Football is a numbers game – wins and losses, yards gained, punting averages, pass percentages, attendance and millions generated by the SEC Network.
Here’s one you probably haven’t heard but have undoubtedly eagerly awaited, the number of former Volunteers in Super Bowls past: 96. Another number goes with that one: 7.
Tennessee ranks seventh in the talent supply chain for the NFL extravaganza. Miami is first with 117. Southern Cal is one behind, followed by UCLA (108), Michigan and Penn State (104 each) and Notre Dame (101).
Quarterback Peyton Manning carried the Vol flag to four Super Bowls. Linebacker Jack Reynolds and defensive back Bill Bates played in three. There are secrets to such success – get drafted by or traded to a good team.
Fourteen former Vols played in two Super Bowls: punters Ron Widby and Craig and Britton Colquitt; wide receivers Alvin Harper and Marcus Nash; offensive linemen Mickey Marvin, Raleigh McKenzie, Bruce Wilkerson and Chris Scott; defensive warriors Reggie White, Leonard Little, Jerod Mayo, Malik Jackson and Tony McDaniel.
On the flip side are other great players who never got a chance. Steve DeLong, Bob Johnson, Frank Emanuel and Chip Kell are in the College Football Hall of Fame but didn’t get closer to a Super Bowl than good seats for observation.
Bill Anderson played in the first Super Bowl, 1967, with Green Bay.
Steve Kiner had a two-yard kickoff return for Dallas in Super Bowl V. He made the cover of Sports Illustrated trying in vain to block Baltimore’s winning field goal.
Kiner remembers the pregame carnival atmosphere. He said it seemed very strange.
“I kept wondering what all the excitement was about. We were just going to play another football game. It was no big deal.
“I personified young and dumb. I had no sense of time, no perspective about professional football or the history of it. I was playing and having a great time.
“After the loss, a great sense of missed opportunity lingered for years.” Eddie Brown had an interception for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV.
Reynolds achieved legendary status as the Pied Piper of the San Francisco 49ers. He often surprised teammates but actually stunned them in 1982. Hacksaw was primed and ready long before kickoff. He boarded the bus from the hotel to the stadium already in full uniform.
CBS analyst John Madden loved it. He said “Boom!”
Stanley Morgan had six receptions for New England in Super Bowl XX. Willie Gault had only four for Chicago but produced 129 yards.
Alvin Harper became the first Vol to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl, XXVII, a 45-yard pass from Troy Aikman. They played for the Cowboys.
Reggie White had three sacks for minus 23 in Super Bowl XXXI. Jamal Lewis carried 27 times for 102 yards and one touchdown on behalf of the Baltimore Ravens in XXXV.
Charley Garner, coming out of the backfield, caught seven passes for Oakland in XXXVII.
Manning as a Colt was MVP of Super Bowl XLI. Manning, last February as a Bronco at age 39, was the oldest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl. Five sacks may have encouraged him to retire and do more and better commercials.Marvin West invites reader commentary.
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