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Can You Name the 33 Former Cal Players Who Started Super Bowl Games?

From Joe Kapp in 1970 to Mitchell Schwartz in 2020 with Aaron Rodgers and Marshawn Lynch in between
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For the fourth year in a row there will be no former Cal players participating in the Super Bowl. But Golden Bears have been significant players in past Super Bowls.

We noted earlier this week that five Cal alumni have been starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl, which is the most from any college. And now we are going to run down all the Cal alumni who have started Super Bowl games at any position. That includes place-kickers, which has been a strong position for former Golden Bears in the NFL. Four Cal place-kickers have played in Super Bowls, and they have acquitted themselves well.

In all, 33 Cal alumni have been starters in Super Bowls, and ex-Cal players have made 84 appearances in Super Bowls. That ranked as the 18th-most appearances by college as of two years ago, but the recent Super Bowl absences have caused the Golden Bears ranking slip a bit.

However, we are focusing only on the 33 starters in this article.

Ed White is the Cal alumnus with the most Super Bowl starts with three, while Craig Morton, Ray Wersching, Jim Breech and Marshawn Lynch started two Super Bowls apiece. And it is a play in the 2014 Super Bowl for which Lynch is most remembered even though he didn’t touch the ball.

Not included is Ron Rivera, who played for the Chicago Bears off the bench in the 1986 Super Bowl and was head coach of the Carolina Panthers in the 2016 Super Bowl.

How many Cal Super Bowl starters can you name?

Here’s a list of the 33 Cal alumni who were starters in the Super Bowl, presented in chronological order.

---Joe Kapp, quarterback, Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl IV, 1970 (1969 season)

Kapp was the NFL MVP runnerup that season and was favored over the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. But Kapp threw two interceptions in the 23-7 loss to the Chiefs, who dominated the game.

---John Beasley, tight end, Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowl IV, 1970 Super Bowl (1969 season)

Beasley caught two of Kapp’s passes for 41 yards, including a 26-yarder, in the loss to the Chiefs. Beasley later was a TV color commentator for USA Network (along with play-by-play man Barry Tompkins) for the 1982 Cal-Stanford game that ended with The Play, the five-lateral play that resulted in Cal's game-winning touchdown when Kevin Moen spiked the ball on Stanford trombonist Gary Tyrrell.

---Craig Morton, quarterback, Dallas Cowboys, Super Bowl V, 1971 (1970 season)

Morton threw one touchdown pass and three interceptions in the 16-13 loss to the Colts. He was a starter in another Super Bowl seven years later, as is noted below.

---Ed White, offensive guard, Minnesota Vikings, Super Bowls VIII, IX and XI, 1974, 1975, 1977 (1973, 1974, 1976 seasons)

White was a four-time Pro Bowler who started 210 regular-season games and 24 playoff games. He played in four Super Bowls and was a starter in three of them. However, White lost all four of those games, including the three he started, to the Dolphins in 1974, to the Steelers in 1975 and to the Raiders in 1977.

---Craig Morton, quarterback, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XII, 1978 (1977 season)

This was Morton’s second Super Bowl as a starter, and he became the first player to be a starting quarterback for two different teams in the Super Bowl. He lost this one too, throwing four interceptions and posting a 0.0 passer rating before being replaced by Norris Weese in the loss to the Cowboys.

---Bob Swenson, outside linebacker, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XII, 1978 (1977)

One of Morton’s teammates in the loss to Dallas was Swenson, who recorded four tackles in that Super Bowl. Swenson’s best season was 1981 when he was a first-team All-Pro selection, but Denver did not make the postseason that year. Swenson, who went undrafted out of Cal, had a great quote in Sports Illustrated in 1978: "The draft is bull----. The scouts for most of the teams are 100 years old, and most of them don't know what they're doing. I went to school at Berkeley, and most of the NFL scouts think the students are still rioting in the streets out there. They didn't want to look at me."

---Loren Toews, linebacker, Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XIII, 1979 (1978 season)

Toews became a member of Pittsburgh’s Steel Curtain defense after Andy Russell retired following the 1975 season. Toews earned four championship rings with the Steelers, but his only Super Bowl start came in the 35-31 victory over the Cowboys in 1979 when he had one tackle.

