At least one former Iowa football player is guaranteed a Super Bowl ring this Sunday.
When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs take the field for Super Bowl 55 on Sunday evening at Raymond James Stadium, four former Iowa Hawkeyes will be participating in the big game.
For the Buccaneers: offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs and defensive end Anthony Nelson. For the Chiefs: linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Ben Niemann. Which means at least one former Iowa player is guaranteed to win the Super Bowl.
Both Hitchens and Niemann won Super Bowl 54 with Kansas City in 2020.
All four players have played pivotal roles for their respective team this season, but perhaps no one has had a bigger impact than Wirfs, the rookie right tackle trusted with protecting Tom Brady in his first season as a pro.
Wirfs, who was drafted No. 13 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, has allowed just one sack and committed just three penalties across 1,284 offensive snaps this season, which includes Tampa’s three playoff games. Incredibly, Wirfs is the only player on the Bucs’ roster to have played every snap. And the one sack he gave up? That came in Week 5 against the Bears’ Khalil Mack, arguably the best pass-rusher in the league.
Not only has Wirfs been the best offensive lineman for the Bucs this season, but he’s been a top-5 right tackle across the NFL. During his time with the Hawkeyes, Wirfs broke several weight room records, so it’s no surprise to see him man-handling NFL defensive linemen.
Then there’s Wirfs’ teammate, Anthony Nelson, a second-year defensive lineman who’s been more of a role player. Nelson has logged 292 defensive snaps, playing on roughly 15 plays per game. In the process, he’s notched a sack, 18 tackles (two for losses) and seven quarterback hits.
For the Chiefs, both Niemann and Hitchens have been major contributors in the middle of the defense. Hitchens, the team’s starting inside linebacker, had 78 tackles (34 solo) during the regular season. He started in all 14 games in which he appeared in. Niemann started five games, racking up 44 tackles (29 solo) and a sack.
Maybe this season Niemann and Hitchens can let their fellow Iowa Hawkeyes win a Super Bowl.