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Super Bowl XXXII: DENVER BRONCOS vs. GREEN BAY PACKERS
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Levens Should Have Plenty of Leverage

January 26, 1998|RICHARD JUSTICE | WASHINGTON POST

SAN DIEGO — Green Bay Packer running back Dorsey Levens is going to be one of the big winners of Super Bowl XXXII--no matter which team wins.

After riding the bench for two seasons, then splitting time with Edgar Bennett in 1996, Levens became Green Bay's featured running back when Bennett suffered a season-ending Achilles' tendon injury last summer.

He responded to the new role by rushing for 1,435 yards--39 short of Jim Taylor's franchise record. In the playoffs, he has twice broken Green Bay's single-game postseason record by gaining 112 yards against Tampa Bay and 114 against San Francisco.

And after Sunday's Super Bowl, Levens is an unrestricted free agent who'll be one of the NFL's most coveted players when the marketplace opens Feb. 13.

After making $785,000 this season, Levens figures to get a deal in the $2 million to $3 million range.

"The timing's been wonderful for Dorsey," Packers Coach Mike Holmgren said. "Had Edgar stayed healthy, Dorsey obviously would not have had the statistical year he had because I would have rotated them again like I did last year. He is going to get a great contract."

Levens has said he'd like to stay with the Packers, but has also promised to test the free agent market. "I really struggle sometimes not to think about it with this one more game to play," he said.

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NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggested that revenue from the league's new television contract could help cities such as Denver build new stadiums. However, Tagliabue said he remains hopeful that the Broncos and city officials will muster public support to raise money for the stadium.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen has said he will sell the franchise if he doesn't get a new stadium, and he has hinted that a new owner may move the franchise.

Tagliabue said he hopes matters don't go that far.

"I think there's a very positive can-do attitude in recognition that the Broncos are a great asset to a broad area of the Rocky Mountain region," Tagliabue said. "Pat Bowlen recognizes that and eventually will get it done."

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Coach Mike Holmgren said winning a second straight Super Bowl won't mean that the Packers have become a dynasty. However, he said the Packers must win a second straight championship to be considered more than a one-season wonder.

"I think of the New York Yankees, the Boston Celtics, that's a dynasty to me," Holmgren said. "Teams that for eight, nine or 10 years won championships. The closest thing in professional football to my definition of a dynasty may have been the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dynasty to me means you win it. You don't get close. To win it twice, we can be mentioned with the great teams, I would hope. I don't think you could win six in a row or five in a row. No one does that."

Only three franchises have won back-to-back Super Bowls: Green Bay (1967-68), Pittsburgh (1975-76 and 1979-80) and Dallas (1993-94).

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