|Tarvaris Jackson as a Viking.|
Arguably the biggest sporting event of the year (except for the Iron Bowl, of course), is set for this coming Sunday when the New England Patriots face the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Az.
This year’s Super Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium, and coverage of the game is set to start at 5:30 p.m. on NBC. As you might have imagined about the two top teams in the NFL this year, both teams feature a number of players with Alabama connections.
The Super Bowl player with the strongest connection to the state is Seattle quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who is not only from Alabama, but also played his college ball within the state. Jackson, age 31, is a native of Montgomery and graduated from Sidney Lanier High School in 2001. Many of you will remember that, Jackson, who is 6-foot-2 and tips the scales at 225 pounds, played quarterback at Alabama State and was later drafted by the Minnesota Vikings. Since then, he’s played in the NFL for nine years, and if you get to looking for him on Sunday, he wears jersey No. 7.
Other Seattle players with Alabama ties include offensive guard James Carpenter, wide receiver Kevin Norwood and defensive tackle Jesse Williams. Carpenter, who wears jersey No. 77, played his college ball at Alabama and has played in the NFL for four seasons. Carpenter, 25, grew up in Augusta, Ga. and is listed as 6-5, 321 pounds.
Norwood, who wears jersey No. 81, also played college football at Alabama and this is his rookie season in the NFL. Norwood, 25, grew up in D’Iberville, Miss. and is listed as 6-2, 199 pounds.
Williams, who wears jersey No. 90, also played college football at Alabama and this is his second season in the NFL. Williams, 24, is a native of Brisbane, Australia and is listed as 6-3, 325 pounds.
The New England Patriots have two players with ties to Alabama, rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler and third-year linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Butler, who wears jersey No. 21, played college football at the University of West Alabama in Livingston. Butler, 24, is a native of Vicksburg, Miss. and is listed as 5-11, 190 pounds.
Hightower, who wears jersey No. 54, played college ball at the University of Alabama, where he starred on some of Nick Saban’s best teams. Hightower, 24, grew up in Lewisburg, Tenn. and is listed as 6-3, 270 pounds.
As of Monday morning, New England was a one-point favorite over the Seahawks, and I honestly think this game is a toss up. On paper, New England has the better offense, but Seattle seems to have the stronger defense. It’s been said that defense wins championships, but instead of picking Seattle to win, I’m going to go with my gut and predict that New England will win. This isn’t Bill Belichick or Tom Brady’s first rodeo, and I look for the Patriots to edge out Seattle, 31-25.