COLUMN: Joe's turn

As a Detroit Lions fan first, and even an Atlanta Falcons fan second, this Super Bowl is going to be a little less fun for me.

Sure, it’s the story of brother coaches, two underrated quarterbacks and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis’ supposed last career game.

There are plenty of reasons to stand by both Baltimore and San Francisco, but I can’t help looking past those storylines to a slightly more personal one.

When 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick takes his first snap Sunday, he’ll rely on his 6-foot-5, 315-pound left tackle to watch his back.

That tackle – Joe Staley – graduated from Central Michigan in 2007. He was drafted 28th overall by San Francisco.

I got the opportunity to meet Staley two years ago at a press conference at CMU’s spring football game.

As journalists and camera personnel crowded into a narrow press box, three former CMU players took turns answering questions.

Quarterback Dan LeFevour was the first to speak, answering questions about his tryouts with several teams, hoping to make a name for himself in the NFL.

Next, Green Bay Packers linebacker Frank Zombo held the reporters’ attention, speaking of his team’s recent Super Bowl victory.

After a lone season in the NFL, the Sterling Heights native went from undrafted free agent to recording a sack and five tackles on the biggest stage imaginable.

Zombo wasn’t arrogant, but he was proud. He had achieved something many players only dream of – he won a Super Bowl.

As the media ran out of questions for their second guest, Staley drew what was left of the room’s attention.

He was picked in the first round of the 2007 draft but had not reached the playoffs in his first three seasons.

Sitting in the press box, he joked with Zombo about his cockiness now that he earned a ring. That same year, rookie wide receiver Antonio Brown made crucial plays in his first Super Bowl appearance for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But the offensive tackle did seem a little agitated by the rookies good fortune.

Two years later, Staley has his chance to even the score with his fellow alum.

Starting at left tackle for San Francisco, the former Chippewa will play in his first super bowl, and I can’t help but be excited for him.

Linemen don’t get the attention quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs get. They don’t get the attention linebackers get.

But a ring is a ring, and I’ll never get sick of seeing CMU alums donning championship rings.


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