Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Speaking of tough dudes: Rex Burkhead

·         STEVEN M. SIPPLE Lincoln Journal Star
·         Feb 27, 2019

3. Speaking of tough dudes, Rex Burkhead was in Lincoln last week for the annual Team Jack Foundation Gala, which gave me an occasion to reminisce with Ron Brown about Burkhead's career at Nebraska (2009-12).

I had forgotten Burkhead gunned five touchdown passes as a wildcat quarterback.
I had forgotten how well Burkhead tackled after a Nebraska quarterback threw an interception.
"It seemed like it was always Rex Burkhead making the tackle in that situation," said Brown, Nebraska's current director of player development and former running backs coach.
"You look at his talent and intangibles and you go, 'Why wouldn't you want that guy on your football team?'" said Brown, recalling what he used to tell NFL scouts.
The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots apparently feel the same way.
Brown shared one of his favorite memories of Burkhead's time at Nebraska, a memory that demonstrates the player's selflessness. It occurred Nov. 25 of 2011 at Memorial Stadium. During the final moments of a 20-7 win against Iowa, Burkhead had 37 carries and needed just one more to set the school single-game record. Bo Pelini, Nebraska's head coach at the time, yelled toward Brown to get Burkhead in the game to set the record.
There was a problem. Burkhead didn't want to go back in the game just to set a record. He didn't want it to be about him.
"I had to literally tell him, 'If you don't get in the game, bro, you're going to get me fired,'" Brown said with a laugh. "He ran in there, took a knee and got his 38th carry. He didn't want to do it that way. I've always loved his humility."
What's more, Burkhead's faith in God and love for his family "overflow in the way he plays," Brown said.
"He's one of the most tenacious, intense players you'll ever see, but it's done out of love — not revenge, not hate — it's a love offering," Brown said. "That's what it is."

Friday, February 22, 2019

Twice a Super Bowl winner, James Ferentz maintains bigger NFL goals

Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central
Published 12:32 p.m. CT Feb. 21, 2019

IOWA CITY, Ia. — James Ferentz chuckles when the topic of his working at a carpet store comes up. He says that the often-told, warehouse-to-Super Bowl story is a bit overblown.
It’s true, he was doing manual labor at Randy’s Carpets in Coralville to make a few bucks 5½ years ago, with a wedding on the way and his football career seemingly on the fast track to nowhere.
But the real essence of the story wasn’t the mundane hoisting of rugs into a truck while waiting for a long-shot NFL chance. It was the decision to keep trying for that chance. And that stems from a piece of advice his father gave him, after his Iowa playing days ended in 2012 and he went undrafted and unsigned in the NFL.
You might have heard of his dad, Kirk Ferentz.
Former Iowa offensive lineman James Ferentz is training and living in Iowa City after winning his second Super Bowl ring. He's under contract for another year with the New England Patriots. (Photo11: Chad Leistikow, The Register)

“You’re in your 20s, what are you in a rush to go do?” James remembers the (now) winningest football coach in Hawkeye history telling him. “You’re only going to have this one opportunity to play.”
Now that we know how it turned out — that James would not only win one Super Bowl ring with the 2015 Denver Broncos, but a second earlier this month with the New England Patriots — it’s easy to look back and say that was an obvious decision, to keep on chasing the NFL dream.
But imagine the real dilemma James was facing. He was already told by the NFL he wasn’t good enough. Why keep at it when there's little chance the phone will ring with an opportunity? The rigors the body goes through to play football at the highest level are a gauntlet, both physically and mentally. Plus, a life with his high school sweetheart was waiting.
“Sometimes you need to follow advice blindly. As long as it is coming from a good person — I should probably add that in there,” James says in an endearing way that mimics his father’s self-deprecating humor. “And I trust my dad a lot. He hinted at me, the journey wasn’t quite over.
“So, I kept training, kept being ready.”
Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz congratulates his son James after Iowa's win over Northern Illinois at Soldier Field in Chicago on Saturday, Sept. 1, 2012. (Photo11: Register file photo)

