S. Jersey represented, again, in Super Bowl
South Jersey always has been known as a football area, and frequently during this time of year when the Super Bowl is played, we can see why.
With the Baltimore Ravens having three South Jersey players on the roster - all from the Colonial Conference - area alumni have continued a strong tradition of competing in the biggest sporting event in the country.
According to area historian Chuck Langerman, this will make 25 South Jersey players who have appeared on Super Bowl rosters.
Quarterback Joe Flacco of Audubon and offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie of Woodbury are starters for the Ravens. Flacco will be the first quarterback from South Jersey to play in a Super Bowl.
In addition, Paulsboro graduate Alex Silvestro is on the Ravens' practice squad. Silvestro was activated for last year's Super Bowl as a member of the New England Patriots.
Two players who stand out for extended Super Bowl service are former Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris of Rancocas Valley and ex-San Francisco 49ers receiver John Taylor of Pennsauken.
Harris won four Super Bowls with the Steelers and was named MVP in Super Bowl IX in January 1975, after rushing for 158 yards and a touchdown in a 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. His rushing yardage is the fourth-highest single-game total in Super Bowl history.
Taylor won three Super Bowls and had one of the biggest catches in history. That came in Super Bowl XXIII in January 1989, when Taylor caught a 10-yard touchdown from Joe Montana with 34 seconds left to give San Francisco a 20-16 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
That was the only catch of the day for Taylor.
The South Jersey Super Bowl tradition began immediately when former Moorestown star Dave Robinson played in the first two games for the Green Bay Packers.
Robinson, Harris, Taylor, Cherry Hill East graduate Pete Kugler, Pennsauken's Dwight Hicks, and Willingboro's Kareem McKenzie are the South Jersey players who have been on multiple Super Bowl winners.
Kugler and Hicks each won two titles as members of the 49ers, and McKenzie earned his two with the New York Giants.
The most popular position for former South Jersey players in the Super Bowl is linebacker, as five have appeared: Green Bay's Robinson, Glassboro's Gary Brackett (Indianapolis), Cinnaminson's Andre Collins (Washington), Ocean City's Doug Colman (Tennessee), and the late David Griggs of Pennsauken and the San Diego Chargers.
All eyes this year will be on Flacco, who already has made postseason history. He is the first quarterback to win at least one playoff game in each of his first five NFL seasons.
This postseason, Flacco leads all NFL quarterbacks with a 114.7 passer rating. He has thrown eight touchdown passes and no interceptions. Flacco has an 8-4 lifetime postseason record, and he will be at center stage.
Contact Marc Narducci at firstname.lastname@example.org or @sjnard on Twitter.