What comes to your mind when you think of Oklahoma Sooners playing in the Super Bowl? For me it’s probably Keith Jackson catching a 10-yard pass from Brett Favre in Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots. Why? Well, those are the only yards from scrimmage recorded by a former Sooner in a Super Bowl since I’ve been old enough to watch football. Steve Sewell caught a pair of passes for the Broncos in a blowout loss against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIV, but I was only a year old at the time. Unless the Philadelphia Eagles decide to do something sneaky with Lane Johnson on Sunday, Jackson’s catch will continue to hold that distinction for me.
Sewell actually made a pretty decent mark in Super Bowl XXII, the game in which he actually completed a 23-yard pass to John Elway and caught four of his own for 41 yards. He also recorded three carries and a pair of receptions in Super Bowl XXI the year prior.
If we go back past Sewell we get to OU greats Greg Pruitt, Kenny King and the Los Angeles Raiders’ decisive Super Bowl XVIII victory over the Washington Redskins. The veteran Pruitt carried the rock five times for 17 yards (long of 12) while King - the starter at fullback - toted the rock three times for 12 yards and caught a pair of passes for eight yards. However, those weren’t the only Sooners to get touches that night, as Little Joe Washington was on the other side of things. Washington had three carries for eight yards to go along with three receptions for 20 yards.
King left his mark in the record books three years earlier with what is easily the most memorable play made by a Sooner in a Super Bowl. He carried it six times for 18 yards, but he made history when Jim Plunkett found him running down the sideline for an 80-yard TD reception (HIGHLIGHT) to break the game open in the first quarter. It remained the longest TD reception in Super Bowl history until Green Bay’s Antonio Freeman broke it 16 years later. King caught another pass for 13 yards to finish with 93 yards receiving on the night.
We have to go all the way back to Super Bowl V - when Eddie Hinton and Lance Rentzel started at receiver for the Colts and Cowboys, respectively - to find another Sooner with yards from scrimmage. Hinton was the only one of the pair to record a reception that night, catching two passes for 51 yards, but he fumbled the ball into the end zone for a touchback on his second reception.
Oklahoma’s history of sending offensive linemen to starts in the Super Bowl isn’t terribly deep, but Ralph Neely did start at left tackle for the Dallas Cowboys in V, X and XII. Neely is on the NFL’s all-1960’s team, was a four-time All-Pro selection and a two-time Super Bowl Champion. That somehow isn’t enough to earn him a spot in the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, but it probably should be.
The only other former Sooner offensive lineman to start in a Super Bowl (prior to Sunday) is Chris Chester, who earned a start for the Falcons in Houston a year ago before retiring from the game.
On the defensive side, the history is a bit more rich for the Sooners. DT Remi Ayodele (XLIV, New Orleans), DE Cedric Jones (XXXV, New York), OLB Joe Bowden (XXXIV, Tennessee), DT Tony Casillas (XXVIII & XXVII, Dallas), NT Reggie Kinlaw (XVIII & XV, Raiders), SS Tony Peters (XVII, Redskins), DE Jim Riley (VI, Miami Dolphins) and CB Bobby Boyd (III, Colts) have earned starts, and a number of others have recorded statistics. Amongst the non-starters to make a huge impact were safety Randy Hughes (picked off a pass and recovered a pair of fumbles in Super Bowl XII for the Cowboys), CB Darrius Johnson (picked off a pass in Super Bowl XXXIII for the Broncos) and safety Scott Case (forced a fumble and made six tackles in XXX for Dallas).
A pair of OU kickers - Garrett Hartley and Uwe von Schamann - have also been a part of Super Bowl history. Hartley is perhaps best known for sending the New Orleans Saints to Super Bowl XLIV with a game-winner in OT against the Vikings, but he also nailed three from 40-plus yards against the Colts in a Saints W. Noted Buckeye killer von Schamann played in XVII and XIX, coming out on the losing end both times with the Miami Dolphins. However, he was perfect in those games, making all four field goal attempts and all three PAT attempts.
Basically, Oklahoma has some Super Bowl history, just not quite as much as one would expect from a program of its stature. Hopefully Lane Johnson or Geneo Grissom can find a away to add to that history this evening.