Looking for Baltimore area connections to Super Bowl LIII? The New England Patriots head coach and several players on both the Patriots and Los Angeles Rams have strong connections to the region:
Bill Belichick, Patriots head coach
Connection: Annapolis High graduate
The most decorated Super Bowl coach in NFL history grew up in Maryland. That won't stop a lot of Ravens fans from rooting against Belichick this Sunday, or any Sunday. He has already won more Super Bowls (five) than any other coach, and Belichick's Patriots are a chief rival of the Ravens. However, behind the famous Belichick scowl is a soft spot for his hometown of Annapolis (and lacrosse). Here’s what he said to some Annapolis High football players in 2017, when he surprised them with a visit.
Joe Cordona, Patriots LS
Connection: Played at Navy (2011-14)
He has been the Patriots' long snapper since his rookie season in 2015 after being drafted in the fifth round. Cordona was the first long snapper in Navy history to start as a freshman and he never had a bad snap in college. He has a trait Belichick loves – consistency.
Blake Countess, Rams DB
Connection: Owings Mills native, Good Counsel graduate
Primarily a special teams player, Countess has taken a winding path to football's biggest game. He played college football at Michigan for three years before transferring to Auburn for his final season. He was cut by the Philadelphia Eagles after being drafted in 2016, but he landed on the Rams' practice squad and worked his way onto the 53-man roster. He has already blocked a punt this season and would love to make a big special teams play in the Super Bowl.
Todd Gurley, Rams RB
Connection: Baltimore native
Gurley lived in Baltimore until was a young teenager before moving to North Carolina, where he attended high school. Gurley is a pivotal figure in the Super Bowl as the Rams' leading rusher and one of the best backs in the NFL. Rams coach Sean McVay said Friday that Gurley was 100 percent. However, Gurley only had five touches in the NFC championship game, raising concern that he has not fully recovered from a late-season knee injury.
Lawrence Guy, Patriots DE
Connection: Played with Ravens (2014-16)
In three seasons, Guy had his best year in 2015 with 46 tackles and 4 ½ sacks, including a two-sack game against the Cleveland Browns. He left the Ravens during free agency in 2017 and signed a four-year contract with the Patriots. Guy has started for the Patriots all season and has become one of their best run-stoppers.
Rob Havenstein, Rams OT
Connection: Mount Airy, Md. native, Linganore High graduate
According to Pro Football Focus, Havenstein was the best run-blocking tackle in the NFL this season. When the Rams need key yards on the ground, they often run to Havenstein's side. He played college football at Wisconsin before the Rams made him a second-round pick in 2015, but his strong ties to Maryland remain. A group of Havenstein’s friends and family planned to gather in Mount Airy to watch him play in the Super Bowl.
J.C. Jackson, Patriots CB
Connection: Played at Maryland (2016-17)
Jackson's career took off at Maryland after he arrived as a junior college transfer. He had three interceptions during his final season with the Terrapins, then he made New England's roster as an undrafted free agent in 2017. Jackson is part of the Patriots' cornerback rotation and had three interceptions this season.
Micah Kiser, Rams LB
Connection: Woodlawn, Md. native, Gilman graduate
As a fifth-round rookie this season, Kiser played primarily on special teams. But the Rams like his future at linebacker. Kiser was an outstanding high school player at Gilman and had a strong college career at Virginia.
Albert McClellan, Patriots LB
Connection: Played with Ravens (2010-18)
McClellan was extremely popular with teammates and coaches during his eight-plus-year Ravens tenure as a special teams standout. After being released on cut day this season, the Ravens re-signed him in September, and he started Week 3 against the Denver Broncos when C.J. Mosley was out with a knee injury. However, the Ravens released McClellan again on Oct. 30 and the Patriots signed him. He has continued his strong special teams presence in New England, blocking two punts in one game this season and recovering a fumble during the Patriots' playoff win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
John Simon, Patriots LB
Connection: Played with Ravens (2013)
Simon was a Ravens fourth-round pick in 2013, but he never blossomed in Baltimore and was released in 2014. He had his best NFL season with the Houston Texans in 2016, making 53 tackles and five sacks. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent in 2017, but he was released before this season. After signing with the Patriots in September, Simon had two sacks and 17 tackles in a reserve role. He had a ½ sack in the AFC Championship.