In Super Bowl XLVI there are six players (the New York Giants have four and the New England Patriots have two) from both teams who spent their formative years in the state of Indiana. And four of these players are projected to start or play key roles in this contest. It is always a treat to show family or peers one grew up with or around, that this person was a success in their life but coming back home as a Super Bowl participant is even more sweeter.
A name familiar to anyone who has watched Giants games or Subway commercials is none other than JUSTIN TUCK, who was one of the better defensive linemen to go to Notre Dame in recent memory. Located in South Bend, Indiana no one has tell anyone about the illustrious history of Tuck’s alma mater other than the fact that is 3 hours away from Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of the upcoming Super Bowl. Tuck spent four years with the Fighting Irish where he was at his best in his junior year (2003). Tuck has been a consistent pest to offensive tackles and quarterbacks for the better part of his career with the Giants and this Super Bowl will be another event to show Fighting Irish fans that he made good.
His teammate left offensive tackle JAMES BREWER, just finished a four-year career (a three-year starter) for the Indiana Hoosiers. Not only that, Brewer grew up in Arlington which is only 22 minutes away from Lucas Oil Stadium. He was a resident of Indiana since 1987 (the year he was born) so one can bet there will be tons of people who will be tuning into this game in person or by television, to see what Brewer does in this game. But to date, he hasn’t played a down for the Giants even though he has been on their active roster for the entire season. But in this case, that may not be that important to Brewer as he has family and friends in Arlington or cities near there to visit. When God closes one door he opens another.
For the Patriots, MATT LIGHT is the most well known player to have played his college ball in the state of Indiana. He went to Purdue University (1 hour and 22 minutes away form Lucas Oil Stadium) where he blocked for Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees from 1998-2000. Light, besides TOM BRADY, is the only Patriot to still be with the team since their dynasty started back in 2001, but this Super Bowl will be his first in the state that helped turn around his football career. Purdue was more than a four year stop for Light’s career, that school helped him find his niche as a football player (left offensive tackle) and also during his days there Purdue became more visible in the conscious of American college football fans. Many times any exposure is good exposure because before Joe Tiller (Light and Brees’ head coach in college) got to Purdue their football program (let alone their offense) was an afterthought. There wasn’t a Purdue offensive player drafted before the third round since MIKE ALSTOTT was drafted in the second round in 1996. That high-powered Spread offense that Purdue ran when Light played there aided his visibility to NFL scouts and coaches, and now here he is today coming back to the state that made it all possible.
Starting right outside linebacker ROB NINKOVICH was a terror and high motor player at Purdue from 2004-2005 and he is one of three former Purdue players on the Patriots roster (NIKO KOUTOVIDES and the aforementioned Light are the others). He transferred from Joliet Junior College in Illinois to Purdue in 2004. He quickly acclimated himself to the Purdue defensive scheme as he notched 16 sacks and 71 tackles in his two years for the Boilermakers. He began his career with the New Orleans Saints in 2006 as a fifth-round draft pick. New Orleans (he played there again in 2008) and the Miami Dolphins (2007-2008) didn’t know what they had or maybe he was just a late bloomer, whatever the case Ninkovich is one of the Pats better and more athletic defenders.
Speaking of Koutovides, he had his own fan club at Purdue because of his style of play. He was in on almost 300 tackles as a member of the Boilermaker defense earlier last decade. No one had to start his motor for him there and his style of play translated to the NFL where he has been a career special teams player and alternate at inside and outside linebacker. For those who have seen him play at Purdue and then the NFL, it is a sight to see him play in a Super Bowl. as he is one of the more hard working and unselfish players to play this game (college and pro) in recent memory.
Last but certainly not least is SERGIO BROWN who also attended Notre Dame (2006-2009) where he was an alternate and occasional starter in the secondary. Brown figures to see prominent playing time in the Super Bowl as he has been a fill in/starter at free safety for most of the season. Brown has quietly put together a decent season for himself as he has been in 51 tackles (including playoffs), 1 interception, and 1 pass defensed.
So for review, there are six players in this Super Bowl who played their college football in the Hoosier State and one of them actually grew up there (Brewer). When a person—no matter what line of work they are in—sees another person(s) make it from their home state it can give them hope. After all, the state of Indiana did produce the Jackson 5 and Axl Rose from Guns N’ Roses.
There is more to Indiana than just basketball, hard working football players come from there too.