The Super Bowl is in New Orleans this year, and will take place almost one year to the day that the New Orleans Hornets had the brilliant idea of having Will Farrell introduce the starting lineup (and little-known facts about them) in front of entertained fans. Remember that video? When he said Emeka Okafor majored in English and minored in love, and Jarrett Jack has a dream of becoming a rodeo clown? Well for this year’s Super Bowl, I decided to take this one step further and include the most interesting/obscure/unintentionally funny trivia about each of the players starting this Sunday (except all of these facts are true). And since this is Super Bowl 47, why not have 47 little-known facts? And honestly, wouldn’t you forgive Roger Goodell if he personally hired Will Farrell (or Jeff Vuvuzela) to introduce the Super Bowl 47 rosters with these tidbits?
Ladies and gentlemen, your Super Bowl 47 starters:
1. San Francisco LT Joe Staley loves karaoke. Some of his favorite songs to sing are “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Hero” by Enrique Iglesias, and “A Whole New World” from Aladdin (which he once sang in a duet with Alex Smith’s wife).
2. LG Mike Iupati was born in American Samoa and learned English as a second language. He and his wife, who is a 9-time BMX bicycle world champion racer, have a son named KoaAlii’ and two dogs.
3. C Jonathan Goodwin is a classic video game aficionado. He owns an original Nintendo system and regularly plays Super Mario Brothers, Duck Hunt, Double Dribble, Tecmo Bowl, and Baseball All-Stars.
4. Last month, RG Alex Boone requested that the San Francisco Zoo name its 3-year-old black rhino after him. At his most recent trip to the zoo, he got to personally feed a giraffe.
5. RT Anthony Davis broke his finger in half after the 49ers beat the Saints this season. Seriously. Like in two pieces. Like a stick. Look.
6. QB Colin Kaepernick owns over 250 DVDs and loves Disney movies.
7. RB Frank Gore has nothing interesting about him. Really. This isn’t just a give-up. I defy you to Google search “Frank Gore trivia” and come up with anything interesting. He even says he doesn’t have any hobbies in this interview. But remember, it’s those boring guys that are the most frightening.
8. RB Anthony Dixon once bailed hay as a part-time job.
9. WR Michael Crabtree owns so many shoes that he has lost count. He stores his shoes in his house and his parents’ garages.
10. WR Randy Moss’ two favorite rappers are 8 Ball and Master P.
11. When TE Vernon Davis was in college, he was an art studio major. He currently owns an interior design company, and was recently hired by teammates Ray McDonald and Dashon Goldson to redecorate their houses.
12. DE Ray McDonald says he has no hobbies except hanging out at the practice facility. He is the only player on either team to have won a high school championship, college championship (with Florida), and potentially a Super Bowl championship.
13. DE Justin Smith loves to eat sushi before playing. His favorite cartoon character is Superman.
14. NT Isaac Sopoaga’s uncle is the first government official in the history of American Samoa to have a PhD.
15. 30 years ago, OLB Ahmad Brooks’ father, Perry Brooks, won Super Bowl XVII as a DT for the Washington Redskins.
16. OLB Aldon Smith did not play an organized sport until he was 15 years old.
17. ILB NaVorro Bowman was born on the exact same day and year as Percy Harvin.
18. ILB Patrick Willis grew up a Cowboys fan and had a passionate hatred for the 49ers.
19. Every morning, CB Carlos Rogers neatly folds his clothes and bedsheets and places them at the foot of his bed. He routinely cleans dust from under his bed.
20. CB Tarell Brown was fined $5,250 by the NFL this season for wearing these redsleeves under his jersey. He tweeted the letter the NFL sent him, but in doing so, accidently also tweeted out his username and password.
21. When he was 6 years old, SS Donte Whitner was seriously injured after getting run over by a car. For the next three months, he wore a body cast and his mother carted him around in a wagon.
22. FS Dashon Goldson calls his mom on the phone at least once every day.
23. From 1997 to 1998, K David Akers worked as a substitute teacher at Westport Middle School in Louisville. Later, after his wife was relocated to Georgia, he worked part time as a waiter at Longhorn Steakhouse.
24. Baltimore LT Michael Oher apparently did not like the movie The Blind Side because it portrayed him as lacking knowledge about football.
25. LG Marshal Yanda’s mom runs a day care in Iowa City, Iowa. His sister, Katie, is the hotel director at the Grand Falls Casino Resort in Larchwood, Iowa.
26. C Matt Birk is a terrible dancer.
27. RG Bobbie Williams was originally drafted by the Eagles in 2000. Of all the offensive linemen drafted during Andy Reid’s tenure, Williams has had more starts than anyone (although only 12 of his 136 starts were with Philadelphia).
