Super Bowl XLV Player Watch
By Corine Gatti
Grab your chips and salsa, maybe the antacids if it's warranted--the biggest sporting event of the year is here-Super Bowl XLV! Here are some players from the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers that will inspire you or make you simply scratch your head.
Brett Favre, who? Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is not only helping fans forget the Favre saga, but said he's trying to be a positive leader for his team and coaches. Rodgers told Athletes in Action in October that he tries to mirror his father and Jesus Christ. “I use that model as I relate to my friends and family, my teammates and coaches,” Rodgers told the website.
“I want them to see that I really love and care for them as individuals. I try to build relationships. I feel if you are not personally invested in the people you spend every day with, then you are missing out on building a relationship and wonderful life experiences. That is what I like about Jesus: Jesus is about relationships."
Call it what you want, but football is a family thing for the Matthews. Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, who is known for his blond locks, also comes from a long football heritage. His father Clay Matthews, Jr. was a linebacker for the Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons, playing the most games in NFL history (278). Bruce Matthews (uncle) spent 19 seasons in the league playing with the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans and was inducted into the football Hall of Fame in 2007. He was also selected to the FCA's Hall of Champions. Clay Matthews, Sr., (grandfather) played in the NFL with the 49ers during the 1950s. The tradition continues in the Matthews' family today. Kevin (cousin) plays center for the Titans and Jake (offensive tackle) plays for Texas A&M. Casey Matthews, a younger brother, is a linebacker for the University of Oregon Ducks.
Soft spoken and yes, how we love to see that gorgeous hair--Steelers' Troy Polamalu is just a guy fans enjoy watching whether on the field or performing on those silly Head & Shoulders commercials (his black hair was insured by the company to the tune of $1 million). Polamalu is certainly no friend to the opposition--the strong safety has 63 tackles and seven interceptions, winning the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year award two votes ahead of Clay Matthews. Yet the eight-year pro sets his eyes on the most important achievement of his life--following Jesus Christ.
“In Western society there are a lot of vices we face. But Mother Teresa said it beautifully when she said God called us to be faithful, not successful. That is the model I aspire to live by,” Polamalu said in an interview with Pentecostal Evangel in 2007. “Because when you strive for worldly success you are striving for vanity in the worldly sense. Instead, your motivation needs to be Christ, as explained in Colossians 3:23.”
Former Louisiana Tech walk-on defensive back Tramon Williams had plans to become an electrical engineer. Now the Packers cornerback will be playing the biggest game of his career. Williams played a key role for the Packers when he intercepted Michael Vick's pass that sealed the Wild Card victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. In the Packers' second playoff game vs. Atlanta, Williams had two interceptions in the first half. What's his secret for success? One teammate said that Williams’ greatness during post season was derived from “...living right.”
Pittsburgh Super Bowl MVP winner in 2006 and wide receiver Hines Ward is the son of a Korean mother and African American father. His family endured discrimination in South Korea, and he wanted to make a difference in the lives of biracial families. Ward started the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation in 2006 to support those enduring hardships because of prejudices in his native land. No wonder he's always smiling.
The road to redemption? After Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was suspended by the league for offseason problems, he’s managed to stay out of trouble to lead his team to a third trip to the Super Bowl since he debuted in 2004. Roethlisberger already accomplished the feat of winning Super Bowl XL and XLIII, and fans hope he’s shredded his off field troubles for good.
Seven-time Pro Bowler and Packers' Charles Woodson (cornerback) loved wine so much while playing in Oakland, that he created his own signature label “Twentyfour Wine by Charles Woodson.” Woodson is not all about sipping wine or playing football, however. The Heisman Trophy winner, donated $2 million to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Hospital for pediatric research. He also established his own foundation to help raise money for breast cancer research.
B.J. Raji swayed his hips like a belly dancer after his interception return in the Packers' win against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game, and is moving towards football stardom (he calls himself "The Freezer"). We don’t know what entertainment or moves Raji will exhibit on Feb. 6, but we know that he’ll receive plenty of support from the stands and maybe from above. His parents, who came to New Jersey from Djibouti, are Pentecostal ministers. Regardless of who is watching him play, "The Freezer's" persona and performance (he's third in the NFL among interior linemen with 6.5 sacks) is something to keep an eye on in Super Bowl XLV.