A phone call from Bill O’Brien with the Houston Texans got his foot in the door, and he took advantage of that opportunity to earn an NFL practice-squad spot in 2014. Then Ferentz spent two years with the Broncos, mostly as part of the (more financially lucrative) 53-man roster, as a backup offensive lineman and occasional fullback. The last two years, he’s been learning under arguably the NFL’s greatest coach ever, Bill Belichick, on the Patriots’ practice squad.
Ferentz credits the disciplines he learned at Iowa for making him a reliable NFL backup — and right-place, right-time luck to have now won Super Bowls alongside Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
“There’s value in coming to work, being on time,” Ferentz says simply. “That’s something that really gets overlooked, because it’s so simple and so given. You would expect that to be just a standard. But it’s hard for some guys. Coming to Iowa, it’s where no small detail like that gets overlooked.”
Of course, he’d love to be playing on Sundays. Being on the practice squad isn’t too glamorous. As the job title indicates, you primarily … practice.
Yeah, there’s a chance a practice-squad player gets called to suit up and play — as he did for two games last season with the Patriots. But it's rare. And now, under the NFL’s collective-bargaining agreement, Ferentz's practice-squad eligibility (three total years) has expired. To keep his NFL career alive, he'll again need to make a 53-man roster.
That's the next goal.
“There’s something about an offense scoring a touchdown and everyone going out there celebrating,” he says. “That’s a feeling that’s hard to beat.”
So, he’s in Iowa City, plugging away. He and wife Skylar live in a starter home on Iowa City's west side with their two young sons — Forest and newborn Lincoln, who arrived at nearly 11 pounds (!) between the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl.
Ferentz says training with hungry, young Hawkeye players keeps him motivated. Listed at 6-foot-2, 300 pounds, he’s happy to report continued weight-room gains. He will turn 30 in June and is under (a non-guaranteed) contract with the Patriots for one more year. They could cut him at any time.

One would imagine that coaching will one day be in Ferentz's future — and he doesn't dismiss that, considering his lineage and love for football. He fervently keeps up with the Hawkeyes and remains close with older brother, Brian, Iowa’s offensive coordinator.

As we continue our interview inside the Hansen Football Performance Center, Brian pops in to say hello, then heads back into his office. James chuckles at how busy his brother is. He likes playing football and isn't ready for that lifestyle yet.
A day of training is in the books, and it's time to hang out with the family.
Tomorrow, he'll get back at it again.
“I’m always trying to fight to be on a 53-man roster,” James says. “By no means have I ever been on a practice squad and been like, ‘Wow, I’ve really made it.’ It’s always a disappointment to get cut and told you’re not good enough. But it’s just the reality of the business.
“Hopefully I can keep improving and show the coaching staff at New England that there’s still some sort of value in me. We’ll see.”
Hawkeyes columnist Chad Leistikow has covered sports for 24 years with The Des Moines Register, USA TODAY and Iowa City Press-Citizen. Follow @ChadLeistikow on Twitter.
Offensive lineman James Ferentz answers questions Friday, Aug. 7, 2009, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City during Iowa's annual media day. (Photo11: Register file photo)

Friday, February 15, 2019

Yanda’s seventh Pro Bowl adds to legacy

·         Feb 14, 2019 Updated 16 hrs ago

Marshal Yanda earned his seventh Pro Bowl this past season. These are seven consecutive that Marshal has played. He also earned the Ed Block Courage Award, voted on by his Baltimore Ravens teammates.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame currently has 326 members, 286 which are players. There have been more than 26,000 men who have played in the NFL. Only about 1 percent make it all the way to the hall of fame. Three Iowa Hawkeyes have been enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: Emlen Tunnell, Paul Krause and Andre Tippett.
By comparing just the number of Pro Bowls, Marshal has equaled or passed 179 of the 286 players already enshrined into the hall of fame.
Here are just 30 hall of famers he has passed so far: Troy Aikman, Marcus Allen, Jerome Bettis, Terry Bradshaw, Earl Campbell, Larry Csonka, Terrell Davis, Eric Dickerson, Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, Carl Eller, Dan Fouts, Red Grange, Bob Griese, Charles Haley, Michael Irvin, Charlie Joiner, Jim Kelly, Curtis Martin, Randy Moss, Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, Ray Nitschke, Terrell Owens, Ken Stabler, Bart Starr, Roger Staubach, Lynn Swann, Andre Tippett and Doak Walker.
Since 1936, there have been 253 Hawkeyes drafted into the NFL. I believe Marshal has already earned the Iowa Hawkeyes NFL Mount Rushmore alongside Tunnell, Krause and Tippett. One of Marshal’s top awards is the Bruce Matthews Award, for the top offensive linemen in the NFL. He should also receive the NFL All-Decade Team for 2010-2019 and someday be inducted into the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor.
Marshal proudly wore the black and gold for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I believe someday he will be wearing gold again, that will be the day Canton, Ohio presents him with a gold jacket for being the first native Iowa Hawkeye to be enshrined into the hall of fame.
Tim Hollett

