The Patriots and the Rams get set to play for football’s “Ultimate Priz”e Sunday night in Atlanta. And, as is usually the case, there are plenty of Florida connections to this year’s game.
Probably the most prominent is former Jaguars number one pick, Dante Fowler of St Petersburg, who was traded to the Rams in October. Fowler, ended up being a contributor as a pass-rusher, at times, down the stretch of the regular season. However, he saved arguably the biggest moment of his career for the overtime against the Saints in the NFC Championship Game. Fowler hit quarterback Drew Brees (above), as he was trying to throw downfield and the ball wobbled into the hands of a Rams defensive back for an interception.
A short time later, Greg Zuerlein made a 57-yard field goal to put the Rams into the Super Bowl.
One more “business part” of today’s game, Fowler is due to be an unrestricted free agent coming up, as the Jaguars did not pick up the fifth year option of his contract. So, the Rams now have decisions to make about keeping him for 2019 and beyond. A huge performance against Tom Brady and the Patriots may help to persuade them even more, to put big money in front of Fowler.
A trio of high school teammates at Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas will play on the field at Mercedes-Benz Stadium together and against each other. The Patriots star pass-catching back James White, who was the Super Bowl 51 MVP for New England, is joined buy teammate-receiver Phillip Dorsett. And, on the other side of the ball is Rams defensive back, Lamarcus Joyner.
First, White, who played collegiately at Michigan State, set the Super Bowl record for catches in a game and holds the distinction of the only player ever to win the Super Bowl game with an overtime touchdown. This, as New England capped off their miraculous come back from being down 28 – 3 in the third quarter against Atlanta two years ago.
Dorset was a decorated High School star at Aquinas, who had a good career at the University of Miami. He’s had modest success in the NFL, but did have a very memorable moment with a first-half touchdown catch from Brady in the AFC Championship win over the Chiefs two weeks ago.
And as we wrote this week, Joyner is seeking to become the fith member of the 2013 Seminoles to win a National Championship and then a Super Bowl. After being a solid Defender at FSU Joyner has excelled the last couple of Seasons under new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips scheme
Fellow Rams defensive back Sam Shields is from Sarasota and was a highly-touted high school prospect who went to Miami. He was an All-ACC player with the Hurricanes and has had a decent NFL career. Part of it has been marred by concussions and shields has recently made a comeback to the NFL overcoming them to play in Los Angeles.
Another Florida connection is New England offensive tackle Trent Brown, who played two years for the Gators. Brown is part of a nondescript New England offensive line that has played fantastic football in front of Brady specifically throughout this season and the postseason.
Brown is a former San Francisco 49er from the Patriots got in a trade a couple of years ago.
Finally, Rams thirty-three-year-old coach Sean McVay will make history Sunday, as the youngest head coach ever in a Super Bowl. And he has ties to Tampa Bay, where McVay began his coaching career as an intern under Jon Gruden in 2008 with the Bucs.
It took McVay just 10 years to go from that position to becoming a head coach in Los Angeles and in his second season, has already put himself and his team on the brink of making history.
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