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List of 2022 Super Bowl participants with Detroit Lions, Michigan ties

Here are all the players and coaches involved in Sunday’s Super Bowl that have local ties.

American Football - Super Bowl LVI Photo by Maximilian Haupt/picture alliance via Getty Images

Super Bowl 56 is just a few days away, and as a professional writer of an NFL team it is my duty to answer one question this week: How can I make it about me?

Well, I think we’ve pretty much covered the whole Detroit Lions/Matthew Stafford thing to a point where everyone—including myself—is just kind of over it.

Lucky for you, dear Lions fan, the connections between the 2022 Super Bowl and the Detroit Lions does not end there... not by a long shot. In fact, there are more connections the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals offer to the Lions than you probably think.

So I spent the early part of the week scouring not only each team’s roster, but their coaching staff, as well, looking for connections to the Lions and local universities.

Here’s what I found.

Los Angeles Rams

QB Matthew Stafford — Drafted first overall by the Lions in 2009, you may have heard recently about Stafford’s semi-noteworthy, 12-year career in Detroit. Stafford holds the franchise record in passing yards, touchdowns, interceptions, game-winning drives and 300-yard passing games, among many others. You may have also heard that he did not win a playoff game while in Detroit.

WR Brandon Powell — Powell spent two years as an undrafted player with the Lions, but was cut after the second training camp. He played in six games his rookie season in Detroit, hauling in 11 catches for 129 yards. Now he serves as the Rams’ kick and punt returner.

WR Van Jefferson — Though Van Jefferson doesn’t have a direct connection to the Lions, he is the son of Shawn Jefferson who played wide receiver for the Lions in 2003 and began his NFL coaching career with Detroit in 2006. He was an offensive assistant (2006), assistant wide receivers coach (2007), and ultimately the Lions wide receiver coach from 2008 through the 2012 season. Shawn is currently the Cardinals wide receiver coach.

DT A’Shawn Robinson — Drafted in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, Robinson never quite lived up to his draft billing. Over four years in Detroit, Robinson tallied 172 tackles, 5.0 sacks and an unforgettable pick-six. In Los Angeles, he’s started 14 games alongside Aaron Donald, the most starts in a season for him since 2017.

Offensive coordinator/future Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell — As a player, O’Connell was on the Lions’ roster for five days before he was traded to the New York Jets for a seventh-round pick. That pick would be used to trade for solid backup quarterback Shaun Hill.

Senior coaching assistant John Bonamego — Bonamego was a two-time Lions special teams coordinator (2013-14, 2019). Spent the time in between those stints as the head coach of Central Michigan, his alma mater. He also grew up in Paw Paw, Michigan.

Assistant QB coach Zac Robinson — Robinson spent a half-season with the Lions as a player. He did not ever make a game appearance.

Cincinnati Bengals

OT Riley Reiff (IR) — The Lions’ first-round pick in 2012, Reiff was a five-year starter in Detroit, mostly at left tackle. Then the Lions drafted Taylor Decker in 2016, and Reiff became expendable, as Detroit was not willing to empty its pockets in 2017 free agency for a right tackle. After a four-year stint in Minnesota.

DT Mike Daniels (practice squad) — Daniels spent just one season in Detroit and only had 10 total tackles. Daniel has only made two game appearances for the Bengals this year, but he’s ready this week if the Bengals need him.

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan — Callahan was brought in by Jim Caldwell as Lions quarterbacks coach from 2016-17 to help Matthew Stafford develop. He left when the team fired Caldwell. Now, he’s coaching Stafford’s opponent in the Super Bowl.

Linebackers coach Al Golden — Golden’s first NFL coaching gig was as the Lions’ tight ends coach in 2016-17. After firing Caldwell, Matt Patricia moved him to the defensive side of the ball and coached the linebackers for two more seasons. He was let go after the 2019 season.

Cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson — Jackson served as Lions' assistant defensive backs coach for one year (2013), earning praise for then-rookie cornerback Darius Slay.

Michigan ties

Los Angeles Rams

C Brian Allen — Michigan StateAllen played all over the Spartan’s interior offensive line for four seasons. Was drafted in the fourth round by the Rams, but this is his first season as a full-time starter.

CB David Long Jr. — Michigan — A three-year player for the Wolverines, Long’s 17 passes defended in 2017-18 helped him get drafted in the third round by the Rams. Long’s career got off to a slow start, but he has played a vital part in the Rams defense this year, playing both on the outside and as the team’s nickel.

CB Blake Countess (practice squad) — Michigan — Countess was a standout player for Michigan, tallying six interceptions in 2013 before transferring to Auburn for his senior season. It’s been a rougher go for Countess in the pros. He was drafted in the sixth round by the Eagles, but didn’t make it out of camp. He’s bounced around a few teams since then. He has not made a game appearance in 2021, and was signed to the Rams practice squad on January 12, 2022. He did play a handful of special teams snaps in each playoff game, though.

Cincinnati Bengals

RB Chris Evans — Michigan — A 2021 sixth-round pick, Evans has built on a solid career at Michigan by rounding out a deep Bengals backfield. Though he only has 17 carries for 77 yards on the season, he did pull in 15 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns.

CB Trae Waynes — Michigan State — A former first-round pick, Waynes remains a NFL-level starter despite some inconsistent play at times. Though he battled through injuries in the regular season, he is again a full-time starter for Cincinnati and had a key open-field tackle in the AFC Championship game.

LB Joe Bachie (IR) — Michigan State — Though he’s currently on IR after tearing his ACL in December, Bachie was starting to make strides at the next level. He logged his first career start a week earlier and notched a total of 30 tackles this season.

CB Darius Phillips (IR) — Western Michigan — A Detroit native, Philips was drafted by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He has fallen out of favor as a defensive back in Cincinnati, but he had started to grow in his role as a punt and kick returner before a shoulder injury ended his 2021 season.

Defensive quality control coach Jordan Kovacs — Michigan — A walk-on at Michigan, Kovacs earned a scholarship as a sophomore, a starting job as a junior, and was a team captain as a senior. After going undrafted, Kovacs entered the league with the Dolphins but after bouncing around the league for three seasons, he stepped away from the NFL after (ironically) being released by the Rams in 2016. He returned to Michigan in 2017, this time as a coach, but after just two seasons in Ann Arbor, the Bengals came calling and he has been with them in this role since 2019.