Polian’s book, a behind-the-scenes look at team building

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) drives the ball up after his touchdown reception against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday Jan. 16, 2022, in Tampa, Florida.  (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87) drives the ball up after his touchdown reception against the Philadelphia Eagles in the second half of an NFL football game on Sunday Jan. 16, 2022, in Tampa, Florida. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

PA

Forget what all those talking heads and self-proclaimed experts tell you about professional football.

Instead, pick up “Super Bowl Blueprints,” the new book by Hall of Famer Bill Polian and famed sportswriter Vic Carucci. It’s 370 pages of behind-the-scenes and educational reading that provides insight into how eight franchises have built great teams.

Polian himself was involved in two of them: the Bills, who went to an unprecedented four consecutive Super Bowls in 1990-93, and the Colts, who won it in the 2006 season. In each chapter , not only does he comment on these franchises, but Polian interviews key figures in building each team.

He and Carucci review Al Davis’ Raiders; the Steel Curtain Steelers; the 49ers West Coast offensive champions; Washington’s Hogs under Joe Gibbs; the Giants with coach Bill Parcells; Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys; and the two organizations Polian built in Buffalo and Indianapolis.

They’re saving the best for last, with interviews with Tony Dungy, Peyton Manning, Dwight Freeney and Tom Moore essentially taking readers into the game plan room.

One of hundreds of informative nuggets: Manning’s insistence on practicing with wet balls even though the Colts played in an indoor stadium. It paid off in the 2007 Super Bowl in rainy Miami.

REWARD MILITARY

Six NFL players, including 2021 All-Pros TJ Watt and Micah Parsons, provide the opportunity for a military veteran or family to attend next Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Rob Gronkowski, Josh Allen, DeAndre Hopkins and Chase Young are also awarding vets, in partnership with USAA, which provides insurance and other financial services to US service members, veterans and their families.

Steelers edge rusher Watt, teaming with Together We Served, invited the family of late U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Duel Jeans, a Korean War veteran who continued to serve for decades until his passing. His widow, Pamela, remained with Together We Served as a historian after Duel passed away.

Parsons, a rookie linebacker from Dallas, has partnered with AMVETS (American Veterans) to honor Frederick Bates. With more than three decades of military service and postings in the United States and overseas in Korea, Bates rose through the ranks of the Air Force to the position of Chief Master Sergeant.

“Chief Master Sergeant Frederick Bates is someone to whom our country owes a debt of gratitude,” Parsons said.

Bucs tight end Gronkowski teamed up with the USO to recognize Sgt. Erik Hanno, a Purple Heart recipient who enlisted in the military in 2006 and served until 2013. He was a squad leader and designated marksman who was wounded in Afghanistan.

Bills quarterback Allen and VFW send Master Sgt. Cory Geisler in the big game. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and spending six years in sales, Geisler enlisted in the military, where he served from 2005 to 2012, including a tour in Iraq.

“Leaving behind a successful career to serve our country and enlisting in the United States Army is incredibly admirable, Allen said.

Washington Young linebacker and National Guard Association honor Darryl Griffing, who served 27 years in the military, including 14 years on active duty. A captain in the Georgia National Guard, he is currently a full-time medical operations officer and has also served in Afghanistan.

Hopkins has partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project to honor Melvin Gatewood, an Army sergeant who, during his three years (2003-06) of military service, was deployed to Iraq. A Humvee driver and member of the Quick Reaction Force, he was injured on a convoy mission and earned the Purple Heart. He is now a Certified Peer Support Specialist with the Department of Veterans Affairs and a volunteer leader with the Wounded Warrior Project.

SUPER LEGOLAND

For those who can’t make it to SoFi Stadium for Sunday’s game, or don’t want to get a second mortgage to buy tickets on the secondary market, there’s an option to get a feel for the new venue.

A 1-50 scale LEGO model of the indoor-outdoor stadium will debut next month at Miniland USA, located at LEGOLAND California Resort. The LEGO stadium structure will join other Southern California attractions presented in LEGO form, such as the Griffith Park Observatory, the Hollywood Bowl and Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Over 30 feet long, 15 feet wide and over 4 feet high, the new exhibit is set to be the largest LEGO stadium in the world.

“SoFi Stadium is an architectural marvel and is considered one of the most innovative NFL stadiums in the entire league, making it an obvious choice for our first addition to Miniland USA’s expanded Southern California region.” said LEGOLAND California Resort President Kurt Stocks. “The anticipation of Super Bowl 56 taking place at life-size SoFi Stadium in February makes this build even more special for us.”

A team of 25 dedicated Master Model Builders will take over 6,000 hours and over 500,000 LEGO bricks to complete the final model of SoFi Stadium before it is installed this spring.

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Professional football writer Barry Wilner contributed.

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