NYC Super Bowl gives Denver's Robert Ayers, a former Vol, a chance to return to his New Jersey roots

Defensive End Robert Ayers poses for a photograph with a teacher during the Broncos visit. Several Broncos coaches and players accompanied Defensive End Robert Ayers to Sacred Heart School on Jan. 28th, 2014. Mets All-star catcher Mike Piazza was also in attendance. They teamed up with Knights of Columbus to distribute free coats to the students. Ayers is a former student of the school. (Alyssa Ki/The Jersey Journal)

Defensive End Robert Ayers poses for a photograph with a teacher during the Broncos visit. Several Broncos coaches and players accompanied Defensive End Robert Ayers to Sacred Heart School on Jan. 28th, 2014. Mets All-star catcher Mike Piazza was also in attendance. They teamed up with Knights of Columbus to distribute free coats to the students. Ayers is a former student of the school. (Alyssa Ki/The Jersey Journal)

Flanked by teammates and coaches, Denver's Robert Ayers, a former star at the University of Tennessee, strolled through the doors of the Sacred Heart Parish basement at around 2 p.m. Thursday and received a hero's welcome.

As the crowd of some 200 students from Sacred Heart School erupted in a frenzy, the 274-pound defensive lineman for the Denver Broncos quickly began picking out the familiar faces. Before he knew it, he was wrapped in the embrace of one such person from his past — his third grade teacher, Elvira Gabot.

Five days before the biggest football game of his life — Super Bowl XLVIII — Ayers returned to the place where he says it all started, the school that instilled him with discipline that he carries today.

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