28. RT Kelechi Osemele went to Iowa State University, blasted the Cyclones’ fight song at Super Bowl 47 media day, and chides Iowa Hawkeyes alum Marshal Yanda whenever he can get a chance.
29. WR Anquan Boldin collects and takes care of turtles.
30. WR Torrey Smith’s favorite pastime outside of football is fishing.
31. TE Dennis Pitta is married to the sister of the wife of Arizona Cardinals’ backup QB Max Hall.
32. QB Joe Flacco majored in accounting. This is a picture from his wedding in 2011.
33. RB Ray Rice goes to bed every night no later than 9:30pm.
34. In spite of going undrafted and being cut twice, FB Vonta Leach is now the highest-paid fullback in the NFL.
35. DE Parnell McPhee went to the same high school as Anquan Boldin.
36. Believe it or not, DE Haloti Ngata has always lived in the continental United States.
37. NT Ma’ake Kemoeatu missed his last college game, the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl, as a result of the NCAA suspending him for buying two math books for his younger brother using scholarship money.
38. OLB Courtney Upshaw grew up in a house with no running water or electricity. When he arrived at the University of Alabama, he had practically nothing except for the clothes he was wearing.
39. OLB Paul Kruger may have the most awesome tee-shirt in the history of the universe.
40. Like Michael Crabtree, ILB Dannell Ellerbe owns more shoes than he can keep count of. Currently, he is running out of closet space. When he buys a new pair, he’ll post pictures of them to his Instagram account (here’s the link).
41. ILB Ray Lewis’ first car was a beige 1994 Honda Accord. His favorite movies include Scarface, New Jack City, House Party 3, and Friday.
42. CB Corey Graham recently called the prospect of a Destiny’s Child reunion “amazing.”
43. CB Cary Wiliams is one of two alumni from Division II Washburn University (Topeka, KS) playing in the Super Bowl (the other being Michael Wilhoitle of the 49ers). The University of Alabama also has two alumni playing in Super Bowl 47.
44. Along with his business partner, former Eagles and Texans RB Ryan Moats, SS Bernard Pollard has recently released an iPhone app called Bourre. The app is based on a well-known card game frequently played by professional athletes. It is probably most famous for being the game that led to an altercation between Gilbert Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, leading to Arenas bringing four handguns into the locker room.
45. While at the University of Miami, FS Ed Reed was the Big East champion in the javelin.
46. K Justin Tucker can rap and beatbox. His favorite TV network is the Discovery Channel.
And one final tidbit . . .
47. Growing up, the Harbaugh brothers’ favorite TV show was The Rockford Files.
OK, OK, I fudged a little on that last one. We know that Jim loved The Rockford Files but John has never mentioned it. But you have to figure that at some point on those beloved camping trips that have been widely reported this week, where Uncle Bob brought his plug-in TV, Jim most have tried to sell his younger brother on the suave sophistication of James Garner. According to Wikipedia, James “Jimmy” Scott Rockford lived in a mobile home in southern California, wore off-the-rack clothing, and does his best to avoid fights. Who wouldn’t watch this show that 50 percent of the country and 100 percent of the Ravens and 49ers lineups have never heard of? Also according to Wikipedia, James Garner’s real-life brother, Jack, made 23 appearances on the show, ranging from a policeman, gas station attendant, and a stranger in the bathroom.
This might have been a bigger story had there not already been about 4,000 more interesting storylines heading into this Super Bowl. Will Ray Lewis pull an Elway-Bettis-Strahan-sorta MJ and go out on top? Will Colin Kaepernick win the Super Bowl in his 10th start as QB? (Based on #6 on the above list, he’ll be the first to announce merrily that he’s going to Disneyland). Will Ray Lewis creatively incorporate deer antlers into his dance? (Too soon). Will Paul Kruger and Justin Smith get into a no-holds-barred, WWE-style brawl that will inevitably involve chair smashing and missing teeth? Will it be revealed that Bernard Pollard is actually a cyborg created by agitated post-spygate New York fans to systematically destroy Boston sports? Will it be revealed that Jim Caldwell has actually been dead since 2010? Will Michael Crabtree and Dannell Ellerbe (#9 and 40) miss the kickoff because they were distracted at the Bourbon Street Foot Locker? And most importantly, which coach will give his brother an atomic wedgie during the postgame handshake?
And somehow in the middle of this chaos, there is a game to be played. It’s an interesting matchup that hopefully won’t be as boring as the Thanksgiving night Harbowl last year (16-6 Ravens, and believe me, it wasn’t just the tryptophan that made viewers fall asleep). But for me, the result is pretty clear. In fact, I don’t even know why people are debating this, except that NFL Network needs something to broadcast for the 320 hours leading up to the game. The result will be that by the end of Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens will be Super Bowl champions. If you don’t want to read any more of my stupid writing, just consider these brief facts:
- Combined playoff wins by their quarterback: Baltimore 8, San Francisco 2.
