Nebraska football has put at least one player in the Super Bowl for the last twenty consecutive years. That’s a remarkable streak, given that Nebraska is not usually thought of as a school that churns out NFL talent. That record, according to Randy Gregory on Huskers.com, is six better than the next-closest rival. In total, 52 Nebraska players have made a total of 67 appearances in the Super Bowl.
So when I saw that statistic, it got me thinking. What would it look like if we took all the Nebraska players in the Super Bowl and made an all-star team out of them? As I went through the project, it was interesting (and at times surprising) to see at what positions Nebraska alums were thin and where they were plentiful.
Included in the rosters are the Super Bowls each player was in, the year of the NFL season, and the teams the player represented. Unfortunately, if we carry the project to its logical conclusion, the head coach of the team would be Bill Callahan (XXXVII, 2001, Oakland Raiders). So while the team might be pretty good, I’m not sure how much I would stake on the Nebraska all-star squad winning the game. Thankfully, though, a particularly smart and handsome analyst has already told us Callahan wouldn’t throw the game.
Unfortunately, I had to get a little creative, moving Adam Treu from center to tackle to fill out the line. For Nebraska’s history with the Pipeline, it is remarkable that only these five players carried the scarlet-and-cream flag into the Super Bowl.
C – Mark Tinglehof (IV, 1969; VIII, 1973; IX, 1974; XI, 1976; Minnesota Vikings)
G – Russ Hochstein (XXXVIII, 2003; XXXIX, 2004; XLII, 2007; New England Patriots)
G – Brenden Stai (XXX, 1995, Pittsburgh Steelers)
T – Carl Nicks (XLIV, 2009, New Orleans Saints)
T – Adam Treu (XXXVII, 2002, Oakland Raiders)
Ordinarily, appearances in multiple Super Bowls would bump a player up the depth chart. But in this case I couldn’t start David Humm, who was in two Super Bowls, but as a reserve, over Vince Ferragamo, who started for the Rams. Roger Craig might have been the biggest no-brainer in the entire roster.
QB – Vince Ferragamo (XIV, 1979, Los Angeles Rams)
RB – Roger Craig (XIX, 1984; XXIII, 1988; XXIV, 1989; San Francisco 49ers)
FB – Tom Rathman (XXIII, 1988; XXIV, 1989; San Francisco 49ers)
QB – David Humm (XI, 1976; XVIII, 1983; Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders)
RB – Andra Franklin (XVII, 1982, Miami Dolphins)
Not surprisingly for a team that made its history with an option rushing attack, receivers were the hardest spot to fill on the Super Bowl all-star team. Only two true receivers (Irving Fryar at wideout and Jamie Williams at tight end) have played in the big game. I had to find other players to press into service to fill out the lineup, then.
I chose Prince Amukamara as one wideout, given that he excelled as a receiver as well as a defensive back in high school. And I chose Brandon Jackson as a h-back type of receiver because he had more receptions than Calvin Jones (my other running back option) in his college career and played in Bill Callahan’s west coast offense which would have made him more comfortable with passing concepts.
WR – Irving Fryar (XX, 1985, New England Patriots)
WR – Prince Amukamara (XLVI, 2011, New York Giants)
WR – Brandon Jackson (XLV, 2010, Green Bay Packers)
TE – Jamie Williams (XXIV, 1989, San Francisco 49ers)
For a team known primarily for offense, it is the Blackshirts that are the best represented in the Super Bowl roster. Even with starters and reserves, a number of alums from Dear Old Nebraska U didn’t make the cut on this all-star team.
DE – Grant Wistrom (XXXIV, 1999; XXXVI, 2001; St. Louis Rams; XL, 2005, Seattle Seahawks)
DE – Neil Smith (XXXII, 1997; XXXII, 1998; Denver Broncos)
DT – Christian Peter (XXXV, 2000, New York Giants)
DT – John Parrella (XXIX, 1994, San Diego Chargers; XXXVII, 2001, Oakland Raiders)
DE – Mike Rucker (XXXVIII, 2003, Carolina Panthers)
DE – Bill Barnett (XIX, 1984, Miami Dolphins)
DT – Henry Waechter (XX, 1985 Chicago Bears)
DT – Le Kevin Smith (XLII, 2007, New England Patriots)
Linebacker is the position most spoiled for choice on this all-star squad, with five players being left off the roster even when the position goes six deep. Sorting out the starters, reserves and cuts for linebacker was the most challenging task of the all-star project.
LB – Bob Nelson (XV, 1980; XVIII, 1983; Los Angeles Raiders)
LB – Marc Munford (XXIV, 1989, Denver Broncos)
LB – Willie Harper (XVI, 1981, San Francisco 49ers)
LB – Donta Jones (XXX, 1995, Pittsburgh Steelers)
LB – Scott Shanle (XLIV, 2009, New Orleans Saints)
LB – George Andrews (XIV, 1979, Los Angeles Rams)
If linebacker was the most challenging position, secondary came a close (pardon the pun) second. Even with moving Prince Amukamara to wide receiver to squeeze him onto the field, a number of Nebraska alums didn’t make the all-star squad.
CB – Ralph Brown (XLII, 2008, Arizona Cardinals)
CB – Tyrone Williams (XXXI, 1996; XXXII, 1997; Green Bay Packers)
S – Mike Minter (XXXVIII, 2003, Carolina Panthers)
S – Mike Brown (XLI, 2006, Chicago Bears)
CB – Michael Booker (XXXIII, 1998, Atlanta Falcons)
CB – Tony Veland (XXXII, 1997, Denver Broncos)
S – Eric Johnson (XXXVII, 2002, Oakland Raiders)
S – Warren Powers (II, 1967, Oakland Raiders)
UPDATE: In an earlier version, Ralph Brown was listed as both a starter and a reserve. He's good, but he's not that good. Thanks to the commenters to point out my error.
Yes, special teams gets some attention as well, for two reasons. One, it lets me put this year’s participant, Sam Koch, on the roster. And two, it gives me an excuse to include another member of my beloved Seahawks on the squad.
PK – Josh Brown (XL, 2005, Seattle Seahawks)
P – Sam Koch (XLVII, 2012, Baltimore Ravens)
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