Trey Flowers issues reminder of Super Bowl dominance

By SAM QUINN 17 hours ago (February 14, 2019)

The New England Patriots may have given Tom Brady his sixth Super Bowl ring by defeating the Los Angeles Rams in the big game two weeks ago, but the star of the show was their incredible defense. They held the explosive Los Angeles Rams to only three points in that game, and while just about everyone on defense did their job in the legendary performance, the player that stood out was clearly Trey Flowers. He generated a ton of pressure on Jared Goff while also proving invaluable in run-support to help secure the victory for New England, and on Thursday, he took to Twitter to remind the world of the monster game he and his defense played.

This is particularly relevant now, with less than a month to go before free agency begins. Flowers is going to hit the market if the Patriots don't use their franchise tag on him, and he is going to be worth a fortune. His low sack totals don't tell the story of what he brings to a defense. He is perhaps the most well-rounded 4-3 defensive end in football right now, capable of dominance against both the run and the pass, and his playoff run should have sent his value through the roof.
The going rate for top pass-rushers right now is around $15 million per year. According to Spotrac, the highest-paid defensive end in the NFL in terms of average salary is Olivier Vernon at $17 million per year, and he signed his contract three years ago. With an expanding cap and the whole NFL able to bid on him, it wouldn't be inconceivable for Flowers to top that.

The Patriots have been hesitant to give out that kind of money in the past. They had Chandler Jones on their roster, but rather than pay him the $16.5 million per year the Arizona Cardinals are paying him, they traded him. New England prefers to pay several players mid-range salaries rather than go whole hog for any one star. That strategy has delivered them six championships, so it would be hard to argue its overall effectiveness.
And perhaps Flowers knows that, and is reminding the Patriots with this tweet just how valuable he is. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the Patriots won the Super Bowl on defense alone. The offense produced only 13 points. That doesn't mean the Patriots are weak on that side of the ball, but with Brady entering his age-42 season, New England won't be able to rely on him forever. Their best bet at sustaining this success when he retires might be defense, and Flowers is the best player they have on that side of the ball. Paying him now could save them a lot of headaches later.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Appreciating Rex Burkhead's outstanding efficiency in Super Bowl LIII

By: Henry McKenna | February 14, 2019
When New England Patriots running back Rex Burkhead touched the football in Super Bowl LIII, good things happened.
Plenty of Patriots had a play or two that had a major impact, a play that will live in the minds of fans. Running back Sony Michel scored the game’s only touchdown in the Patriots’ 13-3 win. Rob Gronkowski had the 29-yard reception that put the Patriots on the 2-yard line for Michel’s touchdown. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore had an interception that ended a fourth-quarter Rams’ drive. Defensive end Trey Flowers had a sack that put the Rams out of field goal range. The list goes on.
Burkhead didn’t have one of those plays. But his performance was still admirable and, frankly, unheralded. He finished with seven carries for 43 yards (6.1 yards per carry) with a 26-yarder in the Patriots’ final offensive drive, which ended in a field goal that essentially clinched the game. Burkhead also had two receptions for 15 yards. He touched the ball on nine of his 19 snaps. He did that in a game where running back James White, one of the heroes of Super Bowl LI, was surprisingly absent with two carries for four yards and one receptions for five yards.
Burkhead did what he had done all year: a little bit of everything. None of his touches went for negative yardage, except for a reception which got wiped away due to an unnecessary roughness penalty that gave New England 15 yards.
Burkhead hasn’t become a household name because of injuries and a crowded backfield over the last two years. His contributions tend to fly under the radar. However, he’s provided reliable on all four downs with 18 special teams snaps (67 percent).
In an offensive game where everyone but Julian Edelman had an inefficient game, Burkhead was a sneakily productive piece.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Previewing Patriots defender Trey Flowers’ free agency options and potential contract

The Patriots best edge defender is set to become a free agent, and could command quite the contract.


Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
As free agency opens in little over a month, the Patriots will have some decisions to make, starting with defensive end Trey Flowers.
Since selecting the 6-foot-2, 265 pound end in the fourth round of the 2015 NFL Draft, Flowers has become one of the best edge defenders in the entire league. After playing only one game his rookie year, Flowers has started 37 games for New England over the last three seasons, piling up 21 career sacks and clearly becoming a vital piece for their defense.
But when looking at Flowers, one must view more than just his sack total. Flowers has become one of the best run defenders in the entire NFL and has piled up 136 disruptions (17 sacks, 57 QB hits, 62 pressures) over the past two seasons, which is nearly twice as many as the next closest Patriot (Kyle Van Noy with 69).
Then in the playoffs, he seems to come up big time and time again. Like in Super Bowl LI, when a fourth quarter sack bumped Matt Ryan and the Falcons out of field goal position, allowing Tom Brady to get the ball back down seven. You know what happened next.
And Flowers seems to just keep getting better. According to Pro Football Focus, Flowers’ 2018 season grade of 89.7 ended as the sixth best edge defender in the league.
Now its decision time for the Patriots, who have been shy to give out big chunks of money to dominant pass rushers in the past like Richard Seymour and Chandler Jones, opting to deal them away. Granted Seymour and Jones didn't make quite the contribution in the run game like Flowers, something Belichick adores.
New England currently sits just under $20 million in cap room before making cuts, which would make franchising Flowers at $17.143 million difficult. If New England is lucky, the two sides will work a deal out before he reaches the open market, where he would be a hot commodity as pass rushers like DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Frank Clark, etc. are expected to see the franchise tag.
If Flowers does reach free agency, he could earn up to the five year, $85 million deal Olivier Vernon signed with the New York Giants back in 2016. Over the Cap and Pro Football Focu srecently projected Flowers to earn slightly below that contract, inking a five year, $80 million deal, with $50 million in guarantees.
Assuming that New England and Flowers can reach a deal, New England likely would lose out on free agent tackle Trent Brown. Brown is expected to fetch a deal near $10 million annually after a successful first year with the Patriots.
But if Flowers does depart New England, perhaps joining former defensive play callers Brian Flores in Miami or Matt Patricia in Detroit, the Patriots would be left with a gaping hole in the defensive line. Currently with 12 picks in this year’s draft, perhaps New England selects multiple ends or moves up to replace Flowers, or they bank on the improvement of young roster players such as Keionta Davis or Derek Rivers.
The Patriots could also try to lure a top defensive lineman in free agency to Foxboro as a replacement, or sign a veteran who fits their scheme to a smaller contract like they did last offseason with Adrian Clayborn (two year, $10 million deal).
The NFL free agency period officially opens on March 13th at 4:00 p.m. EST, while the franchise tag must be designated prior to the 4:00 p.m. EST March 5th deadline.

Friday, February 08, 2019

If You Want to Make the Super Bowl, Get James Ferentz on Your Team

By RossWB on February 6, 2019 at 9:17 am


The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl this year (again) and, as Courtney noted yesterday, that meant that four former Hawkeyes got Super Bowl rings: Adrian Clayborn, Riley McCarron, Cole Croston, and James Ferentz.
Ferentz was a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl itself, but he still gets a ring. And this wasn't the first time he's been involved in the final game of the season -- far from it. 
In fact, James Ferentz has been on a team in three of the last four Super Bowls
2019: New England Patriots (won Super Bowl)
2018: New England Patriots (lost Super Bowl)
2017: Denver Broncos (n/a)
2016: Denver Broncos (won Super Bowl)
His teams have a 2-1 record in the big game -- not bad! Ferentz himself may not play much, but his presence seems to be a bit of a lucky charm. (Granted, a bigger lucky charm is probably "having Bill Belichick and Tom Brady," but hey.) 
The Patriots' win also gives Ferentz a unique piece of history -- and a member of a very select crew

Not bad, James. Not bad at all. 
And a lesson to the other 31 NFL teams out there: if you want to make the Super Bowl, consider adding James Ferentz to your roster. 

Blythe takes advantage of opportunity to become key member of Rams OL in 2018

Myles Simmons

Thursday, Feb 07, 2019 02:10 PM

When the 2018 offseason program began last April, it looked like the Rams would return their same starting offensive line that had helped propel the team to an 11-5 record and an NFC West division title in 2017.

