Another Super Bowl is upon us and it’s another without the Detroit Lions.
That doesn’t mean that the big game isn’t connected to Michigan.
This year’s game with the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs has a number of Michigan ties, some more notable than others.
If you’re looking for a reason to watch other than following your Super Bowl odds bets, here are some local connections to keep you interested.
Infamous former Detroit assistant Joe Cullen now with Chiefs
Perhaps no connection to the Detroit Lions and Michigan in this Super Bowl is more notable than a Chiefs’ assistant coach.
Kansas City defensive line coach Joe Cullen is a name some of you probably remember, even if you don’t know why. Cullen was the defensive line coach for the Lions from 2006-08. However, the reason you remember him is a little more embarrassing.
In 2006, Cullen was the Lions assistant arrested for going through a Wendy’s drive-thru while naked. He was fined $20,000 and suspended for a game for the incident.
While it was another black eye for the Lions’ organization at the time, it did lead to a memorable Halloween outfit from former Lions quarterback Jon Kitna.
When it comes to Kansas City players with ties to Michigan, there are a handful.
- Frank Clark, DE: Clark played for the University of Michigan from 2011-14.
- Mike Danna, DE: Danna was born in Detroit. He attended Warren De La Salle High School. In college, Dana played at Central Michigan from 2016-18 before transferring to Michigan for the 2019 season.
- Chad Henne, QB: Henne was the quarterback at the University of Michigan from 2004-07.
- Skyy Moore, WR: The rookie receiver played college football at Western Michigan from 2019-21.
- Andrew Wylie, OL: Wylie was born in Hemlock and attended Midland High School. He played at Eastern Michigan University from 2012-16.
- Mike Caliendo, OL (Practice Squad): Caliendo won’t take the field Sunday, but he comes from Western Michigan University and played from 2016-21.
Former Lions Darius Slay, Ndamukong Suh suiting up for Eagles
The Philadelphia Eagles ties to Michigan are based heavily on former Lions players.
Cornerback Darius Slay and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh were both Lions’ greats in their time in Detroit and now suiting up for the Eagles.
Slay was a second-round pick of the Lions in 2013. He played for seven seasons in Detroit, racking up 19 interceptions. He was an All-Pro selection in 2017 and a three-time Pro Bowler for the Lions.
After falling out with then-coach Matt Patricia, Slay was traded to the Eagles in 2020 for a third-round and fifth-round pick.
Suh was the No. 2 overall pick of the Lions in 2010. The defensive tackle played five seasons with the Lions, tallying 36 sacks in his five years. Suh was a three-time All Pro with the Lions.
After playing out his rookie contract, Suh chose to sign with the Miami Dolphins for $114 million over six years. Two years ago, Suh won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Philly’s VP of Player Performance is also tied to the Lions. Ted Rath was the Lions Assistant Strength & Conditioning coach from 2009-15. Rath also was an assistant coach at Crestwood High School here in Michigan from 2006-07.
Other Eagles ties to Michigan include:
- Brandon Graham, DE: Graham was born in Detroit and attended Detroit Crockett High School. He then played at the University of Michigan from 2006-09.
- Avonte Maddox, CB: Maddox was born in Detroit and played high school football at Martin Luther King.
- Josiah Scott, CB: Scott played for Michigan State from 2017-19.
- Connor Barwin, Director of Player Development: Barwin, a former NFL player, was born in Hazel Park and is a U-D Jesuit alum.
- Jeff Stoutland, Run Game Coordinator/OL Coach: Stoutland was the Michigan State Offensive Line coach from 2000-06.
Super Bowl venue hosted Michigan in the Fiesta Bowl
This year’s host of the Super Bowl is State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Az.
It may be tough for Michigan fans to watch the game, as it could bring back some bad memories.
State Farm Stadium also played host to this past season’s Fiesta Bowl. That College Football Playoff semifinal saw the Wolverines fall to TCU, 51-45, to end their season.
The Wolverines came into the game as the clear favorite at Michigan sportsbooks, but gave up 488 yards to the Horned Frogs. They also threw two interceptions for touchdowns to eventually fall short in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Thankfully for U-M fans, neither team on Sunday will be wearing purple.
Will Michigan be represented in Super Bowl Halftime Show?
Rihanna will be the featured performer of the Super Bowl Halftime Show this year.
The Barbados-born singer isn’t from Michigan, but has a notable connection to the state through Eminem.
The Detroit rapper has collaborated with Rihanna for four different hits and the two actually toured together back in 2014. That tour featured a pair of performances at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers.
It’s not out of the realm of possibilities that Rihanna could have Eminem perform with her during this year’s halftime show. If so, Eminem would become the first artist to perform on back-to-back Super Bowl Halftime Shows.