Friday, February 4, 2011
Mississippi has provided the NFL with its fair share of players. In Super Bowl XLV, the Magnolia State is represented by Mike Wallace of the Steelers and Donald Lee and Donald Driver of the Packers. Wallace played for Ole Miss, Lee played for Mississippi State, and Driver played for Alcorn State.
Every Super Bowl played has had at least one player with ties to Mississippi on one of the two team's rosters. Mississippi players have also played just about every position possible in a Super Bowl.
One example is Tom Goode. The West Point native and Mississippi State star was the long snapper on the game-winning field goal kick in Super Bowl V for a 16-13 win. Goode was playing his final NFL season for the Baltimore Colts when his perfect snap on the game's final play helped beat the Dallas Cowboys.
Special team players with Mississippi ties are all over the Super Bowl. Punters Jerrel Wilson (Super Bowl I and IV), Ray Guy (Super Bowl XI, XV and XVIII) and Jim Miller (Super Bowl XVI and XXI) played at Mississippi universities. Wilson still holds the record for highest punt average in Super Bowl history.
Madison Central alum Stephen Gostkowski, of the New England Patriots, came up on the short end in a 17-14 loss to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII. Gostkowski is one of several Super Bowl players with Mississippi ties to play college football elsewhere.
NFL Hall of Famer Lance Alworth, who grew up in Brookhaven, went to Arkansas to play college football. Alworth is best known for his touchdown catch in Super Bowl VI to help the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins. L.C. Greenwood, a Yazoo native, won four Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Since quarterback sacks were not an official stat when Greenwood played, he is unofficially credited with five sacks in the Super Bowl with four coming against Roger Staubach in Super Bowl X.
Sacks are now an official stat, and former USM star Adalius Thomas is credited with two sacks and a forced fumble in Super Bowl XLII, against the New York Giants, with the Patriots. He was a member of the Baltimore Ravens championship team in Super Bowl XXXV.
Playing football in Mississippi has always been a family affair. The state has ties to two separate sets of brothers who were on Super Bowl rosters.
Willie and Gloster Richardson, both from Jackson State, played in the Super Bowl. Willie played for the Colts in Super Bowl III, and Gloster played for the Chiefs in Super Bowl IV and the Cowboys in Super Bowl VI.
Wilbert and Cleo Montgomery were born in Greenville, but played college football at Abilene Christian. Cleo played for the Los Angeles Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII and Wilbert played in Super Bowl XV for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Many will incorrectly think Eli and Payton Manning should be on this list. While Eli and Peyton grew up in New Orleans, other than their father, Archie (who played at Ole Miss), only Eli truly has Mississippi ties, also playing for Ole Miss. Peyton played for the University of Tennessee.
Two offensive linemen who played in the Super Bowl with Mississippi ties are Jackie Slater and Kent Hull. Slater would help the Los Angeles Rams reach Super Bowl XIV, and Hull played center for the Buffalo Bills when they went to four straight Super Bowls (XXV, XXVI, XXVII, and XXVIII).
The biggest Super Bowl disappointment for Mississippi was Super Bowl XX. Former Jackson State player and Columbia native Walter Payton would get a Super Bowl ring but would not get a chance to score a touchdown. Payton rushed for 61 yards on 22 carries with his opponents, the Patriots, keying on him on every play. Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka would later say his biggest regret in that Super Bowl was not getting Payton into the end zone.
Four players with Mississippi ties stand out with their Super Bowl performances. Here is a look at those players in no particular order.
Brett Favre: Green Bay Packers
The Kiln native and former USM star makes this list because the Packers had not reached the Super Bowl since winning Super Bowl II. The team had fallen on hard times since that Super Bowl, only making the playoffs in 1972 and 1982.
Favre would lead the Packers to a 13-3 record, and first undefeated record at home, since 1962. In Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots, Favre would complete 14 of 27 passes for 246 yards and two touchdowns.
More importantly, Favre did not throw an interception, and the Packers went on to beat the Patriots 35-21. The next season Favre would lead the Packers back to the Super Bowl but this time he would go down in defeat to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXII.
In his second Super Bowl, Favre completed 25 of 42 passes with three touchdowns and one interception. Favre would not return to the Super Bowl again after the 31-24 defeat.
Favre's Super Bowl Totals: 39-69, 502 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception
Eli Manning: New York Giants
Eli Manning has to be mentioned on this list not only because of his playing but also because of what was on the line in Super Bowl XLII. Manning brought his Giants into the game as big underdogs to the Patriots.
New England entered the game perfect, going 18-0 (16 regular season games and 2 playoff games) during the season. Only one other team, the Miami Dolphins (Super Bowl VII) had gone undefeated in the Super Bowl era.
The game is remembered because of David Tyree's helmet catch but Manning showed a ton of poise leading his team in the game. Manning and his Giants would shock the world by defeating the Patriots 17-14.
Manning completed 19 of 34 passes for 255 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He would also lose two fumbles in the game, but would be named the game's MVP.
Manning's Super Bowl Totals: 19-34, 255 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception, 2 fumbles
Steve McNair: Tennessee Titans
McNair is a Mount Olive native and former Alcorn State star who was the third pick of the Titans in the 1995 NFL draft. McNair would help lead Tennessee to a 13-3 record but needed the "Music City Miracle" to defeat the Buffalo Bills in the AFC Wild Card round.
In Super Bowl XXXIV, McNair would face the St. Louis Rams, aka the "Greatest Show on Turf." The Titans quarterback would be the second African American quarterback to start a Super Bowl and just one of three (McNair, Doug Williams and Donovan McNabb) to do so.
The Rams jumped out to a 16-0 lead before McNair mounted a furious comeback. McNair would get the game tied 16-16 before St. Louis regained the lead at 23-16.
As time began to run out the Titans and McNair started moving down the field one last time. On the game's final play, McNair hit Kevin Dyson near the goal line on a pass but Dyson could not stretch the ball over the plain of the end zone for a game-winning touchdown.
McNair would go down in a 23-16 defeat but would become an NFL star because of Super Bowl XXXIV. He would finish the game completing 23 of 36 passes for 214 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.
McNair's Super Bowl Totals: 23-36, 214 yards, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions
Jerry Rice: San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders
No player from Mississippi has done more in the Super Bowl than Crawford native and Mississippi Valley State star Jerry Rice. The wide receiver played in four different Super Bowls.
Rice played in three Super Bowls (XXIII, XXIV, and XXIX) with the 49ers and one Super Bowl XXXVII, with the Raiders. The Hall of Fame wide receiver won three of the Super Bowls he played in and was named MVP of Super Bowl XXIII.
Rice still holds several Super Bowl records including most touchdowns (8), most receptions in one game (11), most yards in a career (604) and most points in a career (48), among others.
Super Bowl XXXVII with the Raiders was the only game Rice was held under 100 receiving yards in a Super Bowl; he was held to 77 yards in that game. When sports fans debate football, Payton is argued to be the best running back, Favre gets votes for the best quarterback, but no one seriously argues any other wide receiver but Jerry Rice as the best receiver of all time.
Rice's Super Bowl Totals: 33 receptions, 589 receiving yards, 8 touchdowns, 2 rushes, 10 yards
The Steeler Nation had to take one for mankind yesterday. Indeed we lost due to numerous prayers and supplications from women all over North America and throughout the world, who begged the Lord to not let the Steelers win because of Ben Roethisberger. The women even threatened to never attend church again or to compel their children to go. They even swore that if Big Ben wins the Super Bowl they would never force their lazy-ass, beer-guggling, and missing-church-to-see-the-games husbands and boyfriends to attend church on Easter, Christmas and New Years again. The Lord bothered by all the threats and concerned about his kingdom and people decided Sunday morning after looking at the lapse in church attendance to let the Packers win. He told the Steelers WE (inclusive of him) got to take one for mankind. He then said anyway, WE already have six, and there is a better chance of Cowboy Stadium taking wings and flying out Arlington than the Cowboys catching US this century. Moreover, the 49ers can't play for wanting to beat up each other. This is a hard pill to swallow. Big Ben is a victim of a terrible crime. According to one of the dudes holding the door in the Georgia night club as Ben and his lady friend got busy, as Big Ben and them walked in the club, this Georgia college girl walked up to Ben and started dancing and shaking her parts like she was auditioning to be the spoke person for the Hula Hoop company. Ben tried to ignore her but then she started dropping it like it hot in front of him and subsequently grabbed Ben hands and led him into the bathroom. Ben very inebriated was concerned that it was a set up so he had one of his boys come along and hold the door. Ben just stood there as she had her way with him. She then asked Ben if was going to marry her and he said no, you act like a drunk ho ho girl, I'm a respectable quarterback for the Steelers and I'm furthermore looking for a respectable girl to marry. She got mad and said ho ho this, police, police, police. Ben left the club because he knew he didn't do anything wrong and thought everything was over with until he got arrested. Despite the foregoing Green Bay played well. This was my first time watching their quarterback. He's very good and was bound to run off Brett Favre sooner or later. Although we lost, as usual, we played like warriors, and I'll bet my last dollar we will be great next year too. Let's see how Aaron Rogers does with an X on his chest. Big Ben played well this year despite all the adversity. So did the Steelers. Although we lost, we're still the most storied and respected franchise in NFL history. Did you notice we didn't make excuses at the end, and we kept the game in contention until the end. I hated the game and could never get the notion we would win. Aaron Roger knocked the arrogance and confidence right out of me with the first touchdown. I said shoot, I didn't know this quarterback was that good.
We still beat the Cowboys though. We just fell a little short with the Packers. The Packers will have to pay up next year. They're on our hit list.