Lots of familiar faces in Super Bowl

Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 3, 2008

Two weeks of pomp and circumstance finally ends tonight when the New York Giants face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.

While all Super Bowls are extremely popular and are the most watched sporting events in the world, this year’s game just might be the most watched Super Bowl ever.

The Patriots are going for the first perfect season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the first ever 19-0 season.

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Meanwhile, the Giants are seeking to pull off one of the bigger upsets in Super Bowl history, as they are 12-point underdogs going into the game.

But football fans in the Miss-Lou might have some other reasons for cheering during the game.

It might not have much to do with the teams that are playing, but what players are on the field.

This year’s Super Bowl features eight players from the three Division I Mississippi colleges and LSU.

The most high-profile athlete from the area is Ole Miss alum and Giants quarterback Eli Manning, who is following in his brother Peyton’s footsteps by leading his team to a Super Bowl.

Manning overcame a shaky regular season — he led the NFL with 20 interceptions — to play flawlessly in the playoffs.

He hasn’t thrown an interception in three playoff games and out dueled future Hall of Famer Brett Favre on the road in sub-zero temperatures in the NFC Championship Game.

However, Manning isn’t the only former Mississippi player on the Giants team.

Former Mississippi State cornerback Kevin Dockery will also suit up for the G-men.

While Manning was the No. 1 draft pick a few years ago, Dockery was signed as an undrafted free agent and has surprised everyone with his fine defensive play.

Not surprisingly, the LSU Tigers boast the most players on the two Super Bowl teams, with five.

Cornerback Corey Webster plays for the Giants while four former Tigers, running back Kevin Faulk, defensive end Jarvis Green, linebacker Eric Alexander and cornerback Randall Gay will line up for the Patriots in tonight’s game.

Faulk, in particular, has had a major impact in the Patriots run to perfection.

He does it not so much with his running, but with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.

Faulk provides a major outlet for quarterback Tom Brady to dump the ball to if his great wide receivers Randy Moss and Wes Welker are covered up.

That is part of the reason Brady has been able to have one of the greatest quarterbacking seasons in NFL history.

Let’s not forget the eighth and final player from an area college, Patriots linebacker and former Southern Miss standout Adalius Thomas.

Thomas, like Faulk, has won a Super Bowl ring, with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.

This is his first season with the Patriots after signing with them in free agency last off-season.

He anchors the Patriot linebacking corps along with Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau.

Whether you are a fan of Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Southern Miss or LSU, you’ve got a player you can cheer for when the game kicks off this evening.

So if you can’t choose a team to root for in tonight’s game, just throw on your old college sweatshirt, sit down and cheer for the guys who went to your school.

Jeff Edwards is the sports editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or jeff.edwards@natchezdemocrat.com.