COLUMN: CMU representation in Super Bowl was astounding
CMU prides itself on building leaders – and champions.
Whether it's a championship on any of the Division I sports, club sports or in the professional ranks, CMU prides itself on building leaders – and champions.
Two Chippewas -- Sean Murphy-Bunting and Antonio Brown -- sized the opportunity as part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win their first Super Bowl with the 31-9 win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida.
Two other Chippewas -- Eric Fisher and Mike Danna -- were members of the Chiefs with Fisher playing in his seventh season and Danna in his first.
CMU tied for second with four former players in the game. LSU lead with six, Clemson, Iowa and Michigan also each had four former players on the Super Bowl rosters.
Tampa Bay, led by future hall-of-fame quarterback Tom Brady, jumped out to a 7-3 lead with a touchdown pass from Brady to tight end Rob Gronkowski in the first quarter, and the Buccaneers did not look back.
Another TD pass from Brady to Gronkowski put Tampa in front 14-3 in the second quarter. Later in the quarter, Brady found Brown for a 1-yard TD strike with six seconds to play in the half.
Running back Leonard Fournette added a 27-yard TD run in the third quarter before kicker Ryan Succop punched in a 52-yard field goal to round out the scoring, giving Tampa the 31-9 win and its first Super Bowl victory since 2002.
On the defensive side for Tampa Bay, the front seven were able to apply constant pressure to Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Without Fisher, KC struggled to do anything offensively -- run or pass.
The Buccaneer secondary was significant to slow down the NFL's top offense in KC. Murphy-Bunting helped stop the Chief offense with six tackles (3 solo) and a pass deflection in his first Super Bowl in his second season in the league.
While two Chippewas won and two lost, there is still plenty to be proud of for each CMU great.
Here is a recap of the former Chippewas part of the Super Bowl teams:
Tampa Bay's Chips
Murphy-Bunting emerged as one of the top cornerbacks of the 2020-21 postseason. The Macomb native has three interceptions in three consecutive postseason games, including one off New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and a game-changing pick in the NFC Championship off Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers.
In four postseason games, Murphy-Bunting has 18 tackles and defended five passes. In the regular season, Murphy-Bunting had 53 tackles and one interception and defended three passes.
Brown, playing in his second Super Bowl, earned his first championship and caught the last of Brady's three TD passes with his 1-yard score late in the second quarter. In all, Brown caught five balls for 22 yards and had a long of 16 yards, his first.
During the regular season, Brown caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns in just eight regular season games. He has caught eight passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns in three playoff games.
CMU in Kansas City
Fisher has been great for the Kansas City offensive line since drafted in 2013. He has protected Mahomes' blindside well and caught a TD pass in 2020 on "Monday Night Football."
However, Fisher – the only No. 1 overall NFL Draft pick from the Mid-American Conference – suffered an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship against the Buffalo Bills and did not play against the Buccaneers.
Technically speaking, defensive tackle Mike Danna was drafted from Michigan and is counted as a Wolverine. However, his three playing seasons at CMU were memorable.
In 38 games at CMU, he totaled 151 tackles (92 solo) and had 15.0 sacks. He also had two fumble recoveries for touchdowns in 2018. In the Super Bowl, playing as a rookie, Danna made one tackle but it was a goal line stop of Tampa Bay's Ronald Jones on a fourth-and-goal in the second quarter.
Great to be a Chippewa
There is plenty to celebrate when it comes to the Super Bowl, and CMU should be proud of its guys participating in the world's biggest football game.
The brotherhood among the football team is there, plenty of current and former players have expressed their pride on social media on Twitter and Instagram.
All of the pride the football program has in its alumni should be felt by students, staff and fans. With the six tackles Murphy-Bunting made and the pass deflection he had, remember that he is a CMU guy. Brown making his TD catch, remember that he is a CMU guy. Danna making the big stop on the goal line in the first half, remember he is a CMU guy, in a way. Fisher, of course, is a CMU guy and an anchor on the KC offensive line.
Take pride in the success CMU can set graduates up for.
Take pride in the Super Bowl Chippewas.