Thursday, January 24, 2013
Clarifying the Big Ten's Super Bowl streaks
By Adam Rittenberg
Nebraska fans and Purdue fans might not like this post, but here goes ...
Several Husker and Boiler backers tweeted me or sent me links showing that their programs boast the longest streaks of former players reaching the Super Bowl. Nebraska leads the FBS with a 20-year streak, followed by Purdue with 14 consecutive years.
Are those streaks accurate? Technically, yes. But they've been classified incorrectly by some folks. It's all about how you define the streaks.
I reached out to ESPN Stats & Info for verification and, as it turns out, clarification on these streaks of Super Bowl participants is needed. Nebraska and Purdue have had players on the overall rosters of teams that have reached the Super Bowl for 20 straight years and 14 straight years, respectively. But some of these players were on injured reserve and not on the active rosters for the game. Some of them don't get credit for playing in the actual game.
For example, former Purdue defensive lineman Mike Neal played 79 snaps during the regular season for the 2010 Green Bay Packers. He then was placed on injured reserve, so in the eyes of the stats folks (Elias, ESPN Stats & Info), he doesn't get credit for playing in the Super Bowl or being on a Super Bowl roster.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Super Bowl not to feature a Nebraska player on the active roster took place in 2007. Chicago Bears safety Mike Brown, the only Nebraska product in the game, suffered a foot injury midway through the regular season and was placed on injured reserve.
So which team has the longest streak of players who actually have participated in Super Bowls? Here's a hint: it's another Big Ten squad.
According to Elias, Michigan leads all programs with 13 consecutive years with an active player in the Super Bowl. LSU and North Carolina are tied for second with 11 straight years.
The Michigan-Super Bowl streak continues with San Francisco 49ers starting center Jonathan Goodwin. Another Michigan product, wide receiver Mario Manningham, is on injured reserve.