And, really, it looked that way until July, when the league announced former Rams guard Jamon Brown would be suspended for the first two games of the 2018 season.

Nevertheless, for most of training camp, Brown was at his usual spot of right guard, sandwiched between center John Sullivan and right tackle Rob Havenstein.

But as the season got close toward the end of August, L.A. had a decision to make as to who would start in place of Brown for those first two games — Austin Blythe or Joe Noteboom.

With Noteboom a rookie and the ideal heir apparent to left tackle Andrew Whitworth whenever he decides to hang it up, the TCU product wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate.

But Austin Blythe really was. He’d spent the 2017 season with Los Angeles, and practiced with the first-team offensive line throughout the course of the year at center when Sullivan would take a veteran rest day. That prepared him for spot duty with the club’s offense, as he filled in admirably in a few contests throughout the year, before starting the Week 17 matchup against San Francisco in which head coach Sean McVay elected to rest most of the team’s starters.

Fast forward to Week 1 of the 2018 season, and Blythe showed he belonged by making key blocks against the Raiders as the Rams began the year 1-0. He kept it up in Week 2, displaying his mettle in Los Angeles’ 34-0 shutout victory over the Cardinals.

That’s when McVay and run game coordinator/offensive line coach Aaron Kromer made the decision: Blythe would be the starter at right guard going forward.

“With the success we've been having, we want to keep the continuity and I think that has helped out,” Kromer said back in September.

Blythe kept the job for the entire year, playing 100 percent of Los Angeles’ 1,100 offensive snaps in the 2018 regular season — plus each one in the postseason. It’s not the be-all-end-all metric, but Pro Football Focus had him as their No. 12-rated guard and No. 23 overall offensive lineman in 2018.

“Anyone could have had one of the top-25 offensive linemen in the NFL after he was waived by the Colts a year and a half ago. The former seventh-round pick wasn’t even supposed to start for the Rams until Jamon Brown got suspended. Blythe never relinquished control of the job and has been reliable ever since,” PFF wrote of Blythe.

But speaking to just after concluding his first season as a full-time starter, Blythe was grateful for his opportunity.

“We had a great season, we played in the Super Bowl — nobody can really take that away from us. But something to take away from the result of the Super Bowl is that we can always keep improving, we can always keep learning as a team and individually,” Blythe said. “Myself, I’ll never stop trying to improve and I think if my performance in the Super Bowl is anything, it just gives proof that nobody is a perfect player. Just going to continue to keep trying to improve and already looking forward to OTAs and to camp next year.”

Blythe said to that point he hadn’t watched Super Bowl LIII back — and he wasn’t sure if he would in the near future. He wasn’t happy with his own play, and, certainly, the game’s ultimate result.

The right guard did, however, say that overall he really enjoyed playing football this year for Los Angeles, and it’s not something he takes lightly.

“I think especially my rookie year that was my goal just to get back having fun playing football again and just talking to ‘Krome’, it was just like college again — had a ton of fun with the guys that you’re playing with because they are invested in you just like you’re invested in them. Just really looking forward to building on that.”

There’s always turnover in the NFL, and there surely will be for the Rams as they flip from 2018 to 2019. But given the strong chemistry of this past year’s club, Blythe believes the Rams can compete next year and into the future.

“I think that’s what makes the Rams so special, that everyone is so connected,” Blythe said. “I was telling [Kromer] that I enjoyed playing football this year — it wasn’t a job, it was a game again — and it was a lot of fun, a lot of fun playing with the guys that we have on the team and unfortunately not everyone is going to be here next year, but hopefully we’ve got a lot of the same guys back because they are great guys. Like I said, I’m already looking forward to the offseason.”

Post-Super Bowl Notes: Trey Flowers’s Free Agent Value

February 04, 2019

3. Patriots pass rusher Trey Flowers—who rapped with Meek Mill on stage at the Super Bowl postgame party—made himself a bunch of money over the last three weeks as a constant presence in the faces of quarterbacks. Over three playoff games, he had two sacks and six quarterback hits. And he could be the beneficiary of pending free agents—like Dee Ford, Frank Clark and Jadeveon Clowney—getting franchised. Plenty of teams have been gearing up to pay for pass-rushers this offseason, with a bumper crop of free agents expected. If a bunch of those guys come off the market, supply and demand will tilt in Flowers’s favor.

