Detroit Mike Holmgren didn't even give the Super Bowl a thought last autumn when he urged his wife to sign up for a medical mission to Africa.
Four months later, his Seattle Seahawks are playing for the NFL title in Detroit and his wife is packing for Congo, where she'll treat villagers and wonder about the outcome of a game a world away.
"I'm very proud of her," Holmgren said. "She works very hard at a lot of things that are a lot more important than coaching a football game. Her heart's here, even though she is going to be in Africa with my daughter.
"She gets nervous at the games anyway. I told her she doesn't watch any of the game anyway."
Kathy Holmgren started her nursing career as a missionary to Congo. One of the couple's twin daughters, Calla, is a gynecologist who signed up for a mission to Africa with Northwest Medical Teams International, Inc.
When he found out that their 33-year-old daughter was going to Congo, Holmgren suggested that his wife accompany her. They'll be in a group of eight volunteers.
"She's going to exactly the same place Kathy went to 35 years ago, a little mission right in the middle of the jungle," Holmgren said. "I said, 'Why don't you go with her?' It was the best present I could ever give her.
"We didn't know when she signed up for this thing four months ago that we would be in the Super Bowl. In fact, we didn't even think about the dates being a problem."
Kathy Holmgren declined interviews this week about her trip. Recently, she told the Chicago Tribune: "Mike said, 'Go, our work is important.' And Mike needs to concentrate on the game."
"So he won't miss us all that much," she said.
It will be Kathy Holmgen's third trip with Northwest Medical, an Oregon-based organization that works with other humanitarian agencies and sends volunteers to Africa, Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America. She went on missions to Mexico in 2003 and Romania last year.
"This is something she's doing on her own," Northwest Medical spokeswoman Barbara Agnew said Monday. "She's volunteering her time and paying her own way. That says a lot about her as a person and about the family as well."
The Holmgrens leave on Thursday and won't return until Feb. 19. Communications are difficult in the northwest Congo area, so there's no guarantee they'll be able to keep up with Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I'll let her know who wins when she gets back," Holmgren said.
TOO MUCH FOOTBALL?: John Madden is worried about the new television deal that puts Thursday and Saturday games on NFL Network beginning next season.
Madden, whose last game for ABC will be the Super Bowl, said the wait between weekend games is what makes the NFL special.
"I just worry about overexposure," Madden said on a conference call. "No matter how much you wanted to watch the NFL, there were no more games between Monday night and the next Sunday. I don't want us to become like college basketball or college football where you have games on every night. That's the direction it's going in. I really don't know that it's a great direction."
Broadcast partner Al Michaels agreed that there can be too much of a good thing.
"You're going to reach a point at some point of oversaturation," Michaels said. "Is this it? I don't know. That's the danger that lurks there. If you're going to make things less and less special, at some point you're going to pay the price."
Michaels' future also has been the subject of speculation. Although he has one year left on his contract, there have been reports that the network would let him out of his deal when the Super Bowl ends.
"The questions keep coming from different angles," Michaels said. "All I will tell you is next season starts on Monday. Right now, we're just thinking about the Super Bowl."
WOULDN'T BE A BOWL WITHOUT BELICHICK: Bill Belichick will be an analyst during ABC's pregame show Sunday, an unfamiliar role for the Patriots head coach.
Belichick became known for his gray, hooded sweat shirts and drab answers while he led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles in the last four years. A 27-13 playoff loss to Denver ended the Patriots' bid for an unprecedented third straight title.
Belichick described the analyst role as "an interesting opportunity to gain a different perspective on the Super Bowl."
PANEL LIKES MONTANA'S PASS: A 12-person panel rated San Francisco's 20-16 victory over Cincinnati in the 1988 season as the greatest Super Bowl of the 39 so far.
Joe Montana's touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds left gave the 49ers their comeback win and provided the Super Bowl with one of its most historic drives. Quarterback Boomer Esiason and receiver Cris Collinsworth played for the Bengals in that game, and were part of the 12-person panel that rated the title games for superbowl.com.
Running back Terrell Davis, quarterback Phil Simms, tight end Shannon Sharpe and lineman Lincoln Kennedy all of whom played in Super Bowls were included in the panel, along with media members.
WATCH YOUR MONEY: Chargers tight end Antonio Gates and Broncos safety John Lynch had a message Monday for Detroit-area high school students: Learn how to handle money.
"As much money as you make, you can spend it," Lynch said. "I've seen it."
The players talked to students about the importance of managing money and helped them play a video football game that involved moving the ball by answering financial questions correctly.
Detroit was the final stop on a 16-city program to promote money management skills among youths.