Interview: Former Ravens Super Bowl Champ Qadry Ismail on Super Bowl
As a former NFL player, Qadry “The Missile” Ismail has seen it all during his 10 season in the league. The former NFL wide receiver has gone from leading the Baltimore Ravens with 68 catches, 1,105 receiving yards and 6 TDs in 1999 to winning the Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2001, defeating the New York Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV. Now, just like everyone else, Ismail is excited and is waiting to watch this year’s Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.
Ismail took the time to talk with BlackSportsOnline about his predictions for Super Bowl XLVIII, the key players to look for and how it feels to win a Super Bowl.
BSO: Who do you think will win this year’s Superbowl and why?
QI: I think looking at both teams, obviously they got (to the Super Bowl) based on their strengths. One strength for Denver is offense and Peyton Manning. They have been explosive and…you see how they are so in-synch with one another; Peyton has a stable of receivers. He does a great job delivering when he wants to and needs to. Looking at how Demaryius Thomas is utilized and how he gets open; all of the guys do a great job of being big play threats.
From Seahawks standpoint, they built themselves on playing fast, physical defense, intimidating the heck out of you with a running offense. If it is a fairly mild day, not a lot of wind, cold but not too cold, I can see Denver winning. But, at the same time, if there is a case where the wind isn’t ideal and it’s a situation where there’s snow or sleet, I think that favors Seattle and what they can do, I would give them the advantage. Right now, I lean towards Denver because the way they have been talented on the offensive side and the way they move the ball…Denver’s defense can be effective at stopping Marshawn Lynch and getting the ball back to Peyton.
BSO: As you mentioned before about both team’s strengths, this year’s Super Bowl is a battle between the No.1 scoring offense and the No. 1 scoring defense. In the past when this has occurred, the winning outcome has favored the defense. Do you think that is the case this year?
QI: I think it goes through Peyton and at the same time yeah, you are looking at a team like the Seahawks. They run the ball effectively, good but not great at making big plays. Denvers’ defense is more than capable of holding (the Seahawks) in place. Peyton, with the weapons he has and the way his offensive line has been able to protect him, puts himself on a positive collision course (towards being) effective, being able to stop any threat that will be prevented or pressure that will be presented to him. (Peyton) will be able to more than handle it.
BSO: Could you see Peyton heading back to the Super Bowl in the next 2-3 years?
QI: The look of it says no and I don’t see it happening, it is just tough to win in the league. Too many variables you don’t have control over. As much as you want to cookie cut it…doesn’t happen that way. In Peyton’s particular case you would like to say yeah but you just don’t know. There have been great players who were in great positions but sadly, they could not get over the hump because of the fact that there were a lot of unknowns that they couldn’t account for.
BSO: One of the big headlines for the Super Bowl is Richard Sherman and his interview. Do you feel like he will bring his A-game during the Super Bowl?
QI: Well first and foremost, you have to know who he is. Richard is a passionate guy and the guy is extremely smart and calculates when he wants to talk and not. We on the outside saw a little bit of what happens and after the game when he was being interviewed by Erin Andrews from Fox Sports, it did not look good and that’s the bottom line. With that, well, it didn’t look good but you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. He is an amazing player and makes plays for his team and that’s something you can’t take away. You have to look at the whole picture without judging. He will have a great game…Peyton is going to challenge him or look somewhere else. What Sherman is going to do will affect the game, it is something I am excited to see how it unfolds.
BSO: Who are some other key players for the Broncos and Seahawks in this year’s Super Bowl?
QI: First and foremost, one (key player) for the Seahawks offensively is Marshawn Lynch. I think he will have to make big plays and while Lynch is a big play threat, the other big play guy sitting in front of us is Russell Wilson. He will have to make some plays and step up and be that guy, I think he will. I don’t say that lightly or in a negative way. At the same time…the other guy defensively is Richard Sherman and the one thing I look at for Sherman is how he can get into the mind of Demaryius Thomas. Thomas is the go-to guy for Peyton; when they were in the AFC championship that is when Peyton got comfortable and got (the ball) out to Thomas more. That is a match up that I’m excited to see. From a defensive standpoint, you look at Denver’s up fronts and the defense has to play sound and discipline; Lynch is tough to get down. Those are the keys I would look at while I see the game unfold.
BSO: You won Super Bowl XXXV with the Baltimore Ravens, defeating the New York Giants. Could you explain to regular NFL fans the feeling of winning a Super Bowl?
QI: Well, it’s the ultimate. For example you are busting your butt to get everything down. You do a high school performance and than big difference is performing there and going to Broadway and doing big plays then you win a Tony award on how well you are able to perform. It’s 16 weeks of trying to be the best team you can be. As you continue to win, you go into the playoffs and you hit the ground running. As you advance to the Super Bowl, it is your time to really put all of the hard work that was culminated into it. Ok, we are here, boom! Let’s win it all and be on the grand stand and have fun. As a kid, it is something you desire to do and here you go.
BSO: After winning a Super Bowl, how do players handle the aftermath?
QI: The toughest thing that guys have going for them is when they win a championship, how they are able to balance absolute celebration and soaking the moment in. At the same time, when it comes time to reset and to compete, it’s difficult for some guys to handle. It is such a high, such a fork moment you put yourself into, a great position. Other teams now see what you did…so they want that too.That’s when the hunger and the desire and passion comes in and sometimes what happens is you let your guard down while other guys are thirsting to be that dominating team. You wind up slipping and the slip causes you to be on the outside looking in and other people…are about to take home the prize and the cycle repeats.
You have two teams, Seattle and Denver, but both teams last year they were in positions where they tried to win and couldn’t get it done. Now the two teams last year aren’t in the Super Bowl because they reshuffled the deck and couldn’t do it enough to repeat. It is a difficult thing to overcome and sustain to win.
Hopefully Ismail’s insight will not only prepare you for the Super Bowl but help you understand the excitement, pressure and fun that the players will be having out on the field. Get ready to watch the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday, February 2, 6:30 PM on FOX.