Check out all of the former Alabama Football greats who still have a shot at playing in Super Bowl 50!
Well folks we’re down to the final four in the NFL which means there are only 3 meaningful football games left until September (no, the Pro Bowl does not count and it should be stopped immediately). The NFL Conference Championship games take place on Sunday afternoon and Alabama Football will be well represented on those teams. The final four teams left are the Arizona Cardinals, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and the New England Patriots.
There are 7 total players who were #BuiltByBama remaining in the NFL Playoffs. 4 of those are starters and key contributors on their teams while the other three are more of reserves at this point.
The first game on Sunday is the NFC Championship between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. There will be 4 players from the Capstone on the field, two from each side.
The Arizona Cardinals have starting safety Rashad Johnson and Defensive End Ed Stinson. Johnson was a former walk on at Alabama who left as an All-American. He was drafted by the Cardinals in 2009 and has been a key part of their defense ever since. Johnson once lost part of his finger in the middle of a game in 2013, and he kept playing. If that’s not an Alabama player for you I don’t know what is.
Ed Stinson was drafted in the fifth round by the Cardinals in 2014. Although he hasn’t cracked the full time starting lineup he has seen plenty of game action. This year Stinson had 11 tackles and 1 sack. He had three more tackles last week against the Green Bay Packers. Maybe he’ll get a chance to sack Cam Newton this weekend!
Also, Cardinals Head Coach Bruce Arians spent some time at the Capstone as well. Arians was the Running Backs coach from 81-82 and then returned as the offensive coordinator in 1997.
The Carolina Panthers have two players from the U of A on their squad but unfortunately their most important player is from Auburn; which is why you should not root for the Carolina Panthers. However if you choose to root for the Panthers you have two perfectly good reasons to in starting safety Roman Harper and Wide Receiver Kevin Norwood.
Harper has been a starter for the Saints and now the Panthers. Harper left the Capstone in 2006 when he was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the second round; where he played until 2014 when he signed with the Panthers. Harper has been a key part to a 15-1 season for the Panthers tallying 73 sacks and playing good coverage d.
Although Norwood hasn’t caught his big NFL break yet, he’ll still be on the sidelines on Sunday. You probably won’t get a chance to cheer a great Kevin Norwood catch; since he’s only had one target this season (no catches), but he’s still a part of the team and will be there if the Panthers need him to step up.
The final matchup of the weekend is the New England Patriots traveling to Denver to take on the Broncos. This game will feature three former Crimson Tide standouts. Two for the Pats and one for the Broncos.
The two former Alabama players for the New England Patriots are star linebacker Dont’a Hightower and Tight End Michael Williams. Michael Williams may be a tight end for the Patriots but he hasn’t exactly been Rob Gronkowski to this point in his career. Williams has been back and forth between Tight End and Offensive Line in his career, although he did catch 3 balls for 26 yards this season.
Dont’a Hightower starred for Alabama Football from 2008-2011 and was one of the best players of the Saban era. He has been a starter for the Pats throughout his career and was a key part of their Super Bowl winning team last year. Hightower has been dealing with a knee issue but he should be able to go on Sunday.
The Denver Broncos only have one former Alabama Football player on their roster, but he’s an important one. Evan Mathis; the team’s starting left guard played at the University of Alabama from 2000-2004. Mathis hasn’t had his most productive season this year, but he returned to the starting lineup last week and should stay there for this weekend’s matchup with the Patriots. Bonus points to Mathis for being from Alabama (Homewood) as well!
Evan Mathis is back in the starting lineup.
Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
It’s good to know that no matter what happens this weekend, the University of Alabama will be well represented in Super Bowl 50. I’ll gladly say Roll Tide to that my friends!