Football Has Strong Ties To NFL Conference Championship Weekend|
Jan. 12, 2009
CINCINNATI - Five former University of Cincinnati football players and seven former assistant coaches will battle for a berth in Super Bowl XLIII as the NFL enters its conference championship weekend.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers will face off in a game that features head coaches who were both UC assistants. Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was a UC assistant from 1989-96 and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was on the UC staff from 1999-2000.
Both coaches have multiple assistants on their staff with UC ties. On the Raven's side, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Rex Ryan (1996-97), special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg (1992-95), and offensive assistant Craig Ver Steeg (1990-93) all served with Harbaugh at Cincinnati.
On Tomlin's staff, assistant special teams coach Amos Jones (1999-2002) and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein (1997-2000) coached for the Bearcats. Former longtime Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson is also on the Steelers' staff.
Former standout safety Haruki Nakamura is wrapping up his first professional season with the Ravens. He has played in 14 games, mostly on special teams, tallying 12 tackles.
Linebacker Andre Fraizer played in 10 games this season for Pittsburgh, recording 10 tackles and a sack.
On the NFC side, the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles will meet with three former UC players among the participants.
Cardinals linebackers coach Bill Davis was a four-year letterwinner for UC at quarterback and wide receiver from 1985-88 who is in his 17th season as an NFL assistant.
Philadelphia features former student-athletes Brent Celek and Trent Cole.
Celek, in his second season as a pro, has 30 catches for 330 yards and two touchdowns. In the Eagles' 23-11 win over the Giants Sunday, he caught a 1-yard touchdown pass from Donovan McNabb in the fourth quarter.
Cole, who has emerged as one of the top young defenders in the league, leads all NFL players with 20 tackles in two playoff games. For the season, he has 102 tackles and eight sacks.