From Super Bowls to super sweets

With the Broncos, Lodish got his one and only chance to be a full-time starter, in 1996. He also got to play in two more Super Bowls, and got to be on the winning side for a change -- with a big assist from one of those five-timers mentioned above.

"When John Elway did the helicopter and went for it [in Super Bowl XXXII], and sold his body out and said I'm getting it for my boys and me and the city of Denver, that play probably had the biggest impact on me," Lodish said. "That's the play that I remember the most, because of John Elway's unselfishness. I think he was [near] 40 years old at the time, and he was playing against a Green Bay defense that had some killers out there; they had some studs. And they rocked him pretty good, but he got up and he said the hell with it, I'm winning this game."

Despite playing in six Super Bowls, Lodish couldn't recall a particularly memorable play of his own.

"Being at nose tackle, there's not too many game-changing plays that happen," he said. "I didn't get a sack, or get an interception as a lineman and waddle into the end zone, or do anything crazy like that. … Just holding down my A-gap, making a play or two inside that A-gap, that's kind of like what I was paid to do."

* * *

Lodish retired three years later, after the 2000 season -- with just 8.5 career sacks, but two championship rings and one very significant distinction. He spent the next three years coaching at his old high school and doing radio and television work. After that, he spent several years as a contract adviser with the NFL Players Association and worked in sales for a communications support services company.

But he had an itch to do something on his own, and he finally decided to scratch it -- with a little inspiration from a television commercial and a little help from his mom.

"Janet Long ironically went to UCLA, and so did her two sisters, and she's doing very well, she's got a wonderful business. She sells an upscale toffee," Lodish said. "My mother and I saw a TV commercial for LegalZoom.com, and we saw Janet on there as one of the customers of LegalZoom that they picked and chose to tell her story because she's so successful.

"I said, 'Mom, let's take your peanut brittle recipe to market. … If she can do it, why can't we?'"

Family and friends had been raving about Patricia Lodish's peanut brittle for years, and, in September 2011, Mike began putting together Pat's Gourmet LLC (named after his mom) -- the company that produces Lodish's Champion Brittle, available in three flavors: peanut crunch, chocolate drizzle and dark chocolate drizzle.

The recipe is a closely guarded secret, but you can guess the reason behind the name.

Mike is the president and CEO, but he doesn't just sit behind a desk. "I'm the guy that's doing the sales, I'm the guy that's doing the operations, I'm the guy that's doing the accounting -- I'm the whole kit and caboodle, the whole nine yards," Lodish said.

Lodish's Champion Brittle -- based in Michigan, where Lodish was born and still resides -- is available in grocery stores in five states and beyond that via its website. He recently struck a deal with Harry & David, known nationwide for its gourmet gift baskets, and hopes to continue expanding in the years to come.

"My ultimate goal with the company is to become a national peanut crunch candy," Lodish said.

But he has already accomplished another goal.

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