Super Bowl XLIV is upon us and most of the talk is about Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. But sports contributor Ibrahim Abdul-Matin profiles four players you may not have heard much about.
Larry Coyer: Defensive Coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts
It's his first year and the results speak for themselves. The Colts are in the Super Bowl even without a stingy defense — they get stingier when it counts. Coyer’s style has taken a mixture of veterans and guys of differing skill levels and football pedigrees along with his near 42-years of coaching experience at all levels to do what coaches do best — teach — and create a cohesive unit able to perform when it matters most.
Jahri Evans: Offensive Guard for the New Orleans Saints
Jahri Evans said recently, “I had a bad injury going into college. After my first year in college I got hurt again. That was kind of the low for me. I told myself, 'I got through the first one and I’ll get through this one.' I knew how to bounce back from it.” He bounced into a small Division II school, Bloomsburg, Penn., and caught the attention of NFL scouts. Eventually, the Saints took a chance on him. “I remember my old coach saying when we first got there, [that we were] a whole bunch of misfits put together…They really tried to change the culture of the organization.” Now they are poised to do the impossible.
Two Kickers: Youth vs. Wisdom
For all their veteran leadership, speedy receivers, and ultra-slick and skilled quarterback the New Orleans Saints would not be here if it were not for the overtime heroics of the rookie from Oklahoma, Garrett Hartley. He drilled a 40-yarder to send the Saints to their first Super Bowl ever. This is nothing short of a miracle time for Hartley, who did not even start kicking for the Saints until week 13. He's young, accurate, and riding a wave of confidence and emotion — all from a guy who initially was a soccer player.
The Colts kicker, Matt Stover is the oldest player ever to be in a Super Bowl. He is a journeyman kicker with a Super Bowl under his belt (he played with the Baltimore Ravens in 2000). At 42 years old he knows how special this moment is. "I was signed after they were 5-0," he said on Tuesday. "People around me were saying, 'You know you have a good shot at winning the Super Bowl,' and I was like, 'Why do you think I'm here?'"