Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch Gives Thanks

Former UofL great and Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch was honored during the Cardinals game against Saint Louis on Sunday evening.

Deion Branch, who played receiver for the University of Louisville during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, was honored during the first half of the Cardinals 84-66 win over Saint Louis in Freedom Hall on Sunday evening.

Branch, who was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft, played a large role in the New England Patriots 24-21 Super Bowl victory. The Albany, Georgia native pulled in a record-tying 11 receptions for 133 yards in the game, earning him Most Valuable Player honors.

Branch became the first receiver to be named Super Bowl MVP in sixteen years, joining Jerry Rice, Fred Biletnikoff and Lynn Swann as the only receivers to receive such an honor.

"To be alongside those guys is an honor," said Branch of future Hall of Fame member Jerry Rice. "I'm just going into my fourth year, so I have a lot of work to do to just get on his level."

Branch, who totaled 143 receptions for 2,204 yards and 18 touchdowns while at U of L, credited former Cardinal head coach John L. Smith for helping him to reach his potential.

"I thank Coach Smith for driving me crazy for three years," said Branch. "He did a great job of teaching us and showing the right way to be accountable to our team and ourselves. I'm thankful to have played for Coach Smith."

During his visit to Freedom Hall on Sunday, Branch was introduced to the sold out crowd and received a standing ovation from 19,783 in attendance.

"I wish I could reach out and sign everybody's autograph," explained Branch. "I really wanted to thank everybody for their support. I can see the appreciation that they get from me going out and playing the game. It's a great feeling to see the kids come running up and hopefully I'm a role model for some of them. I try to do the right thing for them and obviously for my kids as well.

Prior to the game, Branch spent a few minutes visiting with the current Cardinal coaching staff and signing autographs for nearly all of the high school football prospects making an unofficial visit on Sunday.

"I'm thankful to be apart of this program," said Branch.

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