Short answer to that headline: …not really. I mean, at least in terms of players. It’s always nice to be able to watch the Super Bowl and root for a former Orange football standout fighting for a chance at a ring, but this year, neither the New England Patriots nor the Los Angeles Rams feature anyone from Syracuse.
And that’s kind of a bummer.
There are a few connections to SU in the game, of course, including a connection to a player on Syracuse’s current roster: Iffy Melifonwu. His brother, Obi, is a safety for the Patriots. But with Cam Lynch back in Tampa and Chandler Jones thriving in Arizona (well, from a stats perspective… not so much in terms of wins), we don’t have a single alum to root for.
Sure, there are some coaching connections. New England running backs coach Ivan Fears coached Syracuse’s receivers back in the 1980s. He and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia were on Dick MacPherson’s staff when Mac was the head man for the Patriots. And of course, Tom Brady was on the receiving end of a vicious sack by Dwight Freeney when the Orange stomped Michigan at the Big House. Ah, memories…
As for the Rams, though, there’s nary a connection to be found. Yes, I just combed through the biographies of each member of the coaching staff and, unless I missed something, there’s not a single connection to SU, at least not directly. Chances are that someone on that staff crossed paths with Dino Babers or another member of SU’s staff. The coaching world is small, and at some point, you’re going to coach with a loooooot of people.
But if you’re looking for any sort of connection for the Rams, about the only one I could come up with is Wade Phillips. The defensive coordinator never coached at Syracuse, obviously never played at Syracuse, and as far as I know has zero real connection to Syracuse. So what’s this completely manufactured connection? Well, Phillips was born and raised in Orange, Texas, which – yes – is a real place. He also coached at Orange High.
So, sure, the Patriots have more direct connections to Syracuse. But not a single one of them can say they are a literal Orange man. And that’s got to count for something.