If you are a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, there will be a few familiar faces on the field Sunday when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. And the Ohio ties to the AFC and NFC champions run even deeper.
Rex Burkhead spent four seasons in Cincinnati after being drafted by the Bengals in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Burkhead spent most of his time as a special teams maven until finally getting his chance late in the 2016 season after a rash of injuries forced him into the starting lineup. In his final game as a Bengal, Burkhead rushed for 119 yards on 27 carries in a season-ending victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
Marquis Flowers was a sixth-round pick of the Bengals in the 2014 NFL Draft. Injuries derailed an otherwise promising career for the speedy linebacker, and he was eventually traded to the Patriots prior to the start of the 2017 season for a seventh-round pick. He started two games for New England this year, and appeared in all 16.
James Harrison had a Hall of Fame career as a ferocious outside linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and actually spent the 2013 season in Cincinnati. Pittsburgh cut Harrison with two games remaining in the regular season, and he joined the Patriots soon thereafter.
James Develin, a fullback, was on the Bengals’ practice squad during the 2010 season and stayed with the team until he was cut prior to the 2012 season. He joined the Patriots soon thereafter and has appeared in all 64 games since, while winning two Super Bowl rings.
Joe Thuney was drafted by the Patriots in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, and is a 2011 graduate of Kettering’s Alter High School. He started every game at left guard for the Patriots this year.
Nate Ebner is a safety and special teamer for the Patriots, and was a special teams standout at Ohio State before being selected by New England in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.
Linebacker Nicholas Grigsby, a graduate of Trotwood-Madison High School in Trotwood, was signed off of the Ravens’ practice squad and appeared, primarily on special teams, in the final five games of the regular season for the Patriots, along with both playoff games.
Kicker Jake Elliott was drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, but lost a spirited competition to Randy Bullock. Cincinnati tried to hide Elliott on the practice squad, but he was picked up by the Eagles after an injury to Caleb Sturgis in Week 1. Elliott made 26 of 31 field goals this year, including a franchise-record 61-yarder to beat the New York Giants, and made 39 of 42 extra-point attempts.
Lakota West graduate Jordan Hicks was a third-round pick of the Eagles in the 2015 NFL Draft and started five games at linebacker before a pectoral injury ended his rookie season. He started all 16 games in 2016 and the first seven this year before rupturing his Achilles in October.
Guard Brandon Brooks starred at Miami University before being drafted by the Houston Texans in the third round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He signed with the Eagles in 2016 and has started every game since.
Before Zack Ertz became the weapon of choice for Philadelphia, Brent Celek, a graduate of Cincinnati’s La Salle High School, was the featured tight end for the Eagles. Celek was drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft and has spent his entire career in Philadelphia.
Jason Kelce first made a name for himself as a center with the University of Cincinnati, and was drafted by the Eagles in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Kelce has started 94 games for Philadelphia, including the last 59 in a row.
Malcolm Jenkins was a consensus All-American safety with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2008, and was a first-round selection of the New Orleans Saints in the 2009 NFL Draft. Jenkins won a Super Bowl with the Saints and joined the Eagles in 2014, where he earned Pro Bowl nominations after the 2015 and 2017 seasons.