---Vince Ferragamo, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl IX, 1980 (1979 season)

Ferragamo, who played his first two college seasons at Cal before transferring to Nebraska, passed for 212 yards against the powerful Pittsburgh defense, but the Rams lost the game 31-19. Ferragamo started that season as the backup to Pat Haden, who suffered a broken finger in the 10th game that ended his season.  But Jeff Rutledge started the 11th game because Ferragamo was out with a broken hand. Ferragamo returned and became the starter on November 19, and he started the final five games of the regular season and all three postseason games.

---Herm Edwards, cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl X, 1981 (1980 season)

Edwards played two seasons at Cal – he still holds the school record for interception in a game with four – before transferring to San Diego State. Edwards had two interceptions in the Eagles three postseason games in the 1980 season, but none in the Super Bowl, when he had three tackles in the 27-10 loss to the Raiders.

---Dwayne O’Steen, cornerback, Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl X, 1981 (1980 season)

O’Steen played his first two college seasons at Cal before transferring to San Jose State. In 1980, he started only six regular-season NFL games, but he started all four postseason contests, including the Raiders’ 27-10 victory in the Super Bowl, although he did not record any statistics.

---Isaac Curtis, wide receiver, Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowl XI, 1982 (1981 season)

Curtis played two seasons at Cal before moving on to San Diego State. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, but not in 1981. In Super Bowl XI, he caught an 8-yard pass from Ken Anderson on the first play of the game and he finished with three receptions for 42 yards in a 26-21 loss to the 49ers.

---Ray Wersching, kicker, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowls XI and XIV, 1982 and 1985 (1981 and 1984 seasons)

Both kickers in Super Bowl XI were former Cal players (see the Bengals’ kicker below). Wersching was 3-for-3 on field goal tries in his two Super Bowls. In the 26-21 victory over the Bengals in 1982, he was 2-for-2 on kicks of 22 and 26 yards. Three years later, he made his only field-goal attempt – a 27-yarder – in a 38-16 triumph over the Dolphins. He scored 22 points in Super Bowls, the most by any former Cal player.

---Jim Breech, kicker, Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowls XI and XVIII, 1982 and 1989 (1981 and 1988 seasons)

Breech played in two Super Bowls, both against the 49ers, and both resulting in losses. He did not get to attempt a field goal in the 1982 loss, but he was 3-for-3 in 1989, connecting from 34 yards, 43 yards and 40 yards. His 40-yarder with 3:44 to go put the Bengals ahead 16-13, but that’s when Joe Montana directed his 12-play touchdown drive that gave San Francisco a 20-13 lead with 34 seconds left.

---Anthony Washington, cornerback, Washington Redskins, Super Bowl XVIII, 1984 (1983 season)

Washington was a two-year starter for Cal before transferring to San Jose State. He was a starting cornerback for the Redskins in their 38-9 loss to the Raiders in Super Bowl XVIII. Washington did recover a Raiders fumble in the third quarter, but the Redskins were already well behind.

---Keith Kartz, center, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XXIV, 1990 (1989 season)

Kartz was the Broncos starting center in Super Bowl XXIV and he was snapping the ball to John Elway. But not much went right in that 55-10 loss to the 49ers. The Broncos managed only 167 total yards of offense and gave up six sacks. Kartz had stomach cancer at the end of his freshman season at Cal. He had the tumor removed, dropped to 170 pounds during chemotherapy treatment but was still available for spring football four months later.

---Doug Riesenberg, offensive tackle, New York Giants, Super Bowl XXV, 1991 (1990 season)

Thanks to Scott Norwood’s missed 47-yard field-goal attempts with eight seconds left, Riesenberg got a championship ring for the Giants’ 20-19 victory over the Bills. Riesenberg started 132 consecutive NFL games before retiring after suffering a knee injury.

---Gary Plummer, linebacker, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX, 1995 (1994 season)

Plummer had four tackles in the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the Chargers, but he had 11 tackles in San Francisco’s opening-round playoff win over the Bears. Plummer played in 10 playoff games, all after the age of 31, but this was his only Super Bowl. Plummer later became a radio color commentator for 49ers games.

---Doug Brien, kicker, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX, 1995 (1994 season)

Brien missed his only field-goal attempt – a 47-yarder – but made seven extra points in the 49ers’ 49-26 victory over the Chargers. The 1994 season was his only full season with the 49ers, who had drafted Brien in the third round in 1994. Midway through the 1995 season, after missing pivotal field goals in two games, he was released.

