Feb. 1, 2014
By Jon Cooper
The Good Word
Georgia Tech fans will have more than a casual rooting interest when Super Bowl XLVIII kicks off tonight at 6:30 p.m. ET., as former Yellow Jacket wide receiver Demaryius Thomas will be a key part of the AFC Champion Denver Broncos record-setting offense.
Known as “Bay-Bay” when he was a dominating receiver on the Flats from 2007-09, Thomas will continue what has become a Georgia Tech tradition of having a representative in the Super Bowl. He’ll be the 35th Jacket to play for NFL superiority, encompassing 24 of the 48 games.
Tech participation has really picked up since 1990, as a Yellow Jacket has been present in 17 of the last 24 Super Bowls, 10 of the last 12 years and in each of the last seven.
Thomas will attempt to join the 16 previous Georgia Tech champions — Bill Curry is the only Yellow Jacket to win more than one, doing so with the 1967 Green Bay Packers and 1971 Baltimore Colts — and give Tech a member of the Super Bowl champion for the sixth time in seven years. Overall, teams with a Jacket have gone 17-23 in the big game.
In the 48 years of the Super Bowl’s existence there have been some unique situations involving the Yellow Jackets.
On eight occasions, either the AFC or NFC champion has gone into the game with more than one former Yellow Jacket on its roster. That included the 1980 Los Angeles Rams, and 2008 New York Giants, who each had three — the ’80 Rams had starting offensive left guard Kent Hill, receiver Drew Hill and linebacker Joe Harris, while the ’08 Giants had starting strong safety James Butler, starting tight end Michael Matthews and linebacker Gerris Wilkinson.
Other teams with multiple Jackets were the 1991 and ’94 Buffalo Bills, which included offensive lineman John Davis, who started at right guard in XXV then left guard in XXVIII, and DE/LB Mike Pike, the ’97 Green Bay Packers, with offensive lineman Gary Brown and running back Dorsey Levens, the 2000 Tennessee Titans, with linebacker Delaunta Cameron and center Craig Page, the 2010 New Orleans Saints had DE Tony Hargrove and safety Chris Reis and, most recently, the 2012 New England Patriots, with LB Gary Guyton and DT Darryl Richard. Of those teams, the ’08 Giants, the ’97 Packers, and the 2010 Saints came away victorious.
The Super Bowl also has seen five scenarios of Jacket against Jacket.
The Intra-Tech hostilities began in 1984, when safety Don Bessillieu’s L.A. Raiders routed guard Roy Simmons’ Washington Redskins. In 1997, Brown and Levens were part of the Packers, which took care of the Patriots.
One of the most unique of these Tech-on-Tech games came in 2000, when center Curtis McGee’s St. Louis Rams barely held off Cameron and Page’s Tennessee Titans, in the last Super Bowl played at the Georgia Dome. In 2009, linebacker Keyaron Fox’s Steelers pulled an unforgettable victory out of the fire over the Arizona Cardinals, coached by Ken Whisenhunt, then, the next year, in the most recent meeting of Jacket vs. Jacket, Hargrove and Reis were part of the New Orleans Saints team that knocked off Wheeler and the Indianapolis Colts. Reis played the role of unsung hero — unrecognized, actually — in the Saints’ win, as he recovered the New Orleans’ momentum-changing onside kick to start the second half. Though Reis covered the ball, the recovery was credited to linebacker Jonathan Casillas. Hargrove added three tackles, two solos, while Wheeler started at left outside linebacker for the Colts.
Four Yellow Jackets have been to multiple Super Bowls, with Curry and Levens, getting to the most, each playing in three, and each making it with two different teams.
Curry went 2-1 — he’s Tech’s only multiple-Super Bowl winner — playing three times in five years, starting at center in all three games, winning with Green Bay in Super Bowl I, then splitting with Baltimore, losing in Super Bowl III then winning in Super Bowl V, the game that has the distinction of being the coldest Super Bowl — a distinction to be challenged tonight.
Levens went 1-2, splitting with the Green Bay Packers, which beat New England in 1997 before losing in 1998. He led the Pack in rushing yards in both games, and in ’98, added six pass receptions for 56 yards. He later played with the 2005 Philadelphia Eagles, which lost to the Patriots.
The other two multiple-Super Bowl Yellow Jackets were Davis, and Pike, who were teammates with the Buffalo Bills in `91 and `94.
Thomas will be the second teammate of Peyton Manning to play in a Super Bowl — Wheeler was first Super Bowl XLIV — and has already earned the distinction of being the first Yellow Jacket to represent the Broncos in the Super Bowl (the Giants and Rams, counting Los Angeles and St. Louis, have had four Jackets, the most of any NFL team).
He also will try to become the first Yellow Jacket to score a touchdown in a Super Bowl, something he did 15 times in his three seasons on The Flats, 14 times during the 2013 regular season and twice more in this year’s playoffs.
And wouldn’t it be something if he becomes the first Jacket to win Super Bowl MVP!
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