There won’t be any Rice football alums participating in Super Bowl LV, but the Owls do share a few connections with the Big Game.
Super Bowl LV marks the end of the 2020 NFL Season. Seven former Rice football players have made an appearance in the Big Game. And although there won’t be any Owls’ on the field this Sunday, several share a few connections to this year’s Super Bowl.
The first link comes by way of a very recent Rice offensive lineman. Nick Leverett, who played for the Owls in 2019 as a grad transfer before going pro, was a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad for the entire 2020 season. He didn’t make any regular season appearances for the Bucs and was released following the NFC Championship Game. If things work out, he could be back with the Bucs next season.
The next close call is current NFL Pro Bowler Jack Fox. Now a Lion, Fox spent a good portion of last season on the Chiefs’ practice squad following a training camp battle with incumbent Dustin Colquitt. The Chiefs have since moved on from Colquitt and turned to rookie Tommy Townsend in his place. Had the stars aligned differently, Fox could have been playing in this game wearing red and white.
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Another Rice alum had a close call in 2015. James Casey, now the tight ends coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, was a member of the Super Bowl Champion Broncos at the beginning of the season, but was released in October, prior to the team’s Super Bowl 50 victory over the Carolina Panthers.
The year prior to that marked the last time Rice football was represented on the Super Bowl field by one of their own. Luke Willson, tight end for the Seattle Seahawks, appeared in Super Bowl XLVIII following the 2013 season and Super Bowl XLIX following the 2014 season.
Willson caught two passes for 17 yards against the Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII, becoming the all-time leader in Super Bowl receiving yards for a Rice player. Earl Cooper, who caught a touchdown pass from Joe Montana in Super Bowl XVI, had held the record previously. Willson returned to the big stage the following season, playing in the Seahawks’ last-second loss to the New England Patriots.
Beyond the individual athletes, Historic Rice Stadium shares a Super Bowl connection, too. The Owls’ home field served as the host site for Super Bowl VIII where the Dolphins beat the Vikings, 24-7.
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