With the WFT/Commanders/whatever you would like to call them having been eliminated for about two months now, a lot of people in this area don’t have a dog in the fight when it comes to the Super Bowl. (Unless they grew up in Cincinnati or LA.) The Bengals and Joe Burrow are the underdog team, coming into the season with astronomical odds to be here, but Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Aaron Donald are all very likable stars for the Rams, particularly Stafford, who toiled in Detroit before getting his shot in LA this year.
So how should you make your choice of whom to root for? Maybe it’s taking a look at the DC angle. We found eight players with local ties, five on LA and three on Cincy.
Keandre Jones – Jones is a 24-year-old linebacker who is Maryland all the way: born in Olney, played high school ball at Good Counsel, and then spent four years as a Terrapin. He went undrafted in 2020 but has been with Cincinnati for two years now. He’s mostly a special teams contributor for the Bengals.
Zach Kerr – Kerr is a 31-year-old nose tackle who hails from Virginia Beach. He started his high school career at Quince Orchard in Gaithersburg before finishing at Fork Union Military Academy. He’s been in the league since 2014, bouncing around between seven different squads. The Bengals only signed him prior to their playoff win over Tennessee, but he still has played over 20 percent of defensive snaps in both of his games with Cincy.
Isaiah Prince – Prince, 24, is currently the starting right tackle for the Bengals. He began his career in Miami, sat out the 2020 season due to the pandemic, and joined Cincy for the 2021 campaign. He was born and raised in Greenbelt, playing his high school football at Eleanor Roosevelt (where this writer played high school hockey). The much-maligned Bengals offensive line allowed nine sacks in the win over the Titans, but raised their level of play against KC, allowing just one.
Los Angeles Rams
Jake Funk – Funk, a 24-year-old rookie running back, was born in Gaithersburg and played his high school football at Damascus where he was the Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year in 2015. He attended the University of Maryland and was drafted this year by the Rams in the seventh round. Funk contributes mostly on special teams for LA, only receiving four carries this season.
Rob Havenstein – Havenstein has been a Rams fixture on the offensive line since being drafted in the second round in 2015. He was born in Mount Airy and played high school ball in Frederick at Linganore. He’s started every game he’s played in the NFL and in 2018 was part of the Rams line that was named the best in the NFL.
Terrell Lewis – Lewis is a second-year linebacker for the Rams who was taken in the third round out of Alabama in 2020. He was born and raised in DC and played high school ball at St. Johns, where he was the Football Player of the Year for DC. Lewis played in 11 games this season, starting four, but has been inactive for much of the end of the season and playoffs since the Rams acquired superstar Von Miller at the trade deadline.
Bryce Perkins – Perkins, 25, is the Rams emergency third QB behind starter Matt Stafford and John Wolford. Perkins played two years of college football at UVA in 2018 and 2019; both years he was given the Dudley Award for being the top college football player in Virginia.
Nick Scott – Scott is a 26-year-old safety who recently made headlines by being the last player to ever intercept Tom Brady. During the Rams playoff victory over the Bucs, Brady’s last game ever, Scott picked off Brady right before the half as the Bucs were trying to get back into the game. Scott took over starting for the Rams this playoff campaign after a season-ending injury to Jordan Fuller and has been excellent by all accounts, playing every defensive snap of the three playoff games. Scott was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, but moved to Virginia to play his high school football at Fairfax.