---Ferric Collons, defensive end, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XXXI, 1997 (1996 season)

Collons started just five regular-season games in 1996, but he started all three postseason games that season. Collons sacked Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre once in the Super Bowl, but the Packers won the game, 35-21. Collons later became a financial consultant.

---Ryan Longwell, kicker, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XXXII, 1998 (1997 season)

Longwell made his only field-goal attempt – a 27-yarder – but the Packers lost to the Broncos 31-24. He played in 14 playoff games, but this was his only Super Bowl. Longwell came to Cal primarily as a punter, but he added place-kicking duties as a sophomore, and improved as a junior and senior.

---Chidi Ahanotu, defensive end, St. Louis Rams, Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002 (2001 season)

Ahanotu made one tackle and knocked down one Tom Brady pass in the Rams’ 20-17 loss to the Patriots. Ahanotu came to Cal as a walk-on who majored in Integrative Biology with plans to become a doctor before a 12-year NFL career got in the way.

---Regan Upshaw, defensive end, Oakland Raiders, Super Bowl XXXVII, 2003 (2002 season)

Upshaw recorded two tackles in the Raiders’ 48-21 loss to the Buccaneers. As a Cal sophomore, he recorded 20.5 tackles for loss and was a first-round draft pick (12th overall) of the Buccaneers.

---Todd Steussie, offensive tackle, Carolina Panthers, Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004 (2003 season)

Carolina ran for 92 yards and Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme was sacked four times in the game won by the Patriots 32-29. Steussie was a two-time, second-team All-Pro selection, and he played 15 playoff games, starting 14 of them, in eight postseason appearances. But this was his only Super Bowl.

---Tarik Glenn, offensive tackle, Indianapolis Colts, Super Bowl XLI< 2007 (2006 season)

Indianapolis ran for 192 yards and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning was sacked just once, thanks to the work of the offensive line in the Colts’ 29-17 victory over the Bears. Glenn was a three-time Pro Bowl selection who started all 167 NFL games in which he played (154 regular season games, 13 postseason games) over his 10 seasons. He started 101 consecutive games in one stretch.

---Scott Fujita, outside linebacker, New Orleans Saints, Super Bowl XLIV, 2010, (2009 season)

Fujita had five tackles and one quarterback hit in the Saints’ 31-17 victory over the Colts. Fujita was a walk-on at Cal who began his college career as a safety before being switched to outside linebacker. He ended up playing 11 NFL seasons and starting 125 regular-season games and six postseason games.

---Aaron Rodgers, quarterback, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV, 2011 (2010)

This was Rodgers’ one and only Super Bowl, and he won it with a strong performance in a 31-25 victory over Pittsburgh. He was not the only Cal alumnus who was a starter for Green Bay that day (see Desmond Bishop below). Rodgers threw three touchdown passes with no interceptions with a 111.5 passer rating and outplayed the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger. The Packers were only the No. 6 seed in the NFC in that postseason, and Rodgers had a 109.5 passer rating in Green Bay’s four playoff wins. Rodgers has started 21 postseason games in 11 playoff seasons and won four regular-season MVPs, but has not reached the Super Bowl since.

---Desmond Bishop, inside linebacker, Green Bay Packers, Super Bowl XLV, 2011 (2010 season)

Bishop had a big game in the Packers’ 31-25 victory over the Steelers in Super Bowl XLV. He had eight tackles, including three tackles for loss, and recovered a fumble that he returned for 7 yards. In Green Bay’s four postseason games that season Bishop recorded 27 tackles. Bishop and Aaron Rodgers were teammates at Green Bay for this Super Bowl, but they missed being teammates at Cal by one year. Rodgers’ last season at Cal was 2004, and Bishop arrived at Cal for the 2005 season after spending two seasons at City College of San Francisco.

---Marshawn Lynch, running back, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVIII, 2014 (2013 season)

This was the first of two straight Super Bowls in which Lynch was a starter. Lynch had injuries leading up to the 2014 Super Bowl that made it unclear whether he would play. But he was in the starting lineup and carried 15 times for 39 yards and had a 1-yard touchdown run, although he was not used in the latter stages of the Seahawks’ 43-8 victory over the Broncos.

