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As the sports world—and the world in general—prepares for Super Bowl Sunday, it’s a fitting time to take a more local look at the rosters of the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. Who makes up these two wannabe champs, each on the precipice of immortality? Where do they come from, and which schools, conferences and residential communities throughout America will watch them with a particular sense of pride and personal connection?
Football has long been a global game, both for fans and for players looking to make their mark on the American game. The players filling the rosters of the Pats and the Seahawks serve as testament to the diversity of their backgrounds and the disparate paths that have gotten them to the apex of the sport.
Bragging Rights (the states … and the countries)
- The Golden State, California, once again birthed the greatest number of Super Bowl participants, though the margin over Texas has shrunk considerably compared to last year.
- Texas and Florida will be well represented on Sunday, just like they are on Signing Day and at the annual NFL Combine.
- Arizona may be hosting Super Bowl XLIX, but not a single player on the Seahawk or Patriot roster grew up in Arizona.
- Representatives from 30 states will play in the game. Canada boasts two of its native sons, Seahawks Luke Willson and Jon Ryan, which is at least one more than 34 U.S. states.
- Patriot OT Sebastian Vollmer hails from Kaarst, Germany, the only Super Bowl participant who didn’t grow up in North America.
Texas ... 14
Georgia ... 4
New Jersey... 4
New York ...3
South Carolina... 3
Canada ... 2
Hawaii ... 1
New Mexico ... 1
Washington, D.C. ...1
Bragging Rights (the cities and towns)
- No city will be better represented in Glendale, Ariz. than Houston, which is the hometown of Seahawk DE David King and Patriot OT Cameron Fleming and WR Brandon LaFell. Houston eclipses Los Angeles, which led all cities a year ago.
- Other major cities sending a native son to the Super Bowl include Albuquerque (Patriot Alan Branch), Anaheim (Patriot Matthew Slater), Atlanta (Seahawk Bruce Irvin), Chicago (Patriots Darius Fleming and Zach Moore), Dallas (Seahawks Mike Morgan and Steven Terrell), Fort Lauderdale (Patriots James White and Brian Tyms), Los Angeles (Patriot Akeem Ayers and Seahawk Chris Matthews) and Oakland (Seahawks Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin).
- Seattle defensive backs Richard Sherman and Jeron Johnson were seniors on the 2005 Dominguez (Calif.) High School team in Compton that went 13-1 and won a CIF Southern Section championship.
- Seattle TE Cooper Helfet attended Redwood (Calif.) High School, the same alma mater of his head coach, Pete Carroll.
Bragging Rights (the conferences)
For starters, it needs to be noted that for these purposes, conference affiliation is based on where a school was a member in 2014. In other words, former Maryland Terp Joe Vellano counts toward the Big Ten.
- The momentum of the Big Ten has bled into the NFL game. Aided by the additions of Rutgers and Maryland, the conference climbed into a tie with the SEC and the Pac-12, each boasting 18 former players.
- More than 10% of the Seahawk and Patriot rosters did not even play for an FBS program, with 11 players coming from FCS institutions. In fact, there are more FCS graduates than those who played in the ACC or the Big 12.
- Three Super Bowl participants did their apprenticeships at the Division II level, Seattle WR Ricardo Lockette (Fort Valley State), New England DL Zach Moore (Concordia) and New England CB Malcolm Butler (West Alabama).
- Seahawk TE Keavon Milton is the lone representative of the Sun Belt Conference, having done his apprenticeship at Louisiana-Monroe.
Big Ten … 18
Pac-12 … 18
SEC … 18
FCS ... 11
ACC … 10
Big 12 … 9
The American … 4
MAC … 4
Mountain West … 4
C-USA … 3
Division II … 3
Independents … 2
Sun Belt … 1
Bragging Rights (the programs)
- Four schools will be represented by four of their former alums, Oregon, Rutgers, Texas A&M and Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights are easily the biggest surprise of the quartet.
- Leading the Group of Five programs are Memphis, Kent State and Utah State, with two former players apiece.
- Two Ivy League graduates will get reps in Super Bowl XLIX, Patriot FB James Develin of Brown and Seahawk WR Bryan Walters of Cornell.
- Just eight programs that finished in the final AP Top 25 are being shut out of Super Bowl XLIX, Michigan State, Baylor, Georgia Tech, Arizona State, Kansas State, Auburn, Marshall and Louisville.
Oregon … 4
Rutgers … 4
Texas A&M … 4
Alabama … 3
Stanford … 3
TCU … 3
Cal … 2
Illinois … 2
Kent State … 2
Michigan … 2
Mississippi State … 2
NC State … 2
Notre Dame ... 2
Oklahoma State … 2
Purdue … 2
UCLA … 2
USC … 2
Utah State … 2
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