You might have heard that Super Bowl 50 is today. From painting each stadium's 50-yard line numbers gold, to re-broadcasting Super Bowl I for the first time ever, the NFL has gone all-in this season in promoting the history of The Big Game.
It's also happens to be a special Super Bowl for Ohio State. With five former Buckeyes taking the field between the Carolina Panthers (4) and the Denver Broncos (1), Super Bowl 50 has quite the scarlet and gray theme to it. This evening's Buckeye representation will tie Super Bowls XI and XXXIV for most former Buckeyes on a Super Bowl roster.
To add to the nostalgia, we've scoured through each Super Bowl, looking for the five best moments from former Buckeyes. Keep in mind, these can be singular plays, performances over the course of one, or multiple Super Bowls, and everything in between.
But first, here are a couple of moments that just missed making the top five:
Jim Marshall plays in four Super Bowls for the Minnesota Vikings
Jim Marshall may be best known for his 'Wrong Way Run,' against the San Francisco 49ers in 1965, but make no mistake, his career was much more than one epic blunder.
Marshall is unofficially credited with 127 career sacks, and also held the NFL record for most career starts (270) until being passed by Brett Favre in 2009. He still holds the NFL career record for most opponent's fumbles recovered (29), and was elected to the Vikings Ring of Honor in 1999. As a member of the Vikings dominant 'Purple People Eaters' defensive line of the 1960s and 70s, Marshall helped Minnesota reach four Super Bowls in an eight year span.
Minnesota lost all four, but Marshall remains tied with Mike Vrabel for the most appearances in The Big Game by a former Buckeye. Not a bad accomplishment for one of the most underrated -- and under appreciated -- players in NFL history.
Paul Warfield wins two rings in the 1970s
Warfield was a key cog of the Miami Dolphins mini-dynasty of the early-70s, acting as the lead receiver in Head Coach Don Shula's offense. Warfield helped the Dolphins to three straight Super Bowl appearances -- the latter two of which were victories -- including Miami's Super Bowl VIII victory over Marshall's Vikings.
The Ohio State legend caught nine passes for 108 yards in his Super Bowl career, becoming the first Buckeye to win multiple rings. As if winning two Super Bowls and playing a major role on the only undefeated team in NFL History wasn't nice enough, Warfield was also enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Now that we've given two Buckeye greats their due shine, here are the top five Ohio State moments in Super Bowl history:
5. Eddie George's 130 total yards and two touchdowns in Super Bowl XXXIV
Heading into Super Bowl XXXIV, Eddie George was at the top of his game. The former Heisman Trophy winner capped off his fourth straight season of over 1,400 total yards by gaining 391 total yards and a touchdown in Tennessee's first three playoff games.
George's efforts helped the Titans reach their first Super Bowl, as they squared off against the St. Louis Rams. Tennessee was shut out in the first half, but George's two second half touchdown runs rallied the Titans from a 16-0 deficit to a tie game late in the fourth quarter.
Though Tennessee ultimately lost -- coming one yard and an extra point shy of forcing the first overtime in Super Bowl history -- George more than proved his worth. The former Buckeye ran 28 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns, while adding two receptions for another 35.
George's shake-and-bake, bulldozing touchdown run to bring the Titans within three points in the fourth quarter is worth a spot on this list by itself:
4. Mike Vrabel's touchdowns in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX
As a member of the early 2000s New England Patriots dynasty, Mike Vrabel routinely went above and beyond the usual job description of an NFL linebacker. On top of playing multiple positions along the New England front seven, Vrabel was also used sporadically in goal line packages on offense.
Over the course of his 14-year career, Vrabel caught 10 passes for 14 yards, all for touchdowns. While it may have seemed like a gimmick, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick wasn't afraid to break out this particular wrinkle when it mattered most.
With New England trailing the Carolina Panthers, 22-21 late in Super Bowl XXXVIII, Vrabel's one-yard touchdown gave the Patriots the lead with under three minutes to play:
Michigan to Ohio State. Actually kind of disgusting, to be honest.
Though Carolina quickly responded to tie the game at 29, the Patriots kicked the winning field goal with only four seconds left to play, giving them two Super Bowl titles in three seasons.
New England returned to the Super Bowl the next season, giving Vrabel a chance to replicate his seemingly once-in-a-career opportunity. Though not as dramatic a situation as the year prior, Vrabel's juggling two-yard touchdown reception gave the Patriots a 14-7 lead early in the third quarter:
New England would go on to win, 24-21, joining the 1990s Dallas Cowboys as the only franchises in the Super Bowl era to win three championships in four seasons.
