Today is a very special day in the United States with Super Bowl XLVIII set to kick-off.
While it may not be front and centre of too many media outlets in New Zealand, the NFL and Super Bowl does hold a very special place in the life of Kiwi Riki Ellison.
That’s because Ellison won the Super Bowl three times in seven years with the legendary San Francisco 49ers team of the 1980s.
The 53 year-old, who still resides in West Virginia, spoke exclusively with Yahoo NZ and shared some of his fondest memories of Super Bowl day with his beloved 49ers.
“It didn’t really matter how good the other team was, we were going to win the game no matter what.
“Winning it and celebrating that with 50 different personalities from all around the United States that all came together for nine months to create that kind of unity is pretty special.”
“It’s a tremendous build up because you’ve been in a team who have gone through the process and beaten every other team to get to this level. You’ve got through some adversity and some difficult situations and you’ve won.
“You get two weeks off to heal and to get into playing and preparation. The entire country is excited; it’s like a national holiday here in the United States. You’ve got a tremendous amount of energy that you absorb and you bring with you to be able to perform and help your team win.”
The 49ers aren't this year's edition though, as they lost their NFC Championship match (one of the semi finals) to the Seattle Seahawks, who will face the Denver Broncos instead.
The outcome is hard to predict for almost everyone, but not Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, who has bet $15 million on the Broncos to win.
Ellison has good reason to believe his own personal experience with the Super Bowl may not be over. His son, Rhett, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in 2012.
“It was so special. The odds of that happening – to have your son get into USC (University of Southern California) on a scholarship and then get into the NFL and then get into the starting rotation is phenomenal. It’s just been so much pleasure (to watch) and to be a part of.
“There’s nothing better that I do in my life and it’s so much fun to watch. I went to most of their games last year and watched the progression and I’ve been able to help because the game hasn’t changed too much - most of the mental parts of it and even some of the physical parts of it [are the same], so it’s a pretty neat bond that you have to share that.”
There’s no question Ellison has a wealth of experience to draw upon and pass onto his son, having played with some of the game’s greats.
“I played with probably the greatest running back to ever have played the game – Bo Jackson, the greatest quarter-back to have ever played the game – Joe Montana, the greatest wide-receiver to have ever played the game – Jerry Rice, and the greatest defensive back to have ever played the game - and that’s Ronnie Lott.
“And, I would say arguably the greatest coach to have coached the game, which was Bill Walsh.”
Riki Ellison factbox:
• Born August 15, 1960 in Christchurch, New Zealand
• Won a Rose Bowl (national championship) with the USC Trojans
• A fifth-round pick (no. 117) in the 1983 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers (1983-90)
• Also played for the Los Angeles Raiders (1990-92)
• 3-time Super Bowl champion (1985, 1989, 1990)
• Son Rhett plays NFL for the Minnesota Vikings
• Riki is a first cousin of former NZ Maori, Otago and Waikato mid-fielder Rhys Ellison, and a relative of former All Black and Hurricanes utility Tamati Ellison, and NZ Maori and Hurricanes prop Jacob Ellison