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Jan. 20, 2009
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers clash in Super Bowl XLIII on February 1 in Tampa, Fla., Penn State once again will be well-represented on the field and sidelines.
Three former Penn State players will be involved in the National Football League's championship game - offensive tackle Levi Brown of the Arizona Cardinals and tight end Sean McHugh and defensive tackle Scott Paxson of the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Penn State is tied for second among Big Ten schools with the most players on the Arizona and Pittsburgh rosters.
For the 39th time in the Super Bowl's 43-game history, at least one Penn State alumnus will be a member of one of the participating teams, and, once again, at least one former Nittany Lion is guaranteed of being on the NFL Championship team. Thirty former Nittany Lions have earned a total of 46 Super Bowl rings, most recently offensive tackle Kareen McKenzie and defensive tackle Jay Alford with the New York Giants in 2008.
In addition to the three former players, three other Arizona and Pittsburgh staff members have Penn State ties.
Former Nittany Lion Jim Bradley is the Steelers' orthopaedic physician and Penn State graduate John Norwig is Pittsburgh's head trainer. Former Penn State graduate assistant coach Teryl Austin is the Cardinals' defensive backs coach.
Levi Brown played a key role in helping the Cardinals reach their
first Super Bowl. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, Brown
is a cornerstone member of the offensive line that blocked and
protected for one of the NFL's most explosive and prolific passing
offenses. Protecting MVP candidate quarterback Kurt Warner from his
right tackle position, Brown helped Arizona rack up 427 points and 31
passing touchdowns during the 2008 regular season. The NFC West
champion Cardinals maintained that level of offensive prowess in the
postseason scoring 30, 33, and 32 points in wins over the Falcons,
Panthers, and Eagles, respectively.
Teryl Austin is in his second season as Arizona's defensive backs coach. Austin broke into the coaching ranks as a graduate assistant at Penn State in 1991-92. He was hired by former Penn State assistant and new Indianapolis Colts' head coach Jim Caldwell as the secondary coach at Wake Forest in 1993. Austin also coached at Syracuse and Michigan before joining the Seattle Seahawks' staff in 2003, helping Seattle advance to Super Bowl XL in 2006.
Sean McHugh and Scott Paxson are looking to help the Pittsburgh Steelers capture an NFL-record sixth Super Bowl crown. McHugh, a reserve tight end, was signed by Pittsburgh in early September after three seasons with the Detroit Lions. He has three receptions for 24 yards and one special teams tackle this season. Defensive tackle Scott Paxson has been on the Steelers' active roster this season after being a member of the practice squad in 2007.
John Norwig is the Steelers' head trainer. Norwig earned his bachelor's degree from Penn State in 1979 and his master's in 1984 from the College of Health and Human Development. He was a member of the Vanderbilt training staff from 1985-91 before joining the Steelers.
Ten former Nittany Lions playing in the National Football League were on 2008 playoff teams, with at least one Penn Stater on six of the 12 squads vying for the Super Bowl XLIII title. There are 29 former Nittany Lions on NFL rosters, placing Penn State in the top 12 nationally among schools in producing current NFL players.
More than 300 Nittany Lions have signed NFL contracts since Paterno became head coach in 1966. The Hall of Fame coach has seen 234 of his players drafted by NFL squads, including 34 first round draft choices, with Brown the last in 2007.