nose tackle -- 6-foot-3, 270 pounds -- selected 265th overall.

The Bills liked Lodish but still passed him over for another nose tackle in the seventh round, Fred DeRiggi from Syracuse. When Lodish was still available three rounds later, they snatched him up, too.

"I was pissed off that I got picked so late, and I had a chip on my shoulder," Lodish said. "Just like when I was in eighth grade and my math teacher tells me, 'You'll never play at Brother Rice [High School].' If somebody tells me that I'm not gonna do something, I'm gonna do it."

Lodish beat out DeRiggi, whose NFL career spanned all of two games. Lodish played in 12 games his rookie season alone, recording his first two NFL sacks.

Bill Polian, the longtime NFL general manager who now works for ESPN, was the Bills' GM when Lodish was drafted. "I think of Mike and I think of the ultimate warrior," Polian said Friday. "He gave you his best through thick and thin. He never seemed to be injured -- or if he was, he never told anyone. He was as tough and as professional as they come -- the kind of guy you want on your football team.

"Everyone can use a Mike Lodish."

Lodish got to play in his first Super Bowl that very season -- Super Bowl XXV. The Bills were upset by the New York Giants, 20-19, but he still remembers that year fondly.

"Making it my first year -- on a Buffalo Bills team in 1990 that I think was the best team in the world that year, even though we lost to the Giants -- that was the greatest accomplishment that me, personally, I ever felt in my career," Lodish said. "That was the greatest feeling that I had, when I got a chance to call my parents and tell them it's official, I'm a professional now."

Lodish was with the Bills four more years, and three more Super Bowls. He played in 62 of a possible 64 regular-season games, with 12 starts. When he became a free agent after the 1994 season, he moved on to Denver, where Greg Robinson -- his former defensive line coach at UCLA -- was the defensive coordinator.

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