State Stories

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NFL & Wilson Sporting Goods Honor Super Bowl Alums From Illinois High Schools

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The National Football League (NFL) will contest Super Bowl 50 this Sunday, February 7, 2016 in San Francisco. As a part of the buildup to the historic game, the NFL and official ball provider Wilson Sporting Goods are conducting the Super Bowl High School Honor Roll. The program recognizes any player or coach who ever participated in a Super Bowl by presenting their high school with a special golden Wilson football bearing that individual’s name and the Super Bowl 50 insignia.

Owen Daniels will be added to that list this weekend, as the Denver Broncos tight end quarterbacked Naperville Central to the IHSA Class 6A state title in 1999 as a junior (watch that game here on IHSA Archives).

The IHSA school with the most Super Bowl players/coaches and appearances is Mt Carmel High School in Chicago, as five total Caravan players participated in seven Super Bowls. That group includes Donovan McNabb and Simeon Rice, the latter of whom was honored at the high school on January 15, as he presented the golden Wilson football to the school to be displayed in their trophy case.

Freeport High School graduate Preston Pearson has the most appearances by an IHSA alum, as he played in five Super Bowls for three teams (Colts, Steelers, Cowboys), winning two.

Proviso East was second to Mt. Carmel with four alum appearing in seven Super Bowls, while Thornton and T.F. South each had three alum make appearances in five and four Super Bowls, respectively. Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights) had two players appear in six NFL title games, four of which came from Rodney Harrison.

Carmel Catholic (Mundelein) and since closed Assumption Catholic (East St. Louis) each had two players appear in five Super Bowls. Assumption’s total included Eric Wright, who had four of the five appearances, winning all four as a part of the San Francisco 49ers dynasty of the 1980’s.

T.F. South also recently held a High School Honor Roll ceremony, where grads Dave Smith and Pierre Thomas were recognized for their Super Bowl appearances.

Joliet Catholic Academy, the IHSA leader with 13 football state titles, has two honorees, both of whom were IHSA state champions and Super Bowl champions in 1985 Chicago Bear Tom Thayer and Tampa Bay Buccaneer standout Mike Alstott.

Other notable names from the list include:
-Ray Nitschke, legendary Green Bay Packer and Proviso East alum
-Antwaan Randle El, three-sport star at Thornton Township
-Napoleon Harris, Thornton Township grad and current Illinois State Senator
-Don Beebe, Kaneland grad won with Packers after three Super Bowl losses with the Buffalo Bills. Coached Aurora Christian to two IHSA state titles (2011, 2012)
-Mickey Pruitt, current Chicago Public Schools sports administrator played for state title at Robeson, won Super Bowl with Cowboys
-Marv Levy, Chicago native and South Shore grad famously coached Bills to to four straight Super Bowl losses
-Mike Shanahan, East Leyden grad coached Broncos to back-to-back crowns with John Elway at QB
-Kevin Greene, feared Steeler linebacker played prep ball at Granite City
-Mike Tomczak (T.F. North), Andy Frederick (St. Joseph, Westchester), Emery Moorehead (Evanston), and Gary Fencik (Barrington) join Thayer as Illinois bred players who were part of Chicago Bears Super Bowl teams

If you would like to look at the complete list of Illinois high school representatives who have played or coached in Super Bowls, visit the NFL’s searchable database on NFL.com by clicking here.