Nate Gerry earned a Super Bowl ring last season with Philadelphia in Super Bowl LII
Photo by Philadelphia Eagles

Nebraska Proud of Its Rich Super Bowl History

By Randy York

Five national titles. Forty-six conference championships (NCAA record). Consecutive 368 game sellouts. Fifty-three Bowl appearances. Three Heisman Trophy winners. Nebraska is one of the five best college football programs in history.

This column goes one step further and looks at Nebraska’s success on the biggest stage in professional football – the Super Bowl.

Can it get any better for Nebraska fans who absolutely cannot lose while watching the pageantry of the world’s biggest stage?

Some will be rooting for Ndamukong Suh, a defensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams.

Others will be cheering for Rex Burkhead, a running back for the New England Patriots.

If I know Husker fans, they will be rooting semi-equally for both teams, even if they compete against each other.   

Bottom line, there is no place like Nebraska and no place in the world to showcase NFL football with the hearts and minds of Husker players, coaches and fans. Small wonder why Big Red fans embrace every aspect of tradition, especially when two of their own are involved.

Yes, Nebraska coaches, players and fans are unique. They have a habit to endorse generational achievements that validate cultural values.  

This weekend is a good time to analyze how and why Nebraska can claim the longest streak in the nation for Super Bowl players. Nebraska fans also remember how the Huskers have gone 56 straight years with an NFL draft pick, a fact that ranks No. 5 nationally.

In the last four seasons, Nebraska has delivered seven Pro Bowl picks. The Huskers also have produced 359 all-time NFL draft picks, giving Nebraska a No. 6 ranking in that category.

The Huskers also have five Pro Football Hall-of-Famers, including two who were enshrined in the last four years -- Mick Tingelhoff (Vikings) and Will Shields (Chiefs).

In the midst of those accomplishments, we thought Husker football fans would enjoy a Top Ten stroll through memory lane, so we can understand why Nebraska continues to be a significant part of college football’s blue bloods.

We also can look through the eyes of other Husker letterwinners who cherish memories of Big Red football on a national stage.

For more than half a century, Nebraska has compiled chronological experiences that diehard fans never will forget.

I asked Red Beran, an offensive lineman on Nebraska’s first two national championship football teams, to help me capture the highlights of 69 former Husker greats who played or coached in a Super Bowl. Red was happy to oblige, just like so many other walk-on letter-winners from small Nebraska towns.    

Here is Beran’s Top 10 Nebraska Players of all time:

1. Mick Tingelhoff, a center who played six decades ago with two of those decades in the NFL. He is now in the NFL Hall of Fame.

2. Roger Craig, a running back who was so fundamentally gifted, he helped the San Francisco 49ers win three Super Bowl Championships.

3. Russ Hochstein, an offensive lineman who helped protect New England’s Tom Brady in back-to-back wins in the Super Bowl.

4. John Parrella, a defensive tackle who played 12 seasons for three teams in the NFL before spending 10 years as a defensive coach.

5. Grant Wistrom, a defensive lineman who helped Nebraska win three national collegiate championships before spending six years in the NFL at St. Louis and three years in Seattle.

6. Tom Rathman, a fullback who spent eight years with the San Francisco 49ers and led all NFL running backs in the fine art of receiving.

7. Vince Ferragamo, a quarterback who spent seven years with the Los Angeles Rams before finishing his NFL career at Buffalo and Green Bay. Vince is still the only former Husker to start at quarterback in a Super Bowl game.

8. Kent McCloughan and Warren Powers, two dedicated players who became the first former Huskers to play in any Super Bowl (II).

9. Super Bowl XI featured four former Cornhuskers: Doug Dumler (Minnesota); Monte Johnson (Oakland); Dave Humm (10 NFL years, five in Oakland); and Rik Bonness (All-American center at Nebraska who played for Oakland and Tampa Bay).  

10. Clete Blakeman, a popular backup quarterback at Nebraska before becoming the only Husker letterwinner to officiate a Super Bowl game. If you cannot squeeze in one of pro football’s most respected officials for legendary moments, you’ve missed the point.

It’s fun to turn back the clock and also remember the names who have helped make Nebraska football one of the best programs in America. Please congratulate those who helped build Memorial Stadium on football Saturdays.

Remember the likes of Pat Fischer, Ron McDole, Ted Vactor, Joe Blahak, Willie Harper, Bob Nelson, Ray Phillips, Keith Bishop, George Andrews, Bill Barnett, Rod Horn, Andra Franklin, Henry Waechter, Mitch Krenk, Jamie Williams, Irving Fryer, Shane Swanson, Tom Rathman, Jim Skow, Brian Davis, Marc Munford, Neil Smith, Nate Turner, Calvin Jones, Donta Jones, Brenden Stai, Doug Colman, Christian Peter, Tony Veland, Tyrone Williams, Michael Booker, Mike Minter and Adam Treu.  

Equal recognition is deserving for the likes of Mike Rucker, Mike Brown, Ralph Brown, Eric Johnson, Josh Brown, Scott Shanle, Sam Koch, Le Kevin Smith, Stewart Bradley, Brandon Jackson, Andrew Shanle, Carl Nicks, Cody Glenn, Prince Amukamara, Alfonzo Dennard, Eric Martin, Zaire Anderson, Vince Valentine, Eric Martin and Nate Gerry.

What a group, but let’s not stop there so we can honor Husker coaches like Monte Kiffin with Tampa Bay in 2002, Gene Huey with Indianapolis in 2006, Tom Rathman with San Francisco in 2012 and Zac Taylor, the Husker/NFL standout with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019.

It’s easy to understand why Nebraska is so proud of its rich Super Bowl history.

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