Freddie Mitchell, wide receiver of the Philadelphia Eagles greets the media.
JACKSONVILLE, FL - FEBRUARY 1: Freddie Mitchell, wide receiver of the Philadelphia Eagles greets the media at media day prior to the start of Super Bowl XXXIX at Alltel Stadium on February 1, 2005 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Center of attention
The Super Bowl shines a spotlight on almost every player who steps on the field. Some players become part of pop culture after their Super Bowl appearance. Others leave you wondering what happened to them. Here's a look at what past Super Bowl participants are up to ...
"Mean" Joe Greene donned only a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey throughout his career. As part of the "Steel Curtain" defense, Greene helped his team win four Super Bowls, but his dominance on the field is not his only memorable connection to the Super Bowl. Greene's 1980 Coca-Cola commercial is one of the most famous Super Bowl ads to date.
Charles Haley graced the rosters of two NFL powerhouse teams from the mid-'80s through the late-'90s. Haley entered the NFL playing the first of two stints with the San Francisco 49ers in 1986 and won two Super Bowls with the team in 1988 and 1989. Haley's trade to the Dallas Cowboys afforded him the opportunity to win Super Bowls with Dallas in 1992, '93 and '95. He then returned to San Francisco to finish out his career, retiring in 1999.
Terrell Davis provided a stable running attack for the Denver Broncos in the late-'90s. He was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXXII after running for 157 yards and getting into the end zone three times in the game.
Few quarterbacks cast as long a shadow over a franchise as Joe Montana. He quarterbacked the 49ers to four Super Bowls, and San Francisco won all four. The quarterback's clutch Super Bowl play helped him win MVP awards in three of those Super Bowls.
In Super Bowl XXII, Redskins running back Timmy Smith came out of nowhere, setting a Super Bowl record with 204 yards rushing and leaving tongues wagging about this unknown player. But Smith never capitalized on his Super Bowl buzz, retiring from football two years later.
A four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Franco Harris was named MVP of Super Bowl IX. Harris' MVP win marked the first time the award was bestowed on a player of African-American or Italian-American descent.
Lynn Swann was another link in the chain of Pittsburgh's tough players in the "Steel Curtain" era. With Bradshaw as his quarterback, Swann was another four-time Super Bowl winner and picked up the MVP award in Super Bowl X.
Everyone knows the story too well — especially in northern New York. With the high-powered Bills hustling downfield for one final go-ahead score against the Giants, Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas got the Bills into position for a potential game-winning field goal by reliable kicker Scott Norwood (11). But with just seconds left, Norwood's 47-yard kick sailed wide right, robbing Kelly, Thomas and the rest of the four-time Super Bowl losers their best chance to win a championship. Norwood would redeem himself the next year with a big field goal in the AFC title game, but does anyone remember that?
John Stallworth had plenty of chances to pad his Super Bowl statistics. He won four Super Bowls with the dominant Pittsburgh Steelers in the '70s. In fact, he caught the winning touchdown pass from quarterback Terry Bradshaw in Super Bowl XIV.
Marcus Allen spent the majority of his career with the Los Angeles Raiders, but he also had some productive years for the Kansas City Chiefs. In Super Bowl XVIII, Allen rushed his way to MVP honors and helped the Raiders record a win.
Roger Craig has an extensive list of postseason experience. He reached the playoffs every year he played in the NFL and has three Super Bowl rings to show for it. Craig reached the playoffs with the Raiders and Vikings, and his three Super Bowl wins came as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
The Eagles came up short in Super Bowl XXXIX against the New England Patriots, but Terrell Owens' performance was nothing short of heroic. He had nine receptions for 122 yards after sustaining an ankle injury earlier in the season that required surgery.
Richard Dent was a sack machine for the Bears in the mid-'80s, and his efforts rushing the passer helped the Bears' defensive schemes. Dent's MVP-winning performance propelled the Bears to victory in Super Bowl XX. Dent departed for San Francisco in 1994 and was on the 49ers' roster for their XXIX Super Bowl win.
Rod Martin was a monster in the middle for the Raiders from 1977 to 1988 and was a part of two Raiders Super Bowl teams in 1980 and 1983. In Super Bowl XV, Martin intercepted three passes -- a record that still stands today.
Freddie Mitchell, who dubbed himself "FredEx" because he "always delivers," couldn't back his Super Bowl week smack directed at no-nonsense safety Rodney Harrison, one of the NFL's toughest hitters. The intense Harrison fed off the jibberish, taunted Mitchell constantly and even caught more passes from Philly QB Donovan McNabb (two INTs vs. Mitchell's one catch). Mitchell was cut in the offseason and never played another NFL down. As for McNabb, Philly trailed 24-14 late in the fourth quarter. Needing two scores, McNabb's Eagles performed the least hurried hurry-up offense seen in a big game, leaving the QB to fend off rumors that he heaved in the huddle.
As a player, Mel Blount played with the kind of toughness that was typical of Steelers defenders in the 1970s. But the four Super Bowls he won with the Steelers aren't the only cornerstones of his NFL career. Blount made five Pro Bowls and was selected to four All-Pro teams.
Mike Vrabel was part of the defensive core that made the Patriots teams of the mid-aughts formidable. Vrabel was a huge part of the three Super Bowl championships with the Patriots from 2002 through 2004. In 2009, Vrabel spent two years with the Chiefs to finish off his career.
