It’s the biggest game in the sports world. Super Bowl 50 will take place Sunday afternoon as the Carolina Panthers face the Denver Broncos.
As usual, there are all sorts of storylines heading into the game. One team will exit as champions for the year, while the other will have gotten so close only to come up short.
In Minnesota, Vikings fans are probably still bitter about Blair Walsh’s missed field goal against the Seahawks. But we might as well shake it off, because who knows who far they would’ve after Seattle?
If you’re looking for Minnesota connections to the biggest game in sports this week, they’re actually not that hard to find. Here are four of them.
Carolina Defensive End Jared Allen
Jared Allen came to the Vikings in free agency before the 2008 season and spent six seasons in Minnesota. He quickly became a fan favorite for his tenacious approach at defensive end and calf-roping celebrations after sacks. He had double-digit sacks in every season with the Vikings, highlighted by 22 in the 2001 season.
That, and when he talked on the radio and appeared on TV, he seemed like an all-around good dude who would be fun to hang out with. He missed the NFC title game due to injury, so his playing status for Sunday could still be up in the air.
Joe Webb, Special Teams For Carolina
Joe Webb was an incredibly frustrating player for fans to watch when he was with the Vikings. He had all the athleticism and speed to be a big-time player, but he never developed. Whether that’s on him or his coaches at the time is an entirely different conversation. He was a back-up quarterback for the Vikings and had to start a playoff game when Christian Ponder couldn’t play at Green Bay. It was a disaster.
Webb is now mostly a special teams player with Carolina with eight tackles on the season. He’s also returned eight kickoffs. The thought of him winning a Super Bowl ring makes most Vikings fans cringe.
Kurt Coleman, Panthers Safety
Kurt Coleman is the type of player that could make Vikings fans question their coaching staff and their front office. He signed with the Vikings in 2014, but was cut just before the start of the regular season.
He’s blossomed this season in Carolina, his first with the Panthers. In the secondary, he’s third on a great defense with 90 tackles on the season. That includes 55 solo tackles and one sack. He’s become one of the top secondary players in the NFL with seven interceptions and has one defensive touchdown on the year.
One has to wonder if the Vikings missed something in their evaluation of Coleman. If Carolina beats Denver, he could have a large say in the outcome.
Ryan Harris, Denver Broncos OL
Ryan Harris, an offensive lineman for the Denver Broncos, is “one of us.” He’s a Minnesota native who played football and wrestled at Cretin-Derham Hall. He’s also included in the pipeline of Cretin alums who played college football at Notre Dame.
Harris is now in his ninth NFL season and at right tackle, started all 16 regular season games for the Broncos. It would be fun to see a Minnesota native get a Super Bowl ring because as we all know, you only get so many chances.
So if you’re looking to find a rooting interest in Sunday’s game, there are a few of the local connections.