A Tale As Old As Time

A Tale As Old As Time
Reading Time: 6 minutes.

February 3rd 2002. Super Bowl XXXVI.

The New England Patriots lead by second year quarterback, Tom Brady, took to the field in New Orleans to face “The Greatest Show on Turf”. The 14-2 St. Louis Rams, featuring in their second Super Bowl in three seasons, were the overwhelming favourites.

Several hours later, New England had it’s first Super Bowl. Tom Brady had his first Super Bowl MVP award. With Adam Vinatieri’s field goal as time ticked away, the face of football changed forever.

Fast forward seventeen years and the two teams meet again in Super Bowl LIII. So much has changed in those years. Hell, the Rams have even changed city! Rules have changed, though do we really know what defines a catch?! Players have come and gone from both franchises.

A tale as old as time…

One thing has remained. A tale as old as time itself. Tom Brady is still the quarterback of the New England Patriots. His success divides the sport’s fan base like no other. Love him or hate him, his longevity in a league designed to provide inconsistency is staggering and inspiring. His ability to consistently perform at the highest level as others around him have crumbled is phenomenal. His success in the game is without parallel.

Much has, and will be, made of the ages of the players that will line up alongside and against Brady on Sunday night. His running back, Sony Michel, was just six years old when Tom lifted the Lombardi Trophy for the first time. His opposite quarterback, Jared Goff, was just seven. Rams head coach Sean McVay, who will plot the Patriots downfall, was just 16 years old!

All impressive numbers but to truly consider the unbelievable feat, is it not more important to consider what became of those other players? Brady is still here seventeen years later, what became of them?

In the first part of two, I will look at the Patriots starting line up from that game.

Offensive Line…

LT Matt Light: A second round pick out of Purdue in 2011, Light spent his entire career at the Patriots. Whilst there he played in 155 games. He retired in 2011 a three time Super Bowl champion but missed out on a fourth when the Patriots lost to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI.

LG Mike Compton: Drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1993, Compton tasted immediate success at the Patriots and went on to win two Super Bowls. He joined the Jacksonville Jaguars for 2004 before retiring. After retirement he went on to coach college football.

C Damien Woody: A local boy, the Patriots drafted Woody out of Boston College in 1999. He would win two Super Bowls with the Patriots before joining the Detroit Lions in 2004. Woody crossed paths with the Patriots as a New York Jet before retiring in 2011 to join ESPN.

RG Joe Andruzzi: I am claiming Andruzzi as our own here in the UK as he spent 1998 in Scotland playing for the Claymores! He picked up three Super Bowls with the Patriots before retiring as a Cleveland Brown. His post football career has been spent helping others, setting up the Joe Andruzzi foundation in 2008. He was on the scene of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and his heroism was captured on film.

RT Greg Randall: Super Bowl XXXVI was Randall’s only taste of success in the league. He bounced around the league after being traded to the Texans and was finally cut by the Cleveland Browns before the 2005 season. His last game of football came in the Arena League for the New York Dragons.

Receivers and Backs…

WR Troy Brown: Brown was an eighth round pick for the Patriots in 1993. He made a fifteen year career in the league, all in New England, and was rewarded with three Super Bowls. After retiring, Brown was voted in to the New England Patriots Hall of Fame and remains a firm fan favourite. He has since turned his hand to media work, including cameo appearances on TV and film.

WR David Patten: Another Patriots player to win the Super Bowl three times, Patten ended his career in 2010 with New England after stops in Washington, New Orleans and Cleveland. He is currently an assistant coach at Western Carolina Catamounts.

TE Jermaine Wiggins: Wiggins had the one Super Bowl with New England before playing for the Colts, Panthers, Vikings, Jaguars and finally the Florida Tuskers. After retiring he pursued a media career and currently hosts a morning show on a Boston hip hop station.

RB Antowain Smith: Smith was the first player to run on to the pitch in celebration as Vinatieri’s kick sailed through to win Super Bowl XXXVI. He added another Super Bowl with the Patriots before joining the Titans. He played his final season in 2005 for the New Orleans Saints.