This Super Bowl upset is celebrated for the most amazing, game-changing play in the title game's history. Down 14-10 late vs. the 18-0 Patriots, Giants QB Eli Manning scrambled for what seemed like an eternity and heaved a prayer downfield toward no-name WR David Tyree (No. 85), blanketed by safety Rodney Harrison. In an insult to physics and Albert Einstein, Tyree secured the 32-yard catch by wedging the back half of the ball against his helmet — while fighting off Harrison defending. Instead of 4th-and-20, the Giants had first down and eventually scored to make history vs. New England.
Joe Namath was one of the original sultans of Super Bowl swagger, predicting days before Super Bowl III that his Jets would beat the heavily favored Colts, and then delivering by guiding them to a 16-7 win in a game that helped turn the Super Bowl into a national spectacle.
Many of Larry Csonka's career highlights came during his first stint with the Miami Dolphins. He made the Pro Bowl from 1970 to 1975 and won Super Bowls with the Dolphins in 1973 and 1974. Csonka was chosen as MVP of Super Bowl VIII in 1974. He also spent two years with the Giants before returning to the Dolphins to finish out his career.
The media began scrambling on Jan. 25, 2003, the night before kickoff of Super Bowl XXXVII between Tampa Bay and Oakland. Word leaked that Raiders head coach Bill Callahan had sent Pro Bowl center Barret Robbins home from the San Diego Super Bowl site. Immediate reports alleged that Robbins had ventured south of the border to Tijuana, Mexico, for a binge-drinking episode. Later the depth of Robbins' issues came to light: He was suffering from depression and bi-polar disorder. The Raiders went on to lose, 48-21, without their star center.
Doug Williams' place in Super Bowl history was secure the moment he stepped onto the field, becoming the first African-American quarterback to play in the NFL's showcase event. He also added his name to the record book with a remarkable passing display in Super Bowl XXII, and the QB's 228 yards and four touchdowns earned him MVP honors.
The Steelers were poised to take a third-quarter lead over the heavily- favored Cowboys when Steelers QB Neil O'Donnell (the NFL's all-time leader in fewest INTs per pass attempt) began giving away footballs like Thanksgiving turkeys. The lucky guy? Unknown DB Larry Brown, the only man in sight for a horrible, game-changing INT. The pick set up an easy Dallas TD to make the score 20-7. Late in the game with the Steelers again driving, O'Donnell found Brown for a second time, again with nobody in the same ZIP code, as the pick led to Dallas' game-clinching TD. The cherry on top: The poor passer threw one more pick on the game's final play.
Michael Irvin has never lacked confidence and is always more than willing to be in the spotlight. A standout receiver for the Dallas Cowboys, Irvin won three Super Bowls alongside teammates Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.
In January 1986, New England star Irving Fryar (80) was the subject of many questions after mysterious cuts on his fingers became public. Word spread that Fryar's cuts had resulted from a scuffle with his wife two weeks before the Super Bowl.
Chuck Howley still stands alone in the Super Bowl record books. Howley lined up on defense for the Cowboys in Super Bowl V, and his two interceptions and fumble recovery earned him Super Bowl MVP honors despite the fact that Dallas lost the game. To this day, Howley is the only player from the losing team to receive the Super Bowl MVP.
Leonard Marshall was a two-time Super Bowl champion with the New York Giants in 1987 and 1991. Although he left the Giants via free agency and spent a year with the Jets and a year with the Redskins, Marshall never equaled the success he had with the Giants organization.
In the all-too-familiar Super Bowl eve story gone wrong, Bengals fullback Stanley Wilson (pictured) failed to show up for a Saturday-night team meeting after telling some of his teammates that he'd forgotten his playbook in his room. The Bengals players and coaches became concerned, then were shocked to find Wilson on the floor of his hotel-room bathroom in the midst of a serious cocaine overdose — shaken, sweaty and confused. Wilson never got his chance to play in the Super Bowl, and the Bengals lost to the 49ers without him, 20-16.
Before Super Bowl XXVI, Bills star RB Thurman Thomas was openly complaining that he was not getting enough publicity — then went out and rushed for only 13 yards (after, of course, famously misplacing his helmet as the game began). As bad as that was, Super Bowl XXVII may have been even worse for Thomas because of who he was playing against. In a head-to-head matchup with Emmitt Smith, Thomas was outrushed 108 yards to 19 in a Bills' blowout loss to the Cowboys, and pretty much gave up any claim to being the league's elite runner.
It didn't change the outcome by a long shot, instead only the reputation of Cowboys Pro Bowl defensive lineman Leon Lett. With Dallas en route to a dominating 52-17 rout of the Bills, Lett (No. 78) grabbed a fourth-quarter fumble and headed unchallenged for a long return for a certain TD ... that is, until Lett slowed down to celebrate (or gloat, depending on your point of view) around the Bills' 5-yard-line. What Lett didn't know was that Buffalo WR Don Beebe (pictured) hustled from the other side of the field and batted the ball from Lett's big paw, turning a TD into a touchback and entertaining the remaining masses worldwide.
Falcons defensive back Eugene Robinson was known publicly as one of the league's true good guys, a real family man, in his playing days. In fact, on the day before Super Bowl XXXIII, Robinson had been presented with the NFL's Bart Starr Award — celebrating his high moral character. His good karma didn't help his cause when he was burned badly for possibly the play of the game: — Broncos' receiver Rod Smith beat Robinson for an 80-yard TD pass in the second quarter as the Broncos rolled to a 34-19 win.