Locals You Can Cheer (or Jeer) at the Super Bowl
Yeah, all the Florida football teams are done for the year, and when you watch the big game this weekend you'll probably care more about the commercials than either team (unless you're a gambler, like me, and the commercials just delay the inevitable sobbing and cursing and swearing never to bet on another game).
But just because your team is out (you shut up, Steelers fan!), doesn't mean you don't have anyone local to cheer for. In fact, there are a total of 15 players in this game who were either born in Florida or played at University of Florida, Florida State or Miami. We've assembled a short list of players who grew up right here in Juice country, with a few reasons why you may root for or against each.
Edgerrin James, running back, #32
Florida Panthers v Vancouver Canucks
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There are a lot of reasons to like The Edge. He's the happy-go-lucky workhorse out of the U whose presence helped the Colts emerge as one of the league's most dominant teams. But as Indianapolis readied for a long run if success - signing Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison to long, lucrative contracts -- they told James his services would no longer be needed. The Edge took the money Steve Miller-style and ran to Arizona, where he got to watch all of his former teammates celebrate the Super Bowl he never thought he'd have a chance at. Now that chance is here.
James rubs some people the wrong way -- he doesn't seem to care much what most people think of his grill and dreads. But if you only needed one reason not to like him, perhaps you could pick the fact that he showed up in Tampa for the Super Bowl festivities driving a brand new custom-made Lamborghini he ordered on his day off just for this special week. What recession?
Anquan Boldin, wide receiver, #81
A Pahokee native and former FSU star, Boldin is just awesome. He's been overshadowed recently by the unbelievable play of teammate Larry Fitzgerald, but even though he missed four games, Boldin was still second in the NFL in TD catches. He also recovered from one of the most intense hits of the year, and played much of the season with a broken face.
It's hard not to root for Boldin. Well, it was hard, until the NFC Championship game when he was caught on the sidelines arguing with Cardinals offensive coordinator Todd Haley. After the game, as his teammates were celebrating the franchise's first championship game appearance in 61 years, Boldin left without talking to anyone, like a pouting child. Also, it turns out he works out in the offseason with Plaxico Burress in Fort Lauderdale. Friendships like that are far from a shot in the arm for successful NFL players, if you know what I mean.
Tyrone Carter, strong safety, #23
On a defense full of stars -- they finished the regular season as the best in the NFL -- Carter, a native of Pompano Beach, can blend into the background. And really, the best reason to root for Carter has nothing to do with a football field. Superbowl appearances have cost Carter and his family a lot in the past. When the Steelers made Superbowl XL, in Detroit, Carter's brother, Tony, chose to attend the game and watch Tyrone play in person -- and didn't report for his six-month jail term in Florida. He did report immediately after the game, but his sentence was extended by four and a half years. Now Tyrone will be playing just a short drive away from where his brother will be watching the game -- at Hardee Correctional Institution.
If you need a reason not to like Carter, he was salsa dancing at media day.
Santonio Holmes, wide receiver, #10
He grew up in Belle Glades, but played college ball at Ohio State. With Hines Ward injured for the big game, the lanky big play threat will have all the pressure on his narrow shoulders. Holmes is fun to watch, and if you believe what he said this week at media day, he wants to be a positive influence on kids growing up in poor areas like his hometown.
In his efforts to influence kids, Holmes told reporters this week that, yes, he did sell drugs in Belle Glades. But that other people should...um...not do that...or something.
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