FB Marc Edwards: Although he won the one Super Bowl with the Patriots, Edwards will probably be most famous for being only the second ever Notre Dame player to be carried off the field by his team mates. He last played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears.

Defensive Line…

DE Bobby Hamilton: Another Patriot who tasted NFL Europe, the undrafted free agent won two Super Bowls with New England. He played for the Oakland Raiders and New York Jets before retiring as a Cleveland Brown.

DT Brandon Mitchell: Mitchell compiled 198 tackles and 11 sacks in a career that came to an end with Seattle in 2004. Super Bowl XXXVI would be his only taste of victory in the big game.

DT Richard Seymour: The Patriots defence was the show piece of the Super Bowl XXXVI winning team and Seymour might just have been it’s best piece. He went on to win three Super Bowls with the team, and during his entire career was a three time first team All Pro. His career came to an end at the conclusion of the 2012 season after an injury ravaged season voided his contract with the Oakland Raiders.

DE Anthony Pleasant: After being drafted in the third round of the 1990 draft by the Cleveland Browns, Pleasant finally tasted success at the end of his career. He spent his last seasons in New England which yielded him two Super Bowls. He retired after Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Linebackers…

LB Mike Vrabel: Vrabel was a defensive juggernaut! On his way to three Super Bowls with New England he racked up 57 career sacks, 11 interceptions and 740 tackles. He ended his playing career in Kansas City before embarking on a coaching career. He started as linebackers coach at Ohio State, his former college and made his way through the Houston Texans to his current gig as the Head Coach of the Tennessee Titans.

LB Tedy Bruschi: Another defensive weapon for the Patriots! Bruschi was a three times Super Bowl Champion for New England where he spent his entire career. Following the 2005 Pro Bowl, Bruschi suffered a stoke but it was testament that he returned to playing the game he loved. His courage earned him the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2005. Bruschi retired from the game in 2009 and was inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2013.

LB Roman Phifer: A second round pick in the 1991 draft, Phifer started his career with the Rams. He would find his revenge on the team with victory in Super Bowl XXXVI and added two more before leaving the Patriots for the Giants in 2005. He finished his playing career there and was hired in 2009 as assistant linebackers coach. Also in 2009, he produced a film entitled ‘Blood Equity’ which was a hard hitting look at life after football.

Secondary…

CB Ty Law: A first round pick out of Michigan in the 2005 draft, Law was widely regarded as the best cornerback to ever play for the Patriots. Super Bowl XXXVI was his first of three. He lead the league in interceptions for the Patriots in 1998 but also found success outside of New England. Law had another interception leading season for the Jets in 2005. He played in the NFL until 2010 after being released by the Broncos. In retirement he has launched a chain of entertainment facilities called ‘Launch Trampoline Park’.

CB Otis Smith: It was Smith’s second stint in New England that earned him his only Super Bowl ring. He ended his career with the Detroit Lions and is currently an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs.

SS Lawyer Milloy: The safety out of Washington spent fifteen seasons in the league before retiring as a Seattle Seahawk. Super Bowl XXXVI would be his only title in a career that earned him four Pro Bowl appearances and a first team All-Pro nod in 1999.

FS Tebucky Jones: Jones started and ended his career with the Patriots with stops in Miami and New Orleans in between. He ended his career with 6 interceptions and a Super Bowl ring. He currently is the head coach of the New Britain Golden Hurricanes, his former high school team.

Kickers…

K Adam Vinatieri: The game winner that night in New Orleans is the only other active player in the league. He is still performing at the highest level and recently signed for another year with the Indianapolis Colts. He is the only player that started for the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI who won another Super Bowl outside of New England. For many, myself included, he is simply the best.

P Ken Walter: Whilst Vinatieri gets all the plaudits for the kicks which won XXXVI and XXXVIII, many won’t remember that it was punter Walter who was the holder. Unfortunately for Walter, his career came to an end after a season ending injury in 2006.

In the second part of this look back at Super Bowl XXXVI, I will examine the Rams team from that game. Be sure to keep an eye out for it. If you enjoyed this, or didn’t, find me at @ojhodgkinson on Twitter for feedback.

Photo Credit: USA Today

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