The Brigham Young Cougars' Super Bowl Heritage

The Brigham Young Cougars have three former players who have helped the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers reach Super Bowl XLV. On the Steelers side Brett Kiesel and Chris Hoke represent BYU, while an injured Brady Poppinga is part of the Green Bay Packers. This will be the 28th Super Bowl that features at least one former BYU player in some capacity. Indeed, BYU has a rich Super Bowl heritage.

Ironically, BYU's Super Bowl heritage dates as far back as the Pittsburgh Steelers. When Pittsburgh won its Super Bowl debut 16-6 over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IX, former Cougar Gordon Gravelle played tackle for the Steelers. In total, 36 different BYU Cougars, and one former assistant coach (Mike Holmgren), have been members of 35 teams that have earned their way to the Super Bowl. Some of the players have been reserves. Other players have been unheralded starters. There have also been stars who have made key plays, put up big numbers, and even set Super Bowl records. What follows is a record of their achievements on the biggest stage in sports.

Passing Totals: 38-59 (64.4%) 601 yards, 6 TD, 0 Int, 132.1 Rating
Jim McMahon (XX) 12-20 (60.0%) 256 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int, 104.2 Rating
Steve Young (XXIV) 2-3 (66.7%) 20 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int, 85.4 Rating
Steve Young (XXIX) 24-36 (66.7%) 325 yards, 6 TD, 0 Int, 134.8 Rating

Rushing Totals: 19 rushes, 86 yards (4.5 yard average) 2 TD
Bill Ring (XVI) 5 rushes, 17 yards (3.4 ave.) 0 TD
Jim McMahon (XX) 5 rushes, 14 yards (2.8 ave.) 2 TD
Steve Young (XXIV) 4 rushes, 6 yards (1.5 ave.) 0 TD
Steve Young (XXIX) 5 rushes, 49 yards (9.8 ave.) 0 TD

Receiving Totals: 18 receptions, 198 yards (11.0 yard average) 1 TD
Golden Richards (XII) 2 rec., 38 yards (19.0 ave.) 1 TD
Bill Ring (XVI) 1 rec., 3 yards (3.0 ave.) 0 TD
Todd Christensen (XVIII) 4 rec., 32 yards (8.0 ave.) 0 TD
Doug Jolley (XXXVII) 5 rec., 59 yards (11.8 ave.) 0 TD
Austin Collie (XLIV) 6 rec., 66 yards (11.0 ave.) 0 TD

Punt Returns:
Golden Richards (X) 1 return, 5 yards (5.0 yard average)

Punting Totals:
Lee Johnson (XXIII) 5 punts, 221 yards (44.2 average)

Sacks: 2.0 sacks
Jason Buck (XXIII) 1.0 sack
Jason Buck (XXVI) 1.0 sack

Kurt Gouveia (XXVI) 1 interception, 23 yard return

Fumble Recoveries:
Brett Keisel (XLIII) 1 Fumble Recovery

Passes Defensed:
Aaron Francisco (XLIII) 1 Pass Defensed

Tackles: 16 tackles (15 Unassisted, 1 Assisted)
Brett Keisel (XL) 3 tackles (3 UA)
Chris Hoke (XL) 1 tackle (1 UA)
Rob Morris (XLI) 4 tackles (4 UA)
Brett Keisel (XLIII) 5 tackles (4 UA, 1 A)
Aaron Francisco (XLIII) 1 tackle (1 UA)
Aaron Francisco (XLIV) 2 tackles (2 UA)

Note: The NFL did not start tracking tackles data until the 2001 season. Therefore, tackles made by Jason Buck, Leon White, Kurt Gouveia, Todd Shell, Tom Holmoe, Matt Mendenhall, and Travis Hall are not accounted for.

Most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback, single game: 2, Jim McMahon, Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XX

Longest Punt: 63 Yards, Lee Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals, Super Bowl XXIII

Most Touchdown Passes in One Half (Tie): 4, Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX
Most Touchdown Passes in One Game: 6, Steve Young, San Francisco 49ers, Super Bowl XXIX

Second Most yards per attempt by a quarterback: 12.8, Jim McMahon, Chicago Bears, Super Bowl XX (Terry Bradshaw, 14.7, Super Bowl XIV)

Super Bowl MVPs: 1, Steve Young (Super Bowl XXIX)

Most Super Bowls played in: 3 (Gravelle, Young, Holmoe, Bart Oates, Kiesel, and Hoke).

Former players who coached a Super Bowl: 2, Brian Billick (Baltimore Ravens, Super Bowl XXXV) and Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl XXXIX).

Number of Super Bowls that both teams have had a former player: 6

Number of times former players have been on the winning team: 23

Number of times former players have been on the losing team: 11

Most former players in one Super Bowl: 6, Super Bowl XXIII (Cincinnati Bengals-3, San Francisco 49ers-3)

Most former players on one Super Bowl team: 4, 49ers (Super Bowl XXIX-Steve Young, Bart Oates, Jamal Willis, and Tim Handshaw) and Eagles (Super Bowl XXXIX-Chad Lewis, Reno Mahe, Ifo Pili, and Coach Andy Reid).

Most consecutive Super Bowls with at least one former player: 13 (Super Bowls XIV-XXVI).

Number of different NFL teams in the Super Bowl with former BYU players: 18

NFL Team with the most former players on Super Bowl teams: San Francisco 49ers (12).

Number of players who played on the 1984 National Championship team and won a Super Bowl: 3 (Kurt Gouveia, Lee Johnson, Leon White)

Only Purdue and Alabama have more former quarterbacks that have won the Super Bowl (3) than BYU (2).

It cannot be denied, BYU has left its footprint on the Super Bowl. Other universities might have a bigger footprint, but the BYU footprint is big enough it must be included in any account of Super Bowl history.  


The Editor appreciates all feedback. He can be reached via email at


  1. Help me out -- Starr and Namath (Alabama) and Griese and Dawson (Purdue) combined to win three Super Bowls. Or is there a third QB from each school that I'm forgetting about?

    If it's total SBs won, then Stanford is the leader as John Elway and Jim Plunkett combined to win four SBs.

  2. Never mind ... Brees and Stabler.

  3. One player you left out Marc Wilson was a backup QB for the Raiders in the Super Bowls and held for extra points and field goals.

  4. Total SBs won vs. number of QBs who won SBs does change things around. I most often see people talk about the overall number of QBs rather than the number of SBs won by QBs from a school.

    Notre Dame (Joe Montana) and Louisiana Tech (Terry Bradshaw) could each claim 4 as well.

    My guess is that the total number of QBs reflects more of a sustained/tradition of greatness.

    As for Marc Wilson, I didn't forget him. He was a member of a couple Raiders Super Bowl teams. He may have even saw some mop up duty during SB XVIII (38-9 rout of the Redskins). If he did, he didn't throw any passes.

    I would have included a list of every player who has ever played, but BYU already has that. Rather than replicate it, I included the link at the end.


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