The two receiving touchdowns are by far Vrabel's most recognizable Super Bowl moments, but he didn't let up on defense either. Vrabel also recorded three total sacks over the two games, to go along with a host of other tackles in his four Super Bowl appearances. That versatility and all-around production ultimately helped earn Vrabel three Super Bowl rings, the most of any former Buckeye.
3. Jack Tatum's hit on Sammy White, Super Bowl XI
Known as one of the fiercest hitters in NFL history, Jack Tatum patrolled the middle of the field for the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s, earning three trips to the Pro Bowl in the process. In an era where tackling rules were significantly looser, Tatum earned the nickname 'The Assassin' for his vicious playing style.
The late Tatum's hitting prowess was never more on display than in Super Bowl XI. With the Raiders leading the Minnesota Vikings 19-7 in the second half, quarterback Fran Tarkenton dropped back and hit receiver Sammy White on a post route, before Tatum made arguably the biggest hit in Super Bowl history:
The hit not only came to define Tatum's playing style, but also the toughness and swagger of the 1970s Raiders defense. Oakland would go on to win the game, 32-14.
Today, Tatum's hit would have rightfully drawn a flag, (along with a fine, and probably a suspension) but nearly forty years after it happened, still stands as one of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history, and to be honest, has a legitimate argument to be at the top of this list.
2. Santonio Holmes comes up clutch, Super Bowl XLIII
Simply put, Santonio Holmes was a beast in the 2008 NFL playoffs. He returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in the Pittsburgh Steelers Wild Card win over the San Diego Chargers, and also caught a 65-yard touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game the following week. Holmes often shined in the postseason, racking up over 500 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns in seven career playoff games.
He saved his finest performance, however, for Super Bowl XLIII. In one of the most epic Super Bowls ever, Holmes hauled in 9 passes for 131 yards and a touchdown to win Super Bowl MVP honors. Though Holmes gave the Arizona Cardinals defense fits all game, the Steelers final drive made him a Super Bowl legend.
With Pittsburgh trailing by three with two and a half minutes left, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would turn to Holmes to win the game. The former Buckeye caught four passes for 73 yards on the final drive, including this sweet 40-yard reception to put the Steelers on the verge of a title:
Two plays later, he sealed the deal, making one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history:
As the first and only Buckeye to earn Super Bowl MVP honors, Holmes seems like the obvious choice for the number one spot, especially given the magnitude of the moment. However, he'll have to settle for second, coming just behind a player whose Super Bowl performance helped change the landscape of the NFL.
1. Matt Snell and the Jets make history, Super Bowl III
For most Ohio State fans -- especially younger ones -- Matt Snell is probably an afterthought. From 1961 to 1964, Snell was a halfback for the Buckeyes, gaining 815 yards from scrimmage and scoring 7 touchdowns.
Following his Ohio State career, Snell opted to join the American Football League's New York Jets, snubbing the NFL's New York Giants, who had also drafted him. While he had a very productive nine year career, his performance in Super Bowl III would be his finest moment.
Of course, the game is most remembered for quarterback Joe Namath's legendary guarantee that the underdog Jets would upset the NFL's Baltimore Colts, and secure the AFL's first Super Bowl victory. While Namath backed up his talk with a solid performance -- 17 of 28 passing for 206 yards -- it was Snell who powered the Jets to a 16-7 victory, and probably should have won the MVP over Namath.
Snell rushed 30 times for 121 yards, while catching four passes for another forty yards in a dominating all-around performance. He also scored what would be the Jets' only touchdown of the day:
Snell became not only the first former Buckeye to score a touchdown in the Super Bowl, but also the first to win one. Both are enough to earn him the top spot here, but the Jets victory held a significance in the then-shifting NFL.
In the prior two Super Bowls, the AFL had been outscored 68-24, and was in desperate need of a victory, which didn't look promising, given that the Jets were an 18-point underdog. Their win gave legitimacy and respect to the once renegade league looking to prove it belonged. While Snell's Super Bowl III may not be remembered the way Tatum's and Holmes' are, it quietly carries a greater lasting impact on the NFL as we know it today, making it number one on our list.
With five former Buckeyes set to take the field in meaningful roles today, there's a good chance that one of them will add to this list by the end of Super Bowl 50.