Pinning yearbook superlatives on Super Bowl LVII
The Eagles and the Chiefs both sport loaded rosters on their own, but who wins the “Best of” awards between these two teams?
Super Bowl Week is finally here, and we are absolutely drowning in storylines for this one. Whether you want to look at this as the Andy Reid Bowl, fixate on the fact that this will be the first Super Bowl matchup between brothers as Travis and Jason Kelce square off, the Nick Sirianni revenge game, or the battle of two nearly identical top seeds from each respective conference, this game is ripe with gripping narratives.
One of my favorite under-the-radar storylines for this week is that Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay. Jr and Eagles wideout A.J. Brown are squaring off in a battle of high school teammates. Gay and Brown grew up just five minutes from each other in Starkville, MS where Gay also played collegiate football at Mississippi State. Brown opted to take his talents to the Grove in Oxford, MS to play for Ole Miss. Before they took off to enjoy life as campus stars, though, they won the 2015 Mississippi 6A state championship and both flourished as 4-star recruits. Now, they square off in the Super Bowl.
As a simple man from a small town in south central Missouri, I can’t fathom going to high school with an NFL player, let alone 2. The best athlete in my class played soccer at Missouri State University in Springfield, I played Division II football, and a couple of other guys and gals played JUCO or lower-level collegiate sports. No NFL players, no NBA players, not even any All-Americans.
Harkening further back to my high school days during the mental rabbit hole this storyline took me down, I thought about my days on the yearbook staff—specifically the end-of-year superlatives section that becomes a source of pride for kids every spring before the real world slaps them in the face. Think about how much of a split vote that had to be at Starkville High in a battle between Gay and Brown for the yearbook’s coveted title of “Most Athletic.” I’m sure both of them were likely strong candidates for “Most Likely to Succeed” as well.
In true blogger fashion, this got the pun portion of my brain working as well. This is the Super Bowl. Yearbooks designate “winners” in nearly every high school across the country based on randomly selected superlatives. Bingo, let’s take a look at the Superlatives Bowl.
I scoured the internet for the most common superlatives dished out in high school yearbooks around America. Being far removed from today’s high school scene—I graduated in 2006, yes I’m old—I thought it would be appropriate to make sure I’m fresh on my terminology, while still mixing in some of the boomer-esque superlatives that were awarded to me and my classmates way back before Twitter was a thing. I then awarded a player (or players, or coaches) from the big game this Sunday the designation of superlative champ.
Most likely to dance in a Beyonce video: Isiah Pacheco
Shortly after the Chiefs defeated the Bengals in the AFC Championship, a video emerged from the Chiefs’ locker room of Pacheco cutting an absolute rug in celebration of K.C. finally getting over the Cincinnati hump. Safe to say there are plenty of adequate dancers in this year’s Super Bowl, but Pacheco’s hips don’t lie on or off the field apparently, making him a prime candidate to become a backup dancer for Beyonce if this football thing doesn’t pan out. Something tells me he’s not going to have to worry about that.
Most likely to win American Idol: Jordan Mailata
Mailata doesn’t just have the pipes to get it done on Idol, he’s got one of the more interesting backstories in the NFL. An Australian native with Samoan heritage, Mailata is a former professional rugby player. In case you were curious or haven’t paid attention to the NFC for the past few seasons, he’s also an All-Pro left tackle for the Eagles. The towering 6’8″ stalwart for the Eagles is a man of many talents, so it’s unclear on whether he should be a contestant on American Idol or America’s got Talent, but we’ll grant him this designation based on his Christmas crooning alone.
Most likely to become a millionaire: Everyone involved.
Easy, they’re all already millionaires. Just take both team photos and mash them together and all you have to do is write the copy for this superlative.
Leader of the pack: Andy Reid
This is not a slight at Nick Sirianni or any of the dozens of other world-class leaders manning the sidelines and taking the field on Sunday. This is a designation granted on the basis that Reid is the winningest head coach in Eagles history with 130 victories and second to just Hank Stram in Chiefs history – Stram had 129 and Reid currently sits at 117. A man who is one of the more prolific leaders in the history of the NFL, a universally lauded head coach with nearly unprecedented success, hands down deserves this designation. He’s also the winner of the less-heralded “Best mustache” award.
Best athlete: A.J. Brown & Willie Gay, Jr. (tie)
Just thinking back to how this blog began, it would be criminal to not split this award between the inspiration of the piece. This is also a warranted co-designation. Gay and Brown are both absolute freaks on the football field. Gay is one of the better athletes at linebacker in the league, a true sideline-to-sideline defender who gives the Chiefs a safety-like presence at the second level of the defense athletically. Brown, an absolute beast on the outside, can outrun defenders, jump over defenders for 50/50 balls, and block his tail off to spring the Eagles’ league-leading run game.
Most likely to become President: Patrick Mahomes
Think about the level of poise it takes to be a quarterback in the NFL, and then try to wrap your mind around what it would take to consistently be the league’s best at the position. The amount of questions from reporters both friend and foe requires a level of diplomacy that could without question be considered Presidential. A true leader who is laser-focused on the well-being of his constituents (teammates) and the continued dominant presence of his country (team) in a global setting. The Chiefs are even set up to become the EU’s favorite team next year with a trip to Germany.
Mahomes can’t technically run for President until 2032, but he’s got my vote already.
Best Bromance: Travis and Jason Kelce
How could you not give this award to the guys who are literally brothers? Kelce and Kelce are not just the two ingredients to the number 1 sports podcast at the moment, they’re also key ingredients to the Chiefs’ and Eagles’ respective Super Bowl runs. Both are All-Pro players. Both are at or near the top of their craft at their respective positions. Their chemistry in their podcast is something that makes listeners somehow feel like they grew up right alongside two of the best players in the NFL, and the friendship they have in their brotherhood is evident every time they interact.