Georgians in Super Bowl 53: McVay, 6 local players to make homecoming
It’s been just 15 years since Sean McVay was Georgia’s Class AAAA football player of the year and the quarterback of the state-champion Marist School of Atlanta.
Now the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, McVay is coming back to Atlanta for the Super Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The Rams defeated the New Orleans Saints, 26-23, in the NFC Championship game and will play the New England Patriots Feb. 3 in Atlanta.
Six players in the game also are from Georgia. They are tight end Gerald Everett (Columbia) of the Rams and center David Andrews (Wesleyan), cornerback Jonathan Jones (Carrollton), linebacker Ufomba Kamalu (Starr’s Mill) and tackles Trent Brown (Westover) and Ulrick John (Bradwell Institute) of the Patriots.
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Former Georgia players have appeared in every Super Bowl except one. That was Super Bowl II in 1968.
Three have been named most valuable players. They are Hines Ward of Forest Park with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2005, Deion Branch of Monroe with the Patriots in 2004 and Richard Dent of Murphy with the Chicago Bears in 1985.
Pro Football Hall of Fame member Rayfield Wright, a graduate of Fairmont High in Griffin, has played in the most Super Bowls among Georgians with five, all with the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s.
The first Super Bowl champion from Georgia was Bill Curry, who played for the Packers’ Super Bowl I team under coach Vince Lombardi. Curry played at College Park High and went on to become head coach at Georgia Tech and Alabama.
McVay will be the fourth former Georgia high school football player to become a Super Bowl head coach. The others are Dan Reeves of Americus High, Ken Whisenhunt of Richmond Academy and Sam Wyche of North Atlanta.
None of the previous three Georgia head coaches won a Super Bowl. Reeves lost with Denver Broncos’ 1986, 1987 and 1989 teams and the Atlanta Falcons’ 1998 team. Wyche lost with the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals. Whisenhunt lost with the 2008 Arizona Cardinals.
Reeves did win a Super Bowl as a player with the Cowboys in the 1971 season.
McVay was just as good a player as Reeves – in high school. It’s been reported many times lately that McVay beat out Calvin Johnson for the Class AAAA player-of-the-year award. Johnson played at Sandy Creek, which didn’t have the offensive scheme or resources to allow Johnson to put up the kinds of numbers he’d produce at Georgia Tech and Detroit Lions.
McVay was just 5 feet, 10 inches, 180 pounds at the time, but ran Marist’s wishbone offense better than anyone before or since. He rushed and passed for more than 1,000 yards and led Marist to one of its only two state titles. McVay has brushed off the notion that he was better than “Megatron,” though.
“He was a five-star recruit, best receiver in the country, and here I am, just a tough competitor that’s on a state-championship team,” McVay once told a Los Angeles Times reporter, one of many to bring up the subject that’s become part of McVay lore. “Really what that was is it was a reflection of the team success we had, and then we were able to have some good stats because we won the state championship.’’
McVay went to Miami of Ohio, where he played wide receiver and caught 39 passes for 312 yards in his career. He graduated in 2008 and jumped quickly into pro football.
Marist head coach Alan Chadwick, who has over 350 career victories, was asked in 2017 which of his former players was the best.
This was his answer to Georgia High School Football Daily: “I would have to say the most memorable player I have coached based on his character and inspiration was Sean McVay, our quarterback in 2003 when we won the state championship. Sean’s mental and physical toughness and his ability to lead a team were tremendous. Obviously, he still has it, as witnessed by how well he is leading the Los Angeles Rams in his first year as their head coach.”
That was after the Rams were 7-2 last season, and McVay, at 31, was the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. He turns 33 on Jan. 24.
Now, he’s the youngest head coach in Super Bowl history.