Jan. 19, 2009
Four former Texas players -- NT Casey Hampton, WR Limas Sweed and OT Tony Hills for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and C Lyle Sendlein for the Arizona Cardinals -- have advanced to Super Bowl XLIII.
It marks the fourth straight year at least one former Longhorn has reached the Super Bowl. The four players are the most since 1988 when five went, including WR Laron Brown, TE Bobby Micho, OT Dave Studdard and DT Ray Woodard for the Denver Broncos and TE Terry Orr for the Washington Redskins.
"What a great honor and opportunity for four of our guys to be playing in the Super Bowl," Texas head coach Mack Brown said. "That's a life-long dream for so many kids and is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives. It will be a great day for us and all Longhorn fans. We won't be pulling for a team, we'll all be watching Casey, Limas, Tony and Lyle and cheering them on."
This will be Hampton's second trip after helping the Steelers defeat the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, in Super Bowl XL. He will attempt to become the third former Longhorn to win two Super Bowls, following Orr with the Redskins in 1988 and 92, and Dan Neil of the Denver Broncos in 1998 and 99.
"For Casey, who already has a Super Bowl ring and has played in several Pro Bowls, this is just another accomplishment in a great career in Pittsburgh," Brown said. "We knew he was going to be a special player in the NFL when we saw how hard he worked and how successful he was here. He's so big, tough and strong and plays so hard that he's one of those guys that is really unblockable. He's one of Texas' all-time greats and a perfect fit in Pittsburgh."
With Sendlein, Sweed and Hills, Texas now has 41 different players who have been members of 26 different Super Bowl teams.
The Cardinals advanced to the Super Bowl with a 32-25 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Championship Game. Sendlein led the Cardinals offense to 369 total yards, including 267 yards passing and 102 yards rushing in the win. During the regular season, the Cardinals were third in the NFL in scoring, fourth in total yards and second in passing.
Sendlein and Hampton will face off directly in the Super Bowl when Arizona is on offense, as the starting center for the Cardinals and starting nose tackle for the Steelers, respectively.
"Lyle is a great story," Brown said. "He's a guy that was a key part of one of the best offensive lines in Texas history that was the foundation of our National Championship team. Surprisingly, he went undrafted after a great career here and we told the Cardinals at the time they were getting a steal. Now he's the starting center for the NFC Champions and a team that will go down in NFL history with its dramatic run to the Super Bowl."
This season, the Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl by defeating the Baltimore Ravens, 23-14, in the AFC Championship Game. Hampton recorded four tackles while anchoring the interior of the league's regular season top defense in scoring and total yards, while Sweed caught two passes for 20 yards in the win.
"Limas and Tony are just getting their careers started and to have a chance to be a part of the Super Bowl in your first year, that's really amazing," Brown said. "We're really proud of them and expect this is just the start of great things in the NFL for them."