WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue football rightfully boasts about its streak of having a former player in 18 consecutive Super Bowls.
The streak ranks second among all schools, behind only Nebraska with 24.
Safety Ricardo Allen of the Atlanta Falcons and defensive end Rob Ninkovich of the New England Patriots are the latest and will square off in Super Bowl LI on Sunday in Houston. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised by FOX.
Allen ranks tied for the second on the Falcons with two interceptions and is third with 90 tackles, while Ninkovich is tied for third on the Patriots with four sacks among 32 total tackles.
All told, 35 different Boilermakers have been on Super Bowl rosters combining for 62 appearances. They have been part of 33 of 51 championship games, including this season. Twenty-two have been on winning squads, amassing 33 titles. After Sunday’s game, a Purdue player will have been on the Super Bowl-winning team 14 of the last 18 seasons.
“To see that many Boilermakers in the Super Bowl says a lot about the program and about the hunger of the players who have come through here,” Purdue head coach Jeff Brohm said. “It’s much harder to get to the Super Bowl then you think, so that streak is very impressive.”
Purdue’s history in the Super Bowl is as deep as the game itself. Quarterback Len Dawson and the Kansas City Chiefs played in the inaugural event - called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game - losing to the Green Bay Packers 35-10 on Jan. 15, 1967, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Dawson threw the second touchdown pass in the game, a 7-yarder in the second quarter.
Dawson and the Chiefs returned to the championship game three years later and won 23-7 over the Minnesota Vikings. Dawson was named the Most Valuable Player after completing 12 of 17 passes for 142 yards and one touchdown.
Both of those Chiefs teams were coached by a Boilermaker - Hank Stram, a running back at Purdue in 1942, 1946 and 1947 and subsequently an assistant coach from 1948 to 1955.
The Miami Dolphins played in three consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1970s (VI, VII and VIII) and had a standout Boilermaker on both sides of the ball, quarterback Bob Griese and defensive back Tim Foley. Their 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII capped the only perfect season in NFL history (17-0). Griese’s 28-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter gave Miami a lead it would not relinquish. The Dolphins made it back-to-back championships the following season.
Boilermakers played in five of the first eight Super Bowls.
Between the 1974 and 1980 seasons, running back Otis Armstrong was the only Boilermaker to play in a Super Bowl. He was a member of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII.
However, over the next nine seasons, four Purdue players were on teams in eight Super Bowls, led by linebacker Keena Turner of the San Francisco 49ers and his four winning appearances: XVI, XIX, XXIII and XXIV.
Defensive lineman Dave Butz of the Washington Redskins played in three Super Bowls in seven seasons, winning XVII and XXII.
Wide receiver Mark Jackson of the Broncos also played in three Super Bowls in a span of four seasons, but lost all three, including two to other Boilermakers - Butz in XXII and Turner in XXIV.
Purdue was represented in one Super Bowl between the 1990 and 1998 seasons. In Super Bowl XXX, linebacker Jim Schwantz and the Dallas Cowboys defeated defensive back Rod Woodson and the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17.
The current streak began Jan. 30, 2000, when defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina and the St. Louis Rams beat cornerback Steve Jackson and the Tennessee Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Woodson played in his second of three Super Bowls the following year with the Baltimore Ravens, recording six tackles in a 34-7 victory over the New York Giants.
The New England Patriots won three Super Bowls in a four-year span from 2001 to 2004 (XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX), and they had multiple Boilermakers on each roster. Offensive tackle Matt Light was on all three, while fellow offensive linemen Brandon Gorin and Gene Mruczkowski and linebacker Rosevelt Colvin were on two apiece.
Amidst that string, fullback Mike Alstott and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won Super Bowl XXXVII 48-21 over Woodson and the Oakland Raiders. Alstott scored the first touchdown by a Boilermaker on a 2-yard plunge in the second quarter.
Quarterback Drew Brees was named MVP of Super Bowl XLIV after his New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17. Brees completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
With Dawson, Griese and Brees, Purdue is one of just two schools that can claim three Super Bowl champion quarterbacks (also Alabama).
