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Mizzou’s History in the Super Bowl is Largely Defensive Focused

LB Nick Bolton Will Take Center Stage as Chiefs Look to Repeat as Champs

Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
Nick Bolton #32 of the Kansas City Chiefs returns a fumble for a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles during the first half in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s this thing called the Super Bowl being played on Sunday evening, and I think it’s safe to assume that the Rock M Nation audience has a ton of rooting interest in the 58th edition (err, sorry, the LVIIIth edition) of the game that has become perhaps the biggest cultural sporting phenomenon ever.

There’s tons of reasons that ‘Merica goes crazy for the Super Bowl each winter. Extravagant watch parties, Super Bowl squares contests, gambling interest on the game itself as well as myriad minute details such as the over/under on the length of the National Anthem and what color of Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach all add to the pageantry.

By the way, this year’s anthem singer is country music legend Reba McIntire and the over/under has been set at a minute and 30 seconds. She’s sung the anthem at several prominent events in the past, and has a track record of coming in around a minute 20, so take that intel for what it’s worth!

Of course, the state of Missouri is center stage for the fourth time in five years thanks to the dynastic Kansas City Chiefs. While that’s no doubt a prime draw, us Mizzou fans have an added rooting interest knowing that some of our very own True Sons who roamed the Quad and gorged on Shakespeare’s Pizza back in their day are taking part. This year, we’ve got Chiefs LB Nick Bolton figuring to play a huge role in the outcome of the game, while KC QB Blaine Gabbert is there in a reserve role behind the GOAT Patrick Mahomes. It’s probably too much to ask that the game is such a blowout in KC’s favor that Blaine gets a chance to take some snaps late in the game in garbage time, but Chiefs fans can dream the dream, right?

Last year, we all remember how impactful Bolton was in Kansas City’s comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles. He picked up a key fumble and returned it 36 yards for a scoop-and-score touchdown that helped KC stay in the game until the Chiefs offense got untracked in the second half. Remarkably, Bolton’s score marked the first time a former Tiger had ever scored a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Later in the game, Bolton nearly had a second defensive TD, but the play was wiped out by a penalty, likely costing him a legitimate shot at the Most Valuable Player award and an all-expenses paid trip to Disney Land.

There’s also a bunch of coaching ties between Mizzou and the Chiefs, starting with “Big Red” – Head Coach Andy Reid – who was an assistant at MU for Bob Stull. Other current Chiefs coaches with Mizzou ties include special teams coordinator extraordinaire Dave Toub and special teams assistant Andy Hill.

St. Louis Rams vs Tennessee Titans, Super Bowl XXXIV
Mizzou’s Mike Jones made this famous game-ending tackle to save the Rams’ win in SB XXXIV
Set Number: X59531 TK4 R9 F21

Bolton is the 21st Tiger to play in a Super Bowl all-time, and he’s the 11th to start the game. Here’s the list (courtesy of Mizzou Athletics historian Bob Brendel), along with a look at stats produced:

Tigers Who Started in the Super Bowl (11)

  • OLB Gus Otto, Super Bowl II (1967), Oakland Raiders – Loss

No stats

  • OLB Andy Russell, Super Bowls IX and X (1974, 1975), Pittsburgh Steelers – 2 Wins

IX – 4 tackles (4 solo)

X – 5 tackles (5 solo)

  • DE John Matuszak, Super Bowls XI and XV (1976, 1980), Oakland Raiders – 2 Wins

XI – 3 tackles (3 solo)

XV – 1 tackle (1 solo)

  • CB Eric Wright, Super Bowls XVI, XIX, XXIII and XXIV (1981, 1984, 1988, 1989), San Francisco 49ers – 4 Wins

XVI – 3 tackles (3 solo), 1 INT for 25 yards

XIX – 2 tackles (2 solo), 1 INT for 0 yards

XXIII – Did not start, no stats

XXIV – Did not start, no stats

  • CB Otis Smith, Super Bowls XXXI and XXXVI (1996, 2001), New England Patriots – 1 Loss, 1 Win

XXXI – 3 tackles (3 solo), 1 QB sack, 1 PBU

XXXVI – 5 tackles (5 solo), 3 PBUs

  • OLB Mike Jones, Super Bowl XXXIV (1999), St. Louis Rams – Win

9 tackles (7 solo)

  • OLB Aldon Smith, Super Bowl XLVII (2012), San Francisco 49ers – Loss

2 tackles (1 solo), 1 QB pressure

  • DL Justin Smith, Super Bowl XLVII (2012), San Francisco 49ers – Loss

3 tackles (3 solo)

  • OT Justin Britt, Super Bowl XLIX (2014), Seattle Seahawks – Loss

No stats

  • TE Kendall Blanton, Super Bowl LVI (2021), Los Angeles Rams – Win

No stats

  • LB Nick Bolton, Super Bowl LVII (2022), Kansas City Chiefs – Win

9 tackles (8 solo), 1 fumble return for a TD

Tigers Who Played in the Super Bowl (21) *

Otto, Russell, Matuszak, Wright, O. Smith, Jones, A. Smith, J. Smith, Britt, Blanton, Bolton, and:

  • LB Bud Abell, Super Bowl I (1966), Kansas City Chiefs – Loss

No stats

  • CB Henry Stuckey, Super Bowl VIII (1973), Miami Dolphins – Win

No stats

  • C Scott Anderson, Super Bowl IX (1974), Minnesota Vikings – Loss

No stats

  • RB Tony Galbreath, Super Bowl XXI (1986), New York Giants – Win

4 rushes, 17 yards

  • DL Jerome Sally, Super Bowl XXI (1986), New York Giants – Win

No stats

  • TE Byron Chamberlain, Super Bowl XXXIII (1998), Denver Broncos – Win

No stats

  • DL Ziggy Hood, Super Bowl XLV (2010), Pittsburgh Steelers – Loss

1 tackle (1 solo), 1 QB sack, 1 TFL, 2 QB pressures

  • OLB Shane Ray, Super Bowl 50 (2015), Denver Broncos – Win

2 tackles (2 solo), 1 forced fumble, 1 QB pressure

  • DE Kony Ealy, Super Bowl 50 (2015), Carolina Panthers – Loss

4 tackles (3 solo), 3 QB sacks, 3 TFLs, 1 PBU, 3 QB pressures, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 INT for 19 yards

  • OT Yasir Durant, Super Bowl LV (2020), Kansas City Chiefs – Loss

No stats


  • Bolton’s nine tackles last year vs. Philly tied him with Mike Jones for most by a former Tiger in a Super Bowl. Of course, Jones (who, ironically, played fullback in his Mizzou days before converting to linebacker in the NFL) might have the single most famous tackle in Super Bowl history when he ended the game with a touchdown-saving stop of Tennessee’s Kevin Dyson at the one-yardline to preserve St. Louis’ win in SB XXXIV...
  • Looking at those numbers, it’s hard not to feel bad for Kony Ealy, who would have surely won MVP had his Carolina Panthers found a way to win Super Bowl 50. What a massive game he put together coming off the bench!...
  • It’s interesting to note that of the 11 Tigers to start a Super Bowl, nine of them have been defenders. In fact, the only non-defensive Mizzou player to ever touch the ball in a Super Bowl was RB Tony Galbreath, who carried four times in SB XXI for the winning New York Giants, gaining 17 yards (with a long carry of seven yards)…
  • Assuming he doesn’t get abducted by aliens the night before the game, Bolton will become only the fourth former Tiger to start in multiple Super Bowls. He’ll join LB Andy Russell (Steelers – IX and X), DE John Matuszak (Raiders – XI, XV) and DB Otis Smith (Patriots – XVI and XIX). Russell and Matuszak’s teams won both appearances, while Smith was part of two additional Super Bowls that he didn’t start in – with the Patriots winning all four…