02/03/06 — Loving every minute of it -- Warren prepares for Super Bowl XL

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Loving every minute of it -- Warren prepares for Super Bowl XL

By Steve Roush
Published in Sports on February 3, 2006 2:30 PM

Days like these come rarely. Opportunities like this don't happen for everyone.

Greg Warren knows this.

In two days, the rookie long snapper will be playing in the Super Bowl for the AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers. All week long, the former walk-on at North Carolina has been on pro football's biggest stage.

He's had microphones and mini-recorders shoved in his face. He's rubbed elbows with celebrities -- he even interviewed Tom Arnold -- he's ridden in limos and fancy cars, dined at swanky restaurants and has been a guest at a Detroit Red Wings game.

But forgive the Southern Wayne grad if it hasn't all fully sunk in just yet.

He's still pinching himself for other reasons.

"It's crazy," Warren says. "People keep asking me, 'How do you feel?' I'm still in shock to even be playing in the NFL.

"Just to have this opportunity in my first year ... it's ridiculous, really."

As a long snapper, Warren's goal is quite simple.

"Most of the questions reporters kept asking me were like, 'What's the key to long snapping?' I tell them that it's to stay anonymous," he says with a laugh. "If you don't know who I am, then I'm doing a good job."

So when he was bombarded by the press Tuesday on media day, it sort of took Warren by surprise. Ben Roethlisberger, Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward and Joey Porter? Warren knew the media would be all over them. But he wasn't prepared for all the attention that came his way.

"Everyone was bombarded -- even me," he says. "I didn't expect to get too much attention, but I got all kinds of questions, from serious to not serious. I was interviewed by a guy from England, I had an interview with ESPN Classic, a couple of radio stations from Detroit and Pittsburgh. I had a handful."

Most of the questions were asked more times that Warren could count ... how does it feel to be playing for a Super Bowl title, what goes into long snapping, what's it like to have a job where you're pretty much unnoticed.

Others were rather unique.

"One guy asked me if I felt like I was part of the team," Warren recalled. "I was a little taken aback, but I went ahead and answered his question."

Warren even became part of the working media when he interviewed Arnold for the Steelers Web site.

"That was pretty cool," he says.

Things finally began to have some semblance of normalcy the next day when the Steelers began practice on Wednesday. But then it was off to a team dinner at the Bettises, and after that, the Red Wings.

"We had a choice between going to the Pistons or the Red Wings," Warren said. "(Kicker) Jeff Reed and I do a lot together, and we go to a lot of Pittsburgh Penguins games, so we decided we'd rather see the Red Wings."

Reed, another former Tar Heel, and Warren share a room during the season.

Not this week.

"We've all got our own rooms. Basically, we've got a hotel to ourselves," Warren says. "There's so much security, they won't let anyone in. And we all have free rental cars."

With all the hoopla, it could be easy for a team to lose its focus. But Warren says that won't happen.

"No one gave us a chance when we were 7-5," he says. "Everyone wrote us off. Then, we get into the playoffs, and everyone expected the other team to win. First Cincinnati, then Indianapolis, then the Broncos. We used all of that as motivation. We knew we had great players and had a great team. We knew we could be tough to beat. So far, we've come out and performed."

Warren expects to be a little nervous when he trots onto Ford Field to make his first snap Sunday night.

"I'm always a little anxious before a game," he says. "I expect to be a little more so this time, there will be a lot of emotions.

"But once the game gets going, I'll just do the same old stuff and hope we do well."

In the meantime, he's just trying to soak it all in.

After all, your first Super Bowl may also be your last. Just ask Dan Marino.

"It's just awesome. I'm loving every minute of it.

"Who wouldn't?"