Super Bowl LI will provide a handful of local ties for sports fans from Maryland.
New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona is a Naval Academy alum drafted by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick -- the son of former Navy assistant Steve Belichick. University of Maryland alum Darius Kilgo could be a Super Bowl champion for the second time in just his second NFL season -- the defensive tackle is on the Patriots' practice squad after being on the Denver Broncos' 53-man roster a season ago. Baltimore native Cyrus Jones has struggled during his first season as a cornerback/return specialist for New England but could also get a ring.
The Atlanta Falcons' roster features former Ravens linebacker Courtney Upshaw and guard Chris Chester, as well as former Maryland defensive tackle Joe Vellano. Atlanta's tight ends coach, Wade Harman, previously served in the same capacity with the Ravens as well. And then there's one other local connection you might not be quite as aware of.
Not only is Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn an alum of Salisbury University, he is one of the more accomplished athletes in Sea Gulls football history. Quinn was a four-year starter from 1990-93 and two-year captain. He also ran track and field, representing then-Salisbury State in the hammer throw at the 1994 NCAA championships.
It was at Salisbury he began to mold his future as a coach, paying close attention to his own head football coach, Joe Rotellini, and also to head Salisbury lacrosse coach Jim Berkman, who would win the first of his 11 national championships during Quinn's senior year.