*As part of the Green Bay Packers' celebration of the 10th anniversary season of the Super Bowl XXXI Championship, Packers.com is running a series of stories about the people responsible for bringing the Vince Lombardi trophy back home to Titletown.
If everybody had the opportunity to win a Super Bowl or, even play in one for that matter, it probably wouldn't be that special.
Obviously, in the big scheme of the NFL, playing in the Biggest Show on Earth isn't something that just falls into your lap.
So you can imagine how difficult it must be when you have no choice but to watch your teammates accomplish the ultimate team goal.
Per NFL rules, players who are placed on the injured reserve list cannot play the rest of the season. For several players in Green Bay in 1996, that obviously meant not being allowed to participate in the team's Super Bowl victory over the Patriots.
For some players, such as James Bostic, Rob Carpenter, Chris Darkins, Matthew Dorsett, and Mike Flanagan, the season -- at least playing wise -- was a complete loss from the beginning, as they all spent the full year on injured reserve.
For others, such as Mike Arthur and Brian Satterfield, they spent the majority of the season on injured reserve but did see limited playing time before their season-ending injuries.
Other players, namely Robert Brooks and George Koonce, didn't spend nearly as much time on injured reserve as the others. Brooks played in seven games before being shelved for the year and Koonce missed one game all season, the Super Bowl.
While Arthur, Satterfield, and Jeff Miller were all waived before the conclusion of the season, seven players remained on the injured reserve list at the completion of the Super Bowl.
Regardless of their time spent on injured reserve, all of the aforementioned players had one significant thing in common: being unable to dress in the Green and Gold uniform and take field at the Louisiana Superdome on January 26, 1997.
For Darkins, a rookie running back drafted in the fourth round out of Minnesota, not seeing any game action all year was difficult, but he knows it could have been much worse.
"I can tell you it would have been a lot of tougher if we weren't winning," Darkins said with a laugh. "But when you're winning, you're just kind of caught up in all the excitement of all the other guys. It was kind of like you know that the team is taken care of, where your contribution might be appreciated but it's not an absolute necessity."
And though he obviously never played a single down from scrimmage when it counted (his only action coincidentally came in the preseason against the Patriots), Darkins said the opportunity was still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"I got to hang around a great group of guys," Darkins explained. "The leadership of that team served as a role model for everything that I've done. I've tried to model myself after those leaders like Reggie White."
However, the whole situation left a bad taste in Arthur's mouth when he was waived after spending 12 weeks of the season on injured reserve.
"I think that's everybody's ultimate goal, to get a Super Bowl ring," Arthur admitted. "It was also pretty frustrating for me personally because I should have still been a part of the team.
"But I understand that it's a business and I think they released me to bring in Andre Rison, which I understand. It's a business."
Arthur, who lives in Cincinnati and has been with Smith Barney for almost 10 years, won the injury grievance he filed against the Packers but did not receive a Super Bowl ring. In fact, once the backup center's career with Green Bay ended, so did his NFL tenure.
Although he already had a job with Smith Barney by the time his former teammates were playing in the Super Bowl, that didn't mean he didn't have the itch to play in the NFL again.
"Well, I did (have the desire to play again)," Arthur, 38, admitted. "But I couldn't. Because of my knee injury, I was actually working for Smith Barney and rehabbing my knee, but I could never come back."
As it turns out, Arthur, Bostic and Carpenter weren't around the following season, although Koonce, Flanagan, and Brooks all made a recovery and went on to successful careers with the Green and Gold.
Darkins also made a full recovery from his dislocated left shoulder, but he didn't have much desire to play beyond the 1997 season. In fact, after getting hurt again in '98, and despite only playing in 14 games in his NFL career, Darkins called it quits for good.
"After leaving Green Bay, I was kind of in a situation that I didn't have to play," Darkins, 32, explained. "And I enjoyed Green Bay so much and had already won a Super Bowl, it was kind of like, 'OK, I think it's time to move to the next chapter of my life.'
"I kind of looked at it and I said, 'Now what am I playing for?' If it's just for the money, there's other ways I can make money. I said if that's the case, then it's not really worth it. I kind of really started to reflect on it and started to think maybe it's time to open up a new chapter in my life as opposed to continue playing, because I don't know how you get to more of a high point than we had with that team."
Darkins, 32, who now lives in Houston with his wife Paula and two children, Shani and Andre, developed an exchange service for used vehicles named drivenxchange (drivenxchange.com).
According to the 6-foot, 215-pound running back, life as a Packer was all he needed to experience before moving on to this business interest.
In fact, he had those thoughts almost immediately after he was drafted.
"Naturally, when you watch the Packers play on TV, you see they play in this great outdoor stadium, they have this great collage of fans in the stands, and you're like, 'Wow, man, that would be the top of the world,'" Darkins said. "Especially coming from Minnesota, a state that doesn't have a real big football town, and then you go to a state that has a great tradition. That made all the difference in the world.
"From my perspective, there wasn't much more to accomplish. You already played in the greatest football city in the country. And been to the Super Bowl. What more was there left to prove unless you tried to make a bunch of money? I made enough where I could go off and try to get involved in a couple different establishments."
Though it was a brief stay, Darkins, who occasionally still speaks to William Henderson, Sean Jones, and Santana Dotson, said his time in Green Bay was also well spent for another reason: the jewelry.
And just because he doesn't wear his Super Bowl XXXI ring, that doesn't mean it isn't special to the Darkins' family, particularly Clarence Darkins.
"My father wears it," Darkins said. "I gave it to him and he wears it everyday.
"In fact, the other day I asked him if I could send it in and get one of the diamonds fixed and he said, 'Yeah, as soon as I die or if you cut off my finger,'" Darkins laughed.
It just proves that for players like Darkins, even a year spent on injured reserve can still be special if it culminates in a Super Bowl victory.