The New England Patriots were unable to reach Super Bowl 54 — the reigning world champions were already bounced from the playoff tournament in the wild card round — but there will still be some familiar faces on the field for the big game later today. All in all, four ex-Patriots will participate when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the San Francisco 49ers with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line.
Let’s meet them
QB Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers
The Jimmy Garoppolo story is well known: a former second-round pick by New England in 2014, Garoppolo started a pair of games in place of Tom Brady two years later and was able to establish himself as a hot commodity. With Brady still playing like the NFL’s best quarterback, however, the Patriots made the decision to move the youngster via trade (to control where he would eventually go). He ended up in San Francisco for a second-round selection, signed a multi-year contract, and in his second full season as the team’s starter led the 49ers to the Super Bowl.
K Robbie Gould, 49ers
Robbie Gould’s tenure in New England did not last long after the team picked him up as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2005. With Adam Vinatieri still on the roster, the Patriots parted ways with Gould just four months after he was brought aboard. He went on to join the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad before his breakthrough with the Chicago Bears later that year. Gould left Chicago in 2016 to join the New York Giants, before moving on to the 49ers one year later. In San Francisco, Gould continued to be one of the most reliable place kickers in football.
WR Jordan Matthews, 49ers
A former second-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014, Jordan Matthews came to New England four years later following an unsuccessful one-year stint in Buffalo. However, Matthews failed to carve out a role on the Patriots’ wide receiver corps and was released early in training camp after sustaining a hamstring injury. He went on to bounce between the Eagles and 49ers before returning to San Francisco in December. Matthews has yet to catch a pass for the team, though.
DT Mike Pennel, Chiefs
After stints in Green Bay and New York, Mike Pennel was signed by New England as a free agent last offseason. Competing against the likes of fellow defensive tackles Danny Shelton and Adam Butler over the course of the summer, the veteran came up short and was eventually released by the Patriots in late August. Pennel remained on the open market until mid-October when the Chiefs decided to pick him up. The 28-year-old has since become a rotational defensive tackle for Kansas City and will play in his first Super Bowl today.
Garoppolo, Gould, Matthews and Pennel are not the only former members of the Patriots organization who might end the day as world champions, though. After all, the off-field personnel on both sides includes men that have previously played, coached, or worked in another capacity in New England:
- Rick Burkholder, Chiefs vice president of sports medicine and performance: ex-Patriots training staff intern (1986)
- Brendan Daly, Chiefs run game coordinator/defensive line coach: ex-Patriots defensive assistant/defensive line coach (2014-2018)
- Mike Kafka, Chiefs quarterbacks coach: ex-Patriots quarterback (2013)
- Adam Peters, 49ers vice president of player personnel: ex-Patriots scout (2003-2008)
- Wes Welker, 49ers wide receiver coach: ex-Patriots wide receiver (2007-2012)