Paths lead to and from Super Bowl

One former Packer stunningly will play for the title while one current Packer could have had a shot at earning a coveted Super Bowl ring.

A chance to win a Super Bowl ring depends on so many things.

Luck, it seems, is chief among them.

Take Brandon Chillar and Sean McHugh, for example.

Chillar could have been in Tampa, Fla., this week. Chillar wanted to sign with the close-to-home Arizona Cardinals this offseason, and the defense-deprived Cardinals wanted him, too. But the Cardinals were in the process of trying to sign receiver Larry Fitzgerald to a long-term extension. Those talks dragged on, it took weeks to finalize the deal and lawyers needed to review the contract.

Tired of waiting to see if the Cardinals would be able to fit him under their salary cap, Chillar chose Green Bay. Seemed like a good decision at the time. The Cardinals were coming off of an 8-8 season, which was their best mark in 10 years. Green Bay, on the other hand, was coming off of a 13-3 season and had reached the NFC championship game.

Based on the losing history of the Cardinals and the winning history of the Packers, it's not surprising who's representing the NFC in Sunday's Super Bowl. Not surprising, but stunning. The words "Arizona Cardinals" and "Super Bowl" go together like peanut butter and motor oil. But it's true. The Cardinals are in the Super Bowl and the Packers bumbled and stumbled their way to 6-10.

While Chillar missed out on a trip to the Super Bowl, McHugh also missed out on a chance at history.

Good thing, too.

McHugh, who played for the Packers in one game in 2004 and failed to make the roster in 2005, played in nine games for the Detroit Lions in 2005 and 2006 before starting 12 games as a tight end and fullback for them in 2007.

He made the final roster in 2008 and thought he had a chance to be a starter again. Instead, before the first game, he was released.

If McHugh wasn't good enough to play for what was destined to become arguably the worst team in the history of pro sports, did that mean he wasn't good enough to play for anyone?

Not exactly. A few days later, he landed with the powerful Pittsburgh Steelers.

So long, 0-16. Hello, Super Bowl.

"That's the thing I'll never understand," McHugh told Yahoo Sports' Dan Wetzel. "They didn't think I was good enough to be on the worst team in the history of the NFL, but the people here think I'm good enough to help the team out and play in the Super Bowl. I go from getting cut from the Detroit Lions and thinking life's over and flash-forward and now you're getting ready to play for a Super Bowl."

McHugh, 26, is one of the guys who does the dirty work. In 15 regular-season games and two playoff contests, he's caught three passes for 24 yards and hasn't carried the ball as a reserve fullback. He's one of those guys who's overlooked and irreplaceable at the same time.

"You go from the lowest low to the highest high," he said.

It's a common theme. The year after Cardinals running back Edgerrin James left Indianapolis, the Colts won the Super Bowl. Now, the 30-year-old is finally getting his chance. Linebacker Clark Haggans, who was part of the champion Steelers of a few years ago, gets another crack this year with the Cardinals. Kurt Warner, who enjoyed a cup of coffee with the Packers at a training camp what seems like a lifetime ago, was supposed to be the veteran mentor to hot-shot draft pick Matt Leinart. Instead, Warner has cemented his NFL legend by leading the Cardinals to the precipice of a stunning championship.

Who knows, maybe next year will be the year when Lady Luck jumps on the shoulder of Chillar, wise old veterans like Donald Driver and Charles Woodson, or some free agent who decides to take a chance on what's building in Green Bay.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Lambeau Level forum.


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