What the Super Bowl Can Teach You About Your College Search
Think about the very top organizations in any given industry or endeavor. How did they get to be so successful at what they do? What is the formula for success? Most people would answer, “It’s about hiring the best people, with the best backgrounds,” and on the surface, I would agree with that sentiment. But what if the real answer to that question is more nuanced and interesting than that?
For example, consider the top teams in the NFL, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs who will square off in Super Bowl LVII this Sunday February 12th, 2023. How did they get to the top of the NFL?
The assumption is that the best NFL teams will naturally feature players from a small handful of the highest ranked collegiate football programs from the so-called “Power 5” conferences. But, when you actually look at the player rosters for this weekend’s Super Bowl matchup between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles, you will find a different story.
Similar to a review we conducted in 2021, we analyzed the educational backgrounds of player rosters of the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs Football Teams.
The 160 players on the active, reserve, and practice rosters of the Chiefs and Eagles represent (either as graduates or having finished their collegiate playing careers at) 86 different colleges.
The most represented universities among the two teams’ rosters are:
Florida State (6)
Mississippi State (4)
Some notable colleges for players include:
Missouri Southern (Brandon Williams, DT, Kansas City)
Samford (James Bradberry, CB, Philadelphia)
Valdosta State (Jody Fortson, TE, Kansas City)
Old Dominion (Zach Paschal, WR, Philadelphia and Rick Lovato, LS, Philadelphia)
North Carolina A&T (Mac McCain, CB, Philadelphia)
Interestingly, the Super Bowl will feature more players from the University of Idaho (2) than storied college powerhouse the University of Notre Dame (1). Even more interesting, the Idaho Vandals are represented on the Eagles roster by brothers Noah Elliss (DT) and Christian Elliss (ILB).
If you would like to see if your alma mater or favorite college is represented on the field at this weekend’s Super Bowl LVII, here’s our handy spreadsheet:
A commonly held belief by a lot of high school students we talk with is the idea that opportunities for success exist almost entirely at a small subset of colleges and universities. These students often believe that they will only be successful if admitted to one specific college. They believe that if they can just gain admission to one of those schools, then their lives will be more successful than if they attend some other less famous college. However, the reality is that when you look at highly successful people, whether they are CEOs, astronauts, surgeons, teacher of the year recipients, and yes, NFL players, you will see a tremendously wide range of educational backgrounds. It seems that the top organizations became successful because they understand that talent can be found anywhere, and have built their organizational practices around finding that talent in the most diverse places.
This is amazing news, as students no longer have to focus their high school careers on building a resume for the college admissions process at a handful of colleges, and can instead get to work on the really hard stuff: figuring out what fascinates them, learning how to fail and still keep going, and sorting out what environments best help them grow towards a more authentic version of themselves. That is what education is for after all.
As you watch the Super Bowl - or even just the commercials and halftime show this Sunday - remember that the players achieving what most would consider the pinnacle of professional football, came from many types of colleges and universities.
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