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Ernie's Insights - Hopkins' Super Bowl Ties

Johns Hopkins won the 2005 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championship at Lincoln Financial Field - home of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Feb. 2, 2018 They are playing a football game in Minnesota this weekend. Unlike the three contestants on Jeopardy last night, who clearly knew nothing about football, I’m sure many of you reading this will tune and some of you may even have a rooting interest. In the interest of full professionalism, I will keep my personal rooting interest to myself throughout this piece (Fly Eagles Fly).

While yours truly is currently penning this column wearing an Eagles fleece, if you aren’t a fan of the Birds or Pats, I’m going to give you some reasons to tune in – beyond the commercials. Did you know that there are a number of ties between Johns Hopkins, the Philadelphia (Fight) Eagles (Fight), the New England Patriots and/or the NFL.

I’m certain I don’t know every tie, but in the interest of having a little fun On the Road to Victory, here are some things you may or may not know about Hopkins’ Super Bowl ties to at least one of the aforementioned organizations or the NFL. If you are more a fan of the commercials, we’ve got something for you as well (thank you Michael Doneger).

• The most obvious tie is also the most visible. Current Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala is close friends with New England head man Bill Belichick. Belichick, who grew up in Annapolis, is an avid lacrosse fan and has been known to exchange his Patriots-issued hoodie for a Hopkins lacrosse hoodie. Has there ever been a better sighting than coach Belichick in College Park wearing a Hopkins Lacrosse sweatshirt … at Maryland’s Pro-Day?

• Bill Stromberg, a current member of the Johns Hopkins Board of Trustees and the only Blue Jay football player inducted in the College Football Hall of Fame, signed with the Philadelphia “E-A-G-L-E-S” Eagles after his record-setting career as a wide receiver with the Blue Jays. Stromberg spent part of the 1982 preseason with the Eagles before being released. Ironically, one of the preseason games the Eagles played that year – and the only one that ended with a Philadelphia win – was against the Patriots (14-7) at Veterans Stadium on August 20, 1982. Despite my best efforts, I could not come up with Bill’s stats for that game, but his former teammate – current JHU football coach Jim Margraff – was in attendance that night.

• Current Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Chris Long is married to the former Megan O’Malley, who played lacrosse at Virginia, where Chris played his college football. Megan O’Malley’s sister, Katie, played basketball at Johns Hopkins for Nancy Funk from 2002-06 and was a member of two NCAA Tournament teams with the Blue Jays.

• Former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly spent the 1993 season as the defensive coordinator at Johns Hopkins under Margraff’s direction. Margraff has often joked that he had one of the great offensive minds in college football history … coaching defense!

• Two-time Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse captain Mike Pellegrino is a member of Belichick’s coaching staff in New England. He earned his first Super Bowl ring last season and goes for his second this weekend in Minnesota. Pellegrino himself was a two-time first team all-state and two-time first team all-county selection in football at Connetquot High School.

• Former Johns Hopkins football player Patrick Eichner (2011-14) interned with the PR Staff of the New York Giants in 2015 and the Cleveland Browns in 2016 (please, no Browns jokes). He assisted at last year’s Super Bowl as a liaison with the Atlanta Falcons and, after working for the New York Jets PR team in 2017, is back at the Super Bowl this year assisting with media coordination. He also assisted with the Eagles on Super Bowl Opening Night earlier this week. Did you know that Eichner’s 68-yard interception return for a touchdown against Susquehanna in 2011 is the fourth-longest INT return in Johns Hopkins history?

• Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse sophomore defenseman Jack Rapine’s cousin, James Develin, is a fullback for the New England Patriots. He is in his fifth season with the Patriots and has two Super Bowl ring. Nothing awkward about their relationship - other than Rapine grew up in the Philly suburbs and is a die-hard Eagles fan.

• The Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse team won the 2005 NCAA Championship at Lincoln Financial Field – home of the Eagles - and played in the 2008 NCAA Championship game at Gillette Stadium – home of the Patriots. I can tell you this, no team has ever been treated better at the men’s lacrosse Final Four than the 2008 Blue Jays. Coach Belichick and the entire Patriot organization went above and beyond for us that weekend!

• And for our Super Bowl commercial buffs out there, remember my nod above to former Blue Jay attackman Michael Doneger? Doneger, who was a member of Johns Hopkins’ 2005 and 2007 NCAA Championship teams, wrote, produced and starred in one of the five final commercials in the Pepsi Max Crash the Super Bowl Commercial Contest in 2011. How could anyone ever forget his classic production of “Elevator Girl?” Go ahead, try and watch that just once!

With that, enjoy the game. I tried to keep my own personal thoughts out of this so you wouldn’t know who I will be rooting for on Sunday. Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go have a soft pretzel and cheesesteak for lunch.

--- Forever a Blue Jay ---

Ernie Larossa is in his 21st year as the Director of Athletic Communications at Johns Hopkins. In short, he has the greatest job in the world; he gets paid to watch Johns Hopkins athletes compete and chronicle their achievements. In September, 2017, he decided it was time to periodically pen a column about something related to Blue Jay athletics.

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