These 8 Tennessee NFL Stars Have Helped Write Super Bowl History

Posted on December 7, 2021

Super Bowl appearances by the Tennessee Titans have been too few for local fans — and the only one ended in heartbreak.

The lone visit was at Super Bowl XXXIV when the Titans lost 23-16 to the St. Louis Rams in January 2000 as Kevin Dyson was stopped just short of the goal line.

However, several players with Tennessee ties have had considerably more luck making it big at the Big Game. Several Volunteer State natives and former Tennessee Volunteers stars have earned rings and otherwise made huge impacts on the biggest night for American sports.

(An event, of course, where you can be sure Tennesseeans will have a close eye on Super Bowl odds.)

By the way, did you know Tennessee is one of the more prolific schools in sending alums to the Super Bowl? According to NFL Research leading up to last year’s game, the Vols had sent the third-most different players (65) to the game, trailing only USC (67) and Miami (66).

However, the Vols won’t be moving up heading into this year’s game, as no Tennessee players suited up last year.

As the clock ticks toward Feb. 13 (where the Titans could be involved), PlayTenn takes a look at some of history’s most successful players to make their way from Tennessee to the Super Bowl.

Golden Tate, WR, Seattle

A native of Hendersonville, Tate raised the Lombardi Trophy in his only Super Bowl appearance, as the wide receiver helped the Seattle Seahawks against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

That would be the last game Tate played for Seattle, parlaying that success into a nice deal in Detroit. The Notre Dame product later was traded to Philadelphia and then joined the New York Giants for two seasons.

Tate’s run in Seattle also included the infamous Fail Mary touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to beat Green Bay in a 2012 game on Monday Night Football.

And how’s this for full circle? Tate joined the hometown Titans recently and could play a role in their stretch drive.

Ramon Foster, OG, Pittsburgh

Another player with Tennessee ties made it close to the top early in his NFL career. But without getting that ring, Foster recently called it a career.

Born in western Tennessee and a former Vols standout, Ramon Foster started at right guard for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

Foster, in his second NFL season that year, was part of a team that lost 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers.

The man Foster helped protect, veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, is trying to get back to the Big Game in what could be his final season.

Without Foster on board, the Steelers have odds of a Super Bowl win this year.

Raleigh McKenzie, C, Washington

A Knoxville native and Vols standout, McKenzie won two Super Bowl titles in Washington.

After playing as linebacker for the Austin East Roadrunners in Knoxville, McKenzie signed with Tennessee alongside his twin brother, Reggie McKenzie.

Raleigh moved to offensive line in Knoxville was selected in the 11th round of the 1985 NFL Draft by Washington. In 16 professional years, McKenzie lined up at center, and left and right guard for four different teams.

In total, McKenzie boasted 184 starts in his 227 regular-season and 16 postseason contests.

Sportsbooks currently give Washington Football Team odds of a Super Bowl victory.

Reggie White, DE, Green Bay

One of the greatest to ever play, White finally found Super Bowl glory in his second NFL stop.

After dominating with the Philadelphia Eagles for eight seasons, White moved on to Green Bay, taking home Lombardi glory in Super Bowl XXXI as the Pack took down New England, 35-21.

One of the best pass rushers in NFL history, White played high school football at the Howard School in Chattanooga before dominating at Tennessee. There, he recorded 32 career sacks, earned an All-Americas honors, and was named SEC Player of the Year.

The late “Minister of Defense” also played professionally with the USFL’s Memphis Showboats. White closed his career with the Carolina Panthers in 2000 at age 39.

This year, the Packers currently have odds of winning the Super Bowl.

The Panthers carry odds of winning the Big Game.

Ed “Too Tall” Jones, DL, Dallas

Height wasn’t the only thing Ed “Too Tall” Jones had working in his favor — talent also played a major role in the 6-foot-9 star’s success.

After playing only three games of high school football, Jones traded in his celebrated basketball career for a chance at football at Tennessee State. Jones was selected to the Little All-America squad. “Too Tall” became the first player from a historically Black college to be selected No. 1 in the 1974 NFL Draft.

Jones played 15 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, participating in 16 playoffs and three Super Bowl games. He then led his team to a Super Bowl XII championship and is a primary reason the NFL now considers batted-down passes as an official statistic.

The Cowboys have odds of securing another Super Bowl win this year.

Dont’a Hightower, LB, New England

Skilled defensive asset Dont’a Hightower played high school football in middle Tennessee before the University of Alabama recruited him in 2008, and now he stars for New England. The man knows a thing or two about quality football programs.

He also knows winning, earning three Super Bowl rings in his first nine seasons. He sat out last year with COVID-19 concerns. Now, Hightower is back with the Patriots as they eye another title.

Most notably, Hightower had two sacks in a Super Bowl LII victory against the Los Angeles Rams, a game where he earned MVP consideration.

Sportsbooks give this year’s Patriots odds of coming out on top this year.

Dustin Colquitt, P, Kansas City

We’d be remiss if we didn’t show some love to the punters.

After playing college football at Tennessee, the Kansas City Chiefs snagged Colquitt in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft, very high for a player in his position.

Colquitt spent 15 seasons with the Chiefs, closing his run with the Chiefs with a Super Bowl LIV victory in 2019 against the San Francisco 49ers. He pointed twice in the 31-20 win, compiling 100 punt yards. We’re not going to look it up, but that 50.0-yard average has to be among the best ever.

Colquitt went on to play for the Steelers and Jaguars in 2020, signing to the Atlanta Falcons this past October.

Odds for the Falcons to emerge the NFL’s newest Super Bowl victors are .

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis/Denver

And last but certainly not least, some dude named Peyton Manning earned two Super Bowl titles in four career trips.

The Vols legend won it all with the Colts at Super Bowl XLI. Manning then closed his career with a Super Bowl 50 win for Denver against Carolina in his final game.

Both of Peyton’s teams have a chance to win the Super Bowl this year as the Colts carry odds and Denver dons

And hey, if the Titans don’t ultimately make it to the big stage, maybe another Tennessee son can get there.

Photo by Associated Press
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Alec Cunningham

As a college athlete, Alec Cunningham played Division II golf at Tusculum University. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Professional Writing. She then returned to her love of written word in 2000 after working in the music industry as a concert promoter, tour manager and artist developer. As a journalist, she's covered a variety of topics and currently specializes in Tennessee online sports betting and Virginia casino news. She served as a panelist at this year's All American Sports Betting Summit, discussing the ever-evolving role of women in the gambling industry.

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