---Marshawn Lynch, running back, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLVIII, 2015 (2014 season)

Lynch had a great game, rushing for 102 yards and catching a pass for 31 more yards in Seattle’s final drive. But it was a play in which he did not carry the ball for which Lynch is best remembered. With Seattle trailing New England 28-24, Seattle faced a second down at the Patriots’ 1-yard line with 26 seconds remaining, and the Seahawks still had a timeout remaining. But instead of handing the ball off to Lynch, Russell Wilson threw a pass that was intercepted by Malcolm Butler, and the Patriots won 28-24. Cris Collinsworth's TV comment immediately after the interception: “I’m sorry, but I can’t believe the call.” “Me neither,” said play-by-play man Al Michaels, before Collinsworth continued. “I cannot believe the call. You’ve got Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. You’ve got a guy who’s been borderline unstoppable in this part of the field. I can’t believe the call. . . If I lose this Super Bowl because Marshawn Lynch can't get into the end zone, so be it. So be it. I can't believe the call.” Lynch said years later he was expecting to get the ball on that play. Instead he was sent out on a pass pattern and was not the intended receiver.

---Shane Vereen, running back, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLVIII, 2015 (2014)

The starting running backs for both teams in Super Bowl XLVIII were Cal alumni. Like Lynch, Vereen had a big game that day, but in a very different way. Vereen carried the ball only four times for 13 yards, but he caught 11 Tom Brady passes for 64 receiving yards. Four of his receptions came during the Patriots’ touchdown drive that gave them a 28-24 lead with 2:06 left in the game. Vereen started only 12 NFL games in his career, three of which came in the postseason.

---C.J. Anderson, running back, Denver Broncos, Super Bowl XLIX, 2016 (2015 season)

Anderson was the game’s leading rusher with 90 yards on 24 carries, and he also caught four passes. With the Broncos holding a 16-10 lead, Anderson’s 2-yard touchdown run with 3:06 left virtually clinched Denver’s 24-10 victory over the Panthers. Anderson also played in Super Bowl XIII for the Rams, although he was not a starter. He ran for 22 yards and caught two passes in that 13-3 loss to New England in which Jared Goff was the Rams’ starting quarterback. Anderson came to the NFL from Cal as an undrafted free agent, and after he retired he was briefly a volunteer assistant coach at Cal.

---Alex Mack, center, Atlanta Falcons, Super Bowl LI, 2017 (2016 season)

A seven-time Pro Bowl pick and three-time, second-team All-Pro selection, Mack seemed to be headed to a Super Bowl victory in 2017 when his Falcons led New England 28-3 late in the third quarter. Somehow, Atlanta blew that lead and Tom Brady’s Patriots won 34-28. Mack nearly got to another Super Bowl with the 49ers, but San Francisco blew a 17-7 lead after three quarters in a 20-17 loss to the Rams in the 2021 NFC championship game.

---Mychal Kendricks, outside linebacker, Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl LII, 2018 (2017 season)

Kendricks recorded four tackles in the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over the Patriots. Injuries and an arrest for insider trading hampered Kendricks’ NFL career after that Super Bowl victory. Kendricks recorded 36.5 tackles for loss while at Cal and was Pac-12 defensive player of the year in 2011.

---Jared Goff, quarterback, Los Angeles Rams, Super Bowl LIII, 2019 (2018 season)

Goff struggled in the 13-3 loss to the Patriots and Tom Brady. Goff threw an interception with no touchdown passes for a 57.9 passer rating, and he was sacked four times. Goff was traded to the Lions a year later and nearly got to the Super Bowl this season.  But the Lions blew a 24-7 halftime lead and lost 34-31.

---Mitchell Schwartz, offensive tackle, Kansas City Chiefs, Super Bowl LIV, 2020 (2019 season)

Schwartz is the most recent Cal alumnus to start a Super Bowl game and the most recent former Golden Bears player to win one. He helped the Chiefs rally for a 31-20 victory over the 49ers. His remarkable iron-man streak ended the following season when he suffered a back injury that required surgery and caused him to retire. Before the back injury in 2020, Schwartz had started every NFL game while playing for the Browns and Chiefs over eight-plus seasons. That's 134 straight regular-season starts to begin his pro career, plus seven postseason starts for a total of 141 straight starts as an NFL player. He had started all 51 games Cal played in his final four active seasons with the Golden Bears, and he started every game his Palisades Charter High School team played in his four seasons on that roster. In 2019, his streak 7,894 consecutive offensive snaps played to start his pro career ended when he was sidelined for three plays because of a knee injury.

Cover photo of Marshawn Lynch by Darren Yamashita, USA TODAY Sports

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