Eight players with a connection to our region who will be playing in the Super Bowl.
With the WFT/Commanders/whatever you want to call them eliminated for about two months, a lot of people around here don’t have a dog fighting when it comes to the Super Bowl. (Unless they grew up in Cincinnati or LA.) The Bengals and Joe Burrow are the underdog team and come into the season with astronomical odds to be here, but Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald are all very likable stars for the Rams, notably Stafford, who struggled in Detroit before getting his chance in LA this year.
So how should you make your choice of who to cheer for? Maybe it’s a look at the DC angle. We found eight players with local ties, five in LA and three in Cincy.
Keandre Jones – Jones is a 24-year-old linebacker who is Maryland through and through: born in Olney, played high school ball at Good Counsel, then spent four years as a terrapin. He wasn’t drafted in 2020 but has been with Cincinnati for two years. He is primarily a special team contributor for the Bengals.
Zach Kerr – Kerr is a 31-year-old nose tackle from Virginia Beach. He began his high school career at Quince Orchard in Gaithersburg before graduating from Fork Union Military Academy. He has been in the league since 2014 and bounces back and forth between seven different teams. The Bengals only signed him ahead of their playoff win over Tennessee, but he’s still played over 20 percent of defensive snaps in his two games with Cincy.
Isaiah Prince – Prince, 24, is currently the starting XI for the Bengals. He began his career in Miami, sitting out the 2020 season due to the pandemic and joining Cincy for the 2021 campaign. Born and raised in Greenbelt, he played his high school football at Eleanor Roosevelt (where this author played high school hockey). The Bengals’ much-maligned offensive line allowed nine sacks in the win over the Titans, but upped their level of play against KC, allowing just one.
Jake Funk – Funk, a 24-year-old running back rookie, was born in Gaithersburg and played his high school football in Damascus, where he won the 2015 Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year. He attended the University of Maryland and was drafted that year by the Rams in the seventh round. Funk contributes primarily on special teams for LA and only gets four carries this season.
Rob Havenstein — Havenstein has been a staple of the Rams’ offensive line since his second-round draft in 2015. He was born in Mount Airy and played high school ball at Frederick in Linganore. He’s started every game he’s played in the NFL and in 2018 was part of the Rams line, which was recognized as the best in the NFL.
Terrell Lewis – Lewis is a sophomore linebacker for the Rams who was drafted in the third round from Alabama in 2020. Born and raised in DC, he played high school ball at St. Johns where he was a football player for DC for the year. Lewis has played 11 games this season, starting with four, but has been inactive for much of the end of the season and the playoffs since the Rams acquired superstar Von Miller at the close of trade.
Bryce Perkins — Perkins, 25, is the Rams’ third contingency QB behind starters Matt Stafford and John Wolford. Perkins played college football for two years at UVA in 2018 and 2019; In both years he won the Dudley Award for the best Virginia college football player.
Nick Scott – Scott is a 26-year-old safety who recently made headlines by being the last player to ever intercept Tom Brady. During the Rams’ playoff win over the Bucs, Brady’s last game ever, Scott knocked Brady out just before halftime as the Bucs tried to get back in the game. Scott took over the start for the Rams this playoff season after a season-ending injury to Jordan Fuller and excelled in every way, playing every defensive snap of the three playoff games. Scott was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania but moved to Virginia to play his high school football at Fairfax.