Heading into Sunday’s games, fans of the Oklahoma Sooners were already assured that one of their favorite school’s former stars would make it to this year’s Super Bowl. Following the league’s conference championship games this Sunday, congratulations go to Philadelphia All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson and New England Patriots defensive end Geneo Grissom for their teams’ wins and earning a spot to play in Super Bowl LII.
Johnson’s Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings handily behind a strong defensive showing and outstanding quarterback play from Nick Foles. Johnson has enjoyed quite the season after missing a good chunk of 2016 while serving a suspension. He’s been nothing short of dominant at the tackle position opposite future Hall of Famer Jason Peters, and he was rewarded with a First Team All-Pro selection. Before being selected fourth overall in 2013, Johnson was the regular starter at right tackle for the Sooners during the 2011 and 2012 seasons and earned Second Team All-Big 12 and Third Team All-America honors.
Every dog does indeed have his day, and Johnson’s squad has been enjoying quite a few of them since the start of the 2017 season. Following the previous weekend’s game against Atlanta, Lane Johnson started a trend (publicly, at least) that has seriously caught fire.
No one wanted Lane Johnson's cell phone number that I had 2 years ago, but I bet that dog mask makes people want it now. pic.twitter.com/Rw5C5v0imy— Chris F. (@BBPChris) January 14, 2018
Though the Eagles were favored this week against Minnesota, the donning of the now-famous dog mask by Johnson began after the NFC’s best team, the Eagles, entered last week’s divisional round matchup against the Falcons as an underdog. Using the knock as added motivation, Philadelphia delivered big at home against Matt Ryan and Atlanta. Soon after the win, the dog mask took off beyond just the football field.
Can't find a dog mask? You can still buy one of Lane Johnson's "home dogs" T-shirts, which have raised over $100,000 for Philadelphia schools, via @PatriciaMadej. #Eagles #PHLed https://t.co/G3svt5cASm— Brian Leighton (@phillyleighton) January 19, 2018
I think it’s safe to say that we’ll be seeing a few more of these over the next two weeks, as Johnson’s team is currently a 5.5-point dog in the Super Bowl.
It’s also worth noting that Johnson will be only the fourth Sooner to start in a Super Bowl since 2000, joining Chris Chester (LI, Atlanta), Remi Ayodele (XLIV, New Orleans), Cedric Jones (XXXV, New York) and Joe Bowden (XXXIV, Tennessee).
The NFC’s top-seeded Eagles will face off against the perennial AFC champions in the New England Patriots two weeks from now. As the injuries piled up throughout the season, former Oklahoma pass-rushing beast Geneo Grissom has earned more and more playing time for New England, culminating with his presence in the playoffs. Finishing with a solo tackle and assisting on another in Sunday’s comeback win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Grissom now has a shot to make a few more big plays in the biggest football game of them all, like this sack from the previous week’s win against Tennessee.
Of course, we all remember Grissom as one of the primary contributors in Oklahoma’s upset win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Unfortunately, New England’s comeback win kept Dede Westbrook and Aaron Colvin out of the Super Bowl. Both of those guys have made plenty of big plays this season and I think a lot of us wanted to watch those guys — particularly Westbrook — on the sport’s biggest stage.
Here’s to both former Sooners who will represent Oklahoma on Super Bowl Sunday. No offense to Geneo, but I’m all about Lane and my Eagles. Cheers and Boomer Sooner!