The Super Bowl will feature at least one player who played football for Nebraska for the 26th consecutive year.
Former Husker defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh will represent the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta on Sunday, Feb. 3. Suh played for Nebraska from 2005-2009, finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting his senior year after posting 85 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and an interception.
In the NFC Championship Game against the New Orleans Saints, Suh recorded four tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks of Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Suh also knocked Brees down twice, narrowly missing another pair of sacks.
Joining Suh in the Super Bowl is Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. Taylor played for Nebraska in 2005 and 2006, throwing 45 touchdowns in his 26 games as the Husker starter. Since leaving Nebraska, he coached the Miami Dolphins as an assistant quarterbacks coach and interim offensive coordinator, and he has been with the Rams since 2017, being promoted from wide receivers coach to quarterbacks coach last season.
While not a former Husker, Lincoln native and Los Angeles kicker Greg Zuerlein played an important role in helping the Rams win. A graduate of Lincoln Pius X, Zuerlein scored the Rams’ first points, cutting their deficit to 13-3 in the second quarter. He also scored the game’s last points, sending a 57-yard kick through the uprights to give Los Angeles a walk-off victory.
GREG THE LEG FOR THE SUPER BOWL!!! pic.twitter.com/KxpDuVfkt0— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) January 21, 2019
By virtue of the New England Patriots’ overtime win over the Kansas City Chiefs on the AFC side of the bracket, both Super Bowl teams will have a former Husker on their roster.
Former Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead was instrumental in helping the Patriots weather the Chiefs’ second-half comeback. After not rushing for a single touchdown in the regular season, Burkhead ran in a pair of scores on Jan. 20.
His first gave New England a 31-28 lead after the extra point with 39 seconds left in regulation.
His second was even more important, punching his team’s ticket to the Super Bowl by punctuating the first, and only, drive of overtime. Burkhead took a handoff through the middle of the line and stretched the ball across the goal line while being tackled.
This marks the second straight year Burkhead has been one of two Nebraska Super Bowl representatives. He and the Patriots lost to former Husker safety Nathan Gerry and the Eagles 41-33 in last year’s game.
The Patriots have carried the streak through the last six years, keeping it alive through Vincent Valentine, who was a member of the 2016 and 2017 teams, as well as Alfonzo Dennard and Eric Martin, who played on the 2014 team.
New England also employed a former Husker in the 2003, 2004 and 2007 Super Bowls. Offensive lineman Russ Hochstein was on all three of those teams, and was joined by LeKevin Smith on the 2007 unit.
Since the start of the decade, games featuring only a single former Nebraska player or single team with multiple players have typically ended with those former Huskers and their teams receiving rings. That was the case in the 2010 through 2012 seasons and the 2014 through 2016 seasons.