For many football players, getting to the Super Bowl is an opportunity to shine in the spotlight. For Denver Broncos linebacker Nate Irving, it’s just something he needs to do between sessions of catching ’em all.
This Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks will meet the Broncos in the National Football League’s championship game just outside New York City. In the lead up to the big game, some players are going to basketball games or nightclubs, but not Irving. He plans to spend his time chasing down Pokémon, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“I’m actually going to sit in my hotel room and play my Pokémon game,” Irving told the newspaper.
He says he’ll likely play the game around three hours each night.
This isn’t unusual for the linebacker, who has racked up 41 tackles this season for the Broncos, filling in for starter Von Miller after he got injured. He has brought his 3DS handheld along with him on road trips all season so he can play on planes or buses. He does sometimes get embarrassed when his teammates see him playing the colorful Japanese role-playing game that is very popular among children around the world.
“I try to hide it from them,” said Irving. “I know not too many people are into the things I’m into. I just embrace that, and I enjoy it.”
Irving isn’t only into Pokémon when it comes to games. On his days off, he plays Call of Duty with some of his old friends.
Pokémon Red and Blue debuted in the United States in 1998 for Nintendo’s original Game Boy. That’s when Irving, who is 25 now, was only 9 years old. Likely, he’s not the only NFL star who grew up trying to collect Pikachu.