Ten Things to Know about SJSU and the Super Bowl

  1. San Jose State is proud to serve as the practice site for the Carolina Panthers. Following Super Bowl custom, practice will be closed to the public. But you’re bound to catch a glimpse of the Carolina Panthers caravan making its way from the San Jose Marriott to South Campus. And who knows? You might even spot a Panther because…
  2. A Spartan is on a Super Bowl team! Bené Benwikere, ’13 Sociology, is a cornerback for the Carolina Panthers. He’ll travel with the team, although he’s on injured reserve as he recovers from a leg fracture. It’s still a dream come true. What advice does he have for students? “Challenges are essential to your personal growth as a person; so do not shy away from any challenge,” Benwikere said.
  3. Photo via Twitter.

    Photo via Twitter @BigPlayBene

  4. Make that two Spartans on the field! Keith Ferguson, ’82 Accounting, will be the back judge, wearing jersey number 61.  This will be his second Super Bowl. Three more Spartans have officiated the NFL’s biggest game. They include alumnus Darrell Jenkins, who served as the umpire in Super Bowl XLVIII (Denver Broncos vs. Seattle Seahawks). He was a running back on the 1973, 1974 and 1975 SJSU football teams.
  5. There will be plenty more Super Bowl events right here in downtown San Jose. Super Bowl Opening Night is Feb. 1 at the SAP Center. Every major sports network in the nation will be there. So will Lauren Hernandez, ’15 Journalism, and Randy Vazquez, ’15 Journalism, representing the SJSU School of Journalism and Mass Communications. In addition, you’ll see SJSU students seated near the NFL Network set, thanks to a special connection with NFL Marketing Manager Jason Whitcomb, ’11 Kinesiology.
  6. Photo: Tom Cherrey

    Neal Dahlen earned seven Super Bowl rings as a team executive (Photo: Tom Cherrey).

  7. Many Spartans have Super Bowl rings, but only one has seven of them. Neal Dahlen, ’63 BA ’64 MS Kinesiology/Physical Education, earned his rings during a 25-year career as an executive with the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos.
  8. The Spartans-Broncos connection runs deep. The late Jack Elway, father of Broncos General Manager John Elway, served as Spartan football head coach from 1979 to 1983. The late Jana Elway-Sever, ’83 Kinesiology/Physical Education and John’s twin sister, played on SJSU’s tennis team for two years. Janet Elway, John’s mother, worked at SJSU’s Department of Industrial Technology. Back then, John Elway was the quarterback at Stanford, where this son of an SJSU coach was on the road to becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time. “The San Jose State-Stanford football games were magical: Stanford won in 1979 and 1980; San Jose State won in 1981 and 1982. The 1980, 1981 and 1982 games each drew more than 60,000 fans to Stanford Stadium,” SJSU Sports Information Director Lawrence Fan said.
  9. David Diaz-Infante, ’91 Social Science, was an offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos teams that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII (Photo: David Schmitz).

    David Diaz-Infante was an offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos teams that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII (Photo: David Schmitz).

  10. SJSU is the alma mater to five former Super Bowl head or assistant coaches including two legends: Bill Walsh, ’55 BA, ’58 MA, Education, led the San Francisco 49ers to victories in 1982, 1985 and 1989, and Dick Vermeil, ’58 Physical Education, ’59 MA Education, took the Philadelphia Eagles and St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl in 1981 and 2000.
  11. Nineteen former Spartan football players have played for Super Bowl teams, including three in the past 15 years: wide receiver Rashied Davis, ’06 Sociology (Chicago Bears) wide receiver James Jones, ’06 Sociology (Green Bay Packers); and defensive back Duke Ihenacho, ’11 Speech Communication (Denver Broncos). David Diaz-Infante, ’91 Social Science, was an offensive lineman on the Denver Broncos teams that won Super Bowls XXXII and XXXIII. Today, he is an ESPN college football analyst. Steve DeBerg, ’80 Physical Education, was 45 years old when he played backup quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl XXXIII. Teased for being much older than Super Bowl 50 Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is just 39.
  12. Photo: David Schmitz

    Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications John Delacruz (Photo: David Schmitz).

  13. Many Spartans played leading roles in bringing the Super Bowl to the South Bay. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, ’82 Chemistry, is a Super Bowl 50 Host Committee Advisory Group member. Alumnus Jamie Matthews is mayor of the city of Santa Clara, home to Levi’s Stadium. Jill Bryant Meyers ’91 BA Journalism, ’98 MA History, is executive director of the Triton Museum of Art, including “Gridiron Glory: The Best of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.” William Kelly, ’89 BS Aeronautics/Business Administration, ’14 MA Public Administration, is the Santa Clara Fire Department chief. He helped develop the security and emergency management plan for Super Bowl 50 and related events. “The knowledge gained through  completing the MPA program was extremely helpful in that effort,” he said.
  14. Photo: David Schmitz

    San Jose Mercury News columnist Mark Purdy and Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi (Photo: David Schmitz).

  15. Did you know all pro football players wear tiny devices that track speed, distance and orientation? This was one of many insights shared at two Super Bowl symposiums held right here at SJSU. Moderators included Assistant Professor of Kinesiology Cole Armstrong, Assistant Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications John Delacruz, and Associate Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications Diane Guerrazzi. Jill Stelfox, vice president and general manager for location solutions at San Jose-based Zebra Technologies, described Zebra’s nickel-sized RFID chips, which are embedded inside the shoulder pads of every NFL player.