The Super Bowl is meaningful game for any player or coach lucky enough to experience competing on the NFL's most prestigious stage, but for Offensive Line Coach Dante Scarnecchia, Super Bowl LI is even more special. The game is Dante's eighth Super Bowl as a coach, and not only will more than 20 of his family members be in the stands, one will be on the other sideline.
Dante's son Steve serves as a coaching assistant for the Atlanta Falcons, which only adds to the already palpable anticipation for Super Bowl Sunday. Though Dante's wife Susan doesn't necessarily see the matchup as a "win-win" situation, he is taking the emotional implications of the game in stride.
"It is a bit of a daunting task combining Steve's joy and our joy, and now it's a competition but that's the game," Dante said. "He's been on other staffs that we've played against, but never in a game of this magnitude. He's going to work as hard as he can work. We're going to work as hard as we can work, and we'll let the chips fall."
Through it all, Dante is proud of his son for making finding a "great organization," for working hard and for succeeding. But even with his steady focus on the task before him, he relented that the stakes of playing in the Super Bowl with your son on the other side can be daunting, but all you can do is put your head down and do your best.
"It's honestly really gut-wrenching in a lot of respects because everything is so magnified in this game," Dante said. "You just want to go out there and do your very best to give the players that you coach every chance to be successful in hopes that we'll all be successful. It's not a walk in the park. It's stressful; it's tough. This is why we play the game, why they play the game."
In the midst of preparations for the game, the Scarnecchia family will find a moment of peace to put down the clipboards and put the game aside. More than 20 members of their family will be in Houston this weekend, and on Friday they'll all go to dinner to enjoy each other's company like any other week, any other game.
And of course, football will be off the table.
"We'll enjoy the time. Enjoy the friendship, the love and move on," Dante said.