A trio of Boilermakers played for the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI: linebacker Niko Koutouvides, Light and Ninkovich.
The five most-recent Super Bowls, including this season’s, have featured a combined eight Boilermakers - all defensive players. Seattle Seahawks’ defensive end Cliff Avril played in back-to-back games (XLVIII - a win over linebacker Shaun Phillips and the Broncos - and XLIX - a loss to Ninkovich and the Patriots). In the 43-8 victory over Denver, Avril recorded a first-quarter safety and helped pressure Broncos’ quarterback Payton Manning into throwing a pair of first-half interceptions, both of which resulted in Seattle touchdowns.
Ninkovich will play in his third Super Bowl on Sunday, tied with six others for the third-most by a Boilermaker. Light leads with five, followed by Turner with four. Others with three are Butz, Colvin, Foley, Griese, Mark Jackson and Woodson.
|BOILERMAKERS IN THE SUPER BOWL|
|I||Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs|
|IV||Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs* (MVP)|
|VI||Tim Foley, Miami Dolphins; Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins|
|VII||Tim Foley, Miami Dolphins*; Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins*|
|VIII||Tim Foley, Miami Dolphins*; Bob Griese, Miami Dolphins*|
|XII||Otis Armstrong, Denver Broncos|
|XVI||Keena Turner, San Francisco 49ers*|
|XVII||Dave Butz, Washington Redskins*|
|XVIII||Dave Butz, Washington Redskins|
|XIX||Mark Brown, Miami Dolphins; Keena Turner, San Francisco 49ers*|
|XXI||Mark Jackson, Denver Broncos|
|XXII||Dave Butz, Washington Redskins*; Mark Jackson, Denver Broncos|
|XXIII||Keena Turner, San Francisco 49ers*|
|XVIV||Mark Jackson, Denver Broncos; Keena Turner, San Francisco 49ers*|
|XXX||Jim Schwantz, Dallas Cowboys*; Rod Woodson, Pittsburgh Steelers|
|XXXIV||Steve Jackson, Tennessee Titans; Jeff Zgonina, St. Louis Rams*|
|XXXV||Rod Woodson, Baltimore Ravens*|
|XXXVI||Matt Light, New England Patriots*; David Nugent, New England Patriots*; Jeff Zgonina, St. Louis Rams|
|XXXVII||Mike Alstott, Tampa Bay Buccaneers*; Rod Woodson, Oakland Raiders|
|XXXVIII||Rosevelt Colvin, New England Patriots*; Brandon Gorin, New England Patriots*; Matt Light, New England Patriots*; Gene Mruczkowski, New England Patriots*|
|XXXIX||Ian Allen, Philadelphia Eagles; Rosevelt Colvin, New England Patriots*; Brandon Gorin, New England Patriots*; Matt Light, New England Patriots*; Gene Mruczkowski, New England Patriots*|
|XL||Niko Koutouvides, Seattle Seahawks; Chukky Okobi, Pittsburgh Steelers*; Craig Terrill, Seattle Seahawks|
|XLI||Gilbert Gardner, Indianapolis Colts*; Kyle Orton, Chicago Bears; John Stadeford, Indianapolis Colts*|
|XLII||Rosevelt Colvin, New England Patriots; Matt Light, New England Patriots|
|XLIII||Chike Okeafor, Arizona Cardinals|
|XLIV||Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints* (MVP), Curtis Painter, Indianapolis Colts|
|XLV||Mike Neal, Green Bay Packers*|
|XLVI||Niko Koutouvides, New England Patriots; Matt Light, New England Patriots; Rob Ninkovich, New England Patriots|
|XLVII||Bernard Pollard, Baltimore Ravens*|
|XLVIII||Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks*; Shaun Phillips, Denver Broncos|
|XLIX||Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks; Rob Ninkovich, New England Patriots*|
|50||Kawann Short, Carolina Panthers|
|LI||Ricardo Allen, Atlanta Falcons; Rob Ninkovich, New England Patriots|