G Marshal Yanda selected to Pro Football Focus's Top 101 list

By: Nathan Beaucage | 10 hours ago (February 7, 2019)

Though the Baltimore Ravens are a team devoid of superstars, their players are still finding themselves represented on many media year-end lists. On Monday, Pro Football Focus revealed that Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey and guard Marshal Yanda made their annual Top 101 players list at No. 97 and No. 99, respectively.

In only his second season as a pro, Humphrey made his first appearance on the list this year. Here is what PFF had to say about the Baltimore cornerback:
“The second-year cornerback out of Alabama improved on his stellar rookie season with an overall grade of 80.0 in 2018,” wrote the PFF analysis team. “His 52.5% catch rate allowed was the seventh-best in the league this season, and his 22.5% forced incompletion rate was third-best.”
In mid-January, PFF also named Humphrey as the No. 13 cornerback in all of football.
Unlike Humphrey, the veteran Yanda is no stranger to this list, with seven appearances in 12 seasons.
“Yanda battled back from his 2017 ankle injury to log the most snaps among guards in the 2018 regular season at 1,162,” wrote PFF. “Including the postseason, he earned the fourth-highest overall grade among guards at 75.2, allowing just 15 total pressures and zero sacks.”
At age 34, Yanda still continues to play at a high level. He allowed no sacks this season — keeping alive his sackless streak that spans back to Week 7 of the 2015 season — and ceded only three quarterback hits and 12 hurries. Yanda also notched his seventh Pro Bowl appearance and fifth second-team All-Pro selection.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Third NFL title special to former Ohio State player Nate Ebner

New England Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner talks to reporters during a media availability for for the NFL Super Bowl 51 football game Thursday, Feb. 2, 2017, in Houston. The Patriots will face the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl Sunday. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By Bill Rabinowitz
The Columbus Dispatch 
Posted Feb 5, 2019 at 9:21 PM
Nate Ebner rode in a Super Bowl victory parade through the streets of Boston on Tuesday.
“There were more than a million people there,” the Hilliard Davidson and Ohio State graduate said. “It was insane.”
It was Ebner’s third such celebration in his seven years with the New England Patriots. In some ways, it might have been the most meaningful.
Ebner, a special-teams player, tore a ligament in his right knee late in the 2017 season. He returned to action only eight months after his surgery. He wasn’t at 100 percent throughout the season, but he persevered.
“It was a tough year, but I made it out alive,” he quipped.
For Ebner, it was just another chapter in his unlikely career. Growing up, he played rugby not football (and he represented the United States in the 2016 Olympics). He decided to walk on to Ohio State’s football team and earned a scholarship his senior season.
New England made him a sixth-round draft pick, and he has been an important cog on the Patriots’ three championship teams in the last five years.
“My first one was awesome because it was my first one,” Ebner said. “The second one was special, too, because special teams played a pretty big role in that Atlanta game and it was amazing to be part of that comeback (from a 28-3 deficit).
“This year, the way we have been counted out more than ever, and the lack of belief from people who used to say they were with us, that made this one special. With the way our season went, along with me coming back from such a major injury last year, made this one extremely special for me.”
His teammates voted him this year’s recipient of the Ed Block Award, which honors sportsmanship and courage.
The Super Bowl was considered an aesthetic dud because of both teams’ offensive struggles in New England’s 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. In his role, Ebner found plenty of beauty in it.
“I thought special teams played a big role,” he said. “Ryan Allen did great job with his punting — three kicks inside the 7. It’s hard to score touchdowns when you have to go 90-plus yards.”
Ebner got to share the latest Super Bowl win with one of his former Buckeyes teammates. Defensive end John Simon joined the Patriots this year after the Colts released him.
“John’s a great guy for this team,” Ebner said. “John doesn’t say a whole lot, but does the job really well. He’s had some ups and downs throughout his career as far as teams putting him in weird spots and a couple of health things.
“I’m so happy for him that he got to experience the top of the top after what he’s dealt with in his career.”
Simon’s wife, Brittany, gave birth to their second son the week before the Super Bowl.
“They’ve had quite the two weeks,” Ebner said.
It culminated for Simon and Ebner with the Super Bowl victory and Tuesday parade.
“That stuff is always fun,” Ebner said. “It’s been a good, fortunate seven years for me.”

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