Super Memories 2018
When the Super Bowl arrives each year, we like to peruse the rosters and see who in the game we may have seen before they turned pro that will conjure up Super Memories 2018 of college seasons and games past we saw them play in on their journeys to the top. We check our computer files, old programs, wrinkled newspaper clippings, and we then scan our fading or distorted memory banks for points of interest we’d like to share. Kind of like a “we knew them when”. Hopefully we caught a few in action on purpose or even by accident in a picture.
This year, a quick perusal of the two Super rosters recognized about thirteen players on both the Patriots and on the Eagles who we had seen dating back from 2002 up until our 2016 season. Some of the memories are vivid and personal. Others are stirred by the aforementioned research over available materials looked over about an hour. We don’t have the time nor interest to report on every player, but we pulled some prominent and some not-so-prominent names of players from our past playing both squads. Here’s names that shook loose some Super Memories 2018 before Super Bowl LII. The list depicts the player with his current position he’s playing in the pros, his position in college, his alma mater, and the years we watched his particular team in action when he was on the roster.
TE Brent Celek, TE Cincinnati, 2004 – Celek played as sophomore for the Bearcats under HC Mark Dantonio when they visited 0-4 Army at West Point . Back then, both teams competed in Conference USA. Cincy came in with their typical mediocre record of 2-3. Army on the other hand, started off the season poorly with a record of 0-4. However, the Cadets struggled more mightily than that, they rode a 19-game losing streak. Celek caught two TD passes this day of the four thrown by QB Gino Guidugli. Army answered the first one with four straight TDs in the first half to take a 26-7 lead. Celek’s second TD also came in the second period to close the score to 32-29 at intermission in favor of Army. A FG and a recovered fumble in the end zone by Army in the second half ended their losing streak by beating Cincy, 42-29. The Cadets in Michie Stadium stormed the field, tore down a goal post, and heaved it in pieces to into Lusk Reservoir outside the stadium. It was a thrilling upset for the beleaguered cadets. As for Cincinnati in the Associated Press report after the game, QB Gino Guidugli was quoted saying, “This is the most disappointing loss of my life. We’re probably the laughingstock of the nation.” Celek caught ten passes for 130 yards and one TD for the Eagles this season.
WR Alshon Jeffery, WR South Carolina, 2011- While our daughter Alex attended the University of South Carolina becoming a die-hard Gamecock fan, we got to see her team play each of the four years. Twice, we attended the season-ending traditional rivalry against Clemson. In 2011, Steve Spurrier’s No. 14 Gamecocks hosted Dabo Swinney’s No. 18 Tigers. This was for the “state championship” Spurrier would say. The two teams clawed at each other in the first half with the Cocks leading 17-10 at halftime. QB Conor Shaw threw his second TD pass of the game in Q3. The two teams exchanged FGs in the final period, but WR Alshon Jeffery capped the scoring with a tremendous 18-yard TD reception in back of the end zone to put the game on ice for a 34-13 Gamecock win. He caught two passes for 29 yards. With a win in the Capital One Bowl over Nebraska, they finished 11-2 overall and ranked No. 9. Jeffrey would leave the program after this, his junior season. He ended his Gamecock career with 183 receptions for 3,042 yards and 23 TDs. In 2017 for Philadelphia, Jeffery knabbed 57 receptions for 789 yards and nine TDS.
OT Lane Johnson, DE Oklahoma, 2012 – Well we can’t resist saying that we never saw the player who promised everybody in Philadelphia a beer after the Eagles win the Super Bowl. Even Bud Light stepped up to sponsor him. We can’t say he starred or even played when we saw his Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl in New Year’s Day of 2011. I bought the tickets well in advance of the two teams being invited figuring it was going to be a big match in this traditional major bowl game. For my son Eric, who was 15 at the time, and for me, the aura of this game was kind of disappointing. UConn, winners of the Big East that year with an overall record of 8-4, showed up as the competition in Glendale. Hell, I’d seen them win twice in good games over other mediocre Big East competition in East Hartford a three-hour drive from home earlier this season. They beat WVU, 16-13, in overtime, and they edged Pitt,30-28, in a well-played game. I didn’t plan to come all the way out to Arizona to see them play again, especially against the likes of a football dynasty like Oklahoma. The winner of the Big East had to get into one of the majors, and I regretfully picked this one. UConn played OU tight through the first half, but the No. 6 ranked Sooners (12-2) with QB Landry Jones and RB DeMarco Murray eventually rolled them, 48-20. As for Johnson, our new beer buddy, he wasn’t listed in the top two tiers of the depth chart, and he didn’t play on the offensive line either. He roamed the sidelines that day as a sophomore DE. This shows that everyone gets to the top somehow or other. If the Eagles win on Sunday, he will lead the team in beers purchased. Hey Lane, even if the Eagles don’t win, pass one over here to Jersey!
T Elijah Qualls, DE Washington, 2016 – Alabama went on to defeat Washington, 24-7, to go on to the championship two play Clemson after we saw these two tangle in Atlanta for the CFP semi-final. When did you ever see a #11 jersey at DT? That was Qualls’s number at UDub. He now wears #98 at the same position for the Eagles. He didn’t see much action this year as he posted a mere four tackles. We don’t see him being a force to be reckoned with in this Super Bowl. Maybe in the future.
DE Derek Barnett, DE Tennessee, 2014-16 – For thee three consecutive bowl seasons, I picked my schedules in advance based on proximities, budgets, and travel schedules to attend as many games as possible, not knowing who would play (as usual). For three consecutive years, my eyes hurt from all that Tennessee Orange filling the stadiums. Barnett was active in the last two games I watched them in. The Vols went 3-0 in all three games basically dominating all three Big Ten teams they faced and outscoring them in all three by a combined score of 128-58. The reality though was that in the first one, they whipped up on Iowa so bad, they had guys who hadn’t played all season playing defense the second half after scoring most of their points before halftime. In the TaxSlayer in Jacksonville, they beat up on Iowa 35-7 by halftime on the way to a 45-28 win as the Hawkeyes scored three TDs in the last period. In the Outback down in Tampa a year later, the Vols slammed Northwestern, 45-6. And in 2016, Nebraska fared a little better than the previous two reps from the Big Ten West but still lost in the Music City, 38-24. The rookie made 21 stops, tallied five sacks, and forced a fumble for the Eagles this season.