- Combined starting record of quarterback (including postseason): Flacco 62-30, Kaepernick 7-2.
- Combined record of Harbaughs (including postseason): John 62-30, Jim 27-8-1.
- Combined playoff wins of opponent quarterbacks faced in this postseason: Baltimore 26, San Francisco 4.
- Against common opponents: Baltimore beat the Giants 33-14. San Francisco lost to the Giants (at home) 26-3. Baltimore beat the Patriots twice. San Francisco beat the Patriots, but nearly blew a 28-point second half lead.
- Performance of kickers (including postseason): Justin Tucker (23 years old) 91.4% FG, David Akers (38 years old) 68.1% FG.
- Pre-Super Bowl controversy: Ravens (Ray Lewis PED scandal which has been continuously dismissed), 49ers (Chris Culliver homophobic comments – would not have been nearly as big a story had it happened on a team not playing in San Francisco).
You can chart various statistics indicating why one team should beat the other. But more
than any Super Bowl I can remember, this is a matchup that’s more about the “eye test.” Which team has looked better? Which team looks more confident? Which team looks like they should be more feared? Sometimes that kind of empirical logic can be flimsy in the era of sabermetrics, but it’s pretty clear to me that the Ravens are the answer to those questions. As a Patriots fan, I knew that Flacco would burn us with long completions to Torrey Smith sooner or later. I knew that Bernard Pollard would violate our receivers, and Ngata and Kruger would be a force on the defensive line. And after the Denver game – a game where at various points they seemed grossly overmatched, and yet never allowed the deficit to swell larger than a single touchdown – how do can you possibly declare this team dead? If I were a 49ers fan, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with any lead less than 14 points.
We can talk about the vaunted San Francisco defense, but the truth is, in the last two playoffs, they’ve surrendered an average of 27.5 points and 413.25 total yards per game. Two weeks ago, when they were on the road in a dome, they gave up 477 total yards to the Falcons, and for a while, Matt Ryan was on pace for a 500-yard passing day. Kaepernick has remained cool under pressure (including deficits of 14-7 to the Packers and 17-0 to the Falcons), but has been helped immensely by a defense that has shut down teams in the second half. In their three playoff games this year, the Ravens have outscored opponents 52-17.
I actually really love the 49ers and have rooted for them most of the year, but the 4-point spread and the near-universal picks by the sports world talking heads would make me queasy. It felt like very few people were talking about San Francisco heading into the playoffs. Most people had memories of the embarrassing 29-point loss to the Seahawks and the fact that Colin Kaepernick was basically an unproven rookie. Then came the Green Bay game (against whom most people believed the Niners would lose to) and Kaepernick and the offense exploded . . . and suddenly they’re four-point favorites over a team that just beat Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road? Against a team that held them to 170 yards and 6 points last year? Against a team that is dead-set on seeing the franchise’s all-time greatest player end his career as a champion?
Both of these teams are talented and whoever wins deserves to be champion. It wasn’t that the Broncos, Patriots, and Falcons were upset – they were beat by legitimately better teams. But the Ravens’ path has been longer, more impressive, and more deserved. You don’t get this far and suddenly stumble at the finish line (unless you’re the 2007 Patriots). The journey is nearly over for Ray, and like he did 12 years ago and like he’s done so many times, it is his time to dominate. And it doesn’t take “Jimmy” Scott Rockford to figure out that mystery.
Prediction: Baltimore 27, San Francisco 21.
Some Super Bowl over/under/whatever prop bets:
Number of CBS commercial breaks: 4,177½
Number of advertisements for CBS comedies: 900½
Number of bland, inseparable CBS comedies that are actually the same show: All of them
Number of stupid comments by Phil Simms in the fourth quarter: 68
Number of Papa Johns pizzas personally delivered by Peyton Manning and Papa: 2½
Number of split-screens of John and Jim Harbaugh: More than Peyton and Eli.
Length of Alicia Keys’ National Anthem: Shorter than Ray Lewis’ emotional postgame interview with Sal Paolantonio.
Brothers who could beat up the Harbaughs: The Affleck brothers.
Brothers the Harbaughs could beat up: The Coen brothers, the Van Gundys, Frasier and Niles Crane
Other illegitimate Harbaugh brothers not mentioned by the media: Marky, Ricky, Danny, Terry, Mikey, Davey, Timmy, Tommy, Joey, Robby, Johnny, and Brian.
Who would win the 2012 Super Bowl of movie taste between Terry and Todd: Todd, since Terry liked Silver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, and The Avengers so much. But if it was 2011, it would be Terry, who didn’t have Margaret on his list because he had the good sense to not see it.