When the San Francisco 49ers meet the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII, it will be a homecoming of sorts for 49ers center Jonathan Goodwin. Goodwin isn't from New Orleans, the host city, but he did play for the Saints from 2006-10. For the 11th-year veteran out of Michigan, leaving New Orleans was a tough decision.
"Definitely one of the toughest decisions of my life. I really loved being here. I love the city of New Orleans. Even that day on, I changed my mind twice. It was definitely a really tough decision. I had to do the same thing when I came to New Orleans; I had to take a leap of faith. Fortunately, up until this point it has worked out."
The highlight of Goodwin's NFL career came with the Saints in 2009, when New Orleans defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 31-17, in Super Bowl XLIV. That win gave Saints fans relief from the frustration of decades of ineptitude. New Orleans had just six playoff appearances in 42 years of existence before the 2009 season.
Despite his fond memories of New Orleans, Goodwin is happy to be back in the Super Bowl with the 49ers. Playing for a title is special enough, but Goodwin has the added bonus of doing it with the team he cheered for as a child.
"You get to go to the Super Bowl with your childhood team, so that's something that's special to me. Hopefully I can find a way to win the Super Bowl with my childhood team."
Growing up as a fan of the 49ers, Goodwin still remembers San Francisco's last Super Bowl win, which came 18 seasons ago.
"I remember it pretty well. I was a 49er fan growing up. Steve Young got the Super Bowl ring so that's the main thing that stands out to me. Back then, that's when each and every year they had a shot of going to the Super Bowl. A great team and a great group of players. Hats off to them."
Both teams will enter Sunday's game with high levels of adrenaline. No matter how talented, well-coached or historically successful a franchise may be, a chance to win a Super Bowl can be a rare thing, and the 49ers and Ravens prove that fact. San Francisco is one of the most prestigious franchises in NFL history, and it's been nearly two decades since the team has reached a the NFL's championship game. Baltimore routinely has one of the league's best defenses, but the Ravens haven't played for a title since the 2000 season.
While a younger player might get caught up in the hype, a veteran with Super Bowl experience like Goodwin knows to treat Sunday's game like any other.
"From my experience, the first three plays, when I played a couple of years ago, was kind of a blur. After that first three, it just became football again. Everybody was playing as hard as they could but at the end of the day it's still football. Just preparing during the week and focusing on the task at hand. At